Levin's is caught in what I refer to as "Riptide Marketing" and many of you have the same challenge. They've done so many promotions that they simply can't get out of the cycle without a serious drop in business. They're stuck in a riptide. They come out with a new promotion every few weeks. Just since this email two weeks ago, I've received two more special offers.
Many of you have the same challenge in your own marketing efforts, especially how you use your blog. You started posting client images from recent events or sittings and now it's a popularity contest. Just like Levin's, your clients expect they'll be featured on your blog and if you don't post their images you're afraid of dealing with hurt feelings and their disappointment.
Two of the most important tips to get out of a riptide are to stay calm and then swim parallel to the shore until you're out of the current. I'm going to suggest the same in your marketing and changing client expectations of their images being showcased on your site.
Stay Calm... You know how to focus our camera, so let's apply the same discipline to staying focused on the challenge. This isn't something you can change overnight, but it starts with creating better content for your blog.
Many of you got into this mess because you couldn't think of anything to write about and showing client images was so easy. To make a change from what you've been doing you need to start adding some good content. Build up a stash of 15-20 posts, 200-400 words each of picture-taking tips for your readers. This is simply about being helpful. Once you've got enough content in the pipeline, start a new feature on your site and once a week it's "Skip's Tips" - obviously use your own name. LOL
If you don't like the idea of picture-taking tips, then find something else with longevity. It could be great locations to photograph in your community, profiles of members of the community, even a review of upcoming events of interest to your readers.
Run the new feature for a month and you'll be ready to start reducing your client images. We're going to be changing the feel of your blog a little and it's really no different than a restaurant adding new things to their menu.
Swim parallel to the shore... Just like getting out of a riptide, there are two ways you can start to make a change with your clients. Instead of showing a lot of images from a client shoot and I've seen a few of you who show ALL of them, just pick two images. The first image is your favorite and the second demonstrates a "how-to" point. It might be about fill-flash or wardrobe, back-lighting, time of day, location, etc. You're still going to feature an image of your client, but it's going to be featured in a way that supports a new role you're building for yourself - being a mentor to your readership's photographic skills. Most important of all you're going to show less images and set the stage to not show every client in the future.
Another idea, which to me still perpetuates the problem is to build a "Client Showcase" into your blog and simply call it what it is. Personally, it's not my favorite solution, but if you've made your blog into a community feature that seems impossible to break, then moving client images into their own section could be a great solution.
Why change at all?
While your website is your storefront and about what you sell, your blog is about your heart. I'm convinced that a well done blog is your greatest tool to promoting your website. It's an opportunity to build trust with your clients and show your personality, but it can't happen if your heart is hidden under tons of images from past shoots. I'm not against client images until they become the only thing you show on your blog.
Your website is about what you sell and your blog is about who you are and why you're a photographer. They should compliment each other, but when your blog starts having as many images as your galleries, you're missing an amazing opportunity to build a stronger brand.
Illustration Credit: © chrisharvey - Fotolia.com