An effective marketing plan is an important aspect for any business, large or small. The questions I am most often asked by my coaching clients are all about marketing. Where do I start? How much should I spend on what? How do I know if it’s working?
I love this story from Dan Kennedy, one of the most recognized and established marketing gurus of our time. One day, Dan came home to find his wife is gone, along with most of his belongings. This unexpected lack of essentials made buying decisions imminent for Dan, and off he went to restock his house with furniture, pots, pans, and electronics. He shopped at the places he thought of first and the businesses he visited made easy sales. The lesson here is that you want to be the business people think of first.
Nobody wants to search for hours trying to figure out where to get what they’re looking for without getting ripped off. This applies to almost every business, including businesses operated by creatives like you.
You always want to be at what is called “the top of mind awareness” of your (potential) client at the precise time WHEN they need your product or service. Your marketing campaign will pay for itself over and over when you create the lasting impression that you are the only logical choice any time your services are needed.
Ok! But, how do you do that? Let’s start with the basics:
- Know your market and be certain what you are offering fills a need or want. This is the only way you will ever make money.
- Show who you are and what you are best at. Your clients want to work with an expert, so you need to portray yourself as one. You can start by volunteering to host a local business networking group meeting, or to shoot a local event. The more people who see you in action, the more who will remember your face when they need a photographer.
- Set aside a budget for marketing. The norm used to be 10% of gross sales, but any amount will do as long as you spend it solely on marketing. In my business, I invest a lot of my time and money in coaching, marketing, and research. Why so much? Because I know it will get me to my goal in half the time. You either invest time or money.
- Design a campaign that consists of at least seven steps. It’s called the rule of seven for a reason. To be at the top of mind awareness, you need to make a big enough impact to be remembered. The campaign can consist of multimedia steps such as direct mail, emails, calls, hand-written notes, even old-fashioned faxes. As a note of caution, you need to create a legitimate reason to make a phone call. Don’t call to ask if they received your recent promo email because those conversations are usually over in about thirty seconds. Research your potential clients first and find topics to talk about—then call. You could, for example, ask for their opinions on something without directly asking for work. People love talking about themselves and giving advice.
- And finally, does your online presence show consistent branding? If a client wants to hire you, will they know what to expect? Consistency is key because you must instill confidence that working with you guarantees a certain outcome. Here is a PhotoBiz Article I wrote about building a successful brand.
When these points are in place, your marketing dollars will be money wisely spent. I’d love to hear about your marketing success stories!