Marketing = Love
I'm going to start by making a few assumptions. You're a photographer. You run a business and want it to be successful. You probably know that a certain amount of marketing is necessary. But marketing isn't really what you want to be spending your days doing. It's definitely not the reason you started your photography business in the first place. I understand. That was me too once.
Now I love marketing. It's one of my favourite things about running a business. I know that's a bit of a geeky thing to admit but I'm long past the stage when I care if people think I'm a geek. It makes me happy so I do it! But after working with lots of other photographers and small business owners through my workshops and one on one mentoring, I know that not every small business owner feels the same way. To lots of people out there, struggling with the ins and outs of running a small business, marketing is just another thing on their list of things to do. It's overwhelming, easy to get wrong, crazy expensive and salesy. And quite frankly you'd just rather be doing something lovely like taking pictures or creating things.
But here's the reality. There are thousands of photographers. And a lot of them are really really good. Probably better than you or me if we're being honest about it. That means to succeed you've got to find a way to stand out in that crowded market. The lucky few will be able to do that through their images alone - but they are very much in the minority. The rest of us have to work hard to be found. And that my lovely photographer friend is where marketing comes into it.
Marketing is like some special magic sauce. It can literally transform your business. It can help you navigate that awful no-man's land, where you're just about making enough money to carry on, but not really getting the work that you want or the customers that you love. Marketing can change all that. And very importantly - it's not all about the money. Of course marketing can help improve your businesses finance by bringing in more work. But more importantly, it can make you so much happier in your business by bringing you the right clients to work with - those who understand your style, trust you implicitly and let you get on with your creative thing.
The Marketing Mindset...
Here's where I think the problem lies - our mindset around marketing . We have so many negative thoughts surrounding marketing, in-built into us after years of being sold to and pressurised into buying things we don't really need.
Here are some of the main things people tell me they don't like about marketing:
- It's scary and overwhelming and they don't know where to start
- They don't like 'selling' and don't want people to be pressurised into buying from them.
- They don't have the time to commit to marketing their business
- They are worried it's going to cost them lots of money and they are never quite sure they are spending it in the right place.
All of these fears are completely valid. Marketing is a huge and noisy topic with lots of different people giving their opinions and strategies. Marketing done badly, can feel very 'salesy'. Marketing can, if you 're not sure what you're doing, take up huge chunks of time. And yes, it's very easy to throw money at marketing with little or no results.
If you're sat reading this and feeling a little bit disheartened - don't. There's a way to avoid all of these issues and it's really quite simple.
You've got to learn to LOVE marketing...
Learning to love marketing starts with a transformation of your mindset. If you look upon marketing as this all consuming, time sapping, costly and unenjoyable necessary evil - you're never really going to get the best out of it! You can spend money on workshops, books and mentoring, you can read every blog post going, you can ask for advise again and again - but until you change your mindset, until you start viewing marketing as a good and nourishing thing for your business and (here's the big secret) for your customers, you'll never really get the full benefit from it.
For your customers you say? Yes for our customers. Marketing used to be a way to make people buy from you. A way of getting customers beating a path to your door. To some extent that's still true. But for me, my marketing is always aimed at making my customer happy.
Make your customer happy...
Surely that's what we all want - to make our customers happy? Through the images we create for them, the experience they have working with us, how we make them feel throughout their wedding planning process? Marketing well is basically just making your clients happy. I have a very clear idea of who my ideal client is. I know the type of issues they will face on their wedding planning journey. So I can help them! Knowing who my ideal client is and what they need, means I know what blog posts to write for them, how to treat them during their wedding planning process, how to deliver their images to them and what type of images they want. Knowing my client means I also know what type of marketing makes them happy and what would turn them away.
Marketing is the lifeblood of your business...
Think of marketing as the nourishment your business needs to be healthy. It's just like our bodies. We can live off pizza but it's going to help us be the fittest and healthiest we can be is it? (she says as she eats pizza whilst writing this blog). We can eat a lot of crap, and yet we survive - until the heart attack or whatever. It's the same for our business - we can nourish it badly, doing the wrong type of marketing or not enough marketing, and yet we just about manage to stay in business. But will we be satisfied with our business? Will we be working with the type of clients we want? We will be achieving our goals creatively and financially. No probably not. And it'll feel like really hard work.
Learning to love marketing is probably the best single thing you can do for your business. If marketing is currently a chore you hate, step back and have a rethink. Start with your clients and what they want, look at how you want your business to develop. How can the two go hand in hand? Start providing your clients with what they want to see and you'll being to have a whole different relationship with marketing. And you might just start loving it too!
I hope you enjoyed this blog. For more business tips, marketing articles and information on workshops and mentoring please visit my page for photographers.