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Welcome SSG blog readers! I’m Jodee Ball, Chief Marketing Director for JP Ball Photography. If you’re like me, you carry that title and many…many more within your business.
Running a business can sometimes feel like running the 22nd mile of a marathon in head-wind, driving rain…up a hill. I’ve been there, literally, and it’s not fun. You may feel defeated, wondering if you are able to finish the race without collapsing. Then, when you have FINALLY built enough momentum to finish the miles, your ex-husband comes jogging by you, waving with a smile. Yes, you read that correctly. That really happened. And, yes, I did contemplate an accidental trip. But, focusing on the negative gets you no where fast. If you want to strongly finish your week, month, or year, you must keep moving forward. You must brave the elements of the race, including finding your clients and keeping them happy. And if your competitor breezes by you, you should accept (even applaud) his/her successes. We are in this industry together, working to maintain a professional integrity. We all know the photography industry is very competitive. I could name three photographers on my street and they’re great photographers! My goal isn’t to trip them up, but to make sure I establish my own name and grow my own business. There’s enough room on the road, but you need to keep up!
Marketing is a very important component in any small business, and we are at an advantage because we offer a visual product. Potential clients like to see our work before making a choice to invest in us. There are so many ways to show our work to others. Marketing doesn’t have to be expensive. As a matter of fact, you can market yourself without spending one dollar.
Here are a few free or very cost-effective marketing ideas. You are probably doing these, but are you using these outlets to their full potential? Actively bring in your clients. Don’t wait for them to come to you!
- Social Media – How are you using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram….? These are world wide web gold mines. But you can’t expect to post a few words about your work or an image on Facebook and receive tons of business from it. Social media is INTERACTIVE. Engage your clients and potential clients. Link images, articles, posts to them. Post often, but not too often. Comment on their personal posts and pictures. Use social media to help build a relationship with your clients and your potential clients. Using social media is an art in and of itself. I know this is an area I need to focus some of my efforts on this year!
- Website SEO – Search Engine Optimization. Do a Google search for “senior photographer (your nearest major city, state)”. Does your website come up on the first few pages in a Google search? If not, you need to do a little work with your SEO. There is a whole blog post that could be written on SEO and I’ll do that one soon!
- Your Voice – Doesn’t get much more free than this! Talk to everyone you know and those you meet about your business. Don’t shy away! Be confident, positive and have business cards with you at all times. If you feel comfortable, ask for their card/information in return and send them a note. One of my favorite (and most frequent) clients came to me because I gave her my card in a restaurant when I noticed her adorable daughter. The worst someone can do is ignore your message or not call you. The best they can do is become a great client who refers more great clients!
- Wall Displays – This carries a little bit of an expense in the cost of sample work, but can easily be worth the investment. Visit small businesses where high school students might frequent. Ask to hang some samples and leave business cards on the counter. Many places would be happy to have their walls decorated without a cost to them. Starbucks is a larger company, but supports local artists! Ask your local Starbucks how to get on their monthly art display rotation. I’m on hold for a year at one of my local sites. But it’s worth the wait!
- Team with relevant businesses – HERE is my first SSG blog post and it’s all about this topic. Working with other businesses is a great way to familiarize your business’ name in the community.
- Volunteer – There are always more opportunities to volunteer than you probably have time to do. Choose a few and let people see that you care about your school and the kids in it!
- Work with your local or nearby high school(s). If you are available, visit some sporting events and take game pictures. I’m not, in any respect, a sports photographer. And my schedule is very full, but I try to get to some sporting events during the school year. I may never sell an image and I often gift them to my own clients, but you are visible in the community and doing something for the kids.
- You can also volunteer to help with publication design work. Many schools print sports books in which teams and parents purchase ad space. Help the parents and kids by taking the group pictures and/or designing their ads for them.
- Also, talk with the school’s yearbook editor. Offer to donate images you have taken and help design pages.
Keep running toward the finish line… because it surely won’t move to you!