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Balancing Your Marketing – What's The Best Mix?

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Guest Post by Matt Hill

Are you baffled by the exhaustive ways you can market your photography website? You aren’t alone. I’ll be honest, there is no conclusive set of directions on the perfect way to market yourself, but there is certainly lots of informed (and sometimes not…) opinions out there. I’ve spent the last 13 years working for a company that specializes in marketing, learned under many fantastic mentors plus made it a practice to continually learn and grow. Today I offer you my take on balancing a virtually endless realm of possibility when marketing your photography business online, and a bit of old-fashioned offline marketing.

I want to start first with a high-level distinction between marketing and advertising from my point of view. Then I’ll move on to some specific suggestions.

To begin, it’s my firm belief that choosing just one method of marketing is dangerous and inadvisable. It’s certainly akin to the old adage of “putting all of one’s eggs in one basket,” and the advice exists because you’d better be right. Are there guarantees? No. So I say be smart and choose a balanced approach.

That being said, let’s begin with a phrase I believe that Hubspot coined – “Inbound Marketing.” My paraphrasing of their approach is making content that attracts people who desire to talk to you, and focusing your attention on serving them. It’s a beautiful idea, and worth reading more and watching their webinars. And it’s essentially SEO combined with laser-focus on not interrupting people.

Hmmmm. Not “interrupting” people. Advertising is, essentially, interrupting someone while they are doing a completely different task. Think magazines. You purchase it not for the ads, but for the content. And while you are flipping through it, your journey is interrupted by these gorgeous ads designed to make you pause, consider and act. Seems humane to choose a marketing path that tends to potential visitors when they wish to seek you.

On the other hand, we all seek to maximize our business. Awareness is essential. How do you raise your memory in someone’s mind? Expose your business. Essentially you pay more for less at this point, but your potential for new customers is increased. Perhaps someone didn’t even know that your kind of business existed, or so geographically close and they are not in the habit of asking peers for recommendations. This is a good argument for advertising.

Graphs, charts and seven steps after the jump!

Take a look on your analytics. Do you see a variety of wedges in Traffic Sources?

In the above example, it’s quite balanced. The sum of Search Engines, Referring Sites, Direct Traffic and Other equals 100%, but no single method dominates the others. Digging deeper, you can see below, that qualifying your traffic sources is important:

The Pages per Visit (P/V) is important. In the above example – this is organic traffic from Google. Low bounce, high Time on Site (TOS) and majority New Visits. The other 46% of visits were returning visitors… Wow. Cool. They came back! As you scan down your list of Traffic Sources, you can qualify which are getting you a better return. Here is how you get there in Google Analytics:

I mention this first because informing yourself with real data is the best way to decide where to put your chips.

Simple start for online advertising:

1. Google AdWords

Sign up for an account. Write a few text ads. Geotarget them to your area of business. If you are graphically inclined, make some image banner ads and also place those to appear via the Google AdSense network (via your same account) on other people’s sites. best advice I have ever received regarding writing AdWords ads is to google your search phrase and write your ads while looking at all of your competitors’ ads. Be unique, eye-catching and human. Perhaps I’ll write more on this in the future 🙂

2. Google Maps/Places.

Does your business show up when you search? If not, then claim your listing or add it. It’s free and these results show up BEFORE all organic results on Google . Get in the top 10 for your area. Google.com/Places

Google Places also allows you to offer coupons to map searchers. Incentives! How awesome is that?

3. Start/continue your Blog

It’s the easiest way to add fresh content to your site and puts across your true personality. The new content pushes you up on organic search results. And it’s fun for both you and your potential customers! It’s also cool if your customers like being in your blog and send the link to all of their friends!

4. SEO

It’s been beaten to death, but it is important to have an SEO-optimized website. If you can’t do it yourself, hire a local SEO agency to help. Best question to ask if you’re scared they might be sketchy is “Can you give me three telephone numbers of satisfied customers?” If they are proud of their work, the answer will be yes.

5. eBlasts/Opt-in

Marketing email is still one of the highest-acting forms of marketing. You’ve been collecting your customers emails for years, right? Well hire a local kid fresh out of college to make you some good-looking, well-written email templates and start sending out offers, updates and seasonal ideas to your client base.

Also essential is to prominently add an Opt-In form on your website that encourages potential customers to get on your email list. give them an incentive, like a free sitting or 10% off prints.

Never purchase lists. That’s a horrible interruption of someone’s day. Email inboxes are kinda like someone’s living room – don’t go there uninvited.

6. Your Peer Network

Make friends with other professionals in the area. Refer work you cannot do to them, and they will do the same for you. It’s rewarding and enriching to hang with other shooters and build a stronger community that not only knows everyone in the area, but can also confidently be generous with each other. And it’s good karma 🙂

7. Socialize it!

Use your Twitter and Facebook accounts to promote the cool stuff you do and your offers. Make a fan page on Facebook (not your personal account) for your customers so you can be yourself on your own time 🙂 Be generous! Retweet and repost interesting things. Most of all, be professional and courteous.

These are a solid start to building a lasting marketing plan. I didn’t mention direct mail, print ads, client presentation or other stuff like that because I am an internet geek 🙂 Doesn’t mean those other things aren’t important! But I can confidently say that the above marketing and advertising suggestions will build you a solid business base.

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This post sponsored by Pictage – Make More Money – Free Your Time To Go Win More Clients

Written by scottbourne

May 31, 2010 at 4:32 am

Posted in Marketing

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You’re Missing An Opportunity If You Don’t Contact The Client When You DON’T Get The Job!

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By Skip Cohen

Here’s the scenario:   The real estate market is very similar to photography.  It’s all about people skills.  It’s about relationships, trust and communication.

Realtors obviously want you to list your house with them.  If they’re the listing agent, their commission is going to be higher than if you buy a house listed through another broker.  But here’s the twist.  Every time my buddy loses a listing to another broker, which isn’t very often,  he calls the client and asks the following:

“I know you listed with another agent, but it would really help us a lot to find out what you felt we were missing.”  Then he’s just quiet and listens.  The information he gets in response is incredibly valuable.

Years ago, (A LOT of years ago) I was a marketing manager at Polaroid.  I wrote some pretty decent marketing programs for Polaroid’s specialty dealers (camera stores).  People used to ask me how I came up with all of the marketing ideas.  The truth is, none of the ideas were ever exclusively mine.   I would ask the retailers, “What would you need from Polaroid to double your business with us next year?”  Then I’d ask the sales rep in the field what they needed to beat quota by 100%.  All the answers were out there.  All I had to do was listen!

Retailers would tell me they needed better pricing, better terms of payment and more advertising or special programs to get more people into their stores.  Sales reps would tell me they needed rebates for their accounts, new products and better advertising.  Every now and then I’d even get a suggestion for a new product to hit a special target, like the teen market.

Nothing has changed today except it’s even easier to learn more about your target audience, thanks to the Internet and social media.   If you’ve read Who Moved My Cheese, you know the premise is simply if you sit and wait for somebody to put the cheese back you’ll starve, but go out and look around for new cheese and you’ll survive, as well as grow.

So, start talking to those clients who didn’t hire you.   Approach them in a way that’s disarming.   At programs in the past I’ve suggested you start by sending them a thank-you note when you didn’t get the job.  Just thank them for their time, consideration and wish them good luck.

Everybody always thinks they lost the job because somebody undercut them on price. But maybe it wasn’t price.  They might have liked the albums they saw at another studio better.  Maybe they’ve read or heard more about the other photographer they hired. If you’re a wedding photographer, maybe the other photographer offered them a product you don’t include, e.g. an engagement session, a facebook page of images, etc.  The list could go on and on, but you won’t know if you don’t ask!

Well, go ahead, take a shot and start to contact a client or two who didn’t hire you – you might be surprised at what you learn.   And, what you learn will help you create a blueprint for how to grow your business!  Just like back in my Polaroid days – all the answers are out there!

Written by scottbourne

April 9, 2010 at 7:47 am

Posted in Marketing

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Reducing Your Marketing Costs

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By Skip Cohen

Years ago I read a great article written by Donald Libey, a terrific consultant on the east coast.  He talked about Consumer Bundling, which was simply non-competing companies working together to hit a common target.  Over my years at Hasselblad you saw promotions and advertising we did with Kodak, Bogen Photo, Polaroid and even L.L. Bean.

We’re all sick of dealing with the economy, but one thing tough times do is force us to look for new ways to do business that we should have been doing all along.  If you’re looking for a way to reduce your marketing costs, without cutting back on your exposure, then look for some partners to share the burden of direct mail and cross-promotions.

Here’s a prime example:  Homecoming at every high school in the country is only a couple of months away.  Why not do a direct mail campaign with the florist in town and a limo company?   Looking for ways to promote your wedding photography?  How about teaming up with a travel agent, a local venue, a tux shop and a florist?   Vicki Taufer even found partners to help promote her pet promotion every summer with a pet food company, a local Dog “Barkery” and the animal shelter.

In terms of the actual presentation to your target audience, it can be anything from a mailing with a series of independent offers, like the “Value-Pak” envelopes we all receive at our homes, to an actual cross-promotion e.g. Rent your tuxedo and get a certificate worth $__ off a portrait sitting and vice versa: get a discount on your tuxedo rental with your portrait sitting.   I know it might not sound very upscale, described in brief here, but that’s where your creativity comes in when designing the offer and the promotion.

Consumer bundling is the perfect way for you to promote your business without having to absorb the full burden of the cost.  And here’s one more idea on cross-promoting – team up with a few other photographers!  How about the combination of a wedding photographer and a children’s photographer cross-promoting each other’s work?

Just because the economy is tough doesn’t mean you can’t continue or better yet, increase your exposure to your target audience.  This is just like a bunch of friends going to lunch – you just need a few new partners to split the check!

Written by scottbourne

March 12, 2010 at 7:40 pm

Posted in Marketing

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