Charlie Giles is a founder of marketing agency Studio Luxmore. She has worked in marketing for nearly 20 years and previously worked as the AOP Marketing & Events manager. We caught up with her to ask how creatives and photographers should market themselves.
How did you first get into marketing?
I’m passionate about people and interested in what makes them tick, and I love design. These passions converge very neatly into a career in marketing. I’ve never looked back.
Marketing yourself as a photographer or creative can be a daunting task. Where should you begin?
Always look at your brand first. It’s the foundation of any good marketing activity. What is your USP? How are you different from the next photographer or creative? How do you communicate all that? Is your content interesting to your audience? There are lots of questions! That’s always the starting point. Make sure the building blocks of your business are sound and take it from there.
What are some of your top tips when marketing yourself?
Your Instagram feed shouldn’t be a series of adverts! So many brands fall into this trap. We don’t want to be constantly sold to, particularly in the current environment.
Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone! Marketing is all about building relationships. You can cover a lot more ground if you pick up the phone. It’s quicker than emailing and it helps build rapport. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation.
Learn how to describe what you do in a succinct way. It may sound simple but so many people struggle with this and you never know where your next job will come from: it could be from a quick chat at the school gates or in a coffee shop. Learn to explain what you do, how you can help and your USP. Then practise, practise, practise.
Do I need a brand story?
Yes! People are naturally curious. They want to know about you! How you came to do what you do, what you’re like, what interests you, so they can see if they like the sound of you. Because of the nature of photography and the creative industries you need to build that rapport. Your brand story doesn’t have to be everywhere, but it should live in your Brand Strategy, on your website and used for your social feed. Writing it down is a really useful exercise.
When people talk about content, what do they really mean?
In a marketing context, content usually means words and images. It could be on social media, blog posts, a campaign. It needs to be relevant, valuable and informative, but almost anything you do could become content. From a walk in the park to a big commission. Anything that your audience will be interested in. Great content strengthens your brand.
How important do you think design is when communicating a brand?
Vital. People are increasingly visually literate these days, and given that you work in the creative industry, there is an expectation that not only will your portfolio be striking but your brand touchpoints will be equally well designed. Great design does many things: firstly it attracts your target audience; secondly it communicates what you are all about, with your audience needing to know what your USP is so that they don’t choose the next person; thirdly it helps you stand out from the crowd (lets face it there’s stiff competition these days); and, finally it instills confidence that you are a creative person with a great eye and therefore a safe pair of hands that they can trust with the next commission.
Is there still a value in printed marketing materials?
Yes, there is still a value but it depends on your situation. At the moment, we are working mostly in a digital environment. Even when we are seeing people we aren’t handing out business cards, which we always recommend you have. You will also need to have a letterhead designed, and possibly printed. Other items such as packaging, flyers, posters and signage will vary according to your business. Many people have found that for obvious reasons a lot less printed material has been needed this year, but once we’re out of the pandemic and everyone is out and about more, and more face to face events happen, these will reappear.
Is it possible to manage your own PR?
Yes, absolutely. It just takes a considerable amount of time and willingness to learn the necessary skills. It involves researching and compiling a database of contacts, knowing how to write a good press release, sending them out to the relevant contacts when you have news to share and keeping on top of the replies. It’s all about making relationships with the relevant people and titles, so you’ll need to polish off your communication, administrative and organisational skills for this area. Like with everything, if you are keen and willing to learn, anything is possible.