Yesterday I talked about the new free-conomy, where businesses and individuals use free and valuable content to build a platform. I used Michael Hyatt’s definition of a platform as “the means by which you connect with your existing and potential fans.” The examples I used were photographers like David Jay and Chase Jarvis who have built large, multi-thousand person platforms from which they provide both free and paid-for content. But do you need to have tens of thousands of Twitter followers for Facebook fans to have a viable platform? Thankfully, the answer is “no.” Even small photography and video studios can build platforms that can yield marketing and financial benefits. Here are just a few examples:
- Wedding Vendors. One of the key ingredients to building a platform is knowing your audience. If you service the wedding industry, your audience is one of the best audiences in the world around which to build a platform: motivated females in the 20-40 year old age bracket looking for education and deals. When weddings were my focus, I started a video podcast way back in 2006 (ancient history in internet years) geared specifically towards brides and newlyweds. Fellow wedding filmmakers Studio Vieux Carre of New Orleans did something similar in their market by creating a local cable show for brides. I’ve seen other wedding vendors create blogs geared towards brides. If your content is consistent and valuable, even a small local platform can prove rewarding.
- Portrait Studios. We’re building a platform with our teen portrait studio Teen Identity. We have an online magazine, a Facebook page, and a YouTube channel geared specifically to the teen market (specifically teen girls). Senior Mode magazine was started by portrait photographer Ken Kneringer out of Indianapolis.
- Commercial. If your primary market is the corporate sector, you can still build a platform based on information you have they want. It may seem counter-intuitive to you though. Here it is. Show them how to make their own videos and photos. (Go ahead, pick your jaw up off the floor). Yes, in essence, show them how to make you seem unneeded. The truth is, many companies are moving in this direction anyway. They’re getting some internal employee with Final Cut Pro X or the company’s copy of Photoshop to do their own video and photos. What if you built a platform of corporations and large organizations where YOU teach them how to do it right. Guess what? When time comes for them to produce a video or photo that is larger in scope than they can handle, you will be first in their mind for studios to contact. I’m seeing plumbers and handymen and other home care professionals do the same. It’s a smart way of looking at the new free-conomy. Stay in front of your potential clients, even if it means rendering some of your services irrelevant to them because you’re empowering those potential clients to do it themselves.
It goes without saying that these strategies take a lot of work. But the extra effort to effectively market yourself and extend your brand is worth it.