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I know that the title of this blog post sounds lofty, far-fetched and annoyingly optimistic. As if I am going to be telling you all about how to make money just by skipping through a field of roses sipping lemonade. But, I promise that this blog post is going to help you…because it’s one of the top 3 things that has grown my business to where it is now that I NEVER would have known in the beginning!
I had a business intensive last week with a sweet photographer who traveled halfway across the country for her session. One of the very first questions she asked me was “what are some of the things you felt like has made your business so successful so quickly?” Whew. That’s a heavy question! Because initially, my thought was “I have NO idea…and it definitely did not feel like it was successful quickly!” Haha!! But, as we began chatting and I listed the three things that I believe made my business grow over the last 3 years…one of the things we ended up talking MOST about was personal marketing. Why did an experience with ME make my clients want to book? What about my business separated me from all of the competitors in my area? How did I compete with the low priced photographers, especially when I was only 17 years old? What made my Instagram such a huge source of business and growth? The answer to ALL of these questions is that I marketed MYSELF, NOT just my photography. Let me explain…
When you think about Walmart…what do you think of? Do you have any type of personal connection to the Walmart brand? Probably not. Because they are business that markets themselves solely based off of their business-related characteristics and experiences. So, when you think about Walmart, you just think of a huge company and nothing more. You can’t relate to Walmart on a personal level, so there’s really nothing but the low prices that would draw you to Walmart instead of Target or another grocery store.
What if I told you the same thing happens in our businesses? If a potential client clicks on your Instagram feed or your website and ONLY sees your photography and your business-related characteristics…what is going to make them CONNECT with you beyond just the fact that you are another photographer? What separates you from everyone else? What adds VALUE to your pricing vs. the discount photographer down the street? What makes a client want to book YOU specifically, instead of just price hunting and booking at the lowest price? What makes you different than Walmart?
At the beginning of my business, I made a conscious decision that I wanted to be PERSONAL in everything that I did. With every encounter my clients had with me, whether in person or online, and with every social media outlet I used…I wanted them to know ME before they knew my work. I knew that 95% of my clients couldn’t relate to the fact that I was a photographer because they weren’t photographers…so how was I going to create that connection and make clients want an experience with ME specifically? Here’s what I started doing:
Creating CONNECTION points:
So, what about my life did I want my clients to connect to OUTSIDE of my business? How was I going to relate to them on a personal level? I sat down and began brainstorming the things about my life that are random and quirky and may seem like they don’t matter…but they DO. Because my brides can’t connect to the fact that I’m a small business owner…but they CAN relate to the fact that I love Chickfila and sprinkled donuts. So, take a few minutes to brainstorm 4-5 connection points OUTSIDE of your photography business and start incorporating them into your posts to create connection amongst your followers. The things about your personal life that may seem unimportant to you may be the reason a bride loves you…I cannot tell you how many of my inquiries have included something about Chickfila or donuts-haha!!
Post photos of YOURSELF!
This one may sound obvious…but I cannot even begin to count the number of creative business owners that DON’T post photos of themselves on social media! I’m not sure about you…but when I click on a small business and I can’t find a photo of the PERSON I’m following that is actually RUNNING the account…I won’t follow them! I have a rule with my Instagram that I always make sure there is a photo of MYSELF in the first 6-9 squares. Whether it’s just me, me and Drew, my family, a behind-the-scenes photo, etc…that way, people that are following know that I am a HUMAN and can SEE who they are following, not just the photos I’m taking!
Treat clients like you would treat a FRIEND:
So, this one is going to take some explaining. But, I learned very early on in my business that there were exceptions to every rule. I had a contract that had very strict deadlines and late fees and legal verbiage…but I very rarely upheld it. I have had late payments, clients that are stuck in traffic, clients that need to reschedule last minute, brides who forget to answer emails, seniors who forget the date of their session…and I give grace. Overwhelming amounts of grace. Because just like I want my clients to treat me like a human…I want to treat them like humans. And humans make mistakes. And humans have last minute emergencies. And while that does not mean I let clients take advantage of me…it means I am understanding and try my best to love my clients as I would want them to love me. And not only has that created client relationships that long outlive their shoots…it has also created clients that are willing to help me build my business by sharing about their experience and utilizing word-of-mouth marketing. And I will always be grateful for that!
If you are not already incorporating these things in your business…try starting now!! I think you’ll be surprised how much of a difference it makes! Want more education delivered straight to your inbox? Join the mailing list HERE!
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These are such great tips, Hope! I love #3 and that’s how I run my business too. And #2 — well, let’s just say I have room for improvement. Great post. Thank you!!