Clark Marten, owner of Clark Marten Photography shares some insights into his techniques for marketing success
What is the one thing most people don’t know about your company that you wish they did?
Our name has been escalated over the years, but we’re a pretty relaxed and fun bunch of people. Our lunches are family style around a little table with lots of laughing. This has grown from the “why” of what we do. We believe people should feel important and see beauty in themselves in a world where that doesn’t always happen. This belief also works into the art pieces we create. From creative to printing, framing and even stretching canvas prints, we do everything in house to ensure the highest quality. People are often pleasantly surprised when we give them a tour and they see we have a staff of 11 and a full print lab in our basement.
How has the downturn of the national economy impacted your marketing efforts? Have you marketed differently in this economy than you would have 6 years ago?
We gained a lot of ground when things went down. As others cut back and hunkered down, we kept moving forward. We weren’t recklessly spending, but chose to find new ways to gain more clients. Action always moves you forward no matter how many steps backwards you learn from. The world is always changing and so must we.
What kinds of things do you do to ensure marketing initiatives work well for your sales team?
Constant communication! We have a huddle 2-3 times a week with our whole crew to share what marketing is happening, to help prepare them, and to get their feedback. Marketing is end to end—from the first moment they see our work, to direct mail we send, how the phones are answered, how they’re greeted at the door, and even follow up after they receive their portraits. As a team, we make sure it all works together.
What marketing strategy changes have you had to make as your company has grown?
With the help of our business coach we’ve moved away from passive marketing (like sending out a brochure and hoping people call) to a more proactive approach where we get people to raise their hand saying they’re interested. Unlike the past, we then call these “warm leads” to follow up with them.
What marketing mistakes do you see most often in other small business?
They are too busy working in their business and not ON the business. We’re not only photographers, but marketers, too. No one else will get our phone ringing for us.
What marketing mistakes (your own or others) has your company learned from?
We’ve had promotions that bomb, ideas that never took flight, and projects we’ll never do again. The biggest mistake most small businesses make is allowing mistakes like these to define them. Instead, learn from them and continue moving forward. Our success in photography has come from continuing to take action when others give up.
How is your company using online and social media to advance your marketing goals?
We’ve just recently grasped the power of doing online marketing correctly. Ultra Graphics is helping us redesign our website to better reflect who we are and ensure it serves a better purpose than just a pretty online billboard. It will integrate a strong blog along with video and other elements that will increase our SEO. As far as social media, we have a strong presence there to stay in front of people, but have found that advertising on social media doesn’t get us the type of clients we want.
What top 3 things do you attribute to your success?
1. Grace of God. Early on, we unknowingly did many things wrong and lots of things right. Only by the grace of God did all the pieces fall into place. 2. Having a business coach. We did well before having a business coach, but for the last 3 years since bringing our coach, David Hilton, onto our team, we’ve more than doubled our business. He brings new ideas, keeps us on track, and makes sure we follow through. 3. Taking action! Action always moves you forward no matter how many steps backwards you learn from.
How do you differentiate your company from other competitors in the marketplace?
Like any industry, photography has changed a lot since going digital. Five hundred photographers are born every Christmas in Billings because they received a camera, and true professionals are harder to find. We work very hard to educate people on the difference. Not only by the work we show, the artistic feel our pieces are known for, but even more importantly the words and emotion we speak into each portrait.
What’s your best marketing tip for other small business owners?
Seek knowledge, embrace change, take immediate action.
2606 Montana Avenue | Billings, Montana 59101 | clarkmarten.com