Everyone who competes with you may be a better photographer than you are, but if you know these seven golden rules of photography marketing, you'll outsell them most of the time.
1. Be true to yourself. Be you. Be authentic. Don't pretend to be passionate about something you are not. Your prospects will bust you every time. Worry about finding prospects who like YOU and what YOU do,. not trying to make everyone happy who walks through your door. If you try to please everyone, you'll please nobody.
2. Network, Network, Network. Every single time you spend money in your zip code, you should also hand your business card, or portfolio post card to the owner/manager of that business. If you are spending money with them, then you have won the right to be heard, and it's not unreasonable to expect that they may want to do business with you.
3. Go door-to-door. This old fashioned method is harder than it used to be but can still yield great results. Start with businesses (even the ones you don't frequent) in your zip code. Make it a point to visit at least 20 of these each week. Introduce yourself. Let them know that you are their "local photographer" and leave contact info with them. Follow up by phone, email or snail mail every quarter. Eventually they will need a photographer and by then you'll seem like an old trusted friend.
4. Work with your indirect and even direct competitors. I coined a phrase 20 years ago that has served me well. "Coop-etition." I cooperate with people who are in my business by referring them jobs I can't do or don't want. I share marketing materials with them by going in on direct mail campaigns with them. We buy ads together, especially if we do something similar but can articulate something different. Work with these people. They are your best allies if you approach it with an open mind.
5. Become a helpmate to a local charity. Pick ONE. Don't try to get involved in everything there is. Pick one. Be the dominate photographer who helps that one charity. You'll meet tons of like-minded people who will automatically give you first dibs when it comes to photography work because they are familiar with you and what you do. It reduces the due diligence and shopping around time that costs everyone. Be charitable. It also builds good karma.
6. Collect data on everything. Get people to give you their business cars. Then use a contact management program to collate and mine that data for outbound marketing.
7. Join your local Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, or other service organizations and volunteer to be the newsletter or event photographer - especially if you are just starting out. Then all the movers and shakers in your town will see your name associated with every photo they encounter at the organization and you'll be a natural choice when THEY need to hire a photographer.
This is all common sense, but as I get older I realize there's nothing common about sense so I thought I'd share this list in case some of you needed a reminder. Go out and implement this stuff now. Don't wait. Skip and I are rooting for you.
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