Think back to when you first started your photography business, even if it was just last month. What was it that got you excited to give it a try?
Was it the ability to spend more time with your family? You know, that power to be able to say, “Hey, I’m going to spend Spring Break traveling with my kids each year.”
Or was it freedom from a full-time job you weren’t as passionate about?
Whatever it was that convinced you to make the leap, it trumped all of those reservations that scared you. (Those things like not having a guaranteed salary each year and paid health insurance.)
But there’s a second step that has to happen after that initial commitment.
It’s making a plan. A photography marketing plan, specifically.
You know, a plan for getting clients to book you.
Your marketing plan is what helps you take care of things like health insurance and an annual salary and makes it so that you don’t always have to wonder how you’ll pay the bills.
But knowing where to start with a marketing plan is tough.
I realize that — and as someone who has generated over $3 million in portrait orders since I’ve been in business, I want to teach you how to build your marketing plan, too.
So I’ve taken something that seems scary and hard to do and broken it into 5 easy-to-follow steps I use each year at Sarah Petty Photography.
Here they are – the 5 Steps to building a marketing plan.
I’ll be walking through each of these 5 steps in more detail an upcoming free webinar training here.
But let’s like to dig in with step #1 now.
STEP 1 to build your marketing plan: S = Set marketing objectives based on needs.
What does that mean?
One of the scariest things about being a small business owner is not knowing what you will make month after month.
The good news is that you can make a living as a photographer. You can have benefits and take vacations.
Before you can dive into the how of your photography marketing plan, you need to know the what. What do you need to be successful?
Your marketing objectives are defined by answering these 3 questions:
QUESTION 1: How many clients do I need this year?
Look at how many clients you had the last year. Do you want to increase one group and slow down another? Say you photographed 20 high school seniors last year. It is completely reasonable to want to grow that side by 10-15%.
QUESTION 2: What is the estimate of my average sale?
So that we can make important decisions about our marketing activities later. You should know what your sales were the past year, so start there.
QUESTION 3: What is the estimate of my sales per month?
Look at your past year in your business to estimate the upcoming year. You are going to have some big months and some very little months. That is where the planning comes in! You’re going to plan for slow months so that you can enjoy the parts of the life that you want.
When you have those hard numbers to work from, you can set clear goals. No more guess work. It’s that simple.
A little number crunching goes a long way—don’t be intimidated.
The first step of completing your marketing plan is to set objectives so that you can be sure you are getting what you need from your photography business.
STEP 2 to building your marketing plan: P = Planning your year
This is the step where you spell out how exactly you’re going to reach your objectives. Here’s where you get very specific about what marketing activities you need- where does social media fit in? How do you use co-marketing? Will you do any charitable marketing or host an event?
Every marketing activity falls into 3 categories and this is where we decide what we do.
STEP 3 to buiding your marketing plan: I = Identify and set budget
This step helps give your marketing plan some tangible boundaries and identifies which marketing activities are going to be most profitable.
You will be able to identify exactly how much money you have to invest on marketing and what works for the next year. I will lay out a budgeting plan so that you don’t nickel and dime your money away.
STEP 4 to building your marketing plan: K = Knuckle down on the details
No detail goes unnoticed in this strategy—that’s how you get off track! We’ll outline some of the areas to double-check to make sure your plan is airtight.
One of my favorite activities is auctions. It is one of the best ways to not only give back, but to market your business and grow your client base. This step gives you an exclusive look on the details that I use when working auctions into your marketing plan.
STEP 5 to building your marketing plan: E = Execute and evaluate
The last step is all about taking action and then tracking the results. These hard numbers from your marketing efforts are going to be your guiding light moving forward, so you need to know where to find them.
This information is powerful. And when you know how to properly evaluate your efforts, you can glean all of the facts and numbers that show you where to head next.
You NEED a marketing plan. You deserve to be able to turn your photography business into the dream job you imagined when you started. And guess what? The secret to that level of success is only a few steps away.
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