By Mary Fisk-Taylor, M. Photog., Cr., CPP, ABI, API Summer…
Intro by Skip Cohen
Nicole Begley is back and today’s post is all about marketing. To her point, social media is only one vehicle, and you’ve got to expand your reach through every opportunity. For example, at the same time you’re doing an email blast, do a direct mail piece. An oversized postcard is a perfect way to create more awareness.
However, before you roll your eyes and say, “Skip, it’s too expensive!” think about this approach. Bring in two partners and split the cost three ways.
For example, Mother’s Day isn’t that far away – so approach a florist and a restaurant that typically does a lot of brunch business for Mother’s Day. Split the cost of the card and mailing three ways, and cross-promote each other’s products and services. Your costs are reduced by a third, but the best impact is all three partners become ambassadors for each other.
Social media is terrific, but it’s got to be combined with so many other aspects of reach including publicity, community involvement, holiday cards, advertising and face to face relationship building, just to name a few.
Remember you don’t have to do everything alone. Bring in partners and look for opportunities to take a team approach to expand your business!
By Nicole Begley
Mistake #2 – Marketing up the wrong tree
I hear the same challenges from so many photographers, one of the biggest is being overwhelmed at the prospect of marketing. I promise that you have it in you to make it happen. It just requires dedication and consistency. That’s it. It is incredibly simple!!
Social media is an incredible tool and it is certainly something that we should embrace. However, if you still have openings in your calendar and the only marketing you are doing is on social media it’s time to try other things!
One of the biggest challenges of social media is that you do not own those connections. Facebook or Instagram does. That means that they can shut you down tomorrow if they change their terms of service.
The best way to take care of your business for the long game is to build and maintain an email database. This is how you can stay in touch with past clients or prospective clients that are interested in potentially working with you.
As pet photographers, we have a fairly difficult genre in terms of getting people to bite the bullet and book. Weddings, high school seniors, families, and newborns all have an event or timeline associated with it. It gives clients a nudge to book their photography session. With pet photography, unless the dog is old and sick, there is no timeline encouraging people to book now. It’s SO easy for them to say that they will call next week, next month, next year.
Guess what happens then….life. They forget things and get busy.
Staying in front of your clients with email marketing keeps you in front of their mind and will eventually turn their want into a need!
The other mistake I see pet photographers making with their marketing is putting too much faith in tables at events. Generally, events do not have my target market in attendance. I find the crowds are people often just looking for freebies.
It can be helpful for brand awareness, but again, I’m not sure how much of your target market is actually there. IF you do an event, make sure to raffle off a short session at a location that is convenient for you in exchange for people’s emails so that you can grow your email list.
Photographing dog events, like agility trials, is also not always the best marketing if you are running a custom boutique photography business. I find that most of the attendees at these events are looking for one fairly inexpensive image of their dog in action, but not willing to invest in a full session.
And then there is the rescue work. My hat’s off to each and every one of you that takes your time to go into the shelter to photograph adoptable animals. It makes a HUGE impact on the life of each animal that gets in front of your lens. Thank you for doing that and please continue if you can.
However, please don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is the ONLY marketing that you need to do for your business. It does produce goodwill towards your brand and brand awareness, but it needs to be done in conjunction with other marketing plans!