All businesses go through slow times. Especially photography businesses.
It happens at Sarah Petty Photography, for sure. But I don’t panic when things slow down because I always have marketing ideas ready for when I need to get clients.
And most of the photography marketing ideas I use don’t cost much or take a ton of time, yet they build momentum to get my business rocking.
Here are 5 more photography marketing ideas that are part of the 21 marketing activities I share in my Autofocus Photography Marketing Calendar product.
1) Send Love Notes
These handwritten notes are sent to past clients – and they ALWAYS result in booking a session or two. I write 5-6 of these a month….every month.
What do I write? Well, here’s where social media comes into play. I mentioned in part one of this series why I don’t use social media the way most photographers use it.
I use social media to listen and engage with my clients. By listening, I find out TIMELY information about what is going on in my clients’ lives.
They just got a new pet? Well let’s bring them in for a session. The youngest has started crawling? Let’s schedule something in 3 months when she starts walking. I’ve got a great new backdrop I want to use with her. By watching what is going on in their lives, I find reasons why it might be a good time for photography. Most people don’t take the time to write a note…but I do.
2) Listen and engage on social media
Not only does this give me great ideas for the love notes, but it also helps me come up with ideas for sessions. I can see that while a client maybe used to be really into dance, she’s now shifted to band in her teen years.
If a client is raising money for a charity bike race, I can send her a note of encouragement. By listening on social media, I take what I’ve learned back to my database and update the client profile so I’m staying current on their lives. My photography costs more so I need to provide better service. The information I get from listening on social media helps me do that.
I’m a local business owner who relies on my local business to support me. So I need to do my part to give back. Yet I’m approached by so many charities, I can’t do it all. So how do I choose what to give back to?
I take one month and I line up 90% of my charitable giving for the year.
I start by scouring my client database to see what charities my clients have mentioned they support. Where do their kids go to school? Does their school do a charitable auction that I could donate to? I pick up the phone, call my clients and ask. The notes I keep in my database help me know who to call. I teach how to organize your client database in my Be Worth Every Penny marketing coaching program.
By donating to auctions where my clients are involved, it shows that I care about what they care about. My policy is not to donate to raffles; instead I donate my services to silent auctions because then I’m guaranteed a client who at least knows about my photography when they bid on it. I get 5-10 good new clients a year from auctions so it’s important for me to plan out my donations for the year.
It’s a given that you’re going to blog about recent sessions so you can show off your images and brag on your clients. But what else can you post about?
One of my favorite things to do is to feature new local businesses who share my target audience.
My clients already see me as a taste-maker, after all they are trusting me to create big art for their homes. So I make sure that I talk about other businesses that my clients may love, too. It’s a great way to start a potential co-marketing partnership with a local business owner I want to get to know better.
5) Host a charitable marketing mini-session event
Sure, this is the most expensive marketing activity I’ll do in any given month (and somewhat advanced), but because of how I do it, it doesn’t cost me as much as it could.
And I KNOW my less serious competitors who are selling images on disks & jumps drives at a low price won’t ever be able to pull this activity off so it set me apart as a more serious professional business owner.
First, I choose a charitable marketing partner to work with.
This charity is always one that my clients support and one I feel passionate about helping. Recently I have supported the local Animal Protective League and my local Ronald McDonald House as children and pets are two causes close to my heart and subjects of my photography.
The charity needs to be very interested in working with me. If they are lukewarm, then I find another charity that is as excited about working with me as I am them. A few must haves:
- They need to be willing to promote the event to their donors. Sometimes they will send a direct mail piece, but often through a newsletter, email blast, alert the press and social media. They need things to promote and your event for THEM is a great one.
- They should be willing to share the promotional costs. I don’t expect them to cover it all, but I would like it to be a partnership for both of us. We’re not talking a huge gala here. This event should cost less than $500.
Second, I take on the time intensive work that the charity may not have the resources to handle: designing the invitations, posters, graphics, coordinating snacks, etc.
Right now I may not have a ton of cash flow, but I do have time to put into making the event a success.
Third, I promote to my network and the local media.
I blog about it, promote on social media and through my client network, too. I reach out to the local media – you never know when it will be a slow news day and someone raising money for a charity with a creative spin on it often gets some news coverage.
For a successful event, I’m looking to get exposure to 10-15 new clients that the charity has sent my way.
Will they all be a perfect fit for future sessions? Nope. But remember, this activity cost me less than $500 and each new client brings me thousands of dollars per order. So it’s worth my time and energy to make this event a success.
There’s a lot to putting on a successful event. I go into more detail here!
****Note, I start building the relationships at least 6 months prior to hosting the event and began working on an event 3 months prior to when the event takes place.
Tried these activities before and they didn’t work for you?
I’m going to challenge you.
What my years working with small business clients at an ad agency is that when something didn’t work, SOMETHING WAS DONE WRONG.
I’m not saying it was your fault…but I am saying you missed a critical detail of the process.
If you have questions on how I do any of this, ask away below!