"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."
Robert G. Allen
I've written a lot about different things you can do to level out the peaks and valleys in your business over the years. Here's one of my favorites:
We're just coming out of the "slow season," and many of you are ramping up in the hopes of some solid Spring business. Then, for the rest of the year, you're going to have good weeks and slow weeks. Most of you will just accept them as the usual cycles, but what if you had a little control over your flow of business? Is it time to be more proactive and look for ways to expand?
There seem to be two trains of thought in developing your photography business. We've got one school that believes you should improve your core strength and stay focused (pun intended) 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.
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 too often missed. For you non-wedding photographers, my apologies, 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.
Let's switch applications and think of weddings 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?
Just remember - none of this works if you don't have the skill set. And to get that skill set, you need to practice, attend every workshop/conference you can find the time for and be a part of your professional photographic community! And, when you're at a convention/conference attend at least one program a day outside your comfort zone!
So, here's the scenario: Let's assume you've been a wedding photographer for the last few years. Between brides, a few bride's maids and the families you probably have a couple hundred names and addresses in your database. Unless you screwed up their wedding album, these people know you, they know your work and there's a trust level already established. Why let that confidence go to waste?
Here's an example of a start to a personal letter to your past wedding clients. You're welcome to plagiarize it all you want!
I hope this letter finds you 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...
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 utilize the trust you've already worked so hard to build.
Today is March 27 and the true seasonality of the second quarter starts with Mother's Day, graduation and Father's Day - all family-centric holidays. And, if you hate doing family portraiture, children's photography and newborns, then bring in an associate with the skill set. Work together to create more awareness for portraiture.
Everyone is worried about finding new customers, but so many of you tend to forget about the power of the database you already have. Work to keep building relationships with your past clients and let's see if we can make 2017 your best year yet.
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.