We're Erica + Jon, professional photographers, Mr + Mrs and Mom + Dad. We like to share insights into our industry, behind the scenes and stories about our life and chips + salsa obsession.
As brand photographers we’re constantly AMAZED by the amazing opportunities we have. To shoot for brands that we’ve used and looked up to since we were kids truly blows our minds. It’s really been pretty incredible to see the types of opportunities that brand photography has afforded us, and we’re often asked about how we land those types of jobs with household brand names. The truth MIGHT be a little surprising… and likely not what you think. So today, we want to dive in and unpack how we market to attract household brands.
Traditional advertising once had it’s big heyday. It used to be if you wanted to advertise a product / service or get brand awareness, you HAD to take out a magazine article ad, a billboard ad, or shoot out flyers in the mail. But, in all honesty, that day in age has kind of come and gone, especially with digital marketing being at a forefront these days. Everybody knows that they need to market. It’s not just the fortune 500 companies anymore that can afford hundreds of thousands of dollars in marketing campaigns to put billboards up in Times Square. In today’s world, it’s the mom and pop shops on the corner that are also using content to drive sales through digital advertising. And truthfully, think about it…what do you normally do with the flyers you receive in the mail? It’s not the most effective ad strategy in the modern world, especially when compared with the cost versus digital advertising. We’ve NEVER ever taken out traditional advertising for our photography services. The closest we’ve gotten was a partnership we had with a magazine that gave us a half page article as compensation for shooting for them And wouldn’t you know….we never got an inquiry or saw any return on that printed ad. Soooo we’re not saying traditional advertising is dead, BUT we are saying that it’s definitely not the way we attracted household brands to our business.
When we started working in the commercial space, we were told by a lot of successful commercial photographers that the way to gain big clients was to network and market traditionally with media agencies. We were then told that we would need to put together media kits, bring printed collateral together and invest a lot of time by dropping off gifts and reminders that we were “there” for these big media agencies. That somehow these media agencies magically held the keys to ALL of the work that any commercial photographer could ever want. That just didn’t work for us. Jon comes from a sales background, and used to sell tractors for a living before he picked up a camera. Calling on customers and trying to “woo” them and be the “brand” that out “woo’ed” everyone else, was NOT the part of the job that Jon loved. It was far from it. Yes, networking is important. Yes, it’s important to build a great client experience so that your customers feel well served and loved. BUT traditional networking and calling on media agency offices definitely is NOT how we attracted household brand names.
Okay…so we told you the two ways we DID NOT market ourselves to attract household brands. So let’s tell you how we did market ourselves.
We used Instagram.
That’s right, pretty easy. Pretty straight forward. No AH-HA moment here. No lightning striking down from the heavens with this idea. It’s something that we all use and something we’re all used to. It’s a tool that everybody pretty much has and uses on a daily basis. But, it’s the tool that has driven us to the big brand names that we’ve shot for. Here’s the deal. We simply show up consistently on Instagram and market for our brand. It’s that simple and one of the biggest ways we do this is by utilizing all of the hashtags Instagram gives us. Here’s the thing with hashtags, it used to be funny to make little puns in the hashtags where they would go on forever… #punny #puns4days, but those aren’t really beneficial for your business.
You probably already know that using hashtags strategically is a better option, but here’s the BIG question. Are you using ALL 30 hashtags Instagram is giving you every single time you post? We get it. It might be hard to come up with 30 hashtags that you feel are relevant to what you’re posting about or to your specific brand, but trust us on this….it’s important to use all 30 hashtags.
Here’s why. We like to think of hashtags as planting marketing seeds. Instagram gives you the opportunity to plant 30 marketing seeds every single time you post. Now even if those hashtags don’t instantly drive more engagement or more likes to your post, you’re still doing work in the background and for the long game. You’re planting those seeds, so that someday when a brand agency is searching #SouthCarolinaBrandPhotographer….they come across your work. As they click on images they like, they will realize that they keep clicking on YOUR work. Then pretty soon they’re inquiring and booking you for a job with a big household brand name. THAT is exactly how we booked household brands like Snuggle, Soft Scrub and Mixbook. It was all through Instagram marketing.
So next time you go to post and think to yourself…”Ughhh, maybe I’ll skip the hashtags,” or “Ahh, maybe I’ll just put in my five go-to’s and leave it at that…” We’d strongly encourage you to think about that twice. Use all 30 hashtags that are given to you and think of them instead as marketing seeds that you are planting for the future of your business. Remember this too, media agency employees skew a lot younger. When we think about what we know about younger people, we know that they LOVE to shop online. More specifically, they shop on social media. So it definitely makes sense that agencies and marketing representatives are shopping for photographers on the platforms they spend most of their time shopping on. Like Instagram 🙂
So there you go! Now commit to using all 30 hashtags that Instagram gives you so you can show up to your business by planting those marketing seeds for your future.