I started this series and called it "Fast Food Friday" because so many of you are focused on your creativity and don't pay enough attention to the operational and marketing side of your business. What good is working so hard to create the most beautiful images of your career if nobody's buying; they don't know who you are, or you've done nothing to grab their attention?
So, I went off on a quest to find one thing every week you could focus on and start thinking about - relatively short, fast ideas often easy to implement. And, just like a great diner, some of the "blue plate specials" are light while others might take more time and a stronger commitment.
This week's Fast Food special is all about getting involved in your community. Unlike many of the previous specials, this one takes a little more time, but it's also got one of the strongest paybacks! You're looking for the community to be good to you, so you better make sure you're good to your community.
Stumped on Ways to Get More Involved in Your Community?
- Join one of the service organizations in your community. Kiwanis, Exchange Club, Rotary and whoever I've missed, get involved with one of them. This is about you building a relationship with other members of the community and developing awareness for your ability to be a mover and a shaker.
- Get to know everybody at the Chamber of Commerce.
- Offer your services to the PTA and school district. There isn't a school system in the country that has all the money they need. When funds start to dry up, the first extra-curricular activities to suffer are the yearbook, photo club, and school newsletter. You can be an incredible mentor and inspiration to helping them stay on track.
- Teach an adult education class in photography. This doesn't have to formally be within the community's educational system. Many of you live in young communities with a clubhouse, or you belong to a church group - make the offer to all the parents and set up a series of 3-6 evening programs. Let's raise the bar on "Uncle Harry's" abilities and also teach him to respect the skill set of professional photographers.
- Don't forget the kids! Get yourself on the agenda to teach at a youth group meeting and help them with the basics. They might only be using a cell phone, but that doesn't change your ability to share tips on composition, exposure, and storytelling.
- Photograph and participate in any community charity event. Whether you're photographing the event or participating in it directly, this is about being involved.
- Be helpful in your blog. Offer suggestions on how to take better pictures, great locations in the community and awareness of local photo-centric events.
- Got a hospital in your town? I shared a guest post by Corey Schwartz five years ago. Corey had a vision, and it's one of the best guest posts on community involvement on the SCU site. It was a book project to support Phoenix Children's Hospital, and it's still giving back. Just read the post, and you'll understand the potential for your area.
- Pound the pavement! Get out and introduce yourself to every business within a 2-3 mile radius of your location. You don't have to be selling anything, just make an introduction and be helpful.
- Tie in with a local animal shelter. It's been a few years since Vicki Taufer did her first Dog Days of Summer promotion to raise money, food, and awareness for the Peoria Animal Shelter. However, the result was her studio growing to become known as the leading place to go for pet photography.
- There are national programs that can help you be more involved. While it takes a different level of commitment, NILMDTS, for example, is remarkable. And, before you say to yourself, "I could never photograph a subject like that," every photographer I've ever met with NILMDTS has talked about how it's helped them grow and changed their life.
Here's another aspect to why being involved is so important. Years ago I heard Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of Guerrilla Marketing, speak. In his top one hundred things guerrilla marketers needed to do was be involved in their community. Why? Because people like buying products from companies they perceive as giving back.
So, what are you waiting for?
Missed any past Friday Fast Foods? They're all still being served!
There are now twelve "Specials" in the Fast Food series. Each one hits on another aspect of your business and marketing.
If you missed one and it's hitting on an area where you could use some help, just click on the "special" when it comes up on the right. And, if there's an area you need more help with and we haven't talked about it yet, leave a comment and we'll add it to a future menu.