Hey y'all!! I hope you are all getting as excited as we are about our upcoming event! March 21-23, some of the best photographers in theindustry will be right here in Missouri, ready to help you get your photographic knowledge on!! WOOP!!
Now, I would love to introduce to you, an incredible photographer based out of Illinois. She is a native of Mid-Missouri and happens to be one of the best marketers I know. Her name is Sarah Shorthose, and I asked her to share a little bit of insight with us regarding one of her strengths.....GETTING CLIENTS! Without further adieu....a post from Sarah Shorthose, owner of SJP Photography and BoxDrops by SJP. (Which by the way....as a member of MOPPA, you can receive 15% off year-round using the code MOPPA15)!!! ....and don't forget to check out the BoxDrops booth at Fotochaos!! They are providing all of our backdrops for our shooting booths!!
One of the most common questions I see new photographers ask is ‘How do I get clients?’ … This is a question most often asked at the start of our businesses but it can be one that you struggle with over time. The key word in that question is “GET” because acquiring clients is an active process and even the most talented photographers cannot make a living with their work if no one in their market is aware of their talent, or that it’s for sale and available to them!
In this article I will give you two practical ways to make your phone ring NOW and I encourage you to think about implementing one, a few or even all of them in your business right away. Some will cost money and others just cost your time. Don’t have the time/money to implement them? Then your first step is to get it… without a marketing budget (10-15% of your annual gross sales) and designated time (at LEAST 1-2 days per month solely devoted to your marketing plan) your business simply will not grow to it’s full potential.
So let’s get to it …
Step ONE: Network, network, network! Get up and get OUT of your studio/office/home. You cannot expect your community to get behind you if you do not get behind (and get out in) your community. The opportunities to network within your community are endless but the easiest places to start are your designated networking/business groups. Don’t know where to look? Start by calling your local chamber of commerce to find out about the events they host.
When I first started my business in a brand new market one of the very first things I did was cold calls (YUCK, yes I hated it!). I got a number of names of editors/publishers of local publications as well as business group leaders and I picked up the phone, called them and introduced myself as a new photographer in town. I mentioned that I was interested in being involved in the community and fulfilling any photographic needs they or the town might have. While I did get a few ‘ya, we have photographers we work with and aren’t interested’ replies the majority of people I spoke with were excited that I was excited about their community and their work. At the end of each conversation I would then ask if there was anyone else they thought it would be good for me to call and nearly everyone provided me a new lead.
Through those initial calls I was able to make connections to the magazine I am now Photographic Coordinator for as well as a number of other business contacts I still work with to this day.
Step TWO: Market, market, market. While networking is a great way to spread word of mouth organically and get your name in the community with nothing but a little elbow grease (and a bit of time), marketing is the way to truly cement your brand in the mind of your clients and your community. I often hear of newer photographers relying only on client referrals and word of mouth to grow their businesses and while that’s a great option for established studios with years of clients in the community talking them up, logistically it’s not enough for a young studio or one looking to expand and grow.
Especially for new photographers I suggest blitzing the market when possible. What does this mean? Be EVERYWHERE all the time (for at least a little while). When you’re new, no one knows of you (or just a handful of clients/family do) and thus the problem becomes that even when someone does hear of you they may wonder why they have never heard of you before. Before even viewing your work or calling they then may have the preconceived notion that you must be new, just starting out, lower priced or not very good (because if you were amazing, wouldn’t they have heard of you already?).
So determine your marketing budget (as mentioned 10-15% of your gross sales is suggested, but start where you can… some budget is, after all, better than NO budget). And then set about finding ways to spread that budget over as many avenues as possible. Think about radio, local TV, local magazines, newspapers, display advertising in local shops/offices or malls, previews at local movie theaters, auctions, direct mailers, etc. Approach these places with the goal in mind to reach as many of your target clients as possible.
Now get out there and GET your clients!