[by Judy Herrmann]
If you’re having trouble marketing your business, it may be time to look beyond traditional DIY strategies. Depending on your circumstances, a consulant, rep or in-house Marketing Assistant can be just the help you need.
Consultants are perfect for those who are looking for guidance in a specific area such as getting unstuck, developing a business or marketing plan, identifying new markets and prospects, editing and sequencing images for your portfolio or mailers, mastering social media or SEO, etc. Before hiring a consultant, think about what you want to get out of the experience. Interview the consultant carefully and make sure that their background, expertise and personality are a good fit for your needs. Consultants can ask tough questions, share their knowledge and expertise, offer advice or recommendations, and in some cases they might even do some legwork for you but their real function is to give you the tools you need to do the heavy lifting – not do it for you.
Reps can help you take your business to the next level by getting your work in front of buyers that they already have a relationship with. There are waaaaaaaaaay more photographers than established reps so landing a contract with one isn’t easy. If you decide to pursue a rep, it’s important to have realistic expectations about their role. Every photographer with a rep that I’ve ever spoken with has told me that while their rep has opened new doors for them, they still spend a lot of time (and money) marketing their business themselves as the amount of work they get through their rep isn’t enough to keep them busy full-time.
In-House Marketing Assistants are great for making sure your marketing activities get done consistently. Unless they’re super experienced (which translates into a higher salary), you will still have to provide the marketing plan and develop a lot of the marketing materials. If you’ve never had an employee, take the time to dot your i’s and cross your t’s before you hire. Write up a comprehensive job description that includes your goals for the position and maps out both their responsibilities and yours. Address the legal side, too – payroll, taxes, insurance, benefits, etc. Depending on the kind of work you do, you may need non-compete or non-disclosure agreements. During the interview, pay close attention to personality and attitude - skills can be taught but working with someone who doesn’t share your values or work ethic will make you crazy. Recognize that training your new hire means everything will take longer than it would if you just did it yourself but if you don’t invest that time, they’ll never be able to work independently.
Having worked with a slew of consultants and in-house marketing assistants, Judy Herrmann learned the hard way just how important it is to clearly communicate your expectations before hiring anyone to help with your marketing!
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