I originally wrote this for some of my very closest photographer friends. I am sick of watching them struggle. I guess my thoughts on marketing are more like this: You have to be doing whatever you can, all the time, and bringing in as many inquiries that suit you as possible. How can you get clients? Where, how and what contributes to it?
* Website content – people do well at looking after this. But do you at least have a contact page, portfolio, easy to see contact details (main page hopefully as well) Are you using landing pages for your online campaigns? If not, start at unbounce.org and test some stuff!
* Blogging – sometimes they do, often they are highly inconsistent and only blog about sessions. Learn from pro bloggers – read blogs ABOUT blogging.
* Photo galleries / portfolios – Not ONLY on your own site but on sites like Marketing Tool and Big Day Small World. When you do your own galleries, are they AS AMAZING as you can possibly upload? if not, reconsider.
* Contact page of your site – does it have a form and very little info? Go view the contact page of any major brand. If yours looks like theirs, fantastic. If not, figure out why.
* Microdata/authorship – are you using rel=author or some plugin to get authorship for your blog? (Your headshot photo should come up next to your listings. It usually results in about 20-30% increased clicks.
* Testimonials/Reviews – on Google, on WeddingWire, on theknot, on Yelp – no, not all. But what comes up when you google “your name photo” + reviews? (Hint: if you create a page on your site called “reviews” it will usually come up on page 1 then YOU control your reviews (Google highonseo reviews)
* Proofing – does your online proofing lead people to buy? Why or why not? Does it lead them to a place where someone can book you for portraits later? Or for their own wedding if they were a bridesmaid or whatnot? How are you using your proofing solution as a referral back to your own site, your branding and your awesome experience?
* SEO – are you on page 3 or below for your main keywords? You aren’t getting found, you aren’t booking that way and the money is going to someone else. How many good photographers are there? Every single one above you on Google is going to get seen before you. How many photographers would most brides look at before they get fatigued and it all blends together? If they don’t find their faves in the top 5, they may do another page – say 15-20 total. If you’re somewhere on page 6, game over for organic search traffic.
* Mobile marketing – are you doing mobile adwords? They’re cheaper usually. Do you have a mobile version of your site or a responsive web design? If not, 10-20% of your customers are gone again.
* Are you listed in local directories? Are you getting into the A-G of the map results because you’re setup properly on Google Local? Did you realize that the G result may be a “page 7″ result on a lot of searches but if they’ve done their local SEO right, they could jump EVERYONE but the A-F sites with less effort?
* Are you listed on small business sites? Are you linked on the BBB with a good score? Have you ran a Groupon so you have a link from Groupon to your site? Are you using Paper.li, Scoop.it or Storify to create other ways for clients to find you? Have you ever even heard of those things?
* Major wedding sites – WeDJ, knot, WeddingWire, StudioLocator, bride.com, projectwedding, and other listing sites. WedAlert, local wedding boards (syracuseweddings.com, etc.)
* Have you done the commentstorming I recommended over a year ago?http://www.highonseo.com/2011/07/commentstorming/
* Have you ever published a press release for hires, speaking engagements, etc?
* Better one – have you ever done a speaking engagement, teaching session or anything unrelated to WPPI or Imaging? State PPAs love guest speakers. Have you contacted a single person in the last 3 years to ask about speaking for their organization? Contacted any mom groups, church groups, local craft stores/shows, etc. about giving a photo class that you didn’t run through Groupon or Craigslist? Or did you even do one through those two? ANYthing resembling getting your name out?
* Do you publish blog posts to Google Plus? We know and i’ve mentioned a LOT how great of an investment of time G+ can be. Yes, not all your friends are there. So you have to meet NEW people? *gasp* That’s the point!
* When was the last time you seriously talked to 10-100 business owners in your area and offered them some photography service? Restaurants? Putting up prints in the doctors or dentist office in your small town?
* Ever offered a jeweller cards to give to newly engaged couples to give them a free e-sesh? Sure it sucks to “give stuff away” – and it sucks to shoot 11 weddings next year. If you’re AMAZING, surely you could turn 80% of those or more into bookings. What if you had 15 new brides contact you because they were given a free esesh or even disk of images (value $500+!) if they booked you.
* Facebook ads, Pinterest pins, Twitter conversations, are you in Flickr Groups, are you doing bridal shows? Handing out Moo cards is fun. Handing out 500 cards this year instead of 50 will make you a THRIVING success. Made some packages with videographers? Combine your services to book both at once?
* Have you guest posted on a wedding (wedding planning, wedding photo, etc.) blog?
Clearly this stuff gets me riled up. This isn’t direct at anyone in particular but if you’re unhappy with the number of weddings you have for 2013, you didn’t do all this stuff. Remember Matt McGraw’s 300 thread? He talked about vendors, newsletter (are you collecting email addresses and if not, are you insane? lol) Are you advertising online? Offline? Are you focused on SEO? Are you getting published in the local paper? Do you still have a joke of a flash website that needed updating two years ago but you haven’t gotten around to it because you “will do it when you get editing caught up” and you haven’t managed it in 25 months?
How many business cards are you currently carrying from other people’s businesses? Now how many are you carrying for yourself? Clear?
I’m going to repeat this until I’m frikking dead but what is your USP? Unique Sales Proposition – what makes you worthy of booking? It’s *NOT* PRICE AND PRODUCT. I’m sorry. I know that’s AN answer. And it’s an EASY answer. But it’s a terrible, freaking bad, obnoxiously soothing answer. You FEEL good that you have great product and a nice personality but you don’t make MONEY on that. Money comes when you really figure out what brides want, why they want it and how you can give it to them more, better, faster and smarter than everyone else.
Next time you do a bridal show, have a signup sheet for three pizza parties. Find a time that works for you and just invite 10 brides per time slot over for snacks or drinks. Whatever. ASK them what they were looking for. Ask them what they did NOT see. Don’t ask them if they want to sign up for an appointment to give you money. Don’t be foolish. Nobody wants to “come give you money.” But they probably DO want to come give you their opinions. People have LOTS of those. Especially brides.
I’ve said before about blogs – “blogs can be great marketing if you have a call to action on them. Otherwise it’s a historical record.” Are you producting a piece of marketing or a historical record?
Learn the stuff you want to know from experts. Stop learning how to market from photographers who booked 8 weddings in their career. Stop learning to blog from people who blog 10 weddings and that’s it. Stop learning sales from some photographer at WPPI. Learn from EXPERTS.
Read, read, read, read, read. Read marketing blogs, sales blogs, advertising blogs (and if you think marketing, sales and advertising are the same thing, start there.) Read Seth Godin. Read Jay Levinson. Read Primal Branding. Read Selling the Invisible, Good to Great, Brand Aid, Never Eat Alone and read a crap-ton of blogs. Can’t find a good blog on what you want to learn? Search Twitter. There are links to billions of blog posts there about every topic you could ever want to learn. You can’t “learn” marketing from me in 30 minutes but I’ll be damned if I’m going to enjoy watching all my best friends in the world struggle because I didn’t spend a couple hours typing up what’s already in my head.
Now GO DO SOMETHING!!!!! *rant, rave, pumped up!*
A few links from the blog to help you, as well:
2013 Marketing Guide for Photographers – http://www.highonseo.com/2012/12/2013-marketing-guide-photographers/
Local SEO data & comparison – http://www.highonseo.com/2012/11/photography-seo-data-comparisons/
Who are you optimizing for? http://www.highonseo.com/2012/11/who-optimizing-seo-for/
SEO vs. Marketing – basic strategies:http://www.highonseo.com/2012/07/seo-vs-marketing-strategy/