One of the things that photographers don’t pay attention to, when they are just starting out offering their products and services, is proper marketing. Of course they do market, but their focus of attention is not where it should be. As a photographer and an entrepreneur you need to channelize your attention in the right areas so that you can maximize the output. So that you can generate the maximum amount of money for yourself.
Every business thrives on marketing, that’s how you connect your business offerings with the end users. So why should photography be any different? But you need to do something that nobody else is doing. Whether it is offering a specific flavor of photography that is fresh or marketing your photography products and services in a way that nobody else does.
As the remarkable Seth Godin says, “In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure.” In one of our earlier articles in this series we stressed on finding your niche. It is applicable not only in the style of photography that you do but also in your marketing style.
A lot of photographers don’t send out printed portfolios anymore. This is something that I referred to in one of my previous articles on this website. Printed portfolios are a whole lot more personal than digital copies. Your clients can actually touch the photos, smell them if they so wish. It is tangible and thus a lot more personal. It infuses a completely different feeling. The most important thing is not many photographers are doing it these days, so that kind of makes this niche.
Hand-written letters and gifts
When was the last time you actually wrote something with your own hands? I mean with a pen on a paper? With the advent of digital communication writing something with your own hands has become out of vogue. Which is why you should try this.
Not many other photographers out there are doing this. When I receive something hand-written, it makes me feel special. The sender took all the time to write the note for me. It kind of sways me to at least listen to a request for appointment.
Try this. Send out hand-written letters instead of emails, as a precursor to calling your clients up. You will get at least 10% positive nod when you actually go to meet your clients.
Meeting clients for the first time
That brings us to the next important step. Meeting clients for the first time. Clients like to hear about what you can do for them. Of course they would like to see work that is related somehow with what they need. If you are going to meet a bride, you would want to showcase your best wedding images. If it is a corporate client you would want to showcase images that closely relate to the brand. That makes it easier for you to make a connection across the table.
What they would be least interested in is to hear about things like how good you are with artificial lights or that you have the latest tools or that you studied photography in college. Your work speaks for you, period. So spend some time building up your portfolio and never carry all your work when you are going to a client meeting. Only the ones that are relevant.
Tell them a story
A thing about we people is that we are emotional beings. A good story can sometime sway the decision. E.g., if you are meeting a bride showcase your best work, those special moments that you had captured, to her. But also tell her the story behind those moments. She would love that. It is that emotional aspect that makes an image special, and she would want to hire you for capturing those special moments on her wedding day as well.
Finally, here is the bonus tip.
Finding your end user is not always an easy thing to do. Especially when you are beginning out, you would be stretched trying to find your first client. This is where the power of referrals comes into the picture. Normally people fall back on their personal networking list when they start a business. That does work. But if you need to start finding serious work, you have to look beyond your personal list.
Let’s say you are a wedding photographer. Look for wedding vendors in your community. Florists, wedding planners, musicians, furniture suppliers, venues and even other wedding photographers! The list is long, but you get the drift. These people already have established businesses in the same industry in which you are getting into. They know people and your prospective clients come to them. They can easily refer you work. The thing is how to convince them. They don’t know you.
This is where clever personal marketing works. Those hand-written letters I wrote about will come handy here. You can send out small token gifts and ask for some of their time. Meet them, show your work and ask them if they can refer you some of their clients.