It’s the half-year mark for 2012, it is time to start thinking about 2013! Strategizing ahead of time will give you a leg up on competition, expand your marketing budget and free you up for Christmas portrait season that is right around the corner. Frequent web updates like a weekly blog post, formal and informal incentives, and online networking through social media groups are some of the key ways to extend reach for your business. Learn how these strategies can double your business this year.
#1 Commit to frequent web updates
Marketing is not a passive advertising gig. With the accessibility of Internet and hustle of your competitors, you must be in active. Put yourself in the path of your target client. Make sure you’re seen. Having a web presence requires more than a random blog post or status update here or there. A weekly status update on Facebook will surely go unnoticed.
First, sit down and evaluate talents that you may be able to bring to your readers and clients. Identify topics that are specific to your market client that would interest them in becoming engaged with you online. Once deciding on the topic, implement a consistent schedule so that you are continually introducing fresh content to your readers.
Tip: Be mindful of the use of keywords during your blogging. Don’t let it be futile. Be sure to inject appropriate key words to assist in your search engine optimization. Finally, be real. If you are going to be putting yourself out in the marketplace ensure the presence you’re delivering is one that represents yourself and your business. Professional is key, but don’t let this overshadow you being you.
#2 Implement incentives
Never underestimate word of mouth. If you don’t have a current incentive program for your clients to talk about you, get one! There are a variety of ways to do this.
First, implementation of a formal incentive plan. Let your clients be aware of this program through advertising of the incentives. This type of incentive plan can be advertised to all individuals, not just existing clients. Not only will it work to encourage word of mouth to others, but may encourage the reader to hire your services as well. One of the best tools for your clients to use is sharing of their blog preview that you may provide them of images from their session.
If public advertising of incentives does not fit your business model, implement an informal incentive plan. Provide your clients with gifts and/or referral cards in the delivery of their package. Customer service that pole vaults over the client’s expectation will lend to an informal incentive for word of mouth to their friends, family and colleagues. This also includes photographers that may send clients your way. They are just as vital to your word-of-mouth marketing as clients.
Whichever program you decide to implement it is imperative for marketing success that there exists means for clients to talk about you and consistent follow up with clients. Provide your clients the easiest way to talk about you. Whether it is a link or referral card. The harder it is for the referrer to connect you to their friends the quicker the probability of success declines for. Also, consistently check up on their satisfaction for past products and services paired with a reminder of incentives that you offer.
If you already have one of these incentive plans in place then it is time to reevaluate whether it is working for you. If it is, continue on! If it is not producing any results, evaluate the approach to these individuals and the incentives offered.
#3 Cultivate Networking
Marketing by yourself is difficult when you’re a one-person team, however it is not impossible. Implement networking into your marketing strategy to get others to help alleviate some of the burden. Networking is a piggy-back to the incentives above, however, this focuses more on relationships to cultivate with other businesses and photographers. Whenever approaching networking always keep the mentality and presence of a “scratch my back I’ll scratch yours.” Solicitation of a one-way networking relationship is dead in the water before it starts. Like incentivizing your clients, incentivize your network to want to talk about you.
For online presence, seek out industry related vendors to include you in their referral or preferred photographers list. For offline presence within your community, approach businesses with discount coupons or gift certificates to give their patrons. Not only will it provide exposure for you but it provides the business with a tool to talk about you and to thank their clientele.
Finally, reach out to local photographers via social media groups. Creating a network to readily allow photographers to refer clients to each other helps to provide photography community cohesiveness and an open pathway for referrals. Not every client is for every photographer, having someone to refer to, or to be referred from, provides great customer service to the client and builds your network. To do this inject yourself into groups that are relevant to your type of photography, geographic location and other hobbies.
Evaluate your current marketing plan and strategies. It is time to start rocking for the next year. Committing to a plan increases the probability of success and potential for doubling your business in the coming year.
Photo credit: Yelitza Salazar, Miami newborn photographer