If you haven’t seen the first post in this series, check it out here. I have a review of Catherine Hall’s platform class posted there.

So, Monday was my second and third platform classes, as well as the start of the tradeshow.

My first class was the awesome Sarah Petty. Her class was on marketing, an aspect of business that I am sorely lacking in. I’ve been following her Joy of Marketing blog for some time now, and I’ve been learning quite a bit from the blog. So when I saw that she would be speaking at a platform class, she was the first one I signed up for, despite the 8 am class time! She even gave us gifts for showing up, a small tin recipe box with a bunch of idea cards in it. Brilliant!

She spent the class time talking about the BUMP concept, the different parts of effective marketing. Your Brand, Understand your numbers, Marketing, Promotion. It’s been a great primer.

Branding:

  • Your brand is everything about your business. The feel, the look, the style, the voice, the presentation. She echoed what Catherine Hall said about branding the day before, so it is a good reinforcer. It has to all be consistent.
  • Put together a brand standards document. It lists all the fonts, colors, logos and secondary graphics associated with your brand. Write down all the color codes and locations of the graphic files. Use it to keep everything the same.
  • Have your studio reflect your brand. If you’re going for a very elegant, high end feel, you probably don’t want your studio to be crazy colors and patterns. Same with your photographic style.

Getting your branding in order allows you get out of the commodity pricing game. Use your branding to create an experience that is as unique as you can make it; that way you can charge the higher prices that allow you to create that unique experience. If your branding and client experience leaves you no different than the other 63 photographers in your area that offer the same product, the only thing you have to compete on it pricing. And then it becomes a race to the bottom. That’s a bad spot.

Understand You Numbers:

  • You need a business plan!!! If you don’t have one, go make one, or have someone help you make one if you don’t feel confident in it yourself.
  • Know what your expenses are.
  • Know what your cost of goods (COGs) is. Make sure everything involved in creating your product is accounted for: your materials, your time, shipping costs, packaging time, marketing time, ect. This is probably higher than you think it is. You want your COGs to be around 20-25% of your total price. So if your print costs $30 total to get to the client, you should be charging between $100-150, depending on your area.
  • Project where you want your business to be financially, then figure out how to get there. What income is needed to get there, how many clients with what average sale? How can you increase the average sale, so you can decrease the number of clients?

If you don’t know and understand your numbers, then you’re running blind. Knowing what’s going on allows you to create a lean, efficient, streamlined business. You know what areas are bringing in enough money, and what areas are lacking and need to be beefed up. If you feel like you aren’t bringing in enough for the work you’re doing, look at your expenses and trim things up, or increase your pricing (if you can support the increase), or change your product suppliers to get a lower cost of goods.

Marketing:

  • Look at your product mix. How many things are there? You don’t need more than a few album options, for example. A flushmount album with a few cover options and sizes, and a press printed book with a few cover options and sizes, is best. If you have too many options, your clients will get overwhelmed and be less likely to make a decision, or take longer to make one. Remember, Keep It Simple Stupid!
  • Encourage clients to do what you want with your pricing. Make your a la carte menu high enough to make the packages more attractive.
  • Have pricing menus for each target market. Have them professionally printed.
  • Use great packaging, because it feels higher end and more luxurious.
  • Tailor your collections and a la carte menus for each target market.

Your marketing should be focused for each target market, and continuously updated based on that market. Keep reviewing the effectiveness of you marketing; this is why you need to know your numbers 🙂 If you see that a particular marketing piece is just not being successful, you will see that in your cash inflow numbers. Then you can make an educated decision about what to do with that marketing piece, to drop it altogether, find a cheaper alternative, or find better places to use it.

Promotion:

  • You should have an establishing piece, a wow piece. Something that you can send out to new clients that impresses them, and makes them contact you.
  • You can create something like this. Fill it with newborn photos and send to area new moms, or with wedding photos and include it in a vendor packet at a popular engagement ring store.
  • Work with other vendors that cater to the same market. Build a positive relationship by referring your clients to them. Send some sample wedding albums to your favorite wedding venues, showcasing a wedding that you shot there. Create a pet portrait gallery at a boutique pet store, or a children portrait gallery at a children’s clothing store.
  • Create loyalty with your current clients by running promotions specifically for them. Encourage them to get there friends involved too!
  • Everyone loves a note in the mail. Write a note to a vendor if they get published, or get an award, or just to say their latest wedding was amazing. Send a note to clients on their child’s birthday, or on an anniversary. Writing notes helps keep you in their mind, because it’s becoming less and less common. Use branded note cards.

This is where it all comes together. You have your branding consistent, you know what your numbers are and what they need to be, and you have your marketing materials selected and have decided how to use them. Now you’re ready to tell the world (or your town). Your future clients will be impressed with your marketing piece, they’ll set up a meeting, then you can tell them all about why you are the perfect person for them, aided by the vibe that your branding gives off.

All of this is a link in the sales chain. If one breaks, the whole thing fails to work properly. The end of the chain is your clients purchasing your products. A disc of files from a wedding isn’t the final product of a wedding photographer, canvases and albums are. If everything works smoothly, your clients will see that.

If you aren’t already subscribed to Sarah’s Joy of Marketing blog, I can’t tell you enough that you should be. It’s filled with great information on how to market your business, by people that really know their stuff. I’ve learned quite a bit on what to do and what not to do, and seeing her talk was the cherry on top of the banana split!

The next post will be on Anthony Vasquez’s platform class, Taking the New out of Newbie, and my Do’s and Don’t Do’s for next year!