The Answer to All Your Problems: Marketing with Sal Cincotta
You read that title right. All other things equal, marketing is the reason I see most businesses fail. They ether don’t do it at all or, quite frankly, they suck at it. And no, running a Facebook Ad is not marketing.
There are time-worn strategies that go into marketing. You don’t just do something and magic happens. You need a plan. You then must execute that plan. You then evaluate the results, make adjustments and re-execute your plan. Rinse and repeat.
This is probably not what you want to hear. You want to know that there is some recipe for marketing and that it’s like making chocolate chip cookies and if you follow the recipe on the back of the bag, you will have tons of clients and money. No, it just doesn’t work that way. Marketing is a way of life. There needs to be a bumper sticker made and slapped to your forehead. I work with businesspeople, not only photographers, all over the world who don’t want to accept this simple concept. Yet they look at what we have built and say, “I want to do that.” Right. Well, the “that” you are referring to was built through hard work, providing good service, a good product, listening to our clients and tons of marketing.
Here is something else you are going to have to accept. It doesn’t matter how good a photographer you are. If no one knows you exist, you will be broke. That messaging to the world, yep, you guessed it—that is called marketing.
If you want to change your business and your life, get your marketing chops in short order and start doing something different. I promise you, you will see a big difference.
Let’s start with some concepts.
How do clients know you exist? How do they know you are the best maternity photography there is and that they should hire you? How do you make them wish they were pregnant just so they could get pictures taken by you?
This is what awareness ads are. They let the world know you exist. These ads rarely have any tracking ability other than “I heard of you from…” They are very hard to track, and that’s ok. The goal should be for you to become a household name. Your logo should be a recognizable brand.
No one should ever say, “I never heard of that photographer.” If they do, that means you are doing a shitty job at creating buzz.
Options for awareness ads include billboards, direct mail, Facebook, movie theater ads and short videos showcasing your experience.
If you are not doing something every month around awareness, you will find out quickly how irrelevant your brand is. If you want to motivate people to act when you are running a special sale, they must be familiar with the brand.
Now that you have educated your potential audience about who you are and why you are different, how do you get the phone to ring? You want people to take action now. This is what call-to-action ads are all about.
You could do something online for a 48-hour sale on your session fees, such as 50% off fall session fees. By using this idea with your marketing channels you learned about when you created awareness ads, you can make conversions to real customers spending real money.
So, the same channels are still in play: billboards, direct mail, Facebook, movie theater ads and short videos showcasing your experience.
Here is where messaging comes into play. Below are some ideas you can hack and make your own for immediate results (provided you have been doing awareness ads; you can’t just jump in and expect results).
Idea 1: 50% off your session fees
I am not disparaging product or digital files. This is for just the session fee. You have to be able to make money on the backend via IPS. If you are not doing in-person sales, that may be another reason you are not making money.
This can be delivered via Facebook Ads, direct mail, billboards, etc.
Idea 2: Refer a friend and get a free 16×24 canvas
We have done this over the years, and found it to be a perfect offer for existing clients. They love you, they love your experience—now give them a reason to refer you. One year we used this, one of my brides referred nine of her friends for weddings, families, etc. And yes, I gave her nine canvases.
This is super easy to market. Draft a well-designed email and send it to your past clients. Keep it clean and simple. Insert a flyer in every client order. This is what we did. There was no way for a client to say they didn’t know.
Idea 3: Do something, get something
This is left intentionally vague. You want money. They want something too. Everyone loves a deal. So what is the give-get here? What are you willing to do to get them to act? Urgency is the key, as is having something of value to get them to act with urgency. Don’t mistake this for some late-night “But wait, there’s more!” infomercial.
You want to offer something of real value and showcase that value in your marketing: “Book your session today and get a free 11×16 print ($195 value)!”
Again, these are just some simple ideas you can implement pretty quickly.
Build Your Lead List
Marketing can be expensive. We spend a lot on it. But it gets cheaper when you start building your lead list. A ton of tools on the market allow you to build, track and engage with your leads. Mailchimp is an easy one to use. They have a free version for less than 2,000 names.
Now, you might be asking, why is this so important? For starters, every time you try to market your business, the “who” you are marketing to becomes very important. If you reinvent the wheel every time you market, the costs are significantly higher.
Imagine if you were a family portrait photographer and you already had a database of people with families who have signed up for more information about your family sessions. This would be a no-brainer when you market your fall family sessions, right? Or, what if you had a list of local businesspeople who were interested in new headshots?
This doesn’t mean we won’t go after traditional marketing routes. It’s about blending our marketing spend. Once you have the name and email, the cost of marketing to this list goes down exponentially. You have to be committed to building it. Everything you do in your organization is geared toward building your lead list. This is where you see the real money. That list is worth hundreds of thousands in the right hands.
Here are some ideas for building your list. This is not a cookie recipe. I am giving you ideas to spur some creative ideas.
The key to building your list is the existing customers who are on it. But how do you add new prospects? Why in the world would a complete stranger want to give you their name and email?
That is where marketers earn their money. You have to start looking at the real world around you and how and why people are willing to give up their information. Consumers usually provide their contact details for information and education. Imagine you’ve created an ad offering families the “Top 10 ideas for killer family portraits.” This does a few things. If they sign up, you know they are interested in family pictures. Now you can market your call-to-action ads. How about “Save 50% off our session fees—48 hours only”? Sound too easy? That’s because it is. We do it every single day here.
What about for businesses? You could do a campaign for businesses called “1990 called. They want their headshot back.” Fun, quirky and sure to get people to laugh. Tie this in with a “5 tips for a better headshot” or “Research shows that your headshot can make or break a deal.” Now you are building a list of people who are clearly interested in your knowledge so that when the time comes to sell to them, they are already aware of your brand and are more likely to respond to your call to action versus one from a complete stranger. See how this all works?
You can do this. Get out there and start. Action is always better than inaction. What do you have to lose?