by Ann Monteith For today's photographers, websites represent a "front…
While marketing is not selling as such, sales and marketing greatly affect one another: Marketing creates the conditions under which sales can be made. Prospective clients must move through a step-by-step process that leads to the ultimate sale and beyond to client loyalty. This process is profoundly affected by the success of your marketing.
Step One—Awareness: Clients will deal with you only if they know you exist—if they become “aware” of you. In order to achieve awareness, then, your marketing must spell out as clearly as possible and without any confusion who you are and what you do.
Step Two—Comprehension: Prospective clients also must “comprehend” what you do. If you advertise that you make the finest Giclée prints in town, you probably won’t sell many portraits to those who don’t comprehend what a Giclée print is all about. So your marketing effort must convey a message that is easy to comprehend, such as: “This is a photography studio that does romantic wedding photography, and they are located in the next town over.”
Step Three—Conviction: This is a critical step in “convincing” prospects to use your services. They will experience conviction only if they believe that what you offer might have some relevance for them. Conviction is built in many ways, including word-of-mouth-advertising. Clients who receive top-notch products and services from your studio will tell their friends about you. This facilitates conviction better than any advertisement can. So don’t overlook the power of testimonials, whether they are delivered in person or presented as part of your marketing.
Step Four—Trial: Once conviction is established, your next task is to induce prospective clients to “try” your services. Trial is greatly facilitated by an appealing offer or compelling marketing message, coupled with a “risk reducer” (such as a satisfaction guarantee) and a “payment facilitator” (such as a payment plan or acceptance of credit cards).
Step Five—Loyalty: The trial stage allows the photographer to do what he or she does best. When all goes well—when the product, the pricing, the promotion, and the place meet or exceed the expectations of the client—then it is possible for that client to develop loyalty: the ultimate achievement in the client-studio relationship.