Let’s face it. We are ALL bombarded with advertising, marketing, social media, etc. --- each one attempting to get our attention. Just taking time to “unsubscribe” to unwanted emails can take about 15 minutes a week, or more. So if you are getting smothered by marketing, guess what? Your clients and prospects are too.
So, how do you get through the noise and reach new customers and develop loyalty with existing customers? Fall back upon something you probably learned as a child, “Treat Others As You Would Like To Be Treated”. Only reach out to your customers if it is about something that is relevant to them.
If you are a photographer and have done wedding photos for a couple, don’t include them in email blasts or direct mail campaigns about weddings (except under one condition which I will explain later). Do some research. The internet is FULL of info and statistics from which you can pull data. There are also other public sources like newspapers, public services, and even some psychographic data services (www.claritas.com) that have data that can be very helpful to you.
After your research, let’s say you find that on average, a couple starts thinking about having a baby about one year from their wedding date. Use this information and market to them for pregnancy photos and baby photos around 18 months after the wedding date. Only send the marketing to those who fall within this time frame. If you keep this up, you will probably have a marketing piece going out every month, but the quantity will not be huge, but the target and quality will be good. If you don’t get a response right away, don’t fret. Keep up the effort for 3-6 months and evaluate the results around 4-7 months after starting this effort. If you can afford the design fees, have two pieces designed and send one to half of your list and the other to the other half. See if there is a difference between the results of the pieces. If one pulls better than the other, then the answer is obvious – use that one going forward! (This is called A/B testing—but the name is not important – the results are!) If you do get a pregnancy photo shoot, make note of the baby’s due date and contact the mom close to the due date. If you are tapped into birth record information, send congratulations cards to the parents with a business card included. This is a simple way to solicit new customers and it is just a nice thing to do! Even if the parents don’t use you for a baby photo shoot, they may very well recommend you to a friend who is looking for a photographer.
Referral marketing is the number one highest form of inexpensive and highly effective marketing. This brings me to issue of sending a wedding piece to a couple that you just completed wedding photos for. Why on earth would you do this? Well, there is an unusual phenomenon that occurs with weddings and births. Brides often know other brides, pregnant women often know other pregnant women. How many couples do you know who state that they “met at a wedding” - or girlfriends or sisters who find themselves pregnant within months of each other? Take advantage of this info and act on it. After you have done the wedding photos, send a Thank You card to the couple with stamped/postage paid postcards and ask them to send them to anyone that they know who might be interested in photos. If you have the ability to do variable print, put the couple’s picture on the postcard with a header, “We used this photographer and you might want to use them too!” or, “We recommend this photographer for your wedding photos”. You may be pleasantly surprised what the cost of a few stamps can do for you!
There are several other approaches to break through and be heard, but if you want to really stand out, do your homework, get a highly targeted list of customers or prospects and send them an unusual direct mail piece. The old trick is to put a nickel or a rock in the envelope with the brochure to get people to open it, but be more creative than that. A very successful example of this is a B2B campaign I did for a large company (but the concept works for small businesses too!). Our campaign was about “being heard”, so we mailed a megaphone – yes a life sized, cheerleader certified megaphone – to each prospect. We followed up the campaign with outbound calls and the campaign was, “the best in the company’s history”, per the client. Now, this might be a bit pricey for some of you, but apply the concept in an affordable way. What is it that your clients care about? What problem are they trying to solve? What sets you apart from the rest of the herd?
Let’s use the photographer in this exercise too. The photographer could order a bulk lot of those wedding disposable cameras. You can get them at places like, www.orientaltrading.com .Then, he/she could mail them to prospective brides with an insert that states something like, “Some brides try to save money with DIY projects. You could use this to commemorate one of the most important days in your life, but our brides have found that they were happy that they decided to save money elsewhere. Log onto our site www.youwebaddyhere.com and check out our work, our economical packages and read what our brides say about why they are glad that they chose us.” I guarantee your packages will be opened. And, if you brand the cameras, you will be leaving a reminder around the house for the bride to contact you. In this time of money saving, everyone thinks that email marketing is the best way to save money. It isn’t in all cases. Many times, emails are blocked, not read and a waste of effort. Think outside the box and use a sure fire contact list and then really speak to your client’s concerns, problems and how you can solve them with a memorable approach.
Soon, I will talk about how to use email marketing successfully. In the meantime, if you need help with standing out in the crowd, comment or contact me.