The photography field is an oversaturated one and filled with lots of people and lots of noise. It is challenging to stand out in your market and appeal to your clients when there is so much going on!
In this training, we talk about how to get re-focused on your marketing strategy, so you can build momentum, stay relevant, and make an even bigger impact in your community. It’s time to build marketing momentum so you get noticed!
Transcript of Video Training
Paul: Hey everyone.
Melissa: Hey everyone! Welcome.
Paul: It is Paul.
Melissa: It’s Melissa.
Paul: We’re here with Photographer Entrepreneur.
Paul: We’re real excited. Those of you who are coming on live, this just came on live seconds ago. Before we came on live, in the preview, we see a couple of people giving a thumbs up.
Melissa: Yeah, so Sarah’s in here. Jillian’s in here. Hey everyone. How are you doing?
Paul: If you have the opportunity to say, “Hello,” if you can just say, “Hello,” and you can hear us okay. You might hear a little crunching behind the scenes because we’re trying to quiet-
Melissa: True story. Funny story before we get started. Every time we get started with a live training call we have a little dog Bentley, and he’s just turned one, and he loves to just bump in here every time. And so we’re like, “Okay. What can we do to distract him?” We do the Kongs with the peanut butter-
Paul: Hey! Hey Sarah.
Melissa: Hey Sarah. And so, Paul had this idea of doing those pig ears, and he loves the pig ears, but-
Paul: But he brought it in with us-
Melissa: He brought it in here because he’s crunching.
Paul: And he’s crunching it. So I don’t know if you can hear that or not so it’s funny. This is real life. That’s the great thing about doing Facebook lives and the live webinars and everything across the board is that you get it real and raw. Whatever happens it happens and you just keep flowing with it.
Melissa: I think that’s the life of an entrepreneur. I think you just kind of have to go with it no matter what. If you hear some crunching that’s him crunching away.
Paul: We’re really excited today. We do these sponsored webinars from 17hats because it’s something that we’ve been members and used them for several years, and they approached us like, “Hey, we see what you guys are doing. Can you spread the word and help us with teaching and passing on more information about marketing, branding, positioning, all of that.” We’re very thankful and blessed that they’ve partnered with us in that sense. I can’t hear the crunching but I know those things are loud.
Melissa: They are loud.
Paul: Yes, they are.
Melissa: Literally right before we got on he’s like.
Paul: He was actually right behind us, and I was like, “Oh my goodness!” We do have our microphone that we typically use for podcasts. It’s a very directional mic so it’s supposed to fall off, but I figured, “Oh, crap.” We can hear it ambient and it’s very embarrassing, but it’s kind of funny. We’re real. That’s how we always are and that’s how you guys get us. But today, Melissa, what is our actual topic that we’re covering today?
Melissa: We’re talking all about marketing today. Today is really about marking momentum and really staying fresh and relevant in today’s overcrowded space.
Paul: So much noise.
Melissa: There’s a lot of noise out there, especially in the photography field. You find it’s a very oversaturated market. We want to talk a little bit today about how to build up momentum with your marketing so that you can stand out, and you can get the word out there about what you have to offer to clients.
Paul: Yeah. The key word is momentum, because I’ll tell you what, we see a lot of people … I always use the analogy of a locomotive. What’s funny is knowing that we’re going to be speaking at LightPro next week in Florida, and part of our presentation … I was like, I talk about this analogy all the time. I actually started Googling. I’m like, since I use locomotives as an analogy I was like, “How long does it actually take to throw all that coal in it, to get the temperature up to the point where it becomes a steam engine, and everything.” And you know what? It actually takes, on the low end, eight hours-
Melissa: Oh, wow.
Paul: Of doing that before they actually take off for the first time. But on average it’s right around 12 hours. So that’s like 12 hours worth of work, right? Before you can even get the motor to basically start taking off. But then it’s unstoppable, right? So, it’s kind of like that. That’s the momentum, and I feel like so many people in photography, you go out to a workshop or a class or you get some new information, a new Facebook ad came across and you bought into a product, and then you try it and you pivot because it didn’t work within a week or two, and you try something else. It’s like, you never got the chance to get the momentum to get the consistency, so –
Paul: I’m really excited about that.
Melissa: Yeah, and I think the biggest thing that stops photographers, or really any entrepreneur, with their marketing in building that momentum, is a couple of things. I think when we try marketing and new ideas, and they don’t go as planned, and you fail and you fall, you think it doesn’t work, and so you just stop. That stops the marketing, or you feel like you don’t have the time for it, which we all have the same amount of hours in the day, so that’s a challenge that we all have, or that there’s no new ideas out there, because everyone … the biggest thing that we hear is that it’s all been done before. I think that’s the biggest thing that people have that challenge with building that momentum. Today we just really want to talk about some things that you could do to kind of get back on track and really be laser focused on your marketing so you can build that momentum, like Paul was saying, build up that steam, get that locomotive going.
Paul: So, we’re talking to her.
Melissa: Yes, we’re talking to you.
Paul: So, let’s go ahead, what’s the first key point again?
Melissa: Yes. So, the first thing we want to talk about is pushing your marketing strategy forward, even in an over saturated market. What this comes down to is really owning your space, owning your space in your market.
Paul: Yeah, you know what, I think it’s really challenging, because I think, again, a lot of us are caught into what we’re supposed to be. Social media, I think, has pushed us in a way that we’re constantly … and this is something that’s talked about in the psychology side a lot, is that we’re so focused on everybody else’s external. We see everybody, we see the tip of their iceberg, right? We’re out there and we’re going, “Okay, they’re doing that lighting thing,” or “They’re doing that retouching thing,” or “They’re doing that idea,” and you’re so focused on what everybody else is doing that internally, you start not being true to yourself because you’re like, “Oh, I’m supposed to be this, I’m supposed to be that, I’m supposed to be…” and you’re listening to 30,000 other ideas out here. Really, you come full circle and it’s like, “Wow, I lost myself along the way.”
I initially started this, I enjoyed photography, I loved it, I did it, and then I started researching and all of a sudden, kind of like those rock songs, I had to cut my hair and change my way, who I was basically. You feel like you’re selling your soul to be something that you should be or what everybody’s saying that you need to be, and the tricky thing with that is then you don’t come across authentic.
Paul: Because, there’s moments in time where you slip into who you really are, and then people start seeing this incongruent message, and I’ll tell you, it’s overwhelming to be … because in order to be consistent, you have to have things internalized where it’s just an integrated part of you, and if you’re not being authentic, what happens is you’re going to slip and you’re going to be all over the place. On Facebook we see it a lot, because people are in scarcity mode a lot, and they’re all over, like, “I’ve got to do a flash, fire sale right now, try to get people in the door,” and then, “Today I’m going [inaudible 00:06:36] person, because Valentine’s Day’s coming up, even though I never did it before. Now over here, I need to photograph babies because I saw somebody making a lot of money on babies, and then I’m over here.” It’s all over the place.
Melissa: Yeah, even just the way you were talking about that, people get that frantic mode, and it’s not genuine, it’s not real. Really, what this is all about with owning your space is really to have a good sense of who you are, what you’re all about, what clients you’re trying to attract, who are not your clients that you’re trying to attract and being okay with that, because when you have that kind of sense of where you are, then you can really project forward as to what type of marketing you need to do. But, if you’re kind of all over the place to begin with and scattered, then your marketing is going to be scattered, and you’re going to be sending out a crazy message that no one’s going to understand.
Paul: Right, and I’ll tell you what, when you’re trying to be all things to all people, when you’re not clearly defined on who your client is, you’re trying to basically put yourself in a mass market, and when you look at mass markets … I’ll take two companies as an example. You have Amazon.com, and you have Walmart. They pretty much can service anybody and everybody, because they sell everything, basically. Now, what happens? They’re then competing on price constantly. The price gets driven down because you’re not narrowing in, focusing very specific on who you’re going after. When you become a generalist in any business … think about it, from like being a doctor to any other … when you’re a generalist, you normally get the lowest pay. But, when you become a specialist … when you go to your general doctor and they only get that little bit of money but they’re like, “Oh, you have that condition, that issue, you need to go to a specialist.”
Now, you know in the back of your head, you’re like, “Crap, that’s going to cost more money.” Hopefully you have insurance and that kicks in, but other than that it’s kind of, “Oh my goodness.” When you say a specialist, I know instantly, this is somebody that is an expert, they have better expertise in their niche, like what they really know, and I’m expecting to pay more for that specialty. I’ll tell you what, it’s the same thing in positioning yourself. If you’re trying to be all things to all people, then you’re not clearly defining who you’re going after, so you’re thinking in your mind, “Okay, I have 2000 people on my Facebook page, so if I post something, those 2000 people should contact me,” and it’s like, “No. Those 2000 people don’t need your services.” They’re not in the life state … like, if you did newborns, 99.9% of them probably are not having a newborn right now.
It’s not relevant, right? So the thing is, is your audience too broad? Do you need to narrow your focus, so that when you’re more clearly defined on who you want to attract, your messaging, everything changes because now you can talk in the voice of the consumer that you’re actually going after, and that’s where the magic is. That’s where it’s going to shift, and that’s where you’re going to see that momentum start to pick up. Magically, you’re going to have very … your message now is similar to the expectation and the struggles of the people you’re trying to attract. What’s fun is they’re going to tell you what to say in all of your marketing, that’s a really cool thing.
Melissa: Right. Julian has a great point. She said that she knows awesome newborn photographers, and she’s not one of them, and she’s okay with that. That’s a perfect place to be. If you know that’s not your thing, it’s something that you just don’t want to focus in on, awesome. Then move on to where you want to focus. I think that’s the biggest point, it’s stay in your own lane, and don’t worry about everyone else. When you get into that, again, that scarcity mentality, where you’re worried you’re going to lose business if you say no to a gig that’s not really meant for you, again, your marketing strategy is going to be scattered all over the place. You’re going to be scattered all over the place, your message is going to be fragmented. It’s not going to be focused and it’s not going to be clear. I think that’s the biggest point that we want to make about this first point, is just owning your space and being okay with it.
Paul: Right, and I tell you what, just take the newborns like Julian, you’re in, right? By just saying no, you put a line in the sand to say, “I am this, but I’m not this,” and then you take a layer of stress off your back –
Melissa: It’s so powerful.
Paul: I tell you, when I was in survival mode and reinventing myself, we’re coming up on 10 years ago, I was photographing everything too. I’m no different from everybody else, right? What happens, is you’re in that scarcity mode, so you’re going to take everything, right? And I did, I photographed some newborn stuff. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, I should not have been doing what I was doing, but I went out there and I had a newborn session tonight, so I’d be on blogs and YouTube, like, “What do I need to do? Oh my goodness,” so now I have all of this stress, because I don’t want to be found out, like I’m an imposter type thing. But, the interesting thing is then we start honing in, we start specializing, we start being known for very specific things, and then all of a sudden, because you’re known for certain things, people go out of their way. They pay more, they travel more.
Last week we photographed a couple in Philadelphia, and engagement session. Now, we normally do not do engagement session only. They start at $1000 and they go up. We’re talking about an hour and a half of our time, starting rate there, and that’s before [inaudible 00:11:19] sales, because it’s something we normally are looking for, for the wedding client and everything. Well, this couple, they were in north Philly. They drove over an hour to meet us. They went out of their way, they did a lot of research. They drove to meet us to do a consultation. We were like on point. They were totally on brand with what we were about, and they self identified themselves, because they saw our work, and they were like, “Oh my goodness, this is who we want.” They kind of self selected themselves. They know they fit, where that email we send out typically is there to scare people off from not wanting to do engagement sessions with us.
It’s something that they were willing to invest in that. It’s something, once you’re clearly defined, that when people come to your site, they’re not guessing like, “Should I?”
Melissa: They know exactly what you’re about and exactly what they want.
Paul: Exactly. Again, isn’t it fun when you do that, you know then how to talk, you know what you’re going to show. For a headshot business, we’re not going to show a bunch of babies and everything, because the people in the corporate world aren’t going to want to go to our website and see all of these family sessions. They’re not going to be in a board room and go, “Hey guys, we should use this company.” All of a sudden now, it’s easier. My marketing material is going to be more specific to them. This is … I’ll give you an example. So, back in the day, a lot of you know that I used to have eight real estate offices I was the owner of and had over 200 agents. When we had new agents come on board, there’s a concept that’s called farming in the real estate world, and that’s where new agents, because they don’t have any business, they would actually select neighborhoods and they would spend a lot of time.
Again, people don’t buy … they move every seven to ten years, okay? So, it’s not a lot of turn over. So what you do, just like farming, it’s a long term process. You’re planting seeds, and you’re dripping on people over along period of time, but we would do, and this is what our competitors didn’t do, is we niche change. So what happened was, instead of just sending a mailer to the neighborhood, I had my agents print up business cards. Let’s say the neighborhood was called Emerald, as an example. It would say Emerald Neighborhood Specialists. They would have a stack of business cards that were niche just for that neighborhood. Of course we didn’t use that every day, but when they were there in that neighborhood either knocking on doors or meeting people or going to association meetings, things like that, they would bring that card and it was like, nobody else had that card. This person knows our neighborhood, they know everything. It was very specific, very niche.
Melissa: Absolutely. I know we spent a lot of time on this first piece, but this is a really important foundational piece, is to own your space. Now we want to get a little bit more into some of the logistics. The next point, as far as with that market momentum is again, building up that engine and getting that steam going, is really creating an efficient marketing plan that really incorporates new and fresh content. That’s important. It’s not the saying, “If you build it, they will come.” They’re not going to come. So, you have to have a plan or a strategy. You can have all of these great ideas for marketing and things you want to do and how you want to get yourself out there, and now that you know exactly who you’re going after, “Okay, I have a bazillion ideas of how I’m going to target these potential clients,” but if you don’t have an actual specific plan in place, it’s not going to go anywhere.
Paul: Yeah, because again, if you’re all over the place, you’re going to then have inconsistency, and that’s when people … if you’re marketing really aggressive today and next week it looks like you’re in desperation, when you then go silent. Most of the people on social media channels, especially on your personal accounts, they did not sign up for you to be hitting them over the head every single day like 20 times a day to use my photography services. This is something that you’re really … having this system is about being very methodical, very purposeful. Wouldn’t it be amazing to sit down in advance and plan out an actual marketing strategy? That way you’re not waking up one day in scarcity mode saying, “I need to send something out, I need to do something.” I’m talking about all the technologies. You can preplan, you can schedule and do things. I know that we use different pieces of software for this.
Melissa: Absolutely. Think about, with your marketing plan, you almost want to look at it like you’re a project manager. You should be doing this all year long, because a lot of times people wait to do this the first of the year, it’s like New Year’s resolutions, let me do my marketing plan. You should be doing your marketing plan now. Right now we’re heading into the last quarter of the year. You should all be thinking about next year and projecting what you want to do. It’s all about forward thinking with marketing, and making that next step. If we leave it to our minds alone, that’s where we tend to fail and where we tend to drop the ball because we’re busy, we have lives. We’re not only working, but we have responsibility as parents, as families, as spouses. We have other things that we’re doing in our life and trying to … that whole work life balance illusion. But, if you leave it to your mind alone, that’s where you’re going to drop the ball.
Again, having those systems in place is huge. Having some sort of system in place, even if it’s not exactly fine tuned, a system is better than no system. For us, we use a lot of different systems. We of course use 17hats. That’s a great way that we keep organized as far as with our tasks and reminders, where you can set reminders for yourself in your dashboard when –
Paul: She does, because I used to drop the ball until she came in and took over and did everything in there.
Melissa: Yeah. I will say, even for the most unorganized person … I’m organized for the most part, but it’s nice because it keeps me on track. I sit down and I don’t really have to think about it. I know what’s on my agenda for the day for my tasks. Another great aspect about 17hats too is the automated processes. So, for your marketing, if you have anything that’s automated as far as with email sequences and reminders you want to send out to potential clients and whatnot, you can set that up too. Google calendar is something else that we use as well, so we do a lot of projection as far as with our marketing plan as to what’s going on the next couple of months so that we can see on the computer screen what’s projected for the next couple months. If you’re old school, which we are too, even just having some sort of system where you have a white board and you map out your entire marketing plan for the year, and what’s really helpful is if you kind of write out those big dates or big moments.
You should really think about your marketing almost like in quarters, like with any other company. What’s your one big thing you’re working towards that quarter of the year. Especially if you’re not really quite sure how to create a marketing plan, just take four big marketing pieces, four big marketing promotions, and how are you going to promote that for the year, and what are you going to do to build up towards that big promotion?
Paul: True. I don’t know who said it originally, it’s not our thought, but you basically take the big boulders first, like if you have a bucket that’s your year, take the big boulders first and you put them in. Then, what you can do is you can fit more in, then you take your medium sized one, those are going to be your smaller promotions and things, you put them in, and then you go to the smaller pebbles, then you go to the sand type thing. But, you can get more in the bucket if you do it that way. If you start with all of the sand, if you start with all of the little tasks and get overwhelmed, so you really should have a clear vision like an overall … and I’ll give you a perfect example. From a consumer standpoint, we have our [inaudible 00:18:18] experience that we do every year. Now, we do not work with families all year long, but we do incredibly well, we make over $30,000 in a three day weekend with our [inaudible 00:18:27] experience sessions. But it’s something that we’re tracking families and children that are nine and under, parents that have these children, but we’re not doing promotions specifically for them.
We don’t have family sessions and ongoing things that are happening all year long, so we have to be very smart because we can’t just wake up today and say, “Hey, fire sale,” type thing. “Hey, who has a kid? Please tag them real quick.” We have to nurture, we have to build. There’s purposeful things that we do ahead of time. We pre-sold out, over 50%, before we had the official announcement publicly, that we just did last week, and how we did that is we built an email list, and every year, in August, we do a pre-release before labor day weekend to our existing email list. So, we have almost 1000 people on that email list, and we’re looking for about 10% of those people to sign up. So, it’s something that … those 10% that sign up, we make the 30 grand in a weekend. Again, there’s always the timing, because any time you do a promotion, you normally have initial bump, and then it normally feathers out, and then you have to have scarcity and urgency, something that’s going to close out or an end date.
All of us do it, “Oh, there’s a sale over at Kohls, no big deal … oh my goodness, the coupon is going to run out tonight!” Then you run out because there’s that urgency that’s scarcity, and those are influencing factors in your promotions and advertising. Now, I do see some questions, are you okay if we handle those?
Melissa: Yeah, I saw the one here, which I think is a great question, leads right in. Taki says, “How do you pick the right images for marketing?” That’s a really big question, but I think, in my mind, the biggest thing with marketing where I see a lot of people get it wrong is they give way … marketing is really about creating curiosity. Creating curiosity for that client, that potential client to contact you. What images do you have that’s going to create that curiosity? Images combined with the right words is going to create even more curiosity for people to contact you. When you just kind of put it all out there, it’s kind of like I have no reason to contact you at all. Whatever you put out there with your marketing materials, you want to create that curiosity.
Paul: Yes. A couple points that I’ll bring in with that, very quickly, is number one: whatever imagery that you’re showing, if you look at all the top photographers around the world, they show less images. You look at brand new photographers or people that are inexperienced, they show a ton of images. You want to show your best images that are on brand. Just because you went out and photographed something this weekend, if it is so off kilter that it has nothing to do with what your consumers, what the clients that you’re trying to attract are interested in, it’s great that it’s for your own personal portfolio, but you might send people out of wack that all of a sudden … let’s say yoU’re a newborn photographer or family photographer type thing all the time, and then you went to some conference this past weekend and they shot all half naked people and glamour, and all of that stuff and you thought it was the coolest thing –
Melissa: Which would be fine, yeah.
Paul: And then you start showing that, and all of a sudden you’re going to send a mixed message. All of the moms and dads are going to be like, “Eh, I don’t know if I want my daughter photographing with you.”
Melissa: This comes back to that very first point we spent a lot of time on with owning your space. That’s not your space. If that is your space, cool, then go ahead and show that work, but if it’s not your space, keep that to the side for your own personal reasoning.
Paul: Again, make sure that it’s on brand. You don’t have to show a lot. Our most effective ad that we do for years now, is a photo that’s probably coming up to four to five years old right now, a specific photo that gets us wedding inquiries, like a stupid amount of wedding inquiries, and it’s the same image. While everybody else is running around trying to come up with new, new, new constantly, the one thing that we know is that people use us during their life events, which means when it’s a wedding photographer, they’re not really looking at a ton of other wedding images throughout their entire life until they just got engaged, and all of a sudden they’re hyper focused. It doesn’t matter if that image was 10 years ago. If it’s a marque image for you, if it’s something that’s like boom, it defines you and your brand, rock it out man. It will bring business to you. Same thing with newborn and everything. I know you want to keep all of your social media content fresh all the time, but I’m telling you when it comes to marketing and promotions, find the one that’s going to trigger people that want to react because it’s something unique and different about it that catches their eye.
Now, we can get a little bit more advanced, I’ll just give you one little quick thing. If you’re doing social media postings, look at the framework as far as the color scheme of the social media that you’re in. So, for instance, Facebook has Facebook blue. Get on the color wheel, go to adobe and look at the color wheel, because they have a free one that’s interactive that you can look at. Look at Facebook blue, and what is the exact opposite color, the contrasting color, because that will pop. That will interrupt somebody scrolling, and it’s burnt orange, by the way. We know this because the image that we use that’s very highly effective, has burnt orange sunflower bursts in it, and it interrupts peoples’ pattern. It makes them stop scrolling. It’s a little nugget for you there.
Melissa: She also asks, “Is that part of your templates packs? 17hats marketing is not my area.” So, with our templates, there’s a marketing aspect to it, but that’s more of kind of the client experience, which, it’s not like that’s where it ends. Marketing is kind of the entire process, but specifically, our templates are dealing more with the process of taking wedding clients through the entire experience, headshot clients … although, with our templates, they’re really great because you can alter it to whatever niche you’re photographing.
Paul: Yeah, great question.
Melissa: Good question.
Paul: Do we have another question about –
Melissa: Just a couple comments about people specializing in birth photography, loving wedding and bridal portraits and engagement. Jillian said, “I’m currently thinking of designing different business cards for different photography that I do, that was it’s specific for the client.” That’s actually a great idea, Jillian, because especially if you’re out and about going to different networking events … for example, we do a lot of corporate work, so our business cards are –
Paul: I was looking to see if there was one nearby, I don’t see it.
Melissa: You don’t see it?
Paul: I’ll grab one.
Melissa: Grab it. So, our business cards are really … they do well in networking events because when you get them, they’re non descript in the sense that it doesn’t have a photograph on there, so it doesn’t define when you get it, you don’t know exactly what type of photography that we do, but you can tell by the card that we’re high end, we’re modern, we’re contemporary … you have the card there.
Paul: It has a spot UV, it’s a silk … it doesn’t represent itself well on the … it’s a silk card, it’s thick, spot UV as well and our contact information is in the edges. It’s something that creates reaction. It’s not a credit card vibe but, our brand is high end and we want to … and because we do send a lot of recommendation referrals to other photographers in the market, because that’s one of our other marketing strategies. We don’t have anything that pigeon holes us into a particular niche within … really because our niche is surrounding ourselves by people who have a certain amount of wealth in the corporate world, which then brings us into those different opportunities.
Melissa: Yeah, but Jillian, if you’re separating business cards out, that’s not a bad idea, especially if you have two niches that are kind of completely different. I know, for example, someone that might do boudoir might have a separate marketing card because they don’t want to put that on another card because it might be considered a little bit more risque and might not want to pass that out at a networking event, for example. That’s really great. Jillian just asked, “I was going to ask if a business card for a photographer should ever be without an image? I’ve been thinking of that as well, something simple and elegant.” We love that. We love simple, elegant –
Paul: But you’re going to have different opinions, and here’s the key with marketing, here’s the key: you test.
Paul: Right? So, why not, 50% of the time, do a card like this and see how people react and get the results for you, and then the other 50% of the time, use the other type of card. That way for you, your personality, how you present yourself and your packaging and who you’re about, you can then identify yourself, “Wow, I’m getting results this way and getting reactions or this way.” It might be reversed for you depending on your style and how you are. That’s the one thing I think is the biggest mistake in our industry, that it’s just something that I’m used to teaching in other worlds, is that there is no one right way to make a chocolate chip cookie, and everybody wants the perfect recipe, right? Everybody just wants one recipe that they think is going to work 100% of the time, and I’m here to tell you it’s not that way. You could have the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie cook off and you could have 1000 chefs from around the world come in, and all of them go about it a whole different way and you could sit there and love every single one of them, right?
Here’s the thing, it’s all about being consistent. It’s also about testing, so it comes to your ads, it comes to your landing pages, your marketing promotions, everything you need to do. In the marketing world they call it split test or AB testing and that’s where you try one specific message one way, and then you hard core do a very extremely different way of messaging. Not a little tweak, an extreme difference, and then from there you see which one grabs better. Then, once you figure that out, then you take that one and divide it off and start tweaking little things with it, that way you know … some of you are worrying, “Should my button be blue or orange,” and all of that, and a lot of times that doesn’t matter, it could be the extreme different type of message, and that could get all the results for you. AB testing is huge.
Melissa: Again, this goes hand in hand with this second point of having that plan, that strategy, and that’s going to lead into the next point. With your strategies, you want to look at short term and long term strategies with your marketing. So, there’s a combination of both. To simplify it, your short term marketing strategies are those flash sales or those promotions. You have a cool event coming up that you just want to let people know about. It’s short term. Long term is what you’re doing on the longevity. Those are more of the way you’re connecting with your clients, your editorials, your articles, how you’re giving value to them. The thing is that with your marketing plan, you have to have both in place. You have to have short term strategies and long term strategies in place. If you’re constantly just doing short term all the time, where you’re like, “I have a sale, I have a promotion, I have an event, come here, do this.” People are going to get burned out, and they’re not going to want to talk to you. They’re going to just get kind of fed up.
It’s kind of like … and we always hate to pick on it, but it’s the truth, any time any of my friends get into any of these MLMs where they want to sell me a shake or a makeup product, or whatever, all of a sudden it’s these short term, “Buy my stuff. Do this. Throw a party. Do this,” and it gets tired after a while. You just feel like you’re getting pounded all the time. They would do much better off by building value, by talking about their product or just sharing information about how it’s helped them or sharing testimonials. That’s more of a long term strategy. You want to make sure that you have both in place.
Paul: Right. Very rarely do people have an immediate photography need.
Paul: It’s not like a tube of toothpaste. “Oh, I ran out last night, crap, I have a meeting this morning, I need to go out and buy toothpaste because I need to brush my teeth.” It’s nothing that –
Melissa: Every now and then, we will … I will say, we’ll get like, for corporate head shots, we’ll get like, “I need a head shot right away”, because it’s a corporate headshot because they’re in town with a big company, and they have a deadline, and they need it right away. But that’s very –
Paul: It’s because they procrastinated, most likely.
Melissa: Yes. That’s very few and far between, though.
Paul: So, if you think about it though, the majority of photography needs surround a life event. So important. Let me say that again. The majority of photography needs is surrounded by a life event. So, what do I mean by that? Just got engaged, just got married, just got a new job, just lost a job, so now I need a head shot for a different reason. So, it’s either that people have life events going up or people have life events going down. Parties, birthday parties, graduations, look at all the life events, holidays, right? These are the things. We are constantly trying to wedge people in to just do a family session anymore, and they’re getting satisfied just by doing selfies and going, “Click.” It’s really hard, so the majority of the business typically comes around a life event.
Once you understand that, then your messaging can start shifting and start changing a little bit. Again, being more of a sniper instead of a shotgun approach, trying to hit everything and everybody at the same time, because then your language starts changing. You can start talking very specifically to people you’re actually trying to attract. Not everybody has a present need, so not everybody that you’re talking to or that’s in your world has a photography need today or this week at the convenience of you being able to make your mortgage. The public doesn’t know how much money you want to make this week, so they don’t know to contact you. The whole idea is that if you’re always in that scarcity mode and you’re trying to hit people at the last minute, they might not like, know, and trust you yet. This is where we see a lot of people fail with ads is that they put an ad out that is a direct call to action to do something right now, which is okay, and a small percentage of the market will respond to that. Unfortunately, the majority of the market that will respond to that are your Groupon type people.
They are people that don’t have a photographer preference, they’re inside the classified groups on Facebook and on Craigslist and they’re looking for the cheapest photographer possible, and the challenge with that is now you’re going off of cost, and if they’re not predisposed to you in advance or they don’t feel photography is of value … because keep in mind, the people … if they have a high level where they believe photography has a higher level of value, they would do the research before they need photography. They will do the research ahead of time, knowing who they’re going to go to. That comes to that second point, instead of present needs, future needs. Everybody that’s on your friends list, everybody that’s in your social media channels, at some point in time, have a photography need. It might not be today, but at some point in time. So really, what you’re doing, as Melissa already said, is through the course of educating and pushing information out, is you’re nurturing relationships. You are creating the like, know, and trust factor before they need you.
It’s really tough, because so many people are going out there saying, “I need to fill my bank account tonight, so I need to push something out now, and now I’m ticked off or pissed off because I bought somebody’s product and they told me to do this one ad and it will bring me all the riches in the world and I did this one ad and boosted a post and spent $100 and nobody contacted me but 3000 people saw it.” That’s shotgun approach. These people don’t know who you are. If I blindly just went up to you, if you were at the mall, and I blindly just went up to you and said, “Can you give me $500?” You’d be like, “Who the eff are you? You’re a stranger, why would I give you $500?” That’s kind of what we’re doing with our ads when you’re just in scarcity mode and hitting people up that don’t know who you are yet.
Melissa: So, let’s talk about long term strategies. What does that look like? I think this kind of a question people … like how do you build this repor? The biggest thing that you want to think about when you’re doing your long term strategies with marketing is how can you give value to your client or potential client? What is that thing, that burning desire, that need that they have, that thing that they want? What are they looking for. Again, this is really coming back to that first point of knowing who you are and what you’re all about and who you’re attracting, and getting to know who that ideal client is, and getting in their head, getting into their head, really understanding who they are and what they want. When you can figure that out, you can deliver them messaging of things that they want. You’re going to give them what they want.
For example, with people that are getting married, brides. What do brides want? They’re always … when they get engaged, they’re looking for information on what should I wear for my engagement session? How should I prepare for my wedding? What are some ways I can reduce some stress? For head shot clients, what’s the perfect outfit to wear for my head shot? What are some posing techniques that I can do that’s going to be flattering with my body type? Again, how can you give your ideal client what they want, and how can you over deliver value to them? Again, it’s about over delivering that value, giving them something that they’re not even expecting, that they don’t even realize that they wanted, but you know your clients so well and you’re in their head that you already know what they want before they know they want it.
Paul: Right. How do you get this information? You’ve got to ask.
Paul: You have to find out what their struggles are, what keeps them up at night, and once you know what their challenges are, then you know how to send your messaging out there, and the things that they really want from you. I think a lot of us, we’re so blinded that we’re so internal, and we want to talk about technobabble. We want to talk about our industry and apertures and settings and the lighting we used and all this other fancy stuff, and they could care less, the general public. Now, if you have a photographer client or an analytical, they might want to know, but in general, what are their needs? What are their struggles? What are they living through? It doesn’t always have to be about photography, also.
Paul: I want you to keep in mind, for us, when it comes to … like, if we went to build our list even more for our scene experience, any topic that is relevant to a parent of a nine year old or under will keep us on the radar, will keep us relevant, will keep us as a trusted resource to them. Anything, any information that would be relevant. Does that make sense to you guys? I think sometimes we think so hard, so much, that it has to be … everything that we put out in the social media space has to be about us and our industry –
Melissa: Right, photography, yeah.
Paul: No, it just has to be relevant to them. Stop talking about yourself, start talking to your customer in their voice.
Melissa: Yeah, and I was going to say a great exercise is to literally put yourself in your customers’ shoes and almost write a letter to yourself about your fears, what you want, your desires. Talk from their voice so that you can really get an idea, and to ask … it’s as simple as just asking. If you have clients that you’ve worked with, give them some sort of survey that asks questions about what they’re looking for, what they feel challenged about, what they’re struggling with, what were their biggest fears about going through this session with you, and you can get that language from them so that your marketing can really focus in that voice towards future clients, if that makes sense.
Paul: Right, right.
Paul: I was just thinking about it, you know you could use … and this is really … because we use very advanced software for some of our online marketing stuff, but within 17hats you could actually use a lead form –
Melissa: Oh absolutely.
Paul: That could dump into an email sequence, like a workflow, that you could design ahead of time, so in a way, it could be a fill in the blank contest or whatever to get the freebie type thing, but then send them through your marketing … they call funnels, in the marketing world. But, have a sequence that would nurture them and maybe give them an offer. Maybe it takes 10 weeks or 3 months before they actually get an offer from you, but you just kind of come across very nice and friendly and open and help them out. For us, I tell you, it’s all about owning information. When you’re on Facebook or any social media channel and you’re constantly renting from them, which means you’re doing ads over and over again to talk to the same people, you don’t own that information. The whole idea is you need to take people off of the social media and gain their trust so that they do want to get information from you, but if you’re just hitting them over the head every single day, “Sale! Sale! Sell! Sell!”
Melissa: Sell, sell?
Paul: Yeah, it’s something that … they’re going to unsubscribe. They’re going to unfollow, unfriend, whatever. You need to give them other information that’s relevant to their life, to what they’re experiencing, what they’re going through, and that’s thinking bigger picture.
Paul: You can curate content, you don’t even have to come up with new and original stuff. It’s out there. You can just be reposting other blogs and other things that are relevant topics, because they’ll always want to come to you for that and they’ll see you as the expert in that field.
Melissa: That actually leads to the last point that we wanted to talk about. Again, it’s an oversaturated market. It’s an oversaturated industry. How do you stay motivated? How do you stay on point? How do you stay inspired, especially when everyone in your market is doing everything and you’re like, “I’m just going to do the same thing that this person did.” It’s already been done before, and the one thing we really want to stress is no matter what, with your marketing, everything has been done before. Honestly, there’s really no new idea out there. It’s been done before in some sort of way, but what makes it unique is that it’s coming from you. You have your own voice. You have your own style. You have your own brand. You have your own personality. So, how you do things is going to be totally different than Joe down the street, how he does things. To really keep that in mind, just because it’s been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be fresh, it can’t be relevant. You also want to sharpen your saw with your marketing.
Like Paul was saying, stay inspired, get inspired by people in your industry, but get inspired by people in other fields besides photography, outside. Look into businesses and what they’re doing for marketing, and how could you maybe take another business that has nothing to do with photography, and put a spin on it. That’s how we get a lot of our great ideas, is from –
Paul: Yeah, it’s not in the industry.
Melissa: Most of our ideas are not from the photography industry. They’re from other industries, and we pull ideas, and we put our own special spin on it. That’s the biggest thing is we’re keeping it fresh and relevant and new. Again, don’t get discouraged if just because someone else is doing it before … if everyone’s doing engagement sessions, the free engagement session as marketing, maybe there’s a way you could put a spin on that, maybe you could put a twist on it so it’s unique, so it’s different, so that you stand out and your brand stands out and it’s not going to be the same old marketing technique.
Paul: Right. Coming back to consistency is the key. Staying very consistent, very on brand, because you don’t want to be all over the place, very important. Different analogy I used to use all the time is did you ever, as a kid, go up to a spicket that has a long hose on it, you know in the hot summer and you wanted to … I would think it’s disgusting now that I actually sipped out of one of these hoses, but you would go and turn on the spicket full blast and you’re sitting there waiting for like 10 second, 15 seconds, like “What’s going on? There’s nothing in here.” You’re getting impatient, but what you don’t know is there’s a lot of air in that. So, it’s like the hose, the water has to slowly travel through all of it, right? Right before it even comes out, you give up and you go over and turn off the spicket. So now, you don’t reap the reward of everything that was building up, that was coming through the pipeline that you were going to get, and you just sabotaged yourself.
You have to give it time. I know we’re in a media immediate gratification world these days, where we just want to do something with little to no effort and I’m telling you what, that’s where everybody else stops the race. They go to the first hurdle, they didn’t conquer the hurdle, so they stop. The person that wins the race, even if they hit that hurdle hard and they didn’t jump over it properly, they keep running, and they keep going, and that’s the people that win, because I’m counting on all my competitors, that when they hit that hurdle, they stop. They give up these days. All of the money is just a couple of inches on the other side of that hurdle. It’s so amazing how many people are just sitting there waiting behind their keyboard for something magical to happen and they try something once and they stop because it didn’t work.
Melissa: Yeah, there’s a lot to be said about patience and being patient. Putting the work in, again, owning your space and being determined, but then just being patient, and being consistent and being persistent doing it and not giving up. I think that’s the biggest thing with marketing that again, it’s not if you build it they will come, because they’re not. You have to build it, but then you have to let people know that it’s been built and bring people there and have the people interested in coming to see it, so it’s a process of planting seeds but nurturing along the way and fostering and nurturing relationships. It’s just one big circle with marketing, and you can keep it fresh and you can keep it relevant, even when it’s … again, you go down … I’m inundated with Facebook. Sometimes I get sick of it, I scroll, scroll, scroll and there’s ads all over the place, but every now and then there’s something that catches my attention, and what do they do to stand apart?
They have some sort of strategy in place that catches my attention, that makes them different, that makes them stand out. So, it’s thinking outside the box, what’s going to make you stand out? What’s going to make people just stop? What’s going to make peoples’ mouths water and want to contact you with what you have to give them. Again, it’s all about over delivering that value, over and over again. Giving, giving, giving, without expecting anything in return, because again, marketing is really influencing, it’s inciting people to really want to get curious about you and contact you for more information.
Paul: The most money I’ve ever made in my life is by people I’ve influenced that never used my services directly.
Melissa: Yeah, that’s so true.
Paul: But that became raving fan advocates and have recommended and referred me to tons and tons of people. So, just because somebody does not use you does not mean that they won’t be an advocate for you.
Paul: So, don’t take anybody for granted. You should always treat everybody as if they’re the most important person on earth, because to them, they are. I learned that from Earl Nightingale, many years ago, and I practice that every day. Treat everybody as if they are the most important person on earth and you will be infectious to everybody, and they will want to be around you, and they will polarize to you, and they were recommend and refer you incredibly, all over the place.
Paul: Is there anything else we want to add today?
Melissa: I think those are our four points. If there’s anyone who has any questions, we’ll stay here for a couple more minutes. If you have any specific marketing questions, we can answer a couple. I did have a comment here. Jillian has said, “I keep a list of people that are interested in doing portrait sessions sometime in the future. They usually give me a time of year and when I’m about a month out, I message to see if they’re ready to schedule. It’s worked fairly well working off the list,” which is fantastic. Jillian, you could take that to the next level too, where throughout the year, you’re not soliciting or anything like that, but you’re just providing value to them, where you’re like, what would those people find valuable about a portrait session? What are the tips to have a memorable family portrait session? How should they prepare as far as dressing and styling for it?
But, just to give it to them, just give them that information without them even asking for it, and without any kind of solicitation, it’s just a gift, and people are going to be like … if you give them something that’s really valuable for free, they’re going to be like, “Oh my gosh, I got all this information, this packet, this whatever the case might be, for free. Imagine if I pay for the services, what value I’m going to get with that.”
Paul: Right. [inaudible 00:45:50] asked us about our templates are actually inside our marketplace on 17hats. I know at least for the wedding workflow, they’re not used for marketing, but they’re used for client experience, so we do have things like I suggested about tips. We have an email sequence that … it’s normally a long process before people get married, so we don’t want things to go dead silent the entire process.
Melissa: Touch points.
Paul: So we actually have touch points in there. Those can be rearranged and actually used for marketing as well. Even the tip sheets and stuff that we have inside the head shots one, which is cool. The whole idea, though, is again, just take a step back, take a deep breath, and just know that there are people out there that are doing this, that are successful. That means there’s proof in the marketplace that says if you do the right thing and position yourself properly, and you stop getting in to this scarcity mode and you look at it from an abundance, and you have to look long term versus short term. And trust me, I know, we’ve been in situations … you guys that know the back story, I was on top of the world when I had my eight real estate offices and then financially lost everything when family stole money out of the company. Almost ten years ago now, I lost everything and went homeless. I was in scarcity mode then. I was taking $50 gigs, anything I could to get food on the table, because I legitimately had 0 money. I had no money in the bank, I was upside down, just jammed up.
That’s reality, so you are looking for some things that will feed you right now, but if you’re always in that mode, that means that you’re always in the moment, right now, trying to do something to trigger people to do something with you right now, and that’s going to make people unfollow, unfriend, stay away from you, because you’re pushing on them, and that’s not why they wanted the relationship with you.
Melissa: Yeah, you don’t want to push, you want to drawl people in, you want to pull them in. That push marketing, it can be effective in some ways, if it’s like a flash sale or something short term, that little bit of scarcity, but if you’re constantly pushing, pushing, pushing, then you’re not going to give people a reason to contact you. You’re not going to drawl them in. You want to drawl them in with your personality, with what you have to offer, the value that you have, and create that relationship.
Paul: It’s all about nurturing, and keep in mind … because a lot of people aren’t doing it anymore. It’s not hard. You can stand out from the crowd really easy –
Melissa: Just by talking to them!
Paul: Yeah, communicating with people these days, instead of doing everything through this. It’s amazing how much you can influence people. I just want to circle back around and thank 17hats, because they do sponsor us and it’s something that we are users of the product. We didn’t just all of a sudden become users because … it was reverse, we were power users of the product, then they approached us and were like, “We love what you guys are doing, photographer entrepreneur, we’d like to partner with you,” and they have financially sponsored us to be able to provide these ongoing training classes, so hopefully those that are out there, we always love to give back to businesses that actually support our industry, so thank you to 17hats.
Melissa: Thank you 17hats.
Paul: For helping us do these. The more that we are able to do this, the less that … we can actually pull back a little bit on our photography business to then train and support and coach and help everybody in the community.
Melissa: Absolutely. If you’re not part of the photographer entrepreneur Facebook, then you need to go there now, after this. It’s really one of the most supportive online groups, where people just get together and talk about photographer entrepreneurship, business strategies, marketing, we talk a lot about marketing there, in person sales, branding, and it’s just a really open community to talk on. There’s over 15,000 people in the group right now, and growing and counting, so we would love to see you over there as well. We can continue the conversation.
Paul: Yeah, awesome. We’re so excited. Thank you everybody that had the chance to come out live. If you are popping in on the replay, please tag us if you have a question and we’ll do our best to follow up. We will be traveling over the next week and a half, doing some branding shoots and stuff with internet entrepreneurs down in Texas, and then we’ll be over at LightPro expo, we’re one of the main speakers there. We’ll be doing a platform from the main stage –
Melissa: About branding and marketing, woo.
Paul: So, if you’re in the Florida area, definitely check them out and come and visit us, we would love to see you there.
Paul: Anything else?
Melissa: That’s it. Thanks for another great time, guys. We love it.
Paul: And Jillian, thank you for the kind words there, and Scott and [crosstalk 00:50:23].
Melissa: Thank you everyone.
Paul: Great seeing everyone and we’ll talk to you soon.