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Opinions expressed are based on the Author’s own experience.
Here at Photo Business Tools we’ve designed this visual aid, The Business Triangle, to identify what you should focus on most for your business to be successful. The triangle represents the 4 areas that will make or break your business. Strengthen these 4 areas, and you’re bound to win! If one area seems a little out of whack, then you know what you need to work on to strengthen your entire business.
The center of the triangle is Belief. It’s the center because confidence truly holds up your entire business model. Believing in yourself ignites a power within that, even if you don’t have anything else going for you, assures you will figure it out.
Products include the images you create or your skills. It also includes the products you sell, whether they are digital or physical prints. The better your images, the more clients will come your way.
Customer Service includes the experience that your client has with you from beginning to end. It’s not enough anymore to merely be satisfactory. You need to be over-the-top amazing to compete in today’s competitive market.
Marketing is how the world finds out about your business. We’re going to share with you a few fantastic ways to be the ultimate marketer for your photography business.
Word of Mouth
This is the strongest form of marketing for all photography businesses. The perfect customer is your clients’ best friends. They will already be your biggest fans and trust you because their “BFF” does. You can count on these types of clients to stay with you for years to come.
To grow your word-of-mouth marketing, it’s important to not only make a great product, but also have that “over-the-top” service. Make the client feel like he or she is your only client. Under promise and over deliver. Keep communication timely and clear. Then wow and surprise your clients with the little extras that they wouldn’t expect, such as providing their final images a few days earlier than promised or bringing chilled water bottles to your on-location shoots, or surprising them with a bag of gourmet cookies at the end of the session. Maybe it’s simply giving them the time to explain exactly what they want so they feel like you hear them.
Your goal is to have your clients calling all of their friends on the way home from their session and telling them that they have to use you as a photographer because they’ve been treated that well!
Word of mouth is amplified when:
- Clients forward your email newsletter
- Clients share, like or recommend your page and posts on Facebook
- Clients pin images from Pinterest
- Beautiful photos with your watermark are seen on the web and social media
- Friends see oversized wall portraits in your clients’ homes
Having a solid referral plan in place can also boost your referrals. One of the keys to a good referral plan is layering it with your clients. Don’t just leave it on your pricing list, but tell them about it early on in the client relationship as an add-on to your email, talk about it at the photo shoot, leave a card with the details in their product bag. The more they hear about it, the more likely they will share it with their friends.
You may choose to go with off-the-shelf loyalty plan services like loyalblocks.com.
Your online presence is your storefront. It’s vital that you have a professional and easy to navigate website. First impressions count — even with your website. If it looks clean and slick, your potential clients will know you are a professional with professional prices. The opposite is also true.
The goal of your website should be to answer a user’s questions as quickly as possible. Hint: imagine 100% of your users are on mobile devices, which will make you design things a bit differently. Make sure lots of images can be viewed without clicking (blogs are great, slideshows are bad). Consider that users may visit a blog post or gallery page straight from search or social media, so don’t forget to put your bio and contact information on every page so they don’t have to hunt around for it. Here are few more quick tips for your website:
- Use common-sense names for navigation, like Pricing instead of Investment (confusing).
- Compress images for the web so they load quickly both on desktops and mobile devices.
- Avoid music, full-screen views, Flash and slow-moving slideshows that take control away from the user.
- Put your headshot and contact information on every page.
- Link to your best work directly from the homepage (like your best blog posts about your #1 venue).
Search Engine Optimization is critical back-end work that helps potential customers easily find your site through a Google search. The photography business that has the #1 spot in a search gets the majority of the traffic, the company listed second gets the next largest group of traffic, and so on. Getting that #1 spot is the trick, and Zach is the master of SEO, especially in the photography industry. I highly recommend his Search Engine Cookbook for photographers because it takes you step by step through the latest changes and trends that will keep you at the top of Google search (or any other search engine). Quick tips for search engine optimization:
- Name your pages, galleries, and blog posts something that someone would search.
- Get as much press and media as possible across the Internet with links back to your site.
- Take advantage of Google authorship to show your headshot in search results.
- Leverage YouTube for SEO, the world’s second-largest search engine.
- Test a paid campaign with Google AdWords.
Related Article: SEO Basics for Photographers
Your website is where your potential clients will find all the information they need. On the other hand, your blog is where they will come to see your latest work. A blog also is a great tool for keeping your clients tied to you as time goes on. Having regular followers is a great way to stay in front of an audience and guarantee future bookings and sales.
Regularly update your blog on a weekly or daily basis and fill it with great content that will attract your readers. This includes your own work or anything else that will pull in and interest your followers. Many photographers include health, cooking and fashion as a part of their blog. You might also consider sharing about local businesses and events. The ideas are endless.
Zach’s Best Photography Business Products recommends ProPhoto as the best blog site for photographers.
In today’s world, having a social media site that’s constantly updated is almost as important as a website. Almost every business has one and potential clients typically look for businesses on the social sites they follow. Start an account with the social media site that your target audience uses the most. The majority of people are on Facebook, but if your audience of high school seniors mainly uses Twitter, then you need to be on Twitter. Like your blog, consistent updates are the key. Include behind-the-scenes, personal info about you, entertaining content and, of course, your latest work.
Many photographers make the big mistake of solely relying on Facebook and their website for marketing. Facebook is great because it’s free and can be seen by many people in a short amount of time. However, you can’t control who sees your posts and how often they see them. Working in your local area is a great way to ensure your business is being seen by the people who will be hiring you. Ideas for local marketing:
- List your business on Google+ and strive for positive reviews from customers.
- Partner with local businesses on things like contributing to each other’s blogs or hosting events.
- Attend meetups and tweet-up events in your area.
- Target local media outlets for interviews or guest posts for their websites.
- Be active in local online forums and be helpful by answering people’s questions.
- Host a portrait party as a unique way to expose your business to new clients
Partnerships and Events
One of the best ways to work within your local market is to partner with other businesses. Many small businesses in your community have very small marketing budgets and could use some professional photography, so offering your services is a great entry point for a partnership. Look for businesses that have great reputations and large followings, and ask if they’d be interested in working together. You can provide them with images, and they can give you photo credits. Depending on the partnership, you might also ask for pay. When your community starts to see your photography in businesses they frequent, it builds your reputation as “the photographer to call.” The more exposure you get by working with different companies, the better.
Events can do the same thing for you. Look at your community calendar and contact those who manage upcoming events. Contact them with a partnership opportunity for the event, always listing their benefits before yours. Being an “event photographer” can give you a big status jump.
Just like partnerships and events, working with charities can give you a lot of valuable exposure in your local community. Even better, you get the great feeling of being a part of something that is for the good of others! Contact charities that you admire and offer a similar type of partnership. You won’t be disappointed.
Open Your Mouth
The last piece of marketing I’d like to share is the power of opening your mouth. By this I mean don’t be afraid to talk to people about your business. There are many ways you can do this without being awkward. When the conversation arises that you are a photographer, simply offer to add them to your newsletter or ask if they would like to swap business cards. Keep it light, but take it to the next level and you’ll find your client list growing steadily and strongly.
Much of the information shared within this post is from Amy’s workshops. For a sample, visit Photo Business Tools.