There’s nothing like hearing marketing advice from real business owners who are in the trenches, and making it work for themselves every day. Marketing is a game, a puzzle to be solved, broken up and resolved again and again. It’s a process, not a one-time result. Different strategies work for different businesses in different markets, targeting different ideal customers.
So I’d like to offer you what’s working for my kick-ass students all across the world. These women have been killing it for several years now and they all began at the bottom. They each have different businesses with slightly different approaches, but the marketing values and overall principles are the same. And what they have to say is pure marketing gold.
The best ‘marketing strategy’ I implemented was not the strategy itself but sitting down and carefully working on my avatar. Without that none of my marketing strategies would be anywhere near as successful. By having this perfect, it has enabled me to carefully partner with local businesses, direct facebook ads to our correct audience and ensure our message resonates with our target market.
It’s also just always ensuring I give my customer the best quality and experience they’ll love, and really doing the work just made me realize that everything we do is literally marketing in some form – branding, the way we talk, interact, treat their children, warm to them, the little one percenters , the interest in their lives etc – certainly helps keep my business a 6-figure business and continually growing (even if just small increments (just the way I like it … always learning).
The best marketing strategy – hands down partnerships/networking. By building relationships locally I have a team of like minded business owners who basically market for me. I have partnered with a local doula, a prenatal yoga studio and am in progress to partner with two different 3d Ultrasound places. While all the marketing strategies are awesome, I feel like these are easy ways to have others advocate for your business.
I have started so many relationships with my clients and partnerships with vendors that it has expanded my business exponentially. Building relationships with both partners and clients is definitely the best marketing strategy
Adding 2 “mini sessions” and boutique partnering realllllly helped move the needle as far as inquiries and income. In January of 2017 my business partner and I met with our first real boutique partner. It was like hitting a gold mine. We worked together and came up with 2 events. We sold out each event with over 25 slots and brought in an extra $23,000 from those events. Things since then have taken off. We’ve booked several of those “mini session” clients as actual full session clients since then. The pay off really has been so great.
For me, being able to nail down my ideal client (which I’ve done before, but I needed to go more in depth) has helped me to market towards them rather than spraying and praying for bookings. Also, by looking at my area and seeing what makes me different and then elevating that has helped tremendously with being able to “sell myself” to potential families.
The best marketing strategies that has worked for me are:
1. Partnering with local businesses who also serve my target client.
2. Marketing to existing clients and offering superior customer service to keep them coming back!
3. Setting myself apart from local competitors- with client experience, studio, wardrobe/prop selection, branding, customer service.
The thing that worked best for me was identifying my target client to a “T” so that I can market directly to her. This has brought me an extremely loyal client base that returns at least once a year, but usually 2-3 times a year and they rave about the experience that they get when working with me. Most of my business is now based on returning clients and referrals.
One of my biggest takeaways from marketing my business was to really hone in on what makes you, YOU. What are you doing that makes an experience with you different than anyone else in the area? If you can clearly identify your differences and, most importantly, HOW that benefits the client and adds value to the experience, you can start paving your way to being recognizable and wanted in the community. So many times we try to figure out what everyone else is doing so we can follow suit when the real power comes from digging deep and recognizing what makes you special.
Once you identify what makes you unique, all of the marketing strategies you use can point to and bounce off of that. For example, one of the things that makes me very different from everyone else in my area is that I am a Registered Nurse who has worked with both Newborn ICU and Pediatric ICU patients. I have seen parents struggle with the loss of their newborn or child and my mission for my studio is to provide hope and light to mothers who are dealing with these types of losses.
I started a program in my studio called A Mother’s Wishful Heart, which provides complimentary bereavement photography and an album to mothers in my community who are losing a child. This program is funded entirely by profits from my newborn photography studio.
All of my marketing efforts are driven by partnerships with local hospitals and social media is used to encourage and uplift mothers in our community, no matter what type of situation they are dealing with. In full disclosure, other people in the area have tried to copy this marketing approach, but it hasn’t worked for them. Why? Because it was inauthentic. It wasn’t their true purpose. When marketing comes from a deeply rooted purpose and “why statement,” it works. People can feel your genuineness and authenticity.
Marketing correctly helped me to start thinking more like a business. It changed my thought process and pushed me to organize my daily business life. I was able to take a look and realize that the first thing I should do was to put a consistent referral program in place to nurture and reward how I was currently getting a large part of my new clients.
After that I partnered with a local yoga studio who boasts about me and any referral that calls me from them is ready to book before we even start chatting! They are so excited before I even talk to them because of how much they have already been told about the experience and end result of working with me. I doubled my newborn clients this year just with these referrals alone.
Letting go of my fear of niching was also very helpful in gaining a more steady flow of inquiries, referrals and bookings. And you don’t actually have to give up the other sessions if you don’t want to, people still come to me with all sorts of other photography inquiries.
All of these women are running 6-figure (or extremely close) businesses annually. They are devoted to their craft and committed to learning each day about their clients and improving the experience they provide for them. They #dothework and continue to learn delisted their success. When I met them, a few of them were on the verge of closing down. Now it’s all changed, thanks to personal growth, determination and learning the marketing skills they needed to thrive.
Do you want to join the 5 Carat Collective – our brand new membership site designed to train photographers in marketing and business. Enrollment is open 11.1.19 -11.11.19. Learn more here.