Friday, 25 November 2011

Want to market your photography business better? This is a must read posting…

Are you looking for ideas on how you can market yourself, your photography, and your business? The tips below will give you plenty of ideas on how to grow your business. Remember, just as with photography, you need to find the marketing techniques that fit your style and personality. So read the list I have below and look for other tips from photographers. Once you have done that, pick a few that you feel fit your business model. After you implement some into your photography business, evaluate their effectiveness and adjust as needed to optimize success.

To make it easy, I have divided the marketing tips into categories. “Getting Visual”, “Thank you and gifts”, Get Out there”, “Pricing” and “Motivation and other ideas”. You will notice many of these tips could be in more than one category. It just depends how you choose to look at them.

I hope You find value in some of these suggestions and it helps you succeed in your photography business endeavor.

Get visual
Google Places - When you search on Google and include a location in your keyword, such as “Madison Wedding Photographer,” Google is now putting their Google Places listings BEFORE the organic listings in their rankings. These listings are free, so go and get one now! Go to Google Places and fill out as much as you can on the page. Make sure to upload some photos as well, as they sometimes show up there in the search results. It’s a great way to improve your chances of being found on Google when people are searching for a photographer.

Use Facebook to promote your images - Uploading images to Facebook and tagging your clients in them is a really fantastic way to get the word out about your business as all their “friends” may see the photos tagged of them. I highly suggest creating a “Page” instead of using your profile, as that’s how Facebook prefers you promote your business, and change your settings (in Edit Page -> Apps -> Photos -> Go to App) to allow fans to tag themselves in your photos. I find this is a great way to get exposure from wedding guests and their friends as well.
I also post links to my blog on my page and send out behind-the-scenes announcements to the people who have liked my page from time to time.
Do be aware that Facebook has strict terms of service about not using it to promote contests. You can require people to like your page to enter a contest, but you can’t require them to comment, like, or post anything else to their profile in order to enter or win. Definitely read their terms of service before promoting a contest on Facebook.
There’s lots of different ways to promote your business using Facebook – share a comment below on your favorite way to promote your business on Facebook. I’d love to hear some more ways you are using it.

Blog as often as you can - Having fresh content on your site is one of the best ways to let Google know that your is site active (which gives you better rankings) and shows your customers that you are busy. When I visit a site that hasn’t been updated in a few months, I often wonder if they are still in business. If you don’t have many shoots, spread out your posts (do a few images one at a time instead of all in one big post) or show some personal work.
It’s also extremely valuable to blog about things that your clients want to know. For example, wedding photographers may want to put out a series on their blog with tips for brides for having better wedding photography (such as hiring a professional lighting company or not getting ready in a church kitchen) whereas portrait photographers may post about what to wear to a session. Providing information to your clients helps them to value you and see you as an authority about the subject.
You’ll also want to make sure that your blog is optimized for search engines so that you can attract search engine traffic.

Start building an email list right away - The more I learn about email marketing, the more I realize that I should have started an email list right away from the very beginning. I’m not talking about buying some random list that people are trying to sell you. I’m talking about people who are interested in your work and opt-in to receive emails from you.
The beauty of the email list is that these clients already like your work enough to give you their email address. They want to hear about your business and about the products you are offering. They may even love your work enough that they want to receive an email every time you update your blog with new photos. These people are priceless.
Want to do a day of mini-sessions? Tell your email list and give them the opportunity to sign up a day before you open it to the public. Have a new product you are offering? Tell your list about it and entice them to buy it.
The opportunities that are out there with an email list are so vast that I’m planning on talking about this more in-depth in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.

Network with other professionals - Get involved with other professionals in your local area. It’s amazing how loyal business owners can be towards each other when you really hit if off. Make sure you’re promoting their businesses to your clients, and they’ll be sure to reciprocate.
If you shoot weddings, it’s especially powerful to network with other wedding professionals since you share clients but don’t have to compete for them.

Get featured on photo blogs - There’s a ton of wedding blogs out there that feature photography, and there are portrait blogs such as Inspire Me Baby that feature portrait photographers as well. Get featured if you can, then promote it where your clients can see it. There’s nothing wrong with reminding them how awesome you are. It’s simply good business.

Use images on your business cards

Have a website with best examples of your work, and keep it updated periodically.

Have different business cards for your different specialties. If you do more than one type of photography, have cards for each type, so you hand out cards specific to the interests of the person asking.

Show your best images on your business cards.

Show it to sell it! Have samples of wall portraits to show clients. When they think an 8×10 will do it, “wow” them with a 16×24 standout mount or 20×30 gallery wrap, and show it on the wall so they can see its value as an art piece.

Have samples of any products you wish to sell, whether it is a gallery wrap canvases to albums, to photo jewelry. People need to touch and feel in order to buy.

Create branding that is unique to you. Make it memorable.

Control the process – and even if you’re a studio photographer and offer DVDs of the session, also give them lists of places to get images printed with a high quality that represents you well.

Thank you and gifts

Keep your customers happy!

Reward past clients with discounts and referral incentives. Give them more reasons to remember you when they are talking to friends and family.

Thank you cards – send one to each client after your studio session, workshop or after they purchase an image from you.

If you are a studio photographer, give customers a set of wallets with their order to use as referral cards. Pick your favorite photo from the session; put your studio/contact information on the back. If you run workshops, send them a few photos that they took while on your workshop that you edited for them.

For studio photographers, include bonus, surprise prints with the customer’s order. For people that run workshops, go above and beyond the clients expectations. A handwritten note explaining how much you loved working with them and value their support.

Offer a unique gift before the session, during or after – it could be a small gift certificate, refreshments or fresh baked goods, or any other small token of appreciation.

Get out there {for more word of mouth and visibility}

Deliver an excellent product and experience. Your customers will talk about you.

Show up at local events, and with permission from the organizers, shoot photos. Get your website address out there by handing cards and posting the images online.

Have a contest/drawing for a free photo session or workshop. This way you can collect names, addresses, and emails for all the non-winners for future business.

Use Facebook ads to target local customers.

Start a Facebook fan page to share images, communicate photography specials, and interact with your customers. Invite all your local friends so they can help get the word of mouth underway.

Post customer images on Facebook, and tag them – this is especially effective for senior photography.

Give free artwork and photographs to coffee shops, banks, doctor’s offices, hair salons, baby boutiques, etc. Include a small sign and/or stack of business cards. Stop by occasionally to leave more cards for sharing.

Blogging – blog each session our workshop that you do. Write about how much fun you had and post some images. Those photographed will spread the word so friends and family can see the images on your blog. This will increase traffic to your website.

Use referral cards – hand these out with every order so your past customers can spread the word easily for you.

For children’s portraiture, join a “Mom’s group” and get to know the parents, who may end up your customers and/or refer people to you.

Take your camera everywhere. It is an easy way to start a conversation. And always have your business cards ready!

SEO – if you come up on specific photography searches for your area, potential customers will find you. A good thing to do here is to work with google and find out what the most relevant search terms are for your specific type of photography.

Donate a free session for a fundraiser auction – include a sample of your work and stacks of cards.

Don’t be shy. Hand out cards to people when you are out – for example if a mom is at a park with their kids, give them a card and tell them about you. If you see a photographer out taking photos, pass them a card about your workshops.

Network with a group of local small businesses – and help each other market.

Get your name, website and email listed on all the free photographer databases online and register your business on local directories


Volume discounts for large orders

Packages and bundled pricing

Give coupons to your friends to pass out to their friends.

Offer mini shoots or workshops as an introduction loss leader as an introduction to your sevices.

Work for free – not often – but donating time to a charity can go a long way.

Offer occasional deals – for example, “If you book with me in January, get a free 8×10.

Figure out how much money you ultimately want to walk away with from a shoot. If you have, say, three packages available use that amount as your mid-priced package. Then, for your first package (the package you want the customer to see first) price it much higher. The third package will be your lowest priced package, but will be bare bones. This way you sort of subconsciously funnel customers to the package and price in the middle.

Don’t list prices on your web site. If you do, you’ll just be another photographer in the list for them to choose from and they’ll likely go with the best deal. You want the potential customer to call and connect with you. Have them select you because they want “you” to be the one to take their pictures. (I know some will disagree – but it is something to consider) Personally I am a proponent of giving as much information as you can on your website to inform your clients.

Motivation/Other tips and ideas…

Believe in yourself! If you have confidence in yourself and your photography, so will others.

Share with other photographers. Be generous with ideas and tips to help others – and they will give back to you.

Be genuine – give people reasons to trust you to take their photos. People do business with people they like and trust.

ALWAYS over deliver!

Marketing is about being in a marathon, not a sprint. Rather that just one big marketing campaign, provide steady, consistent, and quality photography and service.

Be available! Do not use out of office replies that say you are so busy that it will take 24 hours to get back to them. Make your customers feel important. Communicate in a timely fashion.

Stay positive – never write anything negative about clients, a client’s preference or another photographer on your blog or Google+ or Facebook page. You may just be “venting”, but a new client would be less likely to choose a photographer who has negative posts like that.

KNOW your target market. Determine the ages, sex, marital status, income level etc… and then determine where you can communicate with them.

Good luck with your business,