We’ve all been there: the phone’s not ringing, emails aren’t coming in, the schedule is full of blank spots. We’re sure that we’ve done all we can to market and get our name out there, so now we’re reduced to compulsively checking our web sites to make sure the phone number is correct, the contact form is functioning, the loading time isn’t too slow. Before we know it, we’re drinking wine at noon.
Stop the cycle!
Here’s the thing, lovelies: You may think you’ve done all you can to market yourself, but you probably haven’t. In times of stress, it can be hard to focus. And when the marketing to-do list is miles long and filled with vague suggestions, it can be hard to know where to begin. You need a jumpstart, and I’m here to give you one.
Step One: Make a list of 3 potential new business partners
Identify three businesses in your area that cater to your target market and have an excellent reputation. Often, asking former clients for referrals to these types of businesses will help you know who your target market thinks highly of. Make sure the businesses you choose are in a similar price range and level of service to your own studio, and are places your ideal client would spend her money.
You’re probably already partnered with a local hair and makeup artist or salon, but the list doesn’t end there! If you’re really stumped for new ideas, try the following list of suggestions:
- Plastic Surgeon
- Spa/Massage Therapist
- Lingerie Boutique
- High end clothing boutique
- Personal Shopper
- Personal Trainer
- Wedding Planner
- Adult Toy store or “slumber party” consultant
Step Two: Identify a message that will resonate with each of those businesses
When creating marketing material for these new partners, a message specifically tuned for their clients and brand will be much more effective than something generic. For example, a campaign centered around the concept of “Celebrate the new you!” would do well in a plastic surgeon’s office. “Give him a wedding gift he’ll never forget” could work for a wedding planner. “The diamond isn’t the only thing that sparkles” fits nicely in a jewelry store. You get the idea.
Step Three: Gather images for these campaigns
Comb your current portfolio of recent work to find images that fit the messages you chose in Step Two. If need be, book a few models into the studio to create some fresh, new material. Don’t let this be a road block for you: if you have images already, great. If not, commit to getting a model in within a week so you don’t lose momentum. Get out there and get it done!
Step Four: Create a mockup of your new campaigns
This is what you’re going to show to your potential new partners. Don’t spend a ton of cash on stacks of brochures or sample albums yet—wait until you have an agreement in place for displaying them. But a powerful visual designed for their message and clients will help these new partners see that you’re a valuable asset to their business. Load the spreads for your album or booklets onto an Ipad, or print one low-cost magazine.
Step Five: Contact your chosen businesses
Give them a call (not an email). Your message is that you’re a local photography studio whose clients often ask for referrals for their product, and you’d like to get to know their business to see if you can recommend them to your clients. If you speak with a receptionist, tell him or her you’re looking for a face to face meeting with the person in charge.
Step Six: Seal the Deal
When you meet with your chosen business owner, make sure to ask pertinent questions about how they run their business and what their target goals and vision are for their clients. Remember, you are going to be referring your clients to this business, so you want to make sure they’re going to provide excellent service that reflects well on you.
Then present your marketing campaign and discuss ways you can work together to promote each other. Perhaps you can create custom artwork for their walls, or a sample album for their waiting room. They may choose to present their clients with informational booklets or brochures about your services. For your part, you might include a gift card or brochure for their business in your welcome kit, or include a blurb about them on a “Business Partners” page on your web site. Depending on the type of business, you could even run package deals that include product from both of you. The options are endless – find what works for both of you.
I’ll say it with love: if the phone’s not ringing, you have no one to blame but yourself. Get off your ass and get things moving! You can do it!