The most sustainable way to grow your business is by having an amazing product.
A product that people want. For professional photographers this means you have to hone your craft - explore some different lighting approaches, look at varying compositions, research some new inspiration and stay on top of trends. Be the very best photographer you can.
And then what?
People have to hire you. Or else your job will go back to being a hobby very quickly. So you need to market yourself, but - as we discussed earlier in the month with our State of The Industry post - you decided to be a photographer because you love taking photos, not because you want to spend your time marketing.
So to help out, we wanted to give you a few quick-fix ideas, and one that will require a little more work. Some are single-shot changes, others need a bit (not much) of maintenance. But they will all do a lot to help you grow your business:
Getting found: Sign up for Google My Business: it takes no time and integrates across Google’s search engine, Google Maps and Google+. Approximately ⅔ of all searches are performed on Google, with almost half of them being localized, i.e. Still-life Photographer in New York City. Sign-up and give yourself every chance of being seen.
Right info: Include your company Name, Address and Phone Number on your website. It’s critical. Search engines put a lot of stock in this basic information. If you can get these details listed on other places too (photography directories, YELP, etc.) then so much the better.
Appropriate Language: Know your ideal client, and speak to them directly. Supposing you are trying to grow your corporate headshot business, you should use language that would resonate accordingly, i.e. that you operate efficiently to minimize impact to the work-day, and that you pride yourself on your extreme discretion and professionalism.
Benefits not products: Think about the ultimate purpose of the photo you are going to take. Where will it be used? Who will be seeing it? Using the above corporate headshot example, you would talk about how your clients are shot to look trustworthy and approachable, since the photographs are probably going to be used on the client’s website and in their promotional pieces.
Testimonials: Share the rave: Upon completion of a photography job, ask your clients if they’ll give you a quick testimonial. Tell them it only needs to be a couple of sentences max. You could even offer to write it for them, so long as they sign-off on it. Then put it up on your website. It humanizes what can otherwise become a very commoditized transaction. The more you can create (positive) emotional engagement between you and your site’s visitors, the better.
Your Social Channels
Client Tagging: Tagging your clients: If you upload your imagery onto social channels where you can tag people (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) - and you don’t think your clients will mind (very important) - then tag them in the photos. It’s a great way for you to build awareness for your business organically, with your clients’ friends being exposed to your work. If you’re in doubt whether your client would object to you tagging them in the photo then ask first. A client who feels you took advantage of them won’t be coming back to you with more work anytime soon...
Targeted Outreach: Now this one takes a little longer, but it’s worth it. At this moment right now, sitting in front of you, are masses of people who have either been hired by you or would recommend you to be hired to someone else. Or both. You’d be surprised at how a simple note can generate a lot of new business. Go to an email list service like MailChimp or GetResponse and start building lists of people, for example:
- recent clients who might need you again soon, or could refer you to others
- past-client who you haven’t heard from in awhile
- friends who might be open to passing your details along
Worth reading: The key to writing the email is to make it digestible, interesting or entertaining and non-invasive. Make sure the recipient doesn’t regret opening your email, or worse: giving you their email address in the first place! To do this you must have a clear value proposition that is relevant to the audience. This is the primary reason why the prospect should care about what you have to say. This could be anything from showing your recent photography work (i.e. to past-clients) to offering seasonal promotions or referral kick-backs.
As noted, this list is not exhaustive. Just quick-fixes. We could have mentioned the importance of blogging to organically grow your audience and help with your SERP rankings. Or how you should create a social media content calendar, with regular, engaging posts across all your channels - from Instagram and LinkedIn to Twitter and Facebook. Or even ideas for creating partnerships with non-competing products who target a similar audience to you (like a wedding photographer creating an alliance with a bakery that specializes in wedding cakes).
But these take time and a ton of effort. Let’s save them for another post.
What do you think? Are we missing any other quick-fix marketing ideas to help photographers grow their business?