4 Marketing Mistakes Photographers Make
While I always tell people there isn't ONE way to run a business, and MANY ways to do it, there are some mistakes I see happen over and over and over again.
Today I want to focus on 4 huge marketing mistakes I see many creative entrepreneurs make repeatedly, but especially those fellow photographers.
I'm going to share with you what they are, why they don't work, AND give you some insight as to WHAT you should be doing INSTEAD!
1. TRYING TO MARKET TO EVERYONE
In one of my favorite books, Building a Storybrand, by Donald Miller, he says repeatedly, “If you confuse, you lose”. People think if they can attract MORE people, they’ll book more. And I get WHY this would make sense. The more eyeballs on your website ad inquiring, the more you are going to book and the busier you'll be right. Sounds like good math, right? Wrong!
Why this doesn't work: When you aren't SUPER, hyper-specific on who your ONE ultimate ideal client is, people, get confused. How can anyone feel like you are talking specifically to them if you are trying to appeal to everyone? When you try and be the photographer for everyone, you don't end up being the PERFECT fit for anyone. And in turn, you end up getting clients who aren't ideal for what you want to do, and this leads to a lot of the common issues I hear photographers complaining about. Like, clients who don't respect or appreciate boundaries, argue about price or don't get their vision or style. Generally, if you aren't getting clients who are a GOOD fit, it's likely that YOUR messaging is the issue.
The more specific you can be better about your ideal client, THE BETTER! Always!
2. SELLING THE SERVICE/PRODUCT/DELIVERABLES, NOT THE FEELING
People buy for emotional reasons, not a logical ones. Especially in the photography industry, emotion and connection sell. We don’t sell toilet paper, photos aren’t up there on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. So, if we aren't 'essential', and we are selling a service that is a niche, unscary and to some indulgent...how can we ever appeal on logic? We can't. So stop trying, and realize that there is MORE power in your marketing WITH emotion!
Why this doesn't work: Many times people do what I call ‘stuffing the offer’ by adding in more more more, but they aren’t only focusing on the wrong thing they end up overwhelming the potential client. Overwhelmed people generally walk away and buy nothing. Giving people MORE isn't always the answer. Focusing on how many hours, locations, outfit changes, and prints you provide ISN'T necessarily going to help you book OR sell more.
So what will? Realizing that when you sell a feeling, an experience, and based on emotion, you are going to connect with your client on another level. One and two kinds of go hand in hand here on this list. When you know who your client is, and you know them WELL, you can easily tap into what makes them tick, and what makes them BUY. This is essential to selling to them on an emotional level.
3. NOT TELLING A STORY
Stories sell. It’s how we connect as human beings. Especially as a small business, and not a big box store, and someone selling a niche service, you are going to want to connect with people. Sharing your brand's story, and the story of past clients, allows your potential clients to connect with you, grow the know, like, and trust factor, and see themselves working with you! Stories are MORE memorable as a marketing tactic and they allow you to build that emotional connection with your audience.
Why this doesn't work: When we try and sell with everything we can do, again, like in number two, we overwhelm the client. We may also bore them. No one wants to hear about our gear, what lenses and cameras we own. How long it takes us to edit, or why we charge what we do because of how costly and expensive this industry is. News flash, NO ONE CARES. Why should they?! When I go to a restaurant, I don't want to hear how much the rent is for the building and how expensive the chef or the food is. What gets me to go? The atmosphere, the appeal of the descriptions on the menu, the experience, the fact I'm hungry! But justifying the costs on the menu by explaining? Yeah, doesn't sound all that appealing to me and sure isn't increasing my appetite.
So, what stories do you tell? Yours, your clients, any and all the stories. You’d be surprised at how much more people connect with you and your business when you incorporate storytelling. Think of some stories that have stuck with you. Ones from brands, people, businesses, whatever. Think of what they were and try and figure out WHY they were so memorable and impactful. This will help you to start thinking of storytelling in marketing in a way that works with you. And if it works with you, it may just work for your audience as well.
4. CONFUSING MARKETING AND ADVERTISING
Guess what, these are NOT the same things! Advertising is simply paying for ads, to get your message out there by exchanging money to push a product or service. Marketing is a WHOLE other ballgame! Advertising is simply ONE tactic or way of marketing, but it focuses on promoting through paid avenues. Marketing is more personal. It's determining what your customer's problem is, and how YOU can be the ultimate solution to that problem.
Why this doesn't work: Simply throwing money into advertising campaigns and hoping to get a large return on investment, is NOT a marketing plan. For photographers, I personally find that good marketing through several avenues is key to success, and blowing money on things like IG and FB ads is wasteful and has little ROI. Can it work? Sure, of course, it can! For certain people and in certain situations. But I find it's rare, more costly, and much more difficult than anyone thinks. You'll spend a lot of money testing ads and campaigns before you see ANY of that money come back. Simply throwing up a photo and an ad on Facebook is not the easy, quick, fix you think it is. Trust me, it's much more in-depth, confusing, and difficult. Plus, people are SO bombarded by advertising at this point, they've become a bit numb to it, and aren't dumb. They are catching on to the ads and ignoring them. Like I said above, for a business that relies on selling via emotion and connection, straight advertising isn't your best bet.
Instead, I encourage photographers to use a mix of marketing strategies including SEO, social media, blogging, email lists, and more. Some may work better for you than others, depending on your audience and clientele, and learning this will be a bit of trial and error. But I do believe not putting all your eggs into one marketing basket is ALWAYS best so that you have options and multiple ways potential clients can find you.
Want to learn more about how to turn your photography business into a booked-out money-making machine that you love?!