6 'Old-School' Tips To Start A Photography Business With Old School Photography Marketing Strategies
Too often, these days, photographers planning to start a photography business 'jump' into the 'mix' with all of the 'new' (as in technologically advanced and innovative, etc.) bells and whistles of photography marketing. Of course, in order to start a photography business successfully and on solid ground it is critical to use 'modern tools.' But, many photographers, too often forget (or never knew) that the 'modern marketing tools' are improved 'old-school' marketing tools.
Of course, too many 'old-school' photographers use 'old-school' small business marketing activities and 'refuse' to adapt to the conveniences of 'modern marketing tools.' As an example: there was a time when people were 'confused and mesmerized' with cell phones! Many couldn't conceive how the telephones worked without wires! Many refused to get a cell phone - figuring that they were a 'fad' and they could 'get by' with what they've been 'getting by' with for all of this time! Is this familiar to you?
'Old School' Tip #1'Old-School' Has A Place In 'Modern' Times
Your photography marketing activities should include the 'old-school' basics - with 'modern' adjustments for efficiency and professionalism. To start a photography business without using modern tools is like trying to successfully run a business without a telephone - wireless or 'old-school/wired-to-the-wall' type!
'Old School' Tip #2 - For The Foreseeable Future - 'Technology' Won't Replace People
As advanced as technology is and is getting, and as convenient as technology is making everyday life for people, and as time-saving as technology has become - people 'still' prefer, and gravitate towards, 'other people' - the human touch. Photographers that can remember and build their photography marketing strategy on 'people-still-needing-people' strategies and activities are the consistently successful photographers - no matter what their photography niche.
'Old School' Tip #3 - Cyber-Space Has It's Pluses - But, The Masses Still Prefer Literature
Yes, that's right. Most of the world 'aren't' online all of the time! Oh sure, the numbers (of people online a good deal of the time) are growing, but, an all-time 'old-school' photography marketing favorite is still a favorite of the masses - literature. After all, that's how most photos are seen. Modern technology has made these tools even more effective in marketing for photographers. For example, with the quality of ink-jet printers, I can make business cards on an 'as needed' basis. Also, I can change my business card whenever I need or want to. As a photographer, not only should I leave them everywhere, I should do so regularly. Likewise with other 'old-school' photography business marketing staples such as brochures, fliers and circulars, for example. Ink-jet technology allows photographers to produce 'customer-specific' calendars and greeting cards - that's 'old-school' photo marketing at the next level.
'Old School' Tip #4 - Tie-ins With Other Businesses
This strategy is especially effective these days. I think it's because so many 'old-school' photographers are leaving the photography business and taking successful marketing techniques with them. Tie-ins work with many type 'people' businesses such as hair salons, spas, local restaurants, etc. One strategy that works for me and some of the other photographers that I work with is approaching small business owners, introducing myself as a photographer, and offer them my services. My opening question to them is something like, "Do you have a need for photos of your merchandise in your advertising, in your business literature or for your catalog?" Most of them have had such a need for some type of photos in the past six months, or so. I specifically word my question to "plant the seeds" of any photo ideas that they may have been thinking of, but just didn't know what to do next. Often, their answer is no, they do not have a need - at that time. I leave my contact information with them. With business owners, I leave a business card and a post card sized brochure (displaying work that I've done for other businesses and "planting more seeds"). Sometimes, if I'm carrying a camera, I take a few snapshots of their business and send them to the businesses as a follow up, with my contact info on the photos. This strategy doesn't provide fast money, but, it does produce good, long-term revenue. Slowly, more and more businesses are recognizing the need to have photos in their businesses. This strategy works extremely well for part-time photography business, also.
'Old School' Tip #5 - Show What You Got!
And then, there's the 'granddaddy' of all 'old-school' strategies; the 'never-fail,' 'fool-proof,' 'never-let-you-down' best of the best - "show them that you're the best!" In other words, display your work. Online isn't the only place to display your work.
Your display can be as simple as a few small portraits at a store. You can create large contemporary displays in malls or events or arts & crafts shows or trade shows. What's important is that you only display your best work. I want to offer this lesson learned from me displaying my work without giving consideration to who the audience I wanted to appeal to. I had enlarged some beautiful and finely detailed flowers and had them on display. Many people would stop by, look at the display, and ask for more information. Photo session follow ups were so-so. Then, one day, I stopped displaying the 'finely-detailed' photos and replaced them with great portraits of 'regular' people - business literally exploded. Lesson learned: my target audiences (women) don't want 'finely-detailed' photos - no matter how beautiful the flowers are. They wanted 'softer-focused' photos of very regular people. And they didn't 'tell' me this until after I changed the displays! Changing my 'old-school' displays and practicing 'old-school' human interaction taught me valuable lessons and increased my photography business.
'Old School' Tip #6 - 'Modern Technology' Is Great And Effective - But 'Old-School' Gets You Paid
One final example of the sustainability of 'old-school' photography marketing techniques in the times of 'modern technological advancements:' photography customers don't care how many mega-pixels that your camera has, or how fast your lens is, or the name brand of your equipment, or whether your shooting raw, jpeg, or whatever. They simply want to know - "can you make me look good?"
Long live 'old-school.'