Identify your target audience.
Distribute a regular survey.
Use the telephone for research.
Personalize your advertising.
Use advertising methods with longer lives.
Always thank your customers.
Know how your competitors advertise.
Host a party or demonstration.
Exceed your customers’ expectations.
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As a professional photographer and small business owner, advertising is an essential element of your success. You must advertise to attract qualified prospects, build awareness of your business, promote the benefits of doing business with you and generate repeat orders from previous or current customers. Why you should advertise is usually not difficult to understand, but how to advertise, the exact methods and tactics to use, is typically more challenging. With the following low-cost tips, you should be able to improve the advertising of your photography business
One of the primary ways small business owners waste money on advertising is not clearly defining the prime audience for their products and services. Not everyone wants a portrait or plans to be married and needs a wedding photographer. Spend some quality time identifying who is more likely to buy your photography services, in terms of age, income level, where they live and as many other parameters that help you understand your prime customers thoroughly.
One of the best methods to identify who is more likely to buy your products and services is to create and distribute a survey to current and new customers. You don’t want your survey to be too long, as fewer will participate and return it, so you must take the time to determine the best questions to ask to gather the most pertinent information. More surveys will be returned if you make it easy to do so, by providing a self-addressed stamped envelope, for example, and offering an incentive, such as a gift certificate for the customer’s next purchase.
It’s much easier to determine if the marketplace would be interested in a new product or service you’re thinking of offering by making 100 phone calls than creating, printing and mailing 1,000 surveys.
People are more likely to do business with people than a business name. Add photos of you and your staff to your advertising materials and Website. Allow your staff to explain in their own words their jobs and what they enjoy about working with customers.
Coupons, special offers and other incentives are excellent ways to generate business, but make sure they are for a limited amount of time. This will maximize the number of responses because customers won’t want to miss the opportunity. Prominently display the end date of your offer to help motivate customers to respond quickly.
As a small business owner, your advertising budget is likely to be limited, so invest your ad dollars in methods that will continue to promote your business for the longest period of time without the need to change them. For example, if you are often driving through your community on the way to assignments, then use magnetic signs on your car or van. If you’re printing business cards or other collateral materials, then consider ordering a much larger quantity. Generally, the more pieces you have printed at one time reduces the per-piece cost. You may have to spend more dollars today for 10,000 business cards, but that is cheaper than 5 different orders of 2,000 each.
Follow up every customer order with a thank you card, a phone call or some other type of personalized communication that genuinely expresses your pleasure of doing business with him or her. You’ll be surprised how often this simple gesture generates new business, and immediately.
If one of your competitors seems to have the largest share of the market, then study how he or she advertises. Of course, you can’t copy his or her advertising exactly, but you’ll have a much better idea what messages work best, and in what media. There is no reason to spend money in a medium that your top competitor has already proven is not a good place to communicate with the most qualified prospects.
Invite past and current customers and everyone on your prospecting list to your studio or other location for a party, so you can create a buzz about why they like to do business with you. Use some of the time to demonstrate how you work, how customers should prepare for a portrait to make it better, etc. It’s likely many of your guests enjoy casual photography, so show them one or two simple techniques to help them improve their skills. Contact the editor and/or a reporter from your community newspaper and invite them to attend too to generate some publicity.
Brainstorm about what you can do or offer that will provide your customers with something more than they expected for the price they are paying. Customers remember when service is exceptional and are more likely to tell their family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers. After all, word-of-mouth advertising is essentially free and one of the strongest methods to promote your business.
Image credit: jcjgphotography / 123RF Stock Photo
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