Today, I’m able to strategically pick where I spend my advertising dollars since I have so many other avenues of connection to people in the industry. I flipped my strategy and am now marketing more heavily to these industry connections rather than directly to my clients. If I can prove to be a valuable asset to my industry colleagues, they will naturally promote my services to their clients. And this tactic directly translates into social media.
My colleagues promote my services on Facebook, Linked In and on their websites without ever having to directly say “hire these photographers because”…. All they have to do is show off what I’ve done for them with a link to any one of my online presences and my images become viral.
When my network shares my content, it creates value for me because they help me build my brand, my reputation, my credibility and grow my online equity.
1. CREATE A GAME PLAN
But, as it is with anything, you must have a plan. Word of mouth travels very, very quickly now that people are using technology to communicate. You don’t want to spread yourself thin and not be able to deliver uncompromised service or quality.
I began small and built connections with local business people. I am an active member at my local Chamber of Commerce, I partner with the local merchants in my town as well as with my clients. This gets people talking and since it really is a small world, their word can travel far. Since I’ve built up my reputation with local colleagues, I find my efforts reaching well outside of my local circle.
Begin by listing your top 4 or 5 goals. Stay focused and don’t over-extend yourself. Even 2-3 goals are fine. You can always build on your plan. After you identify your goals, create a matrix that ties specific action items to each goal as well as any expected expenses and expected returns. If you have a staff, delegate some of the responsibilities to them.
2. IDENTIFY YOUR TOOLS
After spending an absorbent amount of money on advertising, I decided to focus only on free resources or those I already own/pay for.
Traditional Networking Toolset
1. Associations such as
a) Chamber of Commerce
b) Industry Specific Organizations
d) Local specialized networking groups
2. The team of industry colleagues you’ve built
a) Local Merchants
b) Local paper
c) Local college/university
d) Your clients
Define your target market and corresponding market segments defined by age, gender, social class, income, geographic presence, activities & interests.
For example, one of my main markets is Special Events. Within that market, the market segments I want to capture are Weddings, Corporate Galas, Annual Report Dinners & Conferences.
Then define your services and/or products that correspond with your market segments. Once I identified my segments, I created a folder of corresponding images to post online.
Spend some time watching how your competitors interact with their clients online and make some notes. Compare how you are similar and then sell how you are different.
1. Offer valuable advice or services to solve people’s problems—online and in real life- to earn trust.
2. Work hard to always present your best work
3. Follow up
4. Stay transparent—keep people posted on your progress.
5. Be authentic
6. Don’t sell yourself
7. Don’t complain
8. Remember to reciprocate
9. Use your manners
The most important trait you can have as a business owner in this economy is flexibility. Be willing to constantly re-evaluate your plan and be flexible with your decisions. Try new things. My motto is that it is better to do something badly than not to do it at all. The more you do something, the better you will become at it.
About Natalie Wi
Natalie runs an innovative photography studio that is a nationwide leader in commercial lifestyle photography.
She opened the doors of Allure Photography in 2001 in Washington, D.C. and in 2006, expanded as Allure West Studios into San Francisco. Allure West Studios headquarters opened in Doylestown in 2009.
Allure West Studios specializes in custom website photography, headshots, advertising photography, product photography, food photography, interiors, editorial photography, weddings, special events and corporate conferences.
Allure West Studios also offers digital photography workshops for amateur
photographers, mentorships for pros and Photoshop and Lightroom workshops for artists.