Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Marketing 101

Well, my son is FINALLY starting to feel much better.  He's still not 100%, but we are getting back to normal around here.  Woohoo!!  That means we are back into full swing with pictures and business stuff.  One of the things that the hubby and I did recently was take a marketing course.  We even wrote up a report on all the cool stuff we learned.  It turned out to be 8 pages long, so to spare you, I will narrow it down into several simple points.  Some of these may seem silly and like "well DUH!" moments, but you would be surprised as to how many people forget about the simple stuff.  (I'm one of those peeps.)

When it comes to photography, there are a million photographers around.  With the technological advances making cameras and editing equipment so affordable, a lot of people are jumping onto the bandwagon.  How do you make yourself stand out in a crowd?  It's really important to ask yourself this, figure out an answer, and then run with it.  Seriously.

When getting into this business, it takes more than just having a "good eye", or trying to do it as a hobby, or to earn extra cash.  You really have to dedicate yourself to the craft and to the business.  Running a business is running a business - regardless of whatever service you are providing.  It's a lot more challenging and much less glamorous than people think.  Understand this and learn about it before you jump in head first.

1.  Learn your camera.  What does this have to do with marketing?  You need to be the best photographer you can be.  You should always be improving yourself and challenging yourself to do better and to get to the next level.  Understanding your gear is super important, so when you get a gig you can deliver.

2.  Always go above and beyond.  Really do deliver superior customer service.  Word of mouth can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

3.  Remember you are always representing your business - whether you want to or not.  That mean horrible post on fb you just put up?  Ya, people will remember that and associate it with your business.  Even if it had nothing to do with it or them. Always present yourself in the most professional manner at all times.

4.  Be true to yourself.  Don't try to be something you are not.  Be honest with your customers.  They really want to get to know you and create a bond with you.  Tell them about who you are, what you like, and what you like to do.  They will like you for you.  Trust me!  And really, please don't lie.  It totally will backfire.  A perfect example of this is saying you know how to do xyz with the camera or can deliver abc.  When you can't deliver and don't know how to do it, you will look like a fool and the customers will no longer trust you.  Building up a good relationship is a must!!

5.  Be consistent.  This means not only you and what you represent, but be consistent through your work, and through the messages you put out.  What does this mean?  Make sure the messages, images, ideas, and feeling of your business are the same on your business pages, web pages, facebook, advertising, and more.  You can't show a high end business on one area, and then have a low budget operation up on another.  Similarly, you can't advertise that you are a wedding photographer and then only have images up of children and families.  Decide what direction you want to go, what kind of message you want to send to the public, and make sure it coincides in everything you put out.

This leads us too...

6.  Branding!  Yes, it really is important.  It's part of that message you send to the public.  It's part of getting them to know you and to recognize you and your work.  Put a lot of thought into this and then make sure it all matches.  Then post it everywhere.  Our logo is fun and funky, because we are fun and funky people.  We love to mix traditional portraits with the unexpected, and it works for us.  Think about how important branding is.  Think of products like Coca-Cola.  Think of their name and their logos and how they use it for advertising.  You want to build up brand recognition and desirability just like that.

7.  Define yourself and your style.  Remember what I said about standing out in a crowd?  Figure out how to do that.  It's a lot harder said than done isn't it?  What would make someone want you to take her pictures?  Is it the subjects you shoot?  Do you use a lot of props?  Do you use natural light? Studio light?  Figure out your thing and become awesome at it.  When you are really good, people will save up money and come to you.  It's the same as you really wanting a pair of name brand shoes (Nikes, Toms, Louboutin's red soled heels, Jimmy Choos, whatever you desire).  You know what they represent, what they will look like, and you will save up your money to own a pair right?  Do that with your business.  Make it so people have to have your products.

8.  Define a target audience or a target market.  What does this mean?  Well, who is your ideal client?  Do you want families?  Do you want children?  Do you want models?  Do you want weddings?  What kind of weddings? High end, DIY weddings, or funky fun low budget weddings?  Figure out who you want as customers.  Then figure out what they need/want/desire and cater to it.  Market to it and market to them.

9.  Social Media.  Oh man.  Entire books can be written about it.  But you know what?  It's out there, and most of it is free.  Put it to your advantage and use it as much as possible.  Get a blog, a facebook page, a Twitter account, and a webpage.  And use it.  People want to get to know you.  They want to see you and your business and your products.  We are all so nosy in this day and age, and it's totally different from the way things happened before social media took over.  Use it wisely, and it will pay off.

10.  It's important to follow styles, trends, and technology.  Look at Pinterest.  It's taken off.  Understand what these things are and how to use them.  Use them to your advantage to help you market, get ideas, take shortcuts, or make your workflow easier.  Use it to connect with your customers.  Make yourself available so people can contact you or connect with you.  Find ways to connect with them.

The most important message you can get from all of this is to go out there and get going!

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