Was all that effort worth it? An inside look at what we shared with our photographers about 2011.

© Richard Schultz – www.rschultz.com

At the end of every year, Lauranne and I meet with each of our photographers to review the current year and plan for the next one.  During that time, we offer insights into what we see happening within the industry, within our group and with them individually.   We analyze what worked and what didn’t and we present a marketing plan for the New Year.  It is a great reset button for the year.

To prepare for this, we create a report that outlines everything that was accomplished for the year.  We detail what trips were taken, which agencies we visited, which events we attended, how many mailers and e-mailers were sent, and which publications and websites we were present in and so forth.  It is great way to see the big picture of what actually was accomplished from a marketing point of view for the year.  We can then make recommendations on what should be continued or cut. 

Every presentation starts off with a brief summary of what we noticed over the year within our group and the industry.  This summary sets the tone for the rest of the presentation and the plans for the New Year.

Below, please find the summary that we shared with our photographers at the beginning of the meeting.    We hope you find it as helpful as they did.

“This year began with a very powerful group meeting.  The purpose was to outline how to shift our mindsets so as to identify emerging opportunities in the then new media market.  We all tried on new glasses so that we could reframe how we saw our own businesses.  And we offered new tools to help everyone succeed.

The to do lists after that meeting were long but everyone came away with a clarified list of priorities of how to be competitive and stay inspired.  It is exciting to look back over the year and see what worked, what didn’t and what still needs to be done.

We felt that this year was a year in transition.  Photographers in our group transitioned their websites, their portfolios, and how they communicate.  Agencies and clients transition more towards library shoots and incorporated video even more.   Clients continued to look for ways to get as much value from a  shoot as possible and therefore embraced the idea of library shoots even more.

In addition, we saw the “treatment” take on a larger role and become expected.  Photographers began to focus on designing them in keeping with their brand; indicating that they too appreciated their purpose and wanted to make sure to stand out on the table.

As well, we saw portfolio shows dwindle some and the “Pay to Play” events rise in popularity.  The idea that photographers could gain access to top-level creatives by paying into a marketing program is gaining more and more momentum.  At Edge’s Face-to-Face, Le Book’s Connections events, NYC Fotoworks and Debra Weiss’s portfolio shows are proving that artists need these connections and are willing to pay for them.  They are also proving that creatives recognize the importance of these connections as well and are willing to make focused time for them for a price.

All of this translated into more effort in every aspect of our jobs.  More new imagery needed to be created.  More marketing needed to done, more treatments needed to be written, more calls needed to be made to yield even one show, more websites needed to be joined and more mailers and e-mailers needed to be sent out.  More of everything needed to happen.

Seeing that we are at the end of the year, it is natural to ask, “Was it all worth it?”

Our answer is. “Yes.” 

In order to answer this question fully, it is important though, to look beyond just the bottom line.  While we would all like more jobs to be offered and more to land when they do, we need to remember that overall the quality of what is being offered and the budgets to get them produced are increasing.   The high profile and long-term projects, as well as the repeat clients and fabulous creative opportunities that came across our desk was proof enough that all the effort is worth it.

Keep in mind though that even with all the transition and added efforts, the one thing that never seems to change is the power of new work.  As the case in any year in our group; no matter a recession or a dot.com bust, those photographers in our group that produced and shared new work saw the strongest returns whenever they did.

We look to this New Year with just as much excitement as we did last year.  The to do lists are far from complete but we are that much farther along than we were last year.  Our new glasses have worked well for us and we will continue to wear them to look towards the future.

See full post here: Heather Elder Represents Blog2012-01-18.