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full disclosure: i do not have a degree in marketing. i didn’t even take more than one class on it in college. however, i started and ran my own non-profit organization for 5 years, and i have now run my photography business for 4 years, so i have learned a few things along the way!
i’m grateful for the things that i’ve learned. one of the most important ones being CONFIDENCE.
believing in yourself is key to getting other people to believe in you, even if you have to fake it sometimes 🙂 and let’s face it, we all have days where we aren’t feeling so good about ourselves and have to fake our way through it. you’re probably wondering what all of this has to do with marketing & networking. i believe that networking greatly determines your success in just about any field. and while the world of online social networking is great, i decided to go back to the old days of face-to-face, door-to-door networking when i started my business. and i continue to value and use this approach to this day!
here are some things i’ve learned along the way…we’ll call it PIF, because i love acronyms!
1. Partner with local businesses – i chose 3 cities to start with and, before i went into each place of business, i came up with a couple of ideas as to how i might be able to work with them. get creative with ways in which you can help each other. i have so enjoyed working with various local businesses and i never could have imagined how much some of these relationships would have grown. here are some possible ideas to get you started:
- find a local business that hosts children’s birthday parties and discuss the possibility of being the referred photographer for these events
- find a boutique kids clothing store (or maternity store) and see if they need artwork for their walls (aka your photos!)…or, have them do a client of the month drawing where they give away a free photo session with you and one of the images from each session is displayed in the store
- contact the maternity unit at a local hospital and see if they are contracted with anyone to provide the new moms with the first photo of their baby!
- find a bakery or cupcake store and ask if they can advertise your photography in exchange for being a recommended vendor for any weddings or events you shoot
2. Invest in your materials – one of the things i noticed as i went into each of these businesses and spoke with the manager or owner, was the response to my advertising materials. i try to keep everything very simple and similar to my website design, but i also want the materials themselves to get people’s attention. i use MOO for the printing of my advertising materials. and while business cards are great to have, i would recommend trying things in different sizes, like MOO’s mini cards or postcards. i think the different sizes, along with the great quality, really grab people’s attention. plus, a heavy stock business card or postcard is more difficult to throw away than a paper flyer (at least for me). and, like i mentioned, i noticed the reaction of the business owners was very positive. they wanted to display my materials because they were pleasing to the eye. and many of them commented on (and almost seemed surprised by) how nice the quality was.
3. Follow-up – i can’t stress this one enough! i’m sure most of you have read that it takes a significant number of times for someone to see an ad or brand before they remember it. with the number of images that a person sees on any given day (over 3,000!), it’s almost guaranteed that ours will get lost in the crowd. that’s why it is so important to follow up! make sure you get the manager or owner’s business card at each location where you leave your marketing materials. send a handwritten thank you note. if you’ve talked to them about working together on a specific project, prepare anything that they’ve requested and get back to them as soon as possible. this isn’t like the guy needing to wait 3 days to call the girl or he might look desperate 🙂 you want to stay fresh in their mind! it’s also not a bad idea to stop back by the store once a week or so to make sure they don’t need any more materials. any opportunity that you have to connect with that person helps to establish & build that relationship.
which brings me back to one of my first points. even if you’re still building your confidence as a photographer, believe in yourself. i’ve heard many photographers say this, and i believe it: you are selling yourself just as much as you’re selling your photography (actually MORE). it’s one of the main ways that we can distinguish ourselves from all of the other photographers out there.
one last tip: don’t forget to smile! even if you’re talking on the phone, make it a point to smile, because they can hear a difference in your voice if you’re smiling. try it with a friend or family member. it will give them a good laugh at least 🙂
i hope you all have a wonderful day!