Selling Event Photography; Lessons Learned In A Fast-Paced Business Page 2

Dave Stock (www.davestock.photoreflect.com) [Author’s Note: He is working on a new website]: I started shooting action sports for publication when I was a high school athlete and combined my interests in photography and sports. I soon evolved into shooting NFL, college football, and MLB games for magazines and for trading card licensee use almost exclusively (from 1979 until ’96). My focus shifted to T&I (Team and Individual sports) photography over the last 10 years because I saw an opportunity to increase my income, spend less time traveling, and employ others by moving into a new area of photography. Now we do T&I sports for youth leagues, high schools, and middle schools in the North Texas/Dallas/Fort Worth area.

SB: What marketing tactics do you find most effective?

© 2008, Richard Markham/AllStar Photo Imaging, All Rights Reserved

Richard Markham: I concentrate on sales calls when I target our clients. Sales are made face to face in front of the decision makers. Nothing is more powerful or convincing as a 10- to 15-minute presentation with passion and a simple sales flier. If you are weak in the area of public speaking, join your local chapter of Toastmasters.

Dave Stock: We do targeted mailings with a cover letter and sample photographs to specific potential accounts that we have selected. Those mailings and follow-up phone calls to the decision makers have worked well. Our best marketing tactic is to totally dedicate ourselves to quality and take advantage of word-of-mouth advertising. We get a lot of new accounts from customer referrals.

Art Solomon: By getting involved in the community, I got introduced to people who would be in need of my services and then asked for their business. Keep your name in front of the decision makers as much as possible. Direct mailings and sales calls have been the best marketing tools for me.

Jim Roshan: We use several “guerrilla marketing” tactics to sell ourselves. These techniques help keep our advertising budget to a minimum and our calendar full several years out. Here are a few I would recommend: 1) Make sure you make a PDF copy of any local publicity or business feature story and put those on your website—linking to the newspaper’s site is fine until they take down the article. 2) Use the margin area of photos for your contact information and promotion. If you print on-site (which you should be doing in this business), then you should be using one of the professional event photography workflow software packages. 3) Create a brochure to be inserted in every order at the event. We can easily get two to four referrals for other shoots with this technique.
SB: What personal/professional recommendations would you make to a photographer looking to be successful in this field of photography?

Cynthia Zordich (www.behindthecage.com): Once you make it down on the field, don’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll line up next to guys with bigger and better equipment than you (I myself have often experienced lens envy), but don’t let that intimidate you. I have found that sideline photographers have a great rapport and will absolutely go out of their way to get a rookie up to speed. Also, don’t get stuck taking the same shot that everyone else has. Make your own shot. Think about your specialty. Not everyone can shoot action for ESPN and there are many other marketable uses for sports photography. I have used my player images in my own publication When the Clock Runs Out and in marketing materials, corporate art, and product art.

Dave Stock: Avoid taking shortcuts and focus on producing quality and value at every opportunity. Quality applies not just to the physical product that is delivered to the customer. It also applies to the experience of being photographed, to customer service, to the people who work for you, and to the opportunity you provide those working for and with you. Select great people, pay them accordingly, don’t fall victim to the false economies that plague many in our industry. Hire photographers, not camera operators without any training.

© 2008, Art Solomon Photography, All Rights Reserved

Art Solomon: When you get your first sports league, you must deliver what you promised—good quality product and in a timely manner. A good reputation will get you a lot of work and a bad reputation will ensure that you are not in the business long. Do not think that you can come in and charge less and get all the business you want. It does not work that way. I cannot tell you how many photographers have come into my area and tried this technique and are gone before the next season. You have to earn the trust of the league officials, coaches, and parents. Break this trust and you will not be back the next year.

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