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Setting Yourself Apart from the Competition

Intro by Skip Cohen

Sarah Petty’s blog, Joy of Marketing, is chocked full of great content, in part thanks to Erin Verbeck. Erin is the Chief Joy Officer at the Joy of Marketing. She’s continuously focused on ideas to help photographers build a stronger business.

In this classic topic from the Joy of Marketing’s archives, Erin hits on your greatest marketing tool – building relationships with your clients.

I remember doing a podcast with Angela Carson a few years back. Angela is a children and family portrait artist in the Detroit area. She talked very openly about her relationships with her clients. For example, she knows how many portrait sessions she has to do each year to run her business. She also knows that 65% of her business is from repeat clients.

That 65% doesn’t happen by accident, but because Angela keeps in touch with them all year long. She keeps tracks of birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and will regularly check in on clients – not to pitch them, but to be a part of their lives. She’s always focused on building relationships. 

Your customers don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Damon Richards


About six months ago, I read about a guy who had been wildly successful in business. The secret to his success…following up. He was so meticulous about following up that he’d go so far to send a Fed Ex package to make sure they paid attention to his message (context appropriate of course).

Following up is something you can do to set yourself apart from not only the big guys (can you imagine Macy’s calling to see if you had found a dress for the wedding you were shopping for last week) but also your competitors. When your phone isn’t ringing and people aren’t coming in the door, pick up the phone and call your clients to see how they are. When you are the face of your business, you are expected to have more personal relationships with your clients.

A quick phone call to say “Hey, my daughter just lost her front teeth and I did the cutest session with her the other day to celebrate her missing teeth. I know your daughter Amanda is the same age and I thought of you. You guys should come in and do the same!”

Or even, “I was driving by your neighborhood yesterday
and thought of you guys. How has your summer been? The kids are growing up fast aren’t they?” You don’t have to be pushy. You don’t have to have an offer. You don’t have to SELL them anything. Just practice being a good friend to your clients. It’s what will set you apart.

Remember, people don’t think of your business 24/7 like you do. They need a reminder. So pick up the phone!

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