It’s essential for any new business to have a strong marketing plan in order to survive the first year or even six months of business. This is where most businesses fail. It’s not through lack of photographic skills or equipment but through the lack of clients. Here are some key marketing strategies for your new photography business.
1. Guerrilla marketing
Guerrilla marketing is key to any new small business. The lack of big advertising budgets prevents any small business from using traditional advertising methods. So guerrilla tactics it has to be. I would strongly recommend that you buy Jay Conrad Levinson’s book ‘Guerrilla Marketing”. It focuses on the use of business cards, trade exchanges, flyers, mail drops, radio, newspaper and magazine interviews and other free or low cost guerrilla methods. Place ads on mall bulletin boards, in free advertising newspapers and on websites like Gumtree, Craig’s list and similar local online classifieds. You can use low cost paid adverts in school newspapers and community publications but keep within a budget. Don’t spend more than you can afford until you find something that really works for you and is worth the cost.
2. Social media marketing
With the dawning of Facebook, MySpace and Twitter the increase in possibilities just through friends, family and acquaintances can be quite dramatic depending on the size of your network. Use your email address lists to spread the news through personalised mailing list systems such as MailChimp.com. Send out an email telling your friends and acquaintances about your new venture requesting them to tell others or refer people to you. Make it low key and not a hard sell advert. Look for affordable paid ads on these services.
3. Paid advertising
With the small budgets of a new business look for paid advertising opportunities that would suit your photography business. This needs to be carefully done as many of the advertising magazines and circulars need you to advertise to make them successful without great returns to you. Make sure that you know the distribution patterns and reader numbers and ask for hard evidence of this when considering the placement of an advert. Search for the ads of other well established photography businesses. If they are paying for these adverts then it is probably working for them and may work for you.
4. Offering your services for free
This is the last thing you may think of that would help market your business, but it does. By offering your services to a local charity or NGO you increase your visibility. Offer them to a school as a fundraising prize and exchange you get visibility in their literature and a perhaps a poster on their notice board. The same can be done for local magazines, newspapers and community radio stations. If you have free hours the marketing costs you nothing.
5. Billboard yourself
Place clear signage firstly at your business. People must see your business, understand what you do and find its location easily. Use your car as a mobile billboard with clear signage. Find locations where you can place mini boards at traffic intersections and on notice boards at malls and shopping centres. Then there are electronic signboards at centres and malls that are reasonably priced. The key here is to use as many locations as possible at the lowest possible cost to promote your business.
Marketing is the lifeblood of your business so take a fixed percentage of whatever your income is and use it to market. Don’t use the excuse of having to live off all your income. If a farmer eats his seed instead of sowing it his future is bleak. That same analogy goes for marketing budgets and your business.
Make marketing a habit. Always have a business card, brochure or flyer with you at all times and don’t be afraid to hand them out. Marketing your business or yourself should become a lifestyle, live it!