by Jonathan Coleman
As a Portrait Photographer, How Are You Marketing?
Welcome to the third in this series of articles looking at what it really takes for you to build and grow a viable portrait business, either full- or part-time.
Everything you read here is borne of practical experience over the last 23 years, much of it hard-earned!
These are the principles we practise in our £230,000 pa portrait business every day and they work!
You may remember, from last time, that your business, any business, is like a Three-Legged Stool. You have your Product; your Marketing; and your Sales.
If any of those 'legs' are weak, then your stool, your dream, could fall over!
It is your job, therefore, as the business owner, to make sure that each leg is as strong as it can be.
Last time we looked at Shooting for Show not Shooting for Dough. Now let's move on to: The Second Leg
Marketing - Getting Customers - the Life Blood of Any Business?
What is Marketing
Looking for people who are looking for your product and driving them to your business. Notice the word 'driving'. This is not passive, you must be proactive. You need to go out and look for business, very little will ever just come to you.
First of all, let's deal with a few popular misnomers: • I need a shop front. No you don't! We have demonstrated this by trading from an industrial unit for the last 23 years, surrounded by fields and five miles out of town and by growing to be the largest privately owned studio in the area. A shop will cost you both in terms of increased rent and rates as well as wages/time because you will be expected to be open when other shops are open, whether you are busy or not. Trade from home or a unit and you open when you want to - we do!
• When people see how beautiful my pictures are, they will seek me out. No they won't! People need to be approached, offered a deal and, in general, encouraged to try you out. Why do you think the huge high street chains still spend a fortune on advertising?
• As I build my base of delighted clients, they will refer their friends to me and I will grow my business that way. No you won't! After 23 years, we do get some referrals but it is still a very small part of our business. This is a nut we have still to crack and are working on it!
• If I advertise enough, some people are bound to respond. Not necessarily. There are only a limited number of ways to market portraiture effectively (see below) and many, many ways where you will just waste your money.
• It is important to invest money in building a unique brand. No, it absolutely isn't! To do so when you are starting out, or relatively small (say under £500,000 annual sales), it will be a complete waste of that scarcest of all resources, your money! Branding is mainly important for publicly quoted companies as a sales tool to attract shareholders. Essentially, all portrait photographers offer the same service and what differentiates the successes from the failures is how we market and sell.
The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
You have 240 days until The Societies of Photographers Convention starting on Wednesday 20th January 2021