Commercial Photographers Reps, Marketing Assistants or Consultants – Who Is Right For You?

Today’s market demands that photographers actively and consistently market their services. The question faced by many professional photographers is how to facilitate the many tasks related to marketing while continuing to service clients.

The answer that most photographers immediately turn to is “I need a rep!”

While an agent is indeed a solution for some, it is not the answer for most photographers. In fact, a marketing assistant and or a consultant will serve most photographers well.

Read on to discover how each of these three different professionals might help you.

Agents

While the responsibilities an agent will take on, varies from rep to rep there are consistent tasks that most will perform. Agents are historically responsible for:

Creating an overall marketing plan
Prospecting new client leads
Sending and or showing your portfolio
Negotiating all assignment bids
Licensing all images
Some agents will work on talent development.

Most seasoned agents are looking to rep advertising photographers. Clients in that market are comfortable with reps and the fees generated by the usage of a photo drive the project rates to the highest fees paid in our industry. Agents take a commission of 25-35% of the project fee on new accounts and often look for an across the board 10% fee on house accounts.

They tend to look at seasoned professional or commercial photographers, those with a highly; developed vision and client list. It is a rare rep that will take on a new talent, or one that services the corporate or editorial worlds.

Marketing Assistants

A marketing assistant is not a new position, however few photographers think to go here. The job of a marketing assistant is to perform the tasks related to marketing your studio that you choose, or have little time to do. Historically, assistants will:

Research out new account leads
Call and make appointments for you to show your portfolio
Oversee and facilitate a drop portfolio program
Develop a data base for new prospect leads
Facilitate your direct mail program

Finding a competent marketing assistant can sometimes be difficult. Look towards grad students, recently retired senior citizens, and mothers looking for extra hours.

Know what tasks you want a marketing assistant to perform and create a short list of personal and professional skills that any potential prospect must have.

Hiring a marketing assistant is not always expensive. This is usually a part time responsibility and you can start them off with as little as 5 hours per week.

Tasks should be clearly defined and geared toward your business needs. Just 20 hours of marketing support per month can surely improve your revenue stream. Marketing assistants are usually paid by the hour.

Consultants

The job of a consultant varies according to the skills and interest of each professional. As one of the first in the country, I have had the opportunity for the last 30 years to watch my industry develop. Consultant’s services usually revolve around one of three or all of the following categories:

Talent development: working with the photographer to develop a clear and focused vision that is marketable.
Creating sales and marketing programs
Developing portfolios
Teaching photographers show to price, negotiate and license images
Training sales staff

When choosing a consultant, check their background to make sure that their experience matches your needs. For instance, some consultants come from an agency art buying background. While they might be perfectly suitable for an advertising shooter, their advice might not be appropriate for an editorial, corporate or consumer portrait photographer. Check the firm’s services and always ask for recent referrals.

Consultants generally have hourly fees for short- term work.

If you are interested in repositioning your business, need help developing a portfolio that sells or need guidance as you create a defined sales and marketing program, this team player may be right for you.

Which Professional Works Best For You?

To determine which professional may be a fit for your company, list your short and long term marketing goals. Determine the tasks associated with each goal and honestly evaluate your skill set, your time and your commitment to getting the job done. Review the tasks that you truly do not want to do, or are not capable of doing well. As you look at them collectively, match the list of tasks with the responsibilities listed above under each service provider.

Be pro active. Spend the money it takes to work with a great professional who is dedicated to helping you grow your business. Do not get caught in the “I can’t afford help” mentality. After all, if you won’t invest in your company, why should clients invest in you?