Photography Business Tip—How To Develop a Marketing Partnership with Other Small Business Owners, Part 1
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- The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan: Build a Successful Photography Venture from the Ground Up
- Commercial Photography Handbook: Business Techniques for Professional Digital Photographers
- Tabletop Photography: Using Compact Flashes and Low-Cost Tricks to Create Professional-Looking Studio Shots
- Low Budget Shooting: Do It Yourself Solutions to Professional Photo Gear
- Starting Your Career as a Freelance Photographer
- Photographer's Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age
- Legal Handbook for Photographers: The Rights and Liabilities of Making Images
- Taking Stock: Make money in microstock creating photos that sell
- Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer
Marketing seems to be the one business system that causes the most stress for small-business owners, especially if you’re starting a new digital photography business. You don’t want to waste your limited budget on unproven ideas and methods or those that have been used again and again, but with mixed results.
The marketing concept of “reach” can also be challenging. Reach is simply the number of prospects that receive (and hopefully read) your marketing messages for a given amount of marketing investment. Because of your limited marketing budget, it can be difficult to penetrate, or reach, further into your immediate geographic market. There is a way to overcome that obstacle, however, or at least reduce its size, and that’s with a marketing “partnership.”
Developing a Small-Business Marketing Partnership
The concept is quite simple: You find other small businesses nearby that are trying to reach the same target audience as you: families, engaged couples or other business with photography projects, etc. The businesses you select for your marketing partnership would be based on what kind of photography products and services you offer. Then, you pool your marketing resources and expertise, prospects’ database, what you’ve learned that works in the marketplace, etc. and implement joint marketing promotions.
What makes this work so well is that each of you are benefiting from the appeal of each others’ products and services. Let’s say one of your marketing partners is a hair/nail salon. Consumers most interested in those services or are already customers of the salon will infer that your photography business is also credible. They notice that you’ve marketed with a business (salon) with which they are already familiar, and trust. It’s sort of the opposite of guilt by association; however, that association has not only expanded the reach of your marketing message, but also penetrated the minds of the target audience deeper, making more prospects more likely to respond.
Selecting and Approaching Potential Partners
Start with a small number of partners, one to three, at most. If you’re located in a commercial or retail setting, then the potential partners of your partnership may be right next door. Even if you operate your photography business from your home, then there is certainly a nearby retail/commercial area, meaning those partners are probably just around the corner.
It only takes a few minutes to list the types of businesses that want to attract the same audience as you. If you’re a wedding photographer, then your list would include hair, nail and tanning salons; jewelry stores; wedding clothing (dresses and tuxedos); florists; bakers and confectioners; reception facilities; etc. If your audience is families, then you want to select dry cleaners, car repair, family restaurants, dentists, etc. Spend a little time to identify the nearby businesses that are in these categories, and then select a few to approach.
You want to be prepared when you talk with your business neighbors. Create a one-page summary of the marketing partnership idea. You want to be able to answer all of the business owners’ questions and clearly state the benefits of becoming your marketing partner.
Regardless of which businesses decide to partner with you, you have the opportunity to offer free or specially discounted photography services to all the employees and their families. You could even conduct a free beginners’ photography seminar for the employees, or promote one to your joint customers.
Read Part 2 of this PhotographyTalk.com article for more tips about creating a marketing partnership.