Monday, July 7, 2008

Getting Clients - A Few Options

Probably the number one comment I get about people who are looking to find reasons to avoid all the business issues of photography - that is - improving their bad practices for good ones - is that their current clients have come to accept things like buyouts/all-rights/work-for-hire; no shipping charges; no post-production charges, and so forth.

"How do I start charging my clients for these things now?" I get asked.

You don't.

"Then how do I get clients that will pay for these things?"

(Continued after the Jump)

Get new clients.

But it's supposedly not that simple.

But it is easier.

First though, let me backup. If you've been in business for awhile, and not been doing things right, you have clients that expect too much for free, or too much for way too cheap. It would be problematic for you to simply alter your business practices overnight for these clients. You'd likely loose them - before you're ready.

Instead, make the decision that as of today every client you take on will be handled differently. Appropriate fees, licenses, contracts, and so forth. Eventually, you will be so busy working for these clients that you won't have time to work for your previous clients, and you will transition away from them. Or, you may be able to sustain your business with your new clients, and grow your business by migrating your old clients to your new way of doing business.

How to find new clients?

Tuscon photographer Will Seberger forwarded me a post from his blog - WHEN THE GOING GETS WEIRD, THE WEIRD TURN PRO, which has a number of great insights, and is well worth a read. Will brought to my attention Mastheads.org, so I thought I'd take a look:
And it looks interesting. For $24 a year, you get to see the mastheads of just over 600 publications. Yet, that's less than 25% of the magazines that are available in ADBASE's North American database alone.

Is this the "craiglist" version of ADBASE and AgencyAccess? Quite possibly. It also appears that as other members submit mastheads, their list grows, so it is, to one degree or another, reliant upon other members to submit the masthead information.

To get alternative perspectives on this, I turned to the folks at ADBASE and AgencyAccess for their take. Nelson Nunes, President & Co-Founder of ADBASE, which has been around for over a decade, wrote "Mastheads.org is good if you are only interested in getting a few names off of a select number of mastheads. If you need to create or update a mailing list for direct marketing purposes, you would still have a considerable amount of work to do."

Ok, so what do the folks at AgencyAccess think?

Keith Gentile, CEO and Co-Founder of AgencyAccess commented "Mastheads.org is a great secondary source for photographers for research. AgencyAccess takes their data a step further by allowing photographers to customized these lists by specialties, titles, locations, hire frequency and much more...With AgencyAccess you are also paying for these added features which you will not get at Mastheads.org. I do however recommend getting the service as an extra as it can be helpful."

Ok, on the surface, it seems like spending the $24 isn't a bad idea, but as a complement to either of the above services. but there are risks to just relying on Mastheads.org.

Nelson Nunes at ADBASE wrote "you would still have to analyze the masthead to determine which contacts are of interest to you (i.e. involved in selecting a photographer), enter all the information into a database and double check every piece of information to make sure you didn't make any entry mistakes. The first time you do this, you would also have to check that the address provided in the masthead is the correct address for the contacts of interest to you as generally the contact information provided is for the advertising sales department." And that's a good point. Doing so takes a great deal of time, and the amount of time involved adds up fast.

Nunes continued and he noted what I had already concluded, but his math and explaination is succinct, I'll note it here:"say you can scan through a masthead every 5 minutes (which is aggressive if you include double checking and breaks -- it's pretty tedious work), that's 12 per hour on average. If you have a list of 600 magazines, that will take about 50 hours. Even if you have an assistant working for only $10 per hour, that's more than the cost of subscribing to a full-year Editorial Edition from ADBASE that also includes book publishers. Now that's for only one update. If you plan to send out additional mailings throughout the year, you will have to update the list again costing your more time and money."

And I can't stress enough the value of accuracy. When I get correspondence with my name spelled "Jon", or "Herrington", it's a dead ringer that the sender isn't starting off on the right foot. In fact, I have been known to purposefully misspell my name on some forms I have to fill out just to see how they use/re-use/sell my name. When the person's name on the masthead says "Kathryn Taylor", and you start your e-mail off to them "Dear Kathryn", and anyone who knows her knows she goes by "Kate", to her, that's a dead ringer that you're someone to ignore. So too with "Dear Patricia" for Pat, "Dear Clifford" for Cliff, and so forth.

Keith Gentile over at AgencyAccess noted "Agency Access also allows the client to download the list as labels, telemarketing reports and text files making it easy for the client to send out emails and mailings. The advanced tools of AgencyAccess allows the photographer to efficiently promote their services in a timely fashion." Time. I can't stress it enough. So many people just don't start (or maintain) a marketing program because the way they are doing it takes time and effort. The tools that both of these provide makes it so fast and easy to maintain, it's of value just for those tools, not to mention the list of e-mail addresses at your fingertips. The ability to go into a service, track who got what, when, and to be able to further refine your search is critical. I wrote about this (Kenny Rogers Had A Point, 4/21/08), and how it works.

What is missing, however, is that Mastheads.org is all about MASTHEADS. EDITORIAL MASTHEADS. The resources of ADBASE and AgencyAccess includes Art Directors, Design Firms, Creative Directors, Art Buyers, and so forth, and so on.

Nelson summed it up well when he wrote "Mastheads.org is not a replacement for a fully researched comprehensive database like ADBASE that guarantees accuracy. Furthermore, if you need to create or maintain a mailing list for direct marketing purposes, so much work is involved in extracting a proper mailing list from Mastheads.org that the cost of an ADBASE subscription more than pays for itself."

I couldn't agree more.

Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.

7 comments:

drsPIX said...

For the $24 USD it looks like you also get a subscription to one of the magazines; For some, that could be a good deal.

Wolf189 Photography said...

Very interesting comparison.

Giulio Sciorio said...

Why is it that so many photographers make excuses as to why they are not researching their marketing properly? I had used agency access when I first started and now use ad base and both are worth the money.

If it were not for my marketing I would not have much of a business, more of a hobby.

I fired most of my clients last year because I was not charging properly and when I raised my prices they objected. So be it.

This year nearly all my new clients are working with my new prices, my Admin Fee (thanks JH) and additional other fees.

I guess it all boils down to if you want it enough you'll make it happen. If you can't afford the proper marketing then raise your prices.

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Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! thanks a lot! ^^

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