A Success Series for Modern Day Photographers
In last week’s addition, we talked about the value of getting paid a professional wage for your professional quality photography work, and how doing anything less sends the wrong message. This week we’re highlighting something that can be a painstaking process in any business owners operation – choosing where to advertise.
Choosing where to advertise is one of the biggest (and hardest) decisions to make when it comes to running a business. There are hundreds of places to advertise; from publications, phone directories, and non-profit companies to putting your logo on a pen. And of course, there’s the internet.
To avoid advertising altogether is a bad idea, because if you don’t make it with your business you’ll be advertising your equipment for sale. You have to get found somehow. Choosing the most targeted and cost effective avenue for your industry and service offering is the important part. Let’s go over some options.
Phone Book: It used to be a must, these days – not so much. Ask anyone under 30 years old how many times they have used a phone book in their entire lives. My sons are almost 30 and one of them said, “twice”. Frankly, even if your market is under 40 it’s probably not worth it, at least in my opinion. If your customer base is in their 60’s then a small ad might be a good idea.
Publications: They might be a good fit if you are a wedding photographer and there is a local wedding guide that can highlight your services – of course a no-brainer. If there is a well-read local paper then running a “special” ad for seniors or family Christmas photos is a good idea in the right community. Keep in mind the daily print papers are quite costly so if you do pursue advertising in them your message and copy needs to be well thought out.
Non-Profits: There are lots of fun options here. You could donate a framed photo or photo session for an auction (and have your watermark on it). Being there in person to help it sell gives you credibility and shows that you’re supporting your community. Any chance you get to meet people in a positive, low stress environment is always a plus. The bigger the event, the better, in regard to exposure of course. If you donate a photo session, you can meet the buyer at that time, perhaps sparking a future business relationship. If you have great photos of local landmarks, donate one but make sure it has your watermark, and put a business card on the back of the frame. A nice touch might be to sign it AFTER someone buys it. This will give your photo a lot more meaning, and maybe get you some new customers.
Giveaways: Holding giveaways as advertising is a great way to promote your brand. People seem to love a good sweepstakes or contest and will often interact and share your promotion with others.
Groups and Associations: A Chamber of Commerce membership, if you have an active local chapter, can be the best promotional money you spend. Networking with other professionals and talking about what you can offer in a low-key setting is a great way to get the word out about what you do. Most Chamber members want to spend their money with other members; it is just human nature to want to justify their dollars and time. There are other business to business groups such as BNI that can also be great for your business and reputation, just make good judgments about time commitments vs. actual business you get.
Mailing List: Direct mail to a mailing list you either compile yourself or purchase can still be a good way to get your name out into the community. Do the work up front and make sure your list is targeted to your potential customers and you can cut down on your costs. It isn’t cheap, but many professionals still find this to be a very effective marketing tool. Another, less expensive tool, is to keep up an email mailing list. Your initial list should be from your existing customer and friend base and grow over time as you come in contact with new customers or potential customers. Remember not to add names without some level of permission; you will get a negative reputation in a hurry if you do. Email management services like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact are inexpensive and give you a powerful way to keep your name in front of people that are your most likely customers.
Online Advertising: Online banner advertising or buying links on directory pages can be a good way to get business. It’s especially important to list your business on relevant industry sites. We’ll touch more on this and other online advertising ideas and best practices in our next issue, SEO for Photographers. We’ll help you learn search engine optimization tips and techniques to get your website to the top of search results and get more leads.
Thanks for reading!
Mike Connors | MorePhotos CEO
Mike Smith | MorePhotos COO