5 local networking strategies to get you more business

Author
Bryan Caporicci, Professional wedding photographer and CEO/Founder of Sprout Studio About Bryan

Marketing your photography business can be a tricky thing that presents a variety of challenges for entrepreneurs to consider when looking to develop a marketing mix that works for you and your business. Nowadays many entrepreneurs tend to place a majority of their marketing efforts towards online marketing. WHY? Well the internet has done great things to help us market ourselves as photographers. Specifically social media has made it possible for us to reach a large audience at a faster rate with more convenience.

It has become a double-edged sword though. While it's true that you can reach more people now, the same is true for everyone else. The social media space has become very crowded and the perceived barriers to entry in becoming a “photographer”, have gone down significantly because of this.

Raising the question how do you stand out in a crowded online market? The answer is not simple and how you make yourself stand out when marketing yourself as a photographer online is a whole other discussion. Today let's talk about how you can stand out offline which will help out your online brand as a result. WHY? Because often the modern day consumer interacts with your brand offline first and then proceeds to look you up online afterwards.  This is what technology has allowed us to do. Which is why developing a good marketing plan that involves both online and offline strategies is crucial for the success of your photography business.

Standing Out

let's talk about how you can get “back to the basics” and adapt offline components to your marketing plan that will put you a step ahead of the competition.

It is easy to overlook the importance of developing offline relationships because of the reach and interconnectivity, that social media provides. However, it is especially important to take these online connections and create meaningful offline connections. A good starting point would be to evaluate your local market and begin offline marketing within it!

Let's quickly breakdown a few online marketing strategies that we use today and see how they translate into effective offline strategies.

  • Social media
  • Social networking
  • Engagement on social platforms
  • Content marketing on our blogs
  • RT's and @ mentions from other businesses

What would it look like if we stripped away the “online” component to these strategies?

  • Social media
  • Social networking
  • Engagement on social platforms 
  • Content marketing on our blogs
  • RT's and @ mentions from other businesses

We're left with media, networking, engagement, content marketing and mentions from other business (word of mouth marketing). It's no surprise that these are the foundations of “traditional” business marketing, and we've just adapted them to social media and the internet. A lot of the time, though, we've forgotten about the roots of where they came from. Let's explore.

  • Media is defined as the main means of mass communication (television, radio, newspapers).
  • Networking means to interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one's career.
  • Engagement is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand.
  • Content marketing is defined as providing consistent, high-quality content that solves people's problems.
  • Word of mouth is a marketing method that relies on social interactions to promote a product or service.

The Foundations of Marketing

Using these marketing foundations as a starting point, I would suggest the following 5 ways that you can use the basics of business marketing to increase your local awareness offline and ultimately get more business: speaking, networking, press, co-marketing and direct-mail.

For this article, I'd like to give 18 examples of how you can put into play each of these 5 marketing basics right away.

1. Speaking

  • Give a presentation to a local business clubs re: business portraits.
  • Give a presentation to the local Rotary Club about what you do as a photographer.
  • Present to a local Mom group re: family and child portraits.
  • Put on a workshop to teach the basics of photography at a local community center or library.

2. Networking

  • Seek out local business associations such as the Chamber of Commerce or a local BIA and become a regular attendee to the networking meetings. Focus on building relationships and not just handing out business cards.
  • Personally reach out to local business owners and connect one-on-one. See how you can help each other.
  • Attend local niche trade shows and network with the organizers, sponsors and businesses. If you specialize in family portraits for example, a “home show” would likely have many businesses that serve a similar market as you do. This would be a great networking opportunity.

3. Press

  • Donate to a cause and attach your name to a newsworthy event/charity.
  • Volunteer your time locally.
  • Offer help to the local media – maybe they need photographs, or perhaps they'd like your opinion on a photograph-related topic.
  • Send the occasional press release once you've built an established relationship with the local paper.
  • Offer to write a column in the paper.

4. Co-Marketing

  • Offer to decorate local businesses with wall portraits and wall art. Display your business card with it.
  • Run a promotion with a local business that has a similar audience as yours. You can share each other's customer base and generate business return business to one another as a result. An example of this would be a local jeweler who sells engagement rings offering a discount on engagement sessions to your studio.
  • Exchange a stack of business cards with local like-minded business owners and offer to help market each other.
  • Offer a local business a few gift certificates to give their top-tier clients as a gift from them.

5. Direct-Mail Postcard Mailings

  • Come up with a specific, time-sensitive offer and mail it to 10,000 homes in the area via a post-card drop.
  • Repetition is key – plan to do one per month for at least 6 months.

Creating a well-rounded marketing plan is crucial for long-term success as a photographer. You need to include online and offline marketing strategies to ensure that you are in front of as many potential clients as possible. The ultimate testimony to a consistent offline local marketing initiative is when your clients start telling you that they “see you everywhere”. That is the sign of a well-executed branding and awareness campaign!

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