Modeling 101: Marketing Tools, Marketable Characteristics

Fashion | 26 Jun, 2012 |

Modeling 101: The marketing tools and the marketable characteristics it takes to get noticed and succeed in the modeling industry

So, you’re flipping through magazine pages looking at all of the different advertisements, and all the while thinking, “That outfit is so cute,” or “I love her hair.” And then you ask yourself, “Can I be a model?” The answer is: If you have what it takes.

The world of modeling is vast and the specifications of a model are very different depending on the area. When considering getting into the industry, it is best to find out which categories would be realistic to work in. But before jumping in the world of modeling with blinders on, you should understand more of what it means to be a model and what it takes to get into the industry.

The biggest misconception that people have about the industry is that it is only based on looks. However, when it comes to finding an agent or landing a booking, there is so much more involved.

Marketable characteristics

I have worked as an agent for many years and have helped countless talent break into and also succeed in the field of modeling. Strong features, interesting bone structure and overall appearance are the first characteristics an agent, client or photographer will look for in a potential model. An experienced professional will know if your physical appearance could be marketable, and they will be willing to give you an honest assessment.

Once that has been established, a person’s personality, charisma and a positive attitude are then looked at. A model with an outgoing personality and strong charisma is a model who will be easy to work with on a set and will have the ability to give the client what he/she is wanting for his/her project.

Professionalism is also very important. The modeling industry is a business and is not a playground for egos; therefore, the flakey and unreliable need not apply. How a model conducts his- or herself on casting calls or bookings will directly affect if he/she is hired again. Before taking that step to meet with an agent, you should make a conscious decision to be fully committed and be willing to follow through with the guidance and direction that has been given for you to help you become a working model.

Marketing tools

There are tools that a model needs to be marketed. A composite card is the model’s business card. It consists of a variety of different pictures of the model showing versatility, projection, creativity and his/her ability to move in front of camera. A portfolio is the model’s pictorial resume. That consists of a wider range of pictures that are usually 9” x 12” in size, along with tear sheets from any jobs the model has worked on, including magazines and brochures.

Some advice suggests that a model should already have a composite card and portfolio in hand before setting up a meeting with an agent; however, that is not always the case.
Many fashion agents initially prefer to see a series of simple snapshots, without make-up, including a head-and-shoulder shot; a full-length bathing suit shot, front and back; along with a full-length profile shot. That is the best way to get a true sense of what the model looks like.

Once it is determined what areas the model is marketable in, the agent will then refer the model to a list of photographers that fit the model’s marketing needs. Additionally, doing test shoots with photographers can be a great way to build strong skills as a model.

Becoming a model means that you are a commodity, a product. Therefore, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, staying fit and taking care of your skin will become priority in a model’s life. Agents generally do not receive a lot of notice for auditions and bookings, so the professional model needs to be ready. Whether the shoot is for a pool shot in a bathing suit or for an eight-hour-long catalogue shoot, they are always ready to work.

The modeling industry requires a lot of hard work and often that hard work can result in not booking the job. So, mentally, it can be disappointing and sometimes frustrating. That is where the positive attitude comes in. A model never fits every audition they go on. Staying positive will keep your spirits high, to enjoy the process, and ultimately will allow you to work in the industry for a long time. The business of modeling is fun, rewarding and can be a wonderful creative outlet.

For more information about breaking into the modeling industry and/or the Deborah Maddox Agency, visit

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