Marketing Tips for Photographers {Ask the Expert}

I’m giddy to introduce, Alan Warner, the creative and marketing guru at Trion Promotion. I’ve know Alan for many years and he’s become a dear friend and marketing force behind kern-photo for the last four years. He attends marketing conferences and tradeshows to keep his skills sharp, is an avid runner, and loves reading the newspaper almost as much as his affinity for Apple products. Alan was my creative force behind much of my marketing efforts for the past 4 years. We worked together at National Geographic Maps and I am always impressed how hard he works and appreciate his tenacity for branding consistency.

wpid-Mamiya-645-80mm-f1.9-bokeh-portrait-alan-warner-trion-2012-01-6-11-34.jpg Mamiya 645 AF / 80mm f/1.9 / Kodak Portra 400 / RPL Scan

Alan was very helpful in guiding me in creating my branding tools for marketing arsenal, which I share 22 of them here. He agreed to help share his enthusiasm with marketing with this installment of Ask the Expert. I hope you enjoy!

1. Alan, if you were to write the book “Everything I Learned About Marketing, I Learned in Kindergarten”, describe key 5 points.

    • Be authentic, who you truly are. Nothing replaces be genuine.
    • Carry business cards with you at all times.
    • Don’t try to be an expert in all things. Stay focused on what you do best and like.
    • Build strong relationships with clients and vendors.
    • Be of value to others, often at no cost. Much like what RJ does.

2. Describe the best thank you’s or gifts you can extend to current clients to make them ‘happy’?

It may sound simplistic and trite but at least send a heartfelt card of thanks and appreciation. This is so overlooked in our busy world today. It has the power to disrupt the daily flow with a much greater impact than a thank you email. Those too are better than forgetting to acknowledge the appreciation.

3. What are your best advice for photographers to extend “word of mouth” referrals?

Keep in touch with those you’ve done work. Connect with then periodically so you are top-of-mind. Send them a postcard of recent work or surprise them with a simple custom gift using image(s) you shot.

4. Are business cards still relevant? Why?

Absolutely! See #1. Think about how people will easily remember, contact you and see your portfolio. This is the cheapest and easiest way to get your business in their hands. Craft something that is engaging and with ALL your information. Make it a brochure card and it is likely to be kept and shared if very cool.

5. In three sentences, what’s the importance of marketing and branding?

Marketing and branding allows people to know who you are and why you are relevant to them. Without effective branding your business will not be memorable or standout from the crowd to get customer’s attention. Even if you have a great a brand/identity without marketing (getting the word out) you will be challenged to get the business you want simply because they won’t know to consider you.

6. What’s the best way to market YOU?

Build strong relationships, trust and be a resource to clients and vendors so they will think highly of you and easily pass along your business name to potential clients because they know you’ll do a good job and feel confident they won’t jeopardize their reputation by doing so.

7. Tell us three Must-Do’s when it comes to building trust with clients so we are interacting with them more as a “friend” than a “vendor”.

      • Connect with them regularly, not just when a project calls. Provide them with news, insights and information that reminds you of them and which may be relevant to their success.
      • Be willing to say “No” when it comes to things or project you really don’t want to do or take on.
      • Follow through on what you say and commit to.

8. If you were a personal trainer at Marketing Boot Camp, what music would you tell your students to bring and what to leave home?

I would want a variety of energetic “flowing” music such as Tom Petty’s, ‘Running down a dream’ and lyrically hip-hop like Lyric Born’s ‘Calling out’. Just keep it flowing, those that don’t can stay home for later.

9. How do you balance working for free with vs charging full price?

It all depends on the request, the client and the existing or potential relationship. Trust your “gut” evaluation of the long term value benefits against your time. Sometimes these work out great other times not so much.

10. How would you market the latest new “thing” in the wedding photography industry?

Create a campaign to connect with you business associates and clients (past ones too). Tell them a story of why this is important. How they benefit and why you like it. Get this story to them using all the ways you currently market to them. There are lots of options you probably already use such as: FB, twitter, emails, website and postcards. Perhaps do something new for what really excites you and use a promotional item, if relevant, and plan to get this ‘message’ into their hands whenever possible.

11. What marketing resources inspire your business?

In no particular order:

          • Artist books.
          • Design annuals and magazines.
          • Other company’s creative marketing pieces, especially print ones.
          • Mother nature – being outside observing whether it is in nature or an urban environment. Music.


Great ideas, Alan! Thanks for sharing such great marketing insight!

Other marketing-related posts of interest:

Stay tuned for future “Ask the Expert” interviews of others who love to create as much as share. I’m looking for suggestions for new content, toss a comment below and share what you’d like see next!

4 Responses to “Marketing Tips for Photographers {Ask the Expert}”

  1. Marci Johnson — January 6, 2012 @ 2:27 pm (#)

    Nice Job and great info…. 🙂

  2. Willie Dalton — January 6, 2012 @ 6:10 pm (#)

    This is awesome! Thanks RJ! I especially love the “I learned in kindergarten” question, I recently saw a wonderfully done poster of that. Excellent way to phrase that question!

  3. Brooke Summer Photography — February 4, 2012 @ 3:09 am (#)

    Nothing replaces be genuine. <—- SO true, I wish that people would embrace this. Be who you are, not a replica of someone who is successful. Love it!

  4. Pingback: The Hit List: 33 Photo Tips & Tutorials from 2012 | Kern-Photo

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