What's WoM Power? That's easy. WoM is Word of Mouth. How is word-of-mouth powerful? That's easy too: It's one of the most powerful ways photographers become working photographers or working photographers become photographers who are working even more.
I wrote a fair amount about WoM power in my latest ebook, Guerrilla Headshots. In it, the ebook that is, I wrote how word-of-mouth can score you work (and how you can create it) and how it was the spark that initially ignited my photography career.
Besides offering suggestions on how you can create WoM and take advantage of it when marketing and branding yourself, I also told the story, in the ebook's intro, of how WoM transformed me, approximately 30 years ago, from a hobbyist to a professional. Leastwise, a professional from the perspective of getting paid, regularly, to shoot a camera.
Sure, there's many ways to market yourself as a photographer. Some of them even work! Even some of the old school ways continue to work. But almost nothing, marketing-wise, will do more for you than positive word-of-mouth.
Today, WoM takes a variety of forms. It still involves other people communicating with other people about your work. But that talk isn't always from one person's mouth to another person's ears. Often, today, it's the results of one person's fingers on a keyboard reaching other people's eyes. WoM is alive and well on the internet just as it remains alive and well in many peoples' day-to-day, "real life," interactions. And, as always, it's as powerful as ever.
Sometimes, word-of-mouth works quite simply. You take a picture. Someone is shown the picture with accompanying positive words about you. The someone viewing the photo likes what they see and also what they hear and, consequently, decides you're the photographer for them!
Other times, the results of your work create positive WoM in even more powerful ways. In the example I'm about to share, it really doesn't matter whether your work is truly and directly (or indirectly) responsible for the results that create the uber-WoM. You still get enough of the credit for those results for it to create powerful marketing all on it's own-- marketing that costs you nothing yet is working for you in big, big ways!
Here's the example I mentioned above: You snap a pic of an actress. She starts using it as her new "Hollywood Headshot." After doing so, she suddenly gets cast in something. She tells all her other acting buddies about her good fortune. Somehow, right or wrong, the photo you snapped is given a fair amount of the credit for the actress getting the audition and suddenly becoming cast in something. WoM ignites! Your phone starts ringing with other actors wanting you to snap their headshots. After all, right or wrong, it seems the headshots you snap are headshots that get results!
That might sound like WoM depends on luck. Not so! While luck might create WoM at times, there are ways you can intentionally set out to create WoM even though it's true that WoM mostly works when it's created by others. You can toot your own horn till your blue in the face but, until others begin tooting it, it doesn't usually become overly powerful. But if you incorporate marketing strategies that encourage others to toot your horn -- almost, in a metaphorica sense, by putting the horn to their lips -- there's a good chance the tooting will yield terrific rewards! (Instead of using your horn as a spittoon which, unfortunately, can sometimes happen... especially if you're not working at having it play rather than gathering spit.)
The pic at the top is one that created just the right WoM: WoM that, subsequently, resulted in a whole lot of work for me. Why that pic? I don't know. Is it an incredibly memorable image? No, it's not. Not even close. It's simply a good glamour/tease pic. Leastwise, I think so. But I've shot plenty of good glamour and tease pics. (And plenty that suck too.) But that specific photo, singularly, was responsible for some very positive WoM that later resulted in a boatload of work for me.
There's been a number of individual photos I've snapped throughout my life as a photographer that I'd label "seminal images" from a business and marketing point-of-view. Perhaps it's been the same way for you? Images that became catalytic, in positive ways, regardless of the many others snapped and regardless if some of those other images might have been better photos. The few seminal or catalytic images I've shot did more for my career (always because of the WoM they created) than so many thousands of others I've snapped.