Before you invest in buying marketing lists, advertising, even taking the time to get involved in your community - get out and OWN YOUR ZIP CODE. This isn't rocket science, but it is time-consuming. Too many photographers fail to recognize the importance of good old labor-intensive footwork - pounding the pavement and knocking on doors!
You need to walk out your front door and introduce yourself to every business in the community. It doesn't matter what your photographic specialty is! This is about being helpful and reinforcing your number one marketing tool - building relationships. As a photographer and an artist you've got some unique skills and it's an opportunity to remind people you're there.
You're not asking for anything except the time to say hello, drop a short one-liner about being a photographer in the area and offering to help if they ever need anything. You're going to leave your business card and where appropriate you might even follow-up and take a shot at a lunch date.
While I joke about being the biggest "lunch slut" in the photo industry, here's why: Grabbing lunch with somebody you don't know that well is the perfect way to launch a new relationship. As a photographer it should be easy to keep the conversation relatively social with a soft-sell approach to business. It's a chance for people to get to know each other. And, as a photographer, it's an opportunity to listen and show your interest in a future client's business, while sharing a few highlights from your own experiences. You could even have some fun sharing tips on how to get better family pics of their own.
Even a wedding photographer has the ability to build a few bridges in the community. For example a wedding artists visiting a realtor might kick off the introduction with, "My specialty is wedding photography, but I've got a terrific network and background in photography. If you ever need help with anything in imaging, just give me a call!"
And, if you're blogging and doing a series of community profiles, as I've suggested in the past, meeting the business owners in your area can also give you some great content. You might also find partners for cross-promoting with other companies. And, don't forget to include other photographers as you knock on those doors. Your competitors often have the potential to become your most significant partners in future projects.
So, here's the bottom line - take all that energy you're wasting worrying about business and take some action instead. It's an ongoing process and after the first few introductions it will become routine. Then you can schedule one day a week where you're just getting out and knocking on doors.