We interview Beth Forester about how she keeps her marketing fresh and inspired.
Beth Forester is a photographer specializing in senior portraits. Based out of West Virginia, Beth has won countless national awards including PPA’s 2009 AN-NE Award.
What tips would you give new photographers to the industry that you wish someone had told you when first starting out?
First, do not under value your time or your product. Most new photographers tend to overlook their editing, retouching and processing time in evaluating the cost of their products. Second, I always tell aspiring photographers to seek out classes in business management. All too often I see talented photographers fail due to the fact that their business practices are not sound.
You are constantly thinking of ways to set yourself apart from the competition. Can you give us any specific strategies that have proven successful?
I like to look out of the photography industry to find new ways to reach clients and make my brand and business stand out. I am constantly looking at ads from companies my clients and I identify with. I want to see how they are reaching their clients, what is the look and feel of the campaign and is it something I can implement in my situation? I know that companies like American Eagle and Free People are spending millions of dollars on market research. Obviously, I cannot do so. Therefore, by studying their ad campaigns and strategies I can glean insight into how to market to the same clientele…a teen.
You’ve been an early adopter of web technology, may it be with Animoto, podcasts or design techniques. How has embracing the internet as a sales and marketing tool benefited your studio?
Something like web presence is so hard to quantify. However, I do know that it is imperative when you are marketing to a teen crowd that you must be on top of the ever-changing technological landscape.
Your name is often synonymous with a successful senior portrait studio, yet you do other types of portraits as well. How have you managed to keep your marketing specific to appeal to seniors yet broad enough to allow for such diversity amongst your non-senior portrait clients?
It’s very interesting….seniors turn into brides, and then into mothers….so if you develop great relationships with your clients then they will look to you and your studio for capturing all the great moments in life. I finally have been in the business long enough to shoot seniors who I photographed as toddlers. In just a couple of years I’ll have seniors who I photographed as newborns. Gosh I am old!
You have a lot of rock and roll photography on your site featuring top-headling names in music. What draws you to concert photography and how has it helped you at your studio business?
Well, my husband and I are big “live” music fans so going in the pit at concert events is a big rush for me. As far as marketing, it’s been great to be able to place my clients photos on my website along with photos of big names like Dave Matthews, Jack White and Sting. We all wanna be rock stars right?!
You constantly stress that your studio’s capable of pin-pointing what’s unique about a given client and capturing that individualism in your photography. What techniques do you use to get to know what’s special about a client? How do you go about approaching your photography with that information in mind?
First of all when we talk to our seniors before the session, we emphasize that they wear clothing styles that reflect who they are. You can tell a lot about a person from how they dress. We also have information cards for them to fill out when they get to the studio which also helps me “get to know” the senior. It asks questions like your favorite movies, musicians, stores, and websites. It even asks their favorite color…..I am always shocked that seniors will tell me their favorite color is green but yet bring no clothing options in that color. Go figure!