That Won’t Work in My Town

Guest: Rudi Marten

Owner/CEO | Clark Marten Photography
Billings, Montana

DATE: April 20, 2023

If you’ve ever found yourself in a group of photographers talking shop, it won’t take long for you to hear the common “That might work for you, but it won’t work in my town.” Sometimes we find ourselves in the company of those kinds of people and, honestly, sometimes we are those people; believing that success can happen for everyone but us.

Today’s guest proves that success is within reach. Even if you live in a less populated area of the country. If portrait success can happen in Billings, Montana, then it can happen anywhere. Rudi Marten is the second-generation owner of Clark Marten Photography in the sparsely populated city of Billings and in today’s episode, he shares how he was able to take his parent’s small, home-based business to a stunning high-end studio and industry powerhouse.

This is the inspirational story of the Marten family’s portrait business and what Rudi is doing as he takes the next generation of Clark Marten in a completely new direction. 

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Core values that have shaped Clark Marten Photography
  • The influence portrait photographers can have on their clients
  • How to shift to high end and high volume (you don’t have to choose!)
  • What marketing looks like in a small community

Here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [02:45] – Rudi’s parents are now fully retired and he purchased the family business from them. Rudi shares the beginning of the studio.
  • [04:26] – The studio space is designed to be something completely different than what people in the community have ever seen, but still felt intimate.
  • [05:46] – Initially, the business wasn’t designed to make a lot of money, but Rudi’s mom changed that.
  • [08:10] – Rudi never intended to take over the business, but he fell in love with how photographers can make people feel.
  • [10:50] – Rudi describes the changes made to the business in the last couple of years.
  • [13:08] – The brand can continue without the main person starting it.
  • [14:50] – Photographers have a unique opportunity to make people feel beautiful and confident.
  • [16:41] – Price did not change, but with the hiring of multiple photographers, they are also high volume.
  • [18:07] – “What did we accomplish today and who did we influence?”
  • [19:53] – With a small market, marketing might look a little different to Rudi’s business.
  • [22:01] – All of it comes down to how to get appointments on the calendar.
  • [23:12] – There are resources available and some things to learn when it comes to starting a Facebook funnel.
  • [24:40] – More leads are not going to help you if you don’t continue to talk to the clients you already have. Start with them.
  • [26:20] – What does Rudi look for in a person when hiring for someone to communicate with clients over the phone and book clients?
  • [27:50] – Rudi emphasizes that this isn’t just a sales call. This is influential work.
  • [28:56] – Reviews are important. Rudi shares the ways they follow up for them.
  • [30:57] – Using a session fee strategy, they were able to change to an indoor model.
  • [34:08] – Rudi describes the initiative in cutting session times down just by a few minutes and how much it has boosted productivity.
  • [37:11] – It’s important not to change everything all at once. Start small and change things bit by bit.
  • [42:07] – No matter what, you’re going to have pushback from someone.

Links and Resources: 
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Rudi Marten
Website | Instagram

Do The ReWork
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Allison Tyler Jones
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