I was part of a discussion in another thread which was the catalyst for this topic. PLEASE NOTE: I am going to refer to a fictitious stock agency called "ACME Stock" because naming specific agencies result with the name being blocked out with "************."
Two significant events recently occurred in the stock world which are great examples of how a stock agency can increase market share. And I'm willing to bet 99.9% of the stock industry missed the point of these opportunities. They just said "Whoa!" and took a step back and then continued on with business as usual.
What were these two events?
1. Yuri Arcurs going exclusive with a single stock agency.
2. A stock agency had exclusive Rights for selling images from the Olympics
How did these two events happen? It was very simple: Someone at ACME Stock PICKED UP THE PHONE AND CUT A DEAL.
This is known as "Old School Sale and Marketing." It's a concept lost on businesses that are focused on Search Engine Optimization. The new mantra is Search Engine Optimization which is based on the assumption you get more business if you place high in internet searches. Yes, SEO is important, but a business will fail if it abandons proven marketing concepts.
A good sales and marketing person will grow a business.
Let's look at the Olympics example. SOMEONE at ACME Stock came up with the idea of cutting a deal with the Olympics Committee. They did their homework, discussed their ideas with management, and then made a presentation to the OC.
I have no idea of what the actual agreement entailed, but I'm sure it went something like this:
"Hey, Boss, if we give the OC a million dollars we can get exclusive Rights for selling Olympic editorials online!"
"WHAT???!!! A MILLION DOLLARS! NO! NO! NO!"
"Boss, listen a minute. We will make a profit from this. First of all, anyone needing Olympic images will have to buy from us. We will have high sale rates from these images because they can't be purchased elsewhere. IN ADDITION, IT WILL FORCE BUYERS TO COME TO US INSTEAD OF OUR COMPETITORS. WE WILL GET ADDITIONAL REVENUE WE OTHERWISE WOULDN'T GET."
"My, god! You're right! Get legal to draw up the papers and you're getting a raise!"
The reader will need to fill in the blanks of this hypothetical and simple scenario. The big shots at the other agencies are probably saying "Yeah, so what?" The Olympics are over and the damage is done."
What DT can do (any any other stock agency can do) is to approach the OC and ASK IF THEY CAN BID ON THE NEXT OLYMPICS! Throw money at the OC and they will listen! The potential for revenue is there! ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS PICK UP THE PHONE.
Well, OK, it's a bit more complicated than that. Remember also: If you DON'T get the winning bid or are able to enact some sort of agreement, you should have been able to force ACME Stock to PAY MORE to retain their Rights to the Olympics. It becomes a less profitable (and possibly a losing one) proposition for them which gives them less leverage in the industry. The more money your competitors make, the more power they can exert upon the industry. Is DT and any other stock agencies in discussion with the Olympics Committee? Can you get a piece of the action? Or at least force ACME to pay more money and slow their ability to outpace your agency?
OK. Let's talk about Yuri going exclusive. I think the conversation went something like this:
"Hello? Is this Yuri Arcurs?
"Yes. And you are...?"
"Hi! I'm from ACME Stock and I would like to talk business with you. Yuri, let me ask you a question: How much money did you make last year between all the stock agencies?"
"Tell you what, Yuri, ACME Stock is willing to offer you TWELVE MILLION if you go exclusive with us!"
"Really! Sure! I can use an extra two million! But aren't you going to lose money?"
"Yuri, that's the beautiful part! Your projected sales will make us money even if we take a smaller percentage. However, we stand to GAIN when Buyers follow you to our agency and purchase additional images from our other Contributors! And you want to know the best part?
"All the money the other stock agencies could have made off of you will no longer be going into their pockets! We gain market share while they lose! MWWAHAHHhahahah!"
"MWAHAHahahahah! Where do I sign?"
OK, maybe I took a bit of literary license there but the strategy is exactly true. DT and all the other stock agencies are losing millions of dollars, all thanks to an OLD SCHOOL sales and marketing guy.
There isn't much you can do to get Yuri to come back, at least any time soon. HOWEVER, the SAME SALES STRATEGIES ABOVE CAN BE UTILIZED.
How? I'm glad you asked!
There are many markets you can seek out and capture for yourself. Has anyone approached the different news agencies such as ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, BBC, etc? They use tons of images purchased from stock agencies. CALL THEM UP ON THE PHONE (there we go again, using the old-fashioned phone) AND CUT A DEAL. Give them a price incentive to use your agency on an exclusive basis!
Here in the United States the various newspapers are corporate entities. The parent company may manage a number of newspapers and other related publications. Again, CUT THEM A DEAL.
It's the same with magazines and publishing. I think most of the western world may be familiar with "Readers Digest." Readers Digest is an example of corporate publishing. They own many different magazines catering to niche markets. CUT THEM A DEAL TO USE YOUR AGENCY. You're missing a lot of potential if you think a single magazine only uses a few images each month. The COMPANY as a whole may be using thousands of images. It's going to be harder than you think to just call and ask a few questions but it's a missed opportunity if you don't try.
Let's talk about education. On occasion I attend a fine art college, taking non-credit photography courses and related subjects. One of the programs being offered is GRAPHIC DESIGN. The forward-thinking stock agency will at least explore this possibility. Cut a deal with these types of institutions. You probably won't make much money from this but what happens when Graphic Design students graduate? They get jobs at companies that actively purchase images. Guess who these students will suggest using when purchasing stock?
Where I live in the world, there are multiple state universities but they are run as a single system. There are harsh realities when approaching a system that is politically governed but it would be HUGE account if you can cut through the red tape and secure this type of account. A university system with over a dozen colleges could potentially be a huge account.
I'm sure there are many other possibilities that I'm not familiar with.
One more topic: IMAGE THEFT.
Let me make this analogy: If a group of 16 year olds were having a party at my house and I put a little note on the liquor cabinet saying KEEP OUT because I had to leave for a few hours, we all know the potential of the situation getting way out of hand. If it does and the police are involved, you're going to jail because YOU ARE STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONSEQUENCES.
So this is my naive wish for the stock industry: It would be great if the agencies would pool their resources and start suing web sites where image theft is rampant. A web site is still RESPONSIBLE for allowing theft and a little sentence in their terms and agreement does not excuse them. Going after specific web sites and winning the litigation will force web sites to monitor for theft.
If this could happen, the stock industry as a whole will see more sales as people realize they can't get away with stealing images.
To sum this up, if a stock agency wants to make more money, it simply boils down to this: PICK UP THE PHONE AND MAKE SOME PHONE CALLS. Good old fashioned sales and marketing is going to generate more revenue than SEO. I see stock sites spending all their resources trying all the cross-linking gimmicks for better search engine placement and that is such a waste of time and money. As far as I can tell for DT, the only thing they accomplished has been making it easier for thieves to find our images and steal them. DT watermarked images are all over the internet. I have found only TWO images stolen from other stock sites.
ACME Stock has already demonstrated what you can accomplish with old school sales and marketing techniques. I provided possible markets other agencies can pursue. I see all types of businesses wasting their resources for Search Engine Optimization. Want more sales? YOU need to look for customers, waiting for customers to find you on the internet is a path to failure.
And yes, it's all easier said than done. It's just like being a Contributor uploading images. You don't get sales by constantly uploading. You get sales by having a quality product. For stock agencies, they can increase market share with quality marketing. ACME Stock is doing it.
Nikon D800, D100, Canon G15