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Marco Polo revisited. . . Give ‘em What They WantMarco Polo revisited. . .
Give ‘em What They Want
How many times can you photograph a young business-type looking at an iPod? Or senior citizens bicycling along a scenic roadway? Or the Eiffel Tower or the Lincoln Memorial?
In the past decade we have seen a proliferation of these microstock generic pictures available on the Internet, and you’d think an art director at Getty, Corbis or Shutterstock or twenty other stock agencies, would say, “Halt!– We have enough.”
If you think you have found the secret to stock photography success by making this kind of stock photo, be prepared to make a detour. This kind of stock photo cannibalization will soon come to a halt.
MAKING THE ADJUSTMENT
In the previous century, the selling and buying marketing processes for photographer and client in the stock photo industry entailed these tried-and-true techniques:
direct mail campaigns,
CD's / DVD's
file cabinet magnets,
PHOTO: Petr Kratochvil
calendar reminders, etc.
In recent years we’ve all seen these “hot” marketing methods give way to more efficient methods now provided by the Internet.
Unfortunately, some veteran stock photographers are still holding on to the former way of marketing. Some are still taking generic photos and as a result have relinquished their hold on the market. Sales are dwindling and they declare, “Stock photography is dead or dying.” This prophecy can certainly become true for those photographers if they market their work in the old marketing model.
What has died, or is dying, is the age of the “name photographer” in the stock photo arena. The old model was to “sell yourself” and to “sell your images,” implying that a unique image or unique stock photographer would do the job. This system promised, “Take a good picture and the world will beat a path to your door.”
Yes, aspire to be “a name photographer” in other areas of photography, but in the area of stock photography, the field is wide open. No longer do you need to have a big name to be successful. The Internet has leveled the playing field.
Discover what your prospect needs.
More important is to discover what you are selling. If it’s
pretty pictures of generic covered bridges and seagulls, sunsets and
hot air balloons, then be prepared for a lot of competition.
In contrast, the stock photographers who will succeed in the coming
decade are those who focus on having deep coverage of specific subject
matter. Those who specialize will be able to ‘speak the language’
of their segmented buyers. They will, in effect, own a monopoly in
that niche market. And they will sell their photos not at micro-payment
prices, but at rights-managed fees.
All the world is specialized –medicine, legal matters, agriculture. (A sugar beet farmer in North Dakota would be at a loss trying to plant and harvest sugar cane....seeding, cultivation, harvesting, distribution would all be a mystery...)
We all turn to the ‘specialist’ when we want the latest
information and technology. If you have a passion for a select few
special interest areas that you like to photograph, you’re lucky.
Why? Because you separate yourself from the competition who are still
trying to sell generic images.
The buying and selling premise hasn’t changed since the days of Marco Polo, who traveled east to Asia for spices, silks, jewels, and perfumes in the Middle Ages. What has changed for stock photographers is the selling model.
Internet marketing says, “Why waste valuable printing, mailing and phone costs on ‘shotgun’ marketing (and get a 5% response) when the Internet model can find who your target markets are at almost zero cost?”
In today’s Internet environment, we have a much better chance of learning what the customer wants. It’s called Reaction Marketing. At least, that’s what I call it. You use search engine techniques to get the reaction of your prospect first -- before spending any energy or dollars on marketing.
Whether it’s Marco Polo or you attempting to sell something, the age-old marketing idea remains the same: target your market, understand what the customer wants, gain the trust of your client, keep all the promises you make.
This is easier than ever to do, thanks to the Internet.
And what are these processes for making sales? From time to time I’ll be discussing these in my reports to you. Here’s a sampling: AdWords; Ebay; search engine optimization; joint ventures; Reaction Marketing; PR news releases; no-cost publicity; Internet You Tube videos; E-Books, Twitter; FACEBOOK to name a few.
If you haven’t heard of some of these, type the phrases into Google or your favorite search engine and go from there. See how the process can fit your new marketing strategy.
NEW TOOLS, NEW HORIZONS, NEW SALES
We are talking here about the winning strategy of American business. Reorganize and win. Follow the trail almost to the edge. Whether it’s a small business or a huge corporation, those who continue to survive have applied and adapted the new Internet techniques to their business. They have not resisted change.
All of this implies a re-structuring of your marketing working model and selling strategies. It means the effort of having to re-tool to go with the flow of the Internet river. Is it worth it? If continuing to successfully have fun with the challenge of doing something you love doing, matters most, the answer is yes.
Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of http://www.photostocknotes.com/psn ; Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA. E-mail: info[at]photosource[dot]com. 1 800 624 0266; Fax: 1 715 248 7394. To answer your question, “How do I sell my photos?” http://www.photosource.com/shop