Sales and marketing are two things that professional photographers struggle with at some point in their career. If the two were easy to master, the percentage of failing small businesses would be a lot lower. When you market your business efficiently, the sales part becomes a lot easier. What is marketing? It’s basically the action or business of promoting and selling products or services. You can’t sell anything until you promote it. Promotion is marketing. How you promote ties directly into sales.
It is not an easy journey from part-time photographer to full-time photographer with a successful studio. It is incredibly difficult to establish yourself in a new market, and it is even harder to maintain your status. 2017 marked a year where more businesses in the United States closed their doors than ever before. Facing a sea of competition, businesses have to fight for every customer they get, and that will never change. So with all of these challenges facing you, what is the recipe for success? The answer comes in three flavors, and today we are going to tackle them.
You’re a photographer, not a salesperson. Cut yourself a break. Pour out the chai/coffee/wine/absinth (no judgment) and listen up. You don’t need a master’s in business to become a successful photographer. But if you don’t immediately cut out a few things, you will turn into the cliché of the starving artist that your right-wing Uncle Barnie loves to mock, asking you at family gatherings, “So when are you going to get a real job?” To that I say, “Sit your fat ass down, Uncle Barnie. I’ve got this.” Stop pulling your hair out trying to employ these five marketing strategies everyone tells you to do but that bring in zero ROI.
Most of the articles I see on increasing sales revolve around pricing strategies, approaches to marketing and, especially, in-person sales because of their immediate and considerable impact. But these articles don’t get to the heart of why we have trouble increasing sales: There might not be enough sellable images.
Marketing is messaging. It’s that’s simple. Don’t overcomplicate it, which is easy for us to do. Yes, it’s social media, it’s bridal shows, it’s magazines, it’s networking, but all these things can be described in a single word: messaging. You must communicate the benefit of your product or service to potential customers. I am sure you are sitting there right now thinking, well, duh, Sal, the benefit is obvious, it’s our great images.
In this article, I speak to both the entrepreneur looking to build an empire and the photographer looking to make a few extra bucks and pursue his creative passion. Whichever camp you are in, you are still running a business, even if you are the creative who is employed by the entrepreneur. Business moguls often talk about how you have to take risks to get rewards. But as we kick off 2018, I want to talk more about our own community and industry, starting with the Behind the Shutter community.
It’s a new year, which means it’s time to sit down and evaluate your goals for the year ahead. It’s easy to get caught up in the “new year, new you” mindset and get overwhelmed setting unrealistic goals for yourself and your business. When that happens, nothing happens. Nothing productive, at least.
Like many of you, I fell into the world of entrepreneurship by default. I didn’t have an MBA or any business classes under my belt. I started out not really knowing what I was doing at all. Fast-forward almost 20 years, and the most valuable thing I’ve learned after those rough-and-tumble two decades is this: It is easier to work with the same client multiple times than it is to find new clients. Think two words: client retention.
This month marks the slow time of the year for most of us, the first quarter, but it doesn’t have to be. Many of us think that because the revenue stream slows down, so should the work. Being successful in business today is tough enough without the unnecessary challenges so many of you create for yourself. We all do it, me included. So, let’s look at two of the critical areas slowing your growth and come up with a few solutions to set 2018 up for your best year yet.
“Why?” should be a simple question, shouldn’t it? But “Why?” carries so much weight. There is no easy answer. It’s probably one of the most complicated questions we can ask ourselves. We need to slow down for a second and ask ourselves a few simple questions to refocus our energy. What better time than now? Let’s start the year off right, and understand the things that should be motivating us in the year ahead.