The commercial industry depends heavily on reps who showcase and shop your work around. This is a terrific article from Nick Onken’s blog that describes part of his process. He was helped by consultant Amanda Sosa Stone, who I would certainly recommend if you are looking for help getting business in the commercial world. I have toured the country with her as part of the Survivors Tour, which they are headed back out on again soon.
August 24, 2008
I thought I’d take a posting opportunity to share the process I just went through in finding a new rep. It was by far a huge learning process, and I learned a lot about the business on a national level. Most importantly, I believe finding the right rep is about finding a repping house that ultimately resonates with your business goals, perspectives, and someone you can mesh with personality wise. Different reps are right for different photographers. Within this post, I can share what my business objectives, and personal requirements for a rep, and how I came to the final decision. For the reps I talked with and met with, in this last round were all fantastic options. Because they were all great rep houses, it made the final decision a very difficult one. I had to weigh the pros and cons of each and make a calculated decision based on my personal/business objectives. So for anyone who I met with who is reading this post, thank you for the opportunity to be potentially repped by you.
Onward to the story… Naturally you never know how something will actually be until you give it a try for 6 months to a year, at least in this business. Due to the progression of a business and relationship, it takes a rep at least that much time to build and develop your career and to start seeing the results. My decision was based on the results of the agency from an outside perspective as well as interview I had for each one. I feel I was well prepared in the list of questions I brought to the table in the meetings(thanks to Amanda my consultant). I wrote down the answers on the prepared questionnaire so I could properly evaluate the differences in the end between all five agencies.
Due to my style and what I gravitate to, the nature and goal of my business is commercial advertising photography, with a minor in editorial on a National level. Editorial is something I definitely want to keep building, but advertising is where I want to be. Thus being I needed to look for an agent who’s primary focus was the same. Secondly, the my other focus was having an agent that is based out of New York City. New York is the epicenter for out industry with more ad agencies, magazines, and other clients than any other city, and probably most of the other major US cities combined. It’s better to start from the epicenter. This also became the major deciding factor in the end. I also found a big difference in the way New York agencies do business than west coast agents.
At the point in my career now, I’ve been meeting with Art Buyers in ad agencies on my own for the last couple years doing meet and greet portfolio showings. I still believe personal referrals are the most important element in this business as with any other especially from the right person. My art buyer friend from a huge ad agency in LA was kind enough to refer me to a few repping houses. What better to be recommended to a rep by their clients? That’s the approach I took, and naturally A: we have the rapport for her to refer me, and B: she believes in my talent to feel confidant in the referral.
Some of the things I evaluated with the different agencies was, their roster of talent and the status that brings, location, promotion/marketing strategies, reputation with art buyers, how their vision meshed with mine, how they interact with me, services they offer, etc. One big thing that was important to me at least at this stage in my career is mentorship. I wanted a rep who can guide, and coach my career, while at the same time not being so involved that they’re spending more time doing that than getting my work out there. As I said, another huge factor was a rep based in the epicenter of this country, New York. The roster of talent is a huge factor as well as I’m realizing. Being repped by an agency that only reps a certain level of talent, automatically takes you to that level(at least it appears that way from the outside). Brand association is huge, and by associating with other brands that are maybe bigger than you, creates a credibility. Something that stuck out to me with the agency I went with was their follow up with me as well as the art buyer that recommended me. I received a followup email from the two owners thanking me for coming in, and how they think I was a good fit for their agency. They also called my art buyer friend and personally thanked her for the recommendation. This said a lot on how they deal with their clients and with me. The New York agencies end up costing a little more to be with, but I think it’s the place to be.
In the end, I made the best decision with the information I could obtain. You never know the real answer until you give it some time.
So the winner? http://www.greenhousereps.com