This is a great theme to borrow for a marketing campaign as a part time professional photographer:
Go Beyond Good Enough
You may look around your market at other photographers and consider them your competition – from the amateurs doing extensive portfolio building at low prices to boutique artists serving the luxury end of the market.
But do you know who is really stealing your clients?
More than anyone?
First through low-cost prosumer digital cameras (the same you may be using yourself), and now through always-on-hand smartphones, it has never been easier to get good enough portraits.
Good enough family portraits.
Stylish enough senior photos.
Cute enough baby photos.
In the digital realm, consumer-photographers can spray and pray – just shoot a thousand photos and hope one comes out good enough to hit Share.
Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.
With enough apps and filters, good enough is more than good enough for most people. They’re getting Likes on Facebook and Instagram, so they must be good enough, right?
You know what?
They are good enough.
It’s not up to you or me or any artist (note the lowercase A) to criticize the taste of the market.
What the market will bear is what the market will bear, from the price of a cup of coffee to the price of a professional photo shoot.
So how do we convert the ‘good enough’ crowd into clients?
By going beyond good enough.
Not just with our art – odds are, if you’re a PTP reader, your artistic skills are far better than that of your average Jane Doe selfie.
(I recognize that isn’t saying a whole lot, but it’s something to acknowledge as truth.)
As part time professional photographers, we rarely fail to try hard enough with our art – have you ever stayed up half the night reading Photoshop tutorials or lens reviews or photo lessons? Have you ever laid on the ground or made a goof of yourself to get a smile out of a kid in front of the camera?
We can Create Value. We can produce art well worth our clients’ dollars, especially at the startup end of the market.
If we fall short, it’s in Communicating Value and Commanding Value.
A good marketing campaign – which I’d define as either a short-term or long-term effort to communicate a specific message to your target market – is all about communicating your value.
It’s about why what you do and how you do it is worth more to a potential client than the $0.00 she’s spending on professional photography right now.
It’s not just about how you’re different from your competition, though that Unique Value Proposition is vital to know and share in your marketing messages.
You have to authentically and compassionately communicate how you go beyond good enough.
Lexus, in their advertising, takes a stand: We are not Ford. We are not Kia. When your reach a station in your life where you’re ready to grow beyond your to-do list to your wish list, we’re ready and waiting for you.
Go Beyond Good Enough
That’s a powerful message to get into the minds of potential photo buyers in your community.
[Read and act on this list directly, or follow the 72 featured links for a robust education: I hand-picked every resource and how-to myself.]
A part time photographer’s marketing campaign might look like:
- Fresh copy and branding across your digital platforms.
- Collect and share photos and testimonials from your past clients talking about how you Go Beyond Good Enough.
- Video testimonials of the same (one longer highlight reel of clients and photos, shorter individual ones to share weekly on blog and social, and 15-second or less sound bites to share on Instagram, Twitter.
- Create a custom Facebook cover to run throughout the campaign (or a cover theme and graphics that you can change out weekly during the campaign).
- Change up your Instagram and Facebook profile photos to match campaign, such as a headshot of yourself holding a sign that says “Go Beyond Good Enough.”
- Make sure the lead photo and copy on your web site match your campaign. You don’t have to change your business tagline or elevator pitch, but make sure all your digital platforms reinforce and promote your campaign.
- Insert a few photos with overlaid text and graphics promoting your campaign throughout your portfolio on your web site.
- Plan and pre-write weekly blog posts on the theme of your campaign – educate potential clients about how you go beyond good enough. Tell that story. Incorporate photos, behind the scenes photos, testimonials from clients, and your stories that illustrate and authentically show how you live your campaign.
- Plan a series of posts and contest to engage your Facebook fans. Your contest should involve and reward your target market; if you do newborn photos, have fans tag a pregnant mother they feel is Going Beyond Good Enough for their baby or family; if you do high school senior photos, have fans tag and share a short anecdote about a senior they feel is Going Beyond Good Enough; if you shoot family portraits and it’s around Father’s Day, have fans tag a local dad they feel is Going Beyond Good Enough.
- Take fans behind the scenes of your business and art on Instagram to show them how you go beyond good enough (especially if your target market is teenagers or their parents, or crafty / artsy types).
- Create and share a Pinterest board full of how-to’s showing your target market how they can go beyond good enough: as parents, as high school seniors, as moms, as dads, as business owners, as stage actors, as artists – whatever your unique target market may be.
- Create a photo story series on individuals who go beyond good enough in your community, especially focusing on your target market. Who is really going beyond good enough to do better and be better? Great opportunity to recognize volunteers and professionals. [protip: pitch these features as a weekly series to run in your local newspaper, as short inspirational stories with your radio station and local TV news – on their web sites if not on print or over the air.]
- From your photo story series, create a gallery of portraits recognizing those who go beyond good enough in your community, with a one-liner about how they do so. Work with local high-traffic businesses to hang and show these portraits for a month at a time, and rotate between hosting businesses. Promote these gallery showings across all your platforms. [Think a local high-profile business like your community bank might even sponsor these showings and partner with you for expenses and promotion?]
- You can do the same photo story series for any group in your community. Want to network and build friendships with other local small business owners? Seek out the stories of those going beyond good enough in your town and tell their story in photos and words.
- Create a series of motivational posters and/or memes to share across social media, such as with the free and fantastic Canva.com. These should feature your photos, maybe specifically taken for this campaign: think fitness, parents with kids, military, handicapped, volunteers, emergency services, law enforcement, beloved local public figures. Extra points: get an inspirational quote from the subject to incorporate into the final piece, and tag them when you post.
- Apply the paid advertising multiplier: use a supporting ad campaign in print and with targeted Facebook ads to drive traffic to your best pieces in your marketing campaign. Promote your contest, your photo story series, your gallery showings and hosts, your co-op partnerships. As always, spend efficiently, but effectively – get the eyes of your target market onto your campaign.
- Be sure your e-mail newsletter talks about your campaign, why you’re running it and your personal story behind it, and directs your readers to the best and most interesting pieces in your campaign every week. These folks are ‘in the circle,’ so treat them as a valuable part of the campaign – ask for their input and suggestions (especially for photo story subjects), and engage and involve them creatively and lovingly.
A fun, interesting, engaging marketing campaign looks nothing like the used car salesmen yelling from your TV or radio about last-chance inventory blow-out sales.
Get out there, get creative, and get social with your marketing campaigns.
- Have an anxious fire in your belly to get out and kick arse with a cool marketing campaign? The moment you’re in right now is absolutely crucial: are you going to do it or not? Here and now, while your energy and fear and excitement are at their highest – commit. You don’t have to know all the answers, or what to say, or who to approach, or how to make it happen. Just commit. You want success, you want bookings, you want impact and progress. Commit to making it happen now.
- Brainstorm session Part 1: Get out your pen and paper. Fired up? Start brainstorming about marketing campaign ideas, right now. Make lists. Free write. Draw mind maps. Scribble all over. Draw illustrations. Go over the top, no idea is stupid or too much right now. Just brainstorm and fan that flame until you absolutely exhaust your ideas, inspirations and thoughts about potential marketing campaigns and campaign actions you can take. Trim and shape and explore and expound until you have something that looks and feels like a plan. Guess what? You have a marketing campaign on your hands.
- Brainstorm session Part 2: For this one, don’t file this away in your brainstorms folder: this one is going to do some work. Write out your action plan – all the baby step actions you’re going to take to make this thing work. Schedule the time you’ll need to work on your campaign, don’t just leave this awesome campaign to die of inaction. Identify the preparations you need to do, and for Pete’s sake, get them done hard and fast so you can invest your best time and energy into the meat of your campaign: creating, sharing, and promoting. Get up an extra 10 minutes early every day of this campaign, and spend that 10 extra minutes reading over your notes and action plan, making new notes and changes and scheduling and rescheduling the work however you need to to get it done and get this campaign active in the world.
- Want to be more marketing savvy than 99 percent of your competition? Set aside a Saturday or Sunday, go to the top of the Roll Out list above, and click through every single link – you will enjoy a tight, curated education in small business marketing, online and off.
- And if you want to get a robust education in small business marketing, some of my favorite books are John Jantsch’s Duct Tape Marketing, The Referral Engine, and Duct Tape Selling; Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid and Beyond Booked Solid; and Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.
- My writing at PartTimePhoto.com exists to serve your needs as an amateur photographer making the transition to paid professional. I appreciate and welcome your readership, and invite you to subscribe to my e-mail newsletter at the top of any page of this site.
- What’s the biggest struggle holding you back right now? E-mail me your answer (yes, right now!), and let’s make a breakthrough today.
- If anything in this post has spoken to and inspired you, please comment below, drop me an e-mail, or call or text me at 830-688-1564 and let me know. I’d love to hear how you use these ideas to better your part time photography business!