My last post on Tiffinbox.org, titled “How Photographers Can Create a Well-Rounded Marketing Plan” was a huge success! It even made it into Seshu's top-5 articles of all time, which is a huge honour, so thank you for giving it all the love! Seshu has given me the opportunity to write here again, and so I wanted to take one of the ideas that I touched on in that last article and go deeper with it.
Display collaboratives (otherwise known as display advertising) is a co-marketing initiative where you hang your prints at a third-party location or business (target location), with the intent of creating brand awareness and community recognition for your work. What's great about display collaboratives is that it is an idea that is applicable to every genre of photography in every market. No matter what your specialty or target market, this is a great marketing program that you can use to grow your business.
Why display advertising?
If the benefits of display collaboratives aren't inherently obvious, then I'll take a moment here to explain. You are basically creating a win-win-win situation. Normally, a win-win would be good enough for me, so that extra “win” in there makes this that much better!
The target location wins because they get unique, custom art displayed in their space that is highly specialized. They get to support a local artist, and they'll also gain recognition, awareness and ultimately more business throughout the promotion of the display advertising. More to come on the promoting part later.
Your clients who are in the images being displayed wins because they get to be “famous” for a short period of time. They can brag to their friends and family that their family
portrait, wedding image or child's portrait is hanging in a prominent, popular place in town.
You win because you get be in front of a completely new audience, you get to re-enforce your brand in your community, you get to build a solid relationship with a local business and you gain access to their audience throughout the promotion of the display advertising.
How to set up a display advertising collaboration
Ultimately, you will want to have several displays up in a few different locations – the idea is to “be everywhere” and re-enforce your brand and your presence in your community. I recommend starting with one location at a time, and working your way up from there.
Throughout the whole process, remember to continually build value, be professional and continually show respect and appreciation for everyone involved. This is as much about the finished pieces on the wall and the exposure as it is about the relationships and impact you can make throughout the whole process. Throughout the process, promote and share on social media behind-the-scenes pictures, ideas and teasers to build excitement for the project that you're working on with the target location.
Here is a 5-step process to take you from idea to fulfillment for setting up a successful display collaborative campaign.
Step 1 – Determine the target location
First let me say that this is not a marketing initiative that is done well through “cold-calling” potential target locations. This is the kind of marketing program that you want to run collaboratively founded on existing relationships. I'm not suggesting that you have to be best friends with the target location, but instead what I'm saying is that display collaboratives are best executed when there is a pre-existing mutual trust and respect. Look at your “rolodex” of local contacts and discover some locations where your target client might frequents.
Here are a few examples of locations that might be a good fit:
- If you're a wedding photographer that targets the high-end bride, perhaps a wedding boutique on the main street in your quaint town would be a good fit.
- If you're a wedding photographer who specializes in the vintage style, then perhaps a good fit would be a local brewery or a new-age rustic flower shop.
- If you're a child photographer looking to photograph for families who are in the middle-to-upper professional working class, then maybe a good fit would be a higher-scale local dentist office.
- If you're a child photographer looking to photograph for more middle-class, DIY, stay-at-home Mom's who want to spend good money on great photography, then a good fit might be a local children's clothing boutique.
You can see how there are so many opportunities once you start choosing partners based on target market.
Golden nugget: If you want to really find out the best places to partner with, then simply ask your 5 best clients where else they shop during the week. Better yet – ask them where they go to buy Christmas presents around the holidays. This will show you what kind of consumer they are, where they shop, and what their spending habits are like.
As I mentioned earlier, it's best to have a pre-existing relationship before you start bringing up the idea of display advertising with a target location, so if you don't already have a relationship with the target location you're approaching, then you need to spend some time building and nurturing a relationship before you “jump into bed” together. Network, get to know each other, build up that mutual trust and respect, and then move on to the next step. If you already have a solid relationship, then move on forward.
Step 2 – Propose the idea of display advertising
It's simple to bring up the idea of doing a display collaboration with a target location. You want to propose the win-win-win situation to them, explain the benefits and minimize the objections. I recommend having this discussion in-person, and be sure to bring a sample print similar to one that you would display so that they can see the value.
You must consider this a creative marketing expense, and so I recommend that you do not charge for the prints. This is an advertising opportunity for you, and much like you'd pay a magazine to be in front of their audience, you are covering the expenses here in exchange for being in front of this new audience. Discuss the idea of having your logo on the prints, or at the very least, ask to have business cards on display nearby.
Step 3 – Decide size, placement, duration and (optionally) rotation
Another benefit to having the discussion in-person is that you can start to brainstorm right away where and how big the prints might be able to be displayed. You are the expert here, remember; you are a professional photographer and a part of your job is to design wall art, so be generous with your recommendations, but remember that it is ultimately their space, so you need to also be respectful to their wishes.
Step 4 – Hang the prints yourself
Once you've decided on sizes, images and placement, be sure to get the prints made as quickly as possible. Bring the finished pieces into the space personally and hang them yourself at a mutually agreed upon time. Once again, show your professionalism. This is when you are presenting the “deliverable”, so the excitement should be at it's high. If you want to really make an impact, deliver a special surprise with the finished piece for all of those involved. Whether that means bringing a bouquet of flowers, a small gift or giving them a gift certificate for personal portraits themselves, do something at this point to exceed their expectations.
Step 5 – Promote it!
This is when the real work begins. You need to promote the display collaboration as much as possible. Help to deliver the target location's “win” part of the equation and get them more visibility. Tweet, Instagram, Facebook and Blog as much as you can. Share images, videos, stories of the whole process everywhere and anywhere you can. Get the local media involved and see if it would be something they'd be interested in running in the local paper or on the radio. Here's an idea – consider running some sort of contest to get buzz going. Be creative here!
Don't forget to reach out to those who are actually displayed in the portraits you have hanging on the wall and tell them that their images are up (they should have been aware ahead of time). Tell them that they should go check it out and to tell all of their friends and family about their “moment of fame”.
Think Outside the Box – Be Creative!
Display advertising as I've presented it thus far has been fairly straight forward – you hang some of your work in another space. There are so many more ways to “spin it” if you really think outside the box and get creative. I have written a “part 2” to this article where I share some specific ideas for getting creative with collaborative display advertising opportunities, in fact, one of my ideas will even generate you money – lots of money! If you're interested in getting the second part delivered right to your inbox, then head on over to this page on the Sprouting Photographer website, leave me your e-mail address and I'll send it to you right away, free of charge!