Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence
and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and I'm sticking with my usual theme of ideas to help you make 2022 one of your best years ever! The whole idea is to go beyond just surviving and help you thrive. None of these suggestions are rocket science, but they do take time and focus. They're not new for me to share either, but strong reminders of what you need to be doing NOW!
Yes, it's the traditional slow season, but not for you as a business owner. Now is the time to get all your ducks in a row, so you've got the foundation in place for a year of solid sales, and there's no better marketing tool than relationship building!
1. Before You Start Hunting New Clients... Everyone is always talking about finding new customers. Sadly too many of you forget about your existing database, as well as your phone. So many of you are sitting on mini-goldmines but ignoring the opportunity to strengthen past relationships.
Take your top 30-50 clients from the past, and starting ASAP, give them a call. You don't need to sell anything. Just call to check in on them. It's been a long stretch since the pandemic started. Everyone has been hunkered down and light on communicating with people they care about. Your goal is simply to check in on them and see how they're doing. Just do a few each day.
2. Own Your Zip Code: My good buddy Scott Bourne brought this up at a program we did together years ago. Pound the pavement and start knocking on doors in the business community. Again, you don't have to sell anything except your personality. And for those of you who are rolling your eyes and thinking it's lame to approach a realtor in town because you're a wedding/event photographer, for example, how's this for the opener? "I just wanted to introduce myself. My specialty is weddings, but I've got a solid foundation in photography. So if there's anything you ever need help with, give me a shout." Just leave your business card behind.
3. Community Involvement: You've got to be involved in your community! People like buying products and services from companies they perceive as giving back. Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of guerrilla marketing, listed community involvement as one of his top things marketers need to do. The fun aspect of this is using your blog to help promote needs in your community. With so many fund-raisers being canceled, every non-profit is looking for support. Use your blog to help promote various activities in your community and get yourself involved and known for giving back. This is so easy to support, too - just start a calendar of community events. If you do it long enough, you'll become a clearinghouse for planning dates for other organizations.
And do anything you can for those non-profits, with or without your camera. The point is to be involved and helpful. Every organization needs volunteers and support.
4. Start Your Own Online Classes: There are things you do every day as a photographer you take for granted. And if you're living in an area where there's still a lot of paranoia about Covid, start using Zoom or a facsimile and create mini-workshops for the community. Share ideas on storytelling, exposure, composition, lighting, and position yourself as the community expert. Photowalks are perfect too, since everyone can be outside.
5. Get Involved With The School System: Education these days is a mess, as teachers struggle with a combination of live and online teaching. Track down a few teachers and look for opportunities where you might be able to be a guest on career day about being a business owner and photographer. Get to know the teachers involved in the yearbook and school newsletter. Also, check with the PTA and find ways to help. Last but not least - how about donating some of the older gear you don't use anymore? There's isn't a photography teacher around who would love more gear for students to be using.
6. Be Active on Facebook: While there's a lot about FB we all hate, keeping in touch with clients through social media couldn't be easier, especially with birthdays and anniversaries when they're listed. Stay out of battles with trolls in the various forums - Remember, there are no erasers on the Internet! Pay attention to what you post as well. Have a separate page for personal stuff and use FB as a marketing tool, focusing on business and imaging-related topics.
7. Coloring Book Pages: I've shared this a few times, but it's thanks to Steven Gotz in the very early months of the pandemic. For clients with young children at home, pull some of their past portraits, remove the color, and turn them into line art. Then, send them to clients for their kids as coloring book pages - it couldn't be easier or more appreciated with some of your clients.
8. Real-Time and Zoom Lunches: I've referred to myself over the years as "the biggest lunch slut" in photography. That's because it's such a great way to get to know people and share ideas. So, set up Zoom and invite a couple of other photographers or business owners to join you and then kick back and be sociable. And if you're in an area where the Covid stats are starting to drop, pick a restaurant to meet in person. Attending IUSA last week, I cannot describe how great it was catching up to people LIVE!
9. Keep in Touch With Your Network: All of you have people who you've met over the years at various shows and conventions. Start by making a list of every product you use in your business. Then do your best to identify a key person at each vendor and keep in touch. The crew at your lab is one of your most important contacts, but don't forget other artists, your local retailer, and the sales reps for the products you use most. From email, phone calls, IMs, and text messages - stay in contact with people you care about.
This is the first time in history; EVERY business worldwide has most of the same challenges. The pandemic has had an impact on everybody. So here's an opportunity for you to be a leader in your community and demonstrate why you're everyone's best choice for the services and products you provide.
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.