There seem to be two trains of thought out there in developing your photography business. We've got one school that believes you should develop your core strength and stay focused (pun intented) on that application. In other words, if you're a wedding photographer, stay focused on growing your wedding business. If you're a commercial shooter, stay on top of your marketing efforts to commercial targets, etc.
Personally, I'm in the second school of thought and it's about diversity, but with a logical connection to your core business. You should never stop working to build the main concentration of your business, but there are some terrific opportunities out there that are too often missed. For you non-wedding photographers, my apologies this morning, but weddings make the easiest example for "Continuity Marketing".
Continuity Marketing is nothing more than a ten dollar word for finding new products to sell to your existing customer base. Camera manufacturers have been doing it for years. Once you've bought the camera body, there's a long list of lenses and accessories you'll need to keep building your stash of gear. Seasonal sales, special kits and rebates are just a few of the tools they use to get you thinking about adding more to your equipment list.
Well, switch applications and think of a wedding the same way. If you did a great job on the wedding then why not be there for all the other important events? If the bride and groom loved your work a few years ago, why not contact them today and remind them your second greatest love in photography is babies?
Before you accept the idea though, remember, none of this works if you don't have the skill set. That's why we have such a strong mix of specialties each year at the summer program. For example, this year a wedding photographer could sign up for a day shooting with any one of several outstanding wedding instructors and then take another day with somebody like Michele Celentano, specializing in children and family or Jen Rozenbaum, one of the leading instructors in boudoir photography.
Let's assume you've been a wedding photographer for the last five years. Between brides, a few bride's maids and the families you probably have a couple hundred names and addresses in your data base. Unless you really screwed up their wedding album, these people know you, they know your work and the trust level with these potential clients is already established.
There's a great line that goes - Screw up a portrait shoot and you can always re-shoot it, but mess up a wedding and you need to leave town! So, assuming all of you have lived in the same location for the last few years, then think about doing a mailing to your past brides and their mothers.
Here's an example and you're welcome to plagiarize it all you want!
I hope this letter finds you and your family doing well. I really enjoyed meeting your family and friends at the wedding and find it hard to believe it's been ___ years since I saw all of you.
I know you're familiar with my wedding work, but I'm not sure you realize my second love in photography is photographing families, especially children on location. There's a wonderful look and feel to portraits of kids when they're photographed in their own environment with their favorite toys, pets or friends. Plus, I've just added a whole new line of frames and albums that are perfect for displaying family portraits.
Now, add in a special offer that's running for the next sixty days and close with all the warmth and gratitude you displayed when you delivered their album. And, if you don't like my approach, that's fine, write something else, but the key here is to take advantage of the trust you've already worked so hard to build.
Slightly modifying a quote from Robert G. Allen, author of "The One Minute Millionaire"...
"No matter what your product is, you are ultimately in the education business. Your customers need to be constantly educated about the many advantages of doing business with you...and taught how you can make never-ending improvements in their lives."
Illustration Credit: © alexmillos - Fotolia.com