Earlier this week I examined what many photography professionals commonly do when they want to find more clients. They license the rights to use a list and send things to people they don’t know. Most likely these people don’t want to get what you send them and the whole thing more often than not is a colossal waste of time. Sometimes you get lucky and a few respond because you are at the right time in front of the right person. Your conversion percentage is at best in single digits and it’s expensive to keep this up.
In my last blog post I spoke about how easily you can overlook how annoying unsolicited emails and promos can be to potential clients. You may disagree and tell me that that one time someone called you and you got a job. Good for you. But seriously, how often does that really happen? Would you agree if I asked you how badly you would want to be on a list from Agency Access you would not be first in line. I certainly wouldn’t. Imagine how much irrelevant crap one has to go through to get to a good thing here or there.
I am done talking about what you shouldn’t do. Let’s discuss what you can you do to increase the chances of potential clients to notice you. There really is a lot available to you and I am going to give you three of the most important ones.
First: Know who you are
It is astonishing how many in the photography business are absolutely clueless as to who they are and what they do. This very simple and very important question is key to your success: What do you do? You need to be able to answer that in 30-60 seconds (the famous elevator pitch time) and it has to be interesting, funny, and engaging. How can you expect someone to wanting to know more about you if you stammer around or make a boring statement like, my name is John and I am an Architectural photographer. Add a little bit more of your sparkling personality that has to shine through loud and clear. You have to be anything but forgettable. Once you have it clearly defined as to what you offer this very thing should be clearly outlined on your marketing and promotional materials. It’s the required congruency one would expect from a professional. Promise you will work on this part first. Get clear about you and your message. That is how you must start.
Second: Be interesting, specific, and go where they go.
There is no easy way to get clients. You have to start somewhere. You have to do a lot of work for something to start to trickle through. That is the way it is and the only way it works. You must develop relationships. Lot’s of relationships. On LinkedIn, Facebook, network meetings, Google+, Twitter, your blog, your pages, and through meetings. The best way to develop relationships is in your local market because you can go where your clients go. From Meetups to Facebook, to network meetings, industry associations, industry sports teams I recommend that you are up and about making new friends. You must be of service.
Let me give you an example. It’s always interesting to me that some photography business pro’s think I would just put out free stuff without a plan. I am clear about what my brand is and what I am doing this for. I follow that strategy. But, creating content still costs me serious money and time. So why do you think I am doing this?
This better be part of a larger strategy unless I really am stupid or don’t want to have a life and enjoy what I built. Of course all the free stuff, the blog, the strong community we’ve build under the PhotoBizCoach brand it’s all part of a larger strategy. The power I have is in the number of people that I can reach and with whom I build a relationship through the quality of my content. Truth is first you must serve, then you get the work. It doesn’t work the other way around.
Third: Build those relationships by focusing on the people first.
Your potential clients have concerns, hopes and dreams just like you do. They worry about their jobs, they have the same issues that you do. Connect with them as people and talk to them as people. Are genuinely interested in what they want and need. Ask questions that you want to know the answer to. Add value to your relationships. Be ready to pay your dues and be of service. Ask them for advice rather than asking them to hire you. Ask what the right process or path to a collaboration is. Be honest by telling them that you want to make their lives easier by not wasting their time but you feel you can add something special. What’s the best way to go about it? Be engaging and talk to them like you’d like to be talked to.
To sum it up, the way you find clients is by getting very clear about who you are. By finding out where your clients hang out and going there to, and by developing relationships. To convert a contact into a customer can be a slam dunk (when you are at the right time with the right message ready to fill an immediate need) or slow and steady (when you have to prove that you can do the job the other guy does equally good or better). There are no shortcuts to finding clients. It is an ongoing plan, a strategy you devise on paper first and the execute consistently.
…and that is how you find clients