There are many books and countless online articles about marketing your photography business, each with their own thoughts and opinions. Over recent years, the main the push has been towards social media and the wide audience it brings to the photographic entrepreneur. However, with sites like Facebook basically giving page managers the finger unless they pay to have their page promoted, I fear that it won’t be long before others follow suit and the viability of social networking as a means of marketing for small business will be a thing of the past. So, what do we do?
In a recent article over at Fstoppers, Craig Beckta shares how to effectively grow your marketing reach while others are losing theirs. “Don’t make the mistake of countless other photographers by building your business on someone else’s platform,” he cautions, which is exactly what marketing through social media is. But, Craig offers a different approach.
Build Your Following
The first step is to attract your audience to YOU, not a simple social profile. Driving all of your traffic to Facebook, for instance, may have been great a few years ago, but as we’re beginning to see, reaching that audience now is nearly impossible without paying Facebook to promote you stuff. So, what has all of that effort and energy netted you? You want to drive your audience to your website and, in turn, use that as a gateway for connecting with them. But, how do you do that?
Don’t rely on just method of attracting customers. And, by this, I don’t necessarily mean adding three extra social media outlets to your list of “post-to” sites. Generate great content on your website, and use social media as a tool to drive customers to it. Craig also suggests that outlets like podcasting as a way to reach a larger audience with very little financial outlay. But, there are countless other methods for attracting customers.
Market To Your Audience
Networking and collaboration is very important in most any business field. However, so often it seems like photographers spend more time trying to sell themselves to the photography community than to their actual clients. Getting a photographer 2,000 miles away to follow your work is great, but it isn’t necessarily going to pay your rent (although it happens). If you’re writing content for your blog, for instance, feel free to share some info that’s geared for the photography community. But, if all you post is tips and tricks for your fellow professionals, your target audience (i.e. the ones who will likely hire you and keep you from destitution) won’t have a reason to visit…and that’s the whole point of all this.
Capture Those Leads
Success in photography is like success in any other business – you have to treat it like a business, and part of that is selling. A huge component to selling is building a relationship, but you can’t build a relationship if you only pop up in somebody’s life once and then disappear. That is why sales people do their best to get your contact information so they can continue to follow up with you in the future. And you need to do the same when your target audience drops by for a visit.
One of the easiest ways to do this is by having an email signup on your website. This gives you direct access to a customer on an independent platform. Whether it’s a popup (which, granted, can be annoying, so use with caution) asking if they would like to get updates on future projects, a simple form at the bottom of your website, or a even an opt-in option on your contact form, have at least some way to capture that info.
As Zach Prez writes over at Photography Spark:
“Your website is like a business card. You give it to a potential customer, and they look at it once and never call you. A better strategy is for you to collect the potential customer’s business card (email address) so you are in control. Asking for that contact information is much easier than asking for a sale. It’s why guys ask for a woman’s phone number initially and avoid proposing marriage straight away!”
But, most people aren’t going to just hand over their email address to every random site they visit. You need to give them a reason to hand it over. As Craig suggests:
“[A]nother example would be a short free report that ties in with the article headline I mentioned earlier. Here is how you could structure it…
“Download my free report that reveals… ‘The Four Costly Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring a Wedding Photographer.’ I also suggest you split test various offers and headlines to optimize your list building efforts.”
The Most Effective Method For Reaching Your Audience
So, you’ve built your following and captured a whole bunch of email addresses…now what? Well, you can probably guess where this is going. “The number one way is still by email,” says Craig, “and so many photographers overlook this crucial aspect of marketing.”
According to McKinsey & Company, email marketing is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined!
Email is the little brother of traditional direct mail, but much more cost effective. Now that you have a list of prospective buyers who have said, “Yes, I want to see more content from you!”, start reaching out. We use email constantly in our daily lives, and implementing is as part of your marketing strategy gives you an avenue into the daily lives of your demographic. Don’t spam, mind you, as that will turn them off quicker than anything, but offer them valuable content that interests them while promoting your business.
Marketing any business can be a bit of trial and error, so find the best avenues to drive your audience to your site, and work to build that ongoing relationship. Remember to be consistent and offer value.
How about you?
How many of you have found email to be an effective marketing tool in your business arsenal?
[“3 Tips on How to Best Reach Your Target Audience as a Photographer” via Fstoppers]