Solopreneur Marketing Case Study: Amanda Thomas, Photographer

Client: Amanda Thomas,

Amanda Thomas

Amanda Thomas

The Masterplan process has made me focus on exactly who I want to be working with. It’s been quite challenging but it’s really unfolded from there — and my diary has filled up, really filled up.”


Amanda Thomas has been a professional photographer for since 1998. She is based in Bristol and London with clients across the UK. Her work spans fashion photography, portraits and bespoke designer made products — from jewellery to clothing and footwear. Her objective is to help clients grow their businesses with the help of beautiful imagery.

Like many small business owners, Amanda has effectively been her own marketing department. She's done a fairly typical combination of networking, social media, managing a website and producing a newsletter. For Amanda, the biggest challenge was the lack of structure. As she explains: “It was very hit and miss. But I guess if you are using a scattered approach you get scattered results.”

How Watertight Marketing helped

Amanda was aware of Watertight Marketing for a number of years, even before the book was published. Having read a number of articles by author Bryony Thomas, Amanda (no relation by the way!) responded to the crowdfunding campaign to back the book. Her copy duly arrived and the relationship continued to develop over a period of time.

As Amanda explains, “I looked at the Watertight Marketing site quite a lot and then an email arrived, inviting me to a seminar to identify my profit leaks. Bryony talked about the Thirteen Touchpoint Leaks and we all did a self assessment. It opened my eyes and made me think. I decided to start the Masterplan programme based on this. The cost suited my budget and I could do it at my pace, and it even included a little one-to-one on-going support.”

So, what actions did Amanda take?

One of the things that appealed to Amanda about the Watertight Marketing methodology was the structure it gives, particularly across a 12 month programme like Masterplan. “I felt that it would give me the structure all my earlier efforts didn’t have.”

Amanda felt her earlier marketing was not focussed enough on the customers she most wanted to work with. As she explains, “it featured my latest work but not what people might really want to know — or, what they might want to know about working with me. I also felt the voice wasn’t right, possibly because I didn’t think clearly enough about who I was talking to.”

All of this made it quite hard for potential clients to get a sense of what it would be like to work with Amanda. They could see the pictures (the output), but, when investing in a photoshoot there’s a lot at stake (the input). This is where the clarity of thinking gained from Masterplan really paid off.

Leak #4 — No Gateway

Although photography is a very visual business, it’s difficult (if not impossible) to actually trial a photographer before you buy. It’s therefore a very considered purchase where evidence and reassurance are critical. Amanda’s challenge was how to give a sense of what it would be like to work with her so that she didn’t lose potential customers at this early hurdle.

Leak #4, in the Thirteen Touchpoint Leaks, addresses how easy it is for customers to buy from you — and the more you can do to give them a flavour of what it would be like as a customer, the better.

Amanda describes how she now achieves this. “The Watertight process has made me more considered in my responses — and I’m better prepared for those anticipated questions — as I’ve focussed more on the customer I want to work with, the type of things they want and need to know.”

An off-the-shelf trial product wasn’t viable in this instance — so Amanda’s gateway process was producing very tailored portfolios, and detailed Q&A’s specific to the type of clients she wanted to attract and work with — in this instance fashion and portraiture.

Almost at the first point of being tested, this new process worked. Having met a potential client while networking, Amanda was able to send a very bespoke collection of work, and a proposal that had already considered (and answered) the clients potential questions. She won the assignment — a fashion shoot— that was exactly the type of work she was looking for. This detailed focus on the ideal client was to have additional benefits.

Leak #6 — No proof

With a considered purchase like photography, buyers will often consult others, they’ll ask their network and they’ll want to hear about people they feel they can trust. In any purchase decision the existence of proof and ease by which they can pass this on can really help a sale. Although Amanda had great examples of her work on her site it didn't say whether she was on brief, on-time and on-budget. For that, it needed to be combined with the best form of proof there is — client recommendations.

Once she had identified her ideal customer, Amanda started to receive more enquiries from people who matched the profile of the people she wanted to work with. Amanda explains how this has worked, “I’ve been more proactive in keeping in touch with my network, telling them the kind of work I’d like to focus on — and they have helped get this message out. I noticed my diary started really filling up and it’s only been a couple of months. People were coming forward saying they’d been referred my way — and they were all by third party recommendation.”

Third party endorsement is one of the most powerful forms of marketing. People will always have a degree of scepticism if you say your work is amazing — but they’ll be hugely impressed if others tell them about you in glowing terms.

The breakthrough

Amanda is now at least 20% busier since starting the Marketing Masterplan. She has spent no additional money on her marketing activity this year, apart from the small cost of the programme. While identifying her ideal customer has been the main reason for the increase in enquiries, it’s not the only benefit. She has become a much more marketing-savvy business owner and, for a solo operator with limited free time, that makes her far more effective.

Amanda describes the additional benefits, “I feel more prepared for a potential new client. There’s a much better structure to my marketing and on-boarding process by comparison to my earlier scattered approach. New customers can be anxious about how it will works. This is especially true with a photographer they haven’t used before. They’ll be thinking ‘are they any good, can they deliver, what will it cost, can I trust them’? I feel I can now address these issues with confidence, and I’m sure this has helped me close work that I may not have done before. It’s about the empathy of understanding what they are looking for and supporting them in making a decision.”

The future

Amanda is looking forward to launching her new website. Her influx of new work has put it a little on the back burner but Amanda plans to launch it in the Autumn, “I have some great work which I want to showcase. I’ve built an amazing new website — but it’s hidden at the moment. I’ve been too busy with my new work that my website is still not live. I keep talking about it so I really hope I can share it soon!"

Ben Wheeler - Marketing ConsultantBen Wheeler, the Watertight Marketing Accredited Consultant who guided Amanda through the Marketing Masterplan process, added “Amanda has great clarity of thinking about who she wants to work with. She’s thought deeply and created very focussed portfolios and communication. In all the time she’s been on the Masterplan programme she’s not actually changed her website — but this is something that most people think they should be doing.

The lesson for other business owners is not to spray money around until you’ve really thought about who you want to work with. Amanda has really thought about it — and that inspires confidence in her growing portfolio of clients."

© Watertight Marketing Ltd

This marketing case study was prepared by Watertight Marketing Accredited Consultant – Ben Wheeler.

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