Mastering the art of promoting your photography and proactive campaign planning


In episode 487 of the Business of Photography Podcast, you’ll dive into mastering the art of promoting your photography and proactive campaign planning. Bryan introduces the Proactive Promotions framework, which consists of six essential steps to help photographers master the art of promoting their photography and create effective marketing campaigns.

You’ll learn:

  • How to define your goals and target audience
  • How to research and understand your market
  • How to plan your marketing calendar
  • How to implement engaging marketing strategies
  • How to track and analyze your results
  • How to refine and adapt your strategy

Links and resources:

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Mastering the art of promoting your photography and proactive campaign planning

Named best of iTunes, The Business of Photography is a weekly podcast where we interview industry experts and business specialists who share high-value, no-fluff, concrete business ideas for professional photographers.

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Welcome to the Business of Photography podcast powered by Sprout Studio, a studio management suite built for photographers by photographers. Here’s your host, Bryan Caporicci.

Hi, and welcome to episode 487 of the Business of Photography podcast. My name is Bryan Caporicci. When photographers start talking about marketing, they often make it all about social media. They sort of seem to interchange the word marketing or advertising with Instagram or TikTok or YouTube or whatever it is. And while all of those channels, because that’s what they are, are great for spreading a message and communicating something to our audience, they aren’t marketing in and of itself. And all that kind of comes back to the whole reason that we exist here on the podcast and the whole reason that we exist at Sprout Studio. And that is to teach you and to help you on the business side of what you do as a photographer. One of the things that we say over and over and over again is, yes, you love photography. But when it comes to promoting your photography or running a business around your photography, you may feel like you’re stumbling through a maze without a map. And that sometimes confessor and oftentimes confessor. Maybe you can relate to that. Maybe it feeds some of those fears and those beliefs that you have about yourself and what you can be doing as a photographer and your potential for success or lack thereof. Maybe you’re worried that your lack of proper planning in your marketing and in your promotional efforts is sort of like shaking you at your core and in that confidence of your ability to reach new clients and to earn as much as you can as a photographer. Or maybe you worry that without a well thought out plan and a strategy and an approach, your business might remain stagnant and you might struggle to stand out in your market. And the market today is changing fast and it’s become wildly competitive. And so if any of that feels like it’s something that you can identify with, today’s podcast is really going to help you.

Today, you’re going to learn how to solve, hopefully, a lot of these problems that we just talked about. You’re going to learn three core things in this episode. Number one, you’re going to learn the Proactive promotions framework and how to plan a marketing campaign. Number two, you’re going to learn all about a marketing calendar, what it is, why you need one, and how to use it. And then number three, I’m even going to give you a shortcut, and I’m going to outline 30 specific ideas that you can put on that annual marketing calendar so that you don’t even have to do any thinking about your promotional campaigns, when you should be running them, why you should be running them, so on and so forth. So today is going to be super action packed. I hope that you have a pencil, a piece of paper, an iPad, Apple notes, whatever you want to use to make notes. It’s going to be action packed. I hope that you can follow along if you’re driving, either listen while you’re driving now and then re-listen when you get back home, or if you’re not driving, then let’s sit down together. Let’s get something in front of us that you can work through this with me and let’s do this now really quickly before I do go into that just some housekeeping, you may have noticed that for every podcast that we’ve been doing here, we also have an accompanying article.

So we basically take the framework and everything that I do to plan these podcast articles and we put it into an article as well. We kind of refine it, tweak it, all that kind of stuff, put it into an article so it goes over on Getsproutstudio.com, our website, so that if you are one that prefers to read, then you can come on over there and you can read or where. I think the greatest value is if you are listening to the podcast or you’re watching the podcast and you want to sort of remember some of the things that I’m talking about, or you want to follow along as I run through it or you want just like, a reference guide? That article is going to be a really helpful reference guide because the article puts everything that I talk about and teach in the podcast and organizes it. There for you with lists, with descriptions, with definitions, with more details, with more nuance, less conversational, obviously, than what we’re doing here on the podcast. But it’s a great sort of partner, it’s a great marriage with this podcast. So I definitely encourage you to go and read that over on GetSproutStudio.com.

We also have a YouTube version of every one of these episodes. So right now as I’m talking to you and maybe you’re actually watching this on YouTube and so if you’re watching this on YouTube, we also have an audio podcast. So we do both audio and video. Right now I’m staring at a camera, talking and teaching to a camera. I’m also obviously talking and teaching into a microphone at the same time. And so this is a video podcast on YouTube and an audio podcast wherever you listen to podcasts, whether it be Google Play or Stitcher or Spotify or Apple podcasts or whatever it is. So if you’re a visual learner and you want to watch the video, come on over to YouTube. If you’re on YouTube and you prefer to listen while you cut the grass and don’t want to watch me on camera, that’s fine. Come on over and subscribe in the podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. We are trying to make the most of our efforts to make sure that we can reach as many photographers as we can here with the podcast because we’re putting out some really, really intentional content here. To teach you, to help you make a living doing this thing that you love to do. And so we’re trying to be as omnipresent as we can in as many different channels as possible.

And just to add to that, we take these clips, we take these podcasts and we chop them up. We make videos out of them, we make smaller clips out of them, we make graphics out of them. The team is just really, really working so hard to spread the word of what we’re doing here and to take the content and repurpose it in as many ways as possible to, again, make sure we can help as many photographers as possible.

So if you’re on Instagram or TikTok or Pinterest or LinkedIn, wherever it is, we’re spreading the message of all of these episodes and all of this content in all of those channels. And we’d love to connect with you over there, whatever channel makes sense for you. We’d love to connect with you over there and continue to keep this in your periphery, keep this in your environment, keep this content front and centre so that you can continue to drive your business forward. So wherever you are, let’s connect. We’d love to connect.

Last piece, promise, I’m bringing it into the content is we have an email that we had run a while ago and we stopped doing it, but we kicked it back up. It’s called Seeds to Success. Basically, it’s every single week I will send you one email with the most simple strategy of one thing that you can do this week to focus on, to drive your business forward. So we basically take what I’m teaching in a podcast here, and we dive down and we kind of get down to the simplest version of it, and we try and get very specific. It’s very actionable. I’m often including scripts in that, or email templates in that, or very specific, like do this one, two, three, and you’ll get XYZ. So we’d love to have you on that email list as well, so that we can send that to you every single week and you can actually have specific strategies every week to move the needle in your business. So all of the links for all of that, wherever you’re listening to me right now, is going to be listed in the Show Notes for this. If you’re on YouTube, it’s in the description below. If you’re on Apple podcasts, just swipe on up right now wherever you’re listening and you’ll be able to see the links for all that. At the very least, come on over to Getsproutstudio.com and all of that will be listed there. Or if you go to GetSproutStudio.com/487, which is the Show Notes page for this episode, we’ll have all the links, we also have a full transcription, we have the article, we have all everything organized there. You can even listen to it there on that website. So again, we’re trying to get this content in front of you as much as we can, trying to make this as easy as we can for you to listen to this, for you to consume it, for you to read it, for you to watch it just because ultimately we want you to take action. We’re putting all this content together to help you make a living doing what you love, and we want you to take action. I say often that education without action is just entertainment. And I’m not here to enter entertain you as much as perhaps maybe you’d like that, I don’t know. But I’m here to teach you. I’m here to help you. I’m here to help you drive that business forward because I know what it’s like to be able to make a living from photography, and I want that for you as well.

So okay, let’s get into it. Let’s get into marketing. Let’s dive into all of these nuances. And I want to maybe just set the stage before we get into how to do it. The marketing calendar, the proactive promotions framework, all that stuff. Let’s look at what most photographers might be doing when it comes to planning a campaign or building a promotional strategy around a campaign or a mini session or whatever it is you’re doing here’s. Sort of like the path that I’ve seen a lot of the time when I talk to photographers. Number one, you get a spur of the moment inspiration. Maybe it’s like you see another photographer running a promotion or you read in one of the Facebook groups someone has said, hey, we’re going to do these things. Or you kind of just assume, well, it’s Christmas time, so I’m going to do Christmas minis. I guess that’s it. Or it’s springtime, I guess I should do spring this or it’s Valentine’s Day, I should do a boudoir promotion. So you kind of get this spur of the moment inspiration. You go and grab some fancy template somewhere, whether it’s canva or creative market or you Google it or whatever it is. You buy someone else’s template, pack and you customize a few of those graphics, a few of those words, put your pictures in there. And then number three, you toss it on social media, and then you kind of hope for the best. That is what most photographers do, and that is what their marketing plan is. And then they wonder why they’re not getting results, or they wonder why they’re not optimizing those results, or they wonder what’s working, what’s not. Hey, this one did really well. Why did this other one not do really well? At the end of the day, though, I think that when you hear me talk about that and when you’re really honest with yourself, you know that there’s something missing. Like, that’s not a great plan to market yourself with intent and with deliberation and with a solid strategy.

So let’s kind of run through. I’ve got a list here of the consequences, the sort of downsides, the cons to this, what I call an impulsive campaign, this strategy of just kind of like flying by the seat of your pants, sort of like hoping that this works but not really having a solid plan for it. There’s seven consequences here that I have. Number one is missed opportunities. That one’s pretty obvious. You’re going to miss a lot of opportunities. You’re going to not be strategic about your planning, so you’re going to overlook a lot of the opportunities within that maybe things won’t be as optimal as they can. So you’re going to miss a lot of opportunities by being sort of like reactive as opposed to being proactive. Number two, you’re going to have inconsistent messaging because you’re either grabbing someone else’s template, you’re grabbing someone else’s copy, you’re copycatting somebody else. You’re just not sitting and planning this with cohesion, so the messaging will be inconsistent. Number three, you’re going to very likely have a lack of targeting, basically. Meaning because it’s impulsive, there’s a higher chance that you’re going to just sort of like throw this out there without a level of intent that you should. And so the targeting for who this is going to be put in front of is going to be not as optimal, not as great, not as efficient as it could be. And speaking of efficiency, let’s talk about number four, which is you’re going to ineffectively or you’re going to be inefficiently allocating your resources and your time and your money and your energy because you’re doing this in a very reactive way. It’s not going to be as efficient as the whole thing could be. Number five, you’re going to reduce your conversion rates. So if you put this out to a room of 100 people, maybe two will take advantage of it. What if you could get eight? What if you could get 20 of them by just being a bit more intentional with your planning? So your conversion rate on this is going to be decreased. Number six, you’re going to lack a post campaign analysis on this because you’re not running through this in a hyper intentional way because there’s a bit of a lack of strategy, because it’s very reactive. You’re not putting the metrics in place. You’re not putting the KPIs in place. We talked in the last episode at length about KPIs, about measuring, about analytics, about picking the metrics that matter because you’re doing this very reactionary. You’re not going to have that level of insight into what worked, what didn’t work, what channels were great, what messages were great, how did all of that work? You’re not going to have that insight because it was reactionary. And then, number seven, this is the ultimate one. This is the one that I think is where you’re going to see it the most is wasted effort, right? Because you’re going through this all. You’re putting all this energy into it. I see this so much that photographers put all this energy into doing these things. They make these pretty landing pages. They do go through all this work making these gorgeous graphics, and then they just don’t get results out of it. And so that’s all a wasted effort. And I don’t think that any of us got into photography so that we can spend our time and not have a result from our time. So those are the consequences. Those are the cons of this impulsive process that so many photographers will go through when it comes to making a marketing plan or when it comes to promoting a campaign or building a campaign and then promoting it.

So let’s take that and let’s sort of like build the opposite approach and let’s build a framework for how you can build campaigns, how you can launch promotions, how you can design these marketing initiatives with a laser focused intention and with great purpose so that you’re going to get the results out of it that you ultimately deserve. I’ve built for you what’s called the Proactive Promotions framework. And this is basically a process that you’re going to walk through every single time you sit down to plan a marketing campaign, every single time that you sit down to put together a promotion strategy or you want to run a sale or a mini session, offer whatever it is. And we’re going to give you again, I’ve got 30 examples that I’m going to give you here at the end of this. So kind of hold your horses on that one. But the Proactive promotions framework, ultimately, when you use it, is going to be like a secret weapon for you because it’s going to empower you to plan and then execute your marketing and your campaigns and your promotions effortlessly with laser focused intent and with incredible results.

So let’s kind of break down what this framework is. There are a total of six steps that we’re going to run through. Let me run through the six steps and then I’m going to double back and we can talk about them. So the six steps of the Proactive Promotions framework is this. Number one, timelines. Number two, who. Number three, why? Number four, communication. Number five, monetization. And then number six, timelines. And I think I messed that up because number one is not timelines. Let’s run through that again. The Proactive promotions framework. Number one, timeliness. I kind of always mess that up because the words look the same. Number one, timeliness. Who, why? Communication, monetization, timelines. Timelines is number six. Those are the six steps of the Proactive promotions framework. Let’s kind of like double back up to the top now and run through each one of them. So number one, timeliness. And this ultimately answers the question, why should people act now? Why is now the right time, the appropriate time for people to engage with your campaign, why does it matter now? Now, this is really important because if you don’t give people a reason to answer this question, like why now? People aren’t going to make a decision. We are very lazy in general as human beings. We don’t like to make decisions. We like to defer things off as much as we can. We have a lot going on in our heads. We have a lot going on in our lives. And so if we don’t have a reason to make a decision, why now? Now, then we just defer that decision procrastinate. And so you have to give a reason why now. Timeliness that’s number one. Number two, who. This is very important and it kind of seems simple, but it’s something that so many photographers miss when they sit down to plan a marketing campaign. Who is the target market for this campaign? And you’re going to get into things like obvious ones, like demographics, like who are they in that sense, but also preferences and characteristics of the ideal customer for this specific campaign. And don’t make the mistake of saying, well, this is just for all of my clients. What does that mean? Who are all of your clients? And if you’re trying to spread this message to everyone at one time, you’re very likely going to end up speaking to no one about nothing. So be a bit more specific and granular about who it is that you’re writing this to. Number three, let’s talk about why. Why should people care? This goes a little bit more beyond the timeliness. The timeliness is sort of like, here’s why now. Number three is all about benefits. Why should they care? What are they going to get from it? What’s the value for them? What is your value proposition? How are you going to exchange money for value? And why should that target audience care? Number three, why? Number four, communication. Where should you be talking about messaging, promoting this campaign? Which channel or channels are going to be the most effective for reaching this audience? Now you can kind of see why it’s important to define the audience first, to define the who first. It’s also important to define the why first because then you can say, okay, cool. Now I know I need to say this thing to these people. How do I communicate that? Where do I communicate that? What’s the best channel or channels for me to communicate those things? So communication comes after this is where you can see we started at the beginning talking about how most photographers will do this. They’ll pick the social media channel first. But you can see here it’s a bit of a misstep because you need to figure out who it is you’re talking to and what you’re saying first. And then you can say, okay, cool. I can say that to these people in this way on this channel. So choose the communication channel. The channel, the strategy fourth number five. Monetization, how will you exchange value, which is what you’re giving for money, which is what you’re asking for, to your clients? So this really comes down to all the nuance of pricing and packaging and upsells and discounts and packages. And just like, how do you align the value that you’re giving your clients, the people that you’re asking to give you money for, and how do you present that to them? Well, I mean, I guess it could be, but it typically isn’t as simple as it’s $200 for this period. It needs to be more granular than that. There needs to be some more nuance to it. One of the things that I’m building as sort of a partner, a marriage, something to run in collaboration with this episode is a template pack in Sprout Studio that has a specific campaign built out that I’m going to walk through and run through and give you the exact wording, the exact options, the exact pricing, everything. A full marketing campaign with everything done for you because it’s going to give you some nuance to understand how that works. It’s going to be available for purchase in Spread Studio. It’s going to be super, super affordable. Because I want to give you something specific so that not only can you listen to this podcast and say, oh, okay, that makes a lot of sense, but you can then go, and grab that template pack and see the emails and see the price list and see the questionnaires and see everything around it and be like, okay. And if you’re using Sprout Studio, which obviously you should be, you can copy all that into your account as if you had created it yourself, customize it if you want, and then just deploy the whole thing into your business. So Monetization is so much more than just saying, here’s the price. It’s all about how you exchange value for money. And the last one, which is timelines. And timelines are so important for you to be mapping out. And this kind of comes down to what we’re going to talk about next, which is the marketing calendar. Timelines are all about building out the schedule, like what’s happening and when and why, and basing it off of sort of that end date, which is like that timeliness sort of coming back to the very beginning. Why are we running this promotion? Why are we running this campaign? What’s the purpose for it? And so we build that first and then we build timelines around that. So that is the proactive promotions framework for how to run successful marketing campaigns.

Again, I encourage you to go over to our website, GetSproutStudio.com, where we have an article that dives into all of this stuff as well, so that you can follow it along, you can read more about it, you can see examples of it, so on and so forth. But that is the framework right there. Now let’s kind of use that last step, which is timelines and build out sort of the next section here of this podcast and run into what is a marketing calendar? This is something that if I had to take a guess, I would say that maybe 2% of photographers have enough intention with their marketing plan that they’re putting together a marketing calendar now. Hey, if that’s you, congratulations. That is unbelievable. And that is quite an accomplishment to be in the 2% of photographers that are actually driving their marketing campaigns, that are actually driving their business growth, that are driving their revenue with laser focus. Now, if that’s not you, if you fall in the 98% where you’re maybe not having that level of intention with your marketing strategy, the good thing is that today is the day that that changes. Now is when that changes from this point forward. Now that you know about a marketing calendar, now that you know about how to do it, and now that I’m going to give you 30 examples of exactly what to do and what dates to run them on, you have no excuse as to why you’re not implementing a marketing calendar. So make the commitment today to be a part of the 2% if you’re not already there. And if you are, let’s get hyper focused, let’s get even more granular with what you’re doing and let’s refine that and tweak that and make it better.

So what is a marketing calendar? A marketing calendar sort of gives you this annual structure and organization so that you can have a roadmap for what you’re doing in a year. From a promotional and a marketing standpoint, it’s really quite as simple as that. It helps you stay proactive with your marketing, with your messaging. It helps you line things up nicely and it makes it so that you can actually be working proactively on your business, on growing your business, leveraging seasonal trends and specific dates and events and things that are happening throughout the year, so that you can market with intention, you can market with focus and with a clear plan of action. Let me just run through here a couple of the benefits, if that’s not super obvious, but just to kind of go more listical format here the benefits of a marketing calendar structure and organization. It gives you a strategic roadmap, it makes you work more proactively, it’s going to maximize your impact, it’s going to have seasonal and event alignment so different things that are happening throughout the year. And you’re going to see this when I talk through the 30 examples in just a moment. It gives you intention and focus. It is an efficient resource allocation, it gives you consistency and branding, it gives you data driven decision making and it gives you long term growth. What’s interesting, as I run through those ten items here, you can see it’s kind of the opposite of the cons of maybe what you’re doing now that sort of impulsive campaign planning. So by committing to a marketing calendar, by building out a marketing calendar using the format that we’ve just talked through, the Proactive Promotions framework, you’re going to be basically turning your entire marketing approach upside down. And you’re going to be working with intention. You’re going to be taking all the sort of cons all the consequences of being an impulsive marketer and flipping it upside down and being intentional with your marketing and having all the upsides on that. Okay, let me run through this now. I may not get through listing all 30 here. This is where I’m going to say, like, you need to get over to that website. You need to get over to GetSproutStudio.com. You need to go read the article because I list these out 30 ideas for your marketing calendar. I list them out with specific dates. So there’s literally no thinking for you on how you should be marketing things, on when you should be marketing things, on what the reason is. I’m trying to eliminate any of the excuses that you may have as to why you’re not implementing these things. Let me run through like a handful of them, and then I’m just going to point you in the direction of GetSproutStudio.com to actually go and get all 30 of these.

Okay? New year. New beginning? That’s in January. Valentine’s Day. That’s in February. Winter Wonderland sessions. That’s in February. International Women’s Day is March 8th. Spring Portraits comes in the spring. March, April. National Sibling Day. That’s April 10. National Pet Day. That’s April 11. Earth Day. That’s April 22. Mother’s Day. That’s May. International Day of Families is May 15. Graduation season is May and June. World Environment Day is June 5. National Best Friend Day. June 8th. National Photography Day, August 19 Back to school. August and September. End of summer. Farewell. August, September World Photo Day, August 19…I’m going to stop there. That’s only 17. I’ve got 30 of these reasons for you to look at a calendar, put these things on the calendar timeliness. Why now? World Photo Day end of summer farewell. In fact, the end of summer farewell one is one that I’m working on in Sprout for you, the Sprout Pack. So you’re going to have an entire bundle of email campaigns, of email templates, of questionnaires, of price list items, the entire strategy of how to run an end of summer promotion, a marketing campaign. I’m going to give you everything to run that based on this framework that we’re talking about today, and you’re going to see exactly how that all makes sense. I’m going to give you the pricing strategies, everything around that.

So by the way, if you’re interested, come on over into Sprout Studio. If you’re not using Sprout Studio already, shame on you. You should be. I’m kidding. But please come and try out Sprout Studio. Check it out. And then once you’re in there, we have Sprout template library where we’ve built all of these things for you, a whole bunch. We got hundreds of templates in there for you. Most of them are for free. This specific bundle will be a paid bundle. It’s going to be very, very cheap for you to take advantage of, but you can click it, buy it for a really affordable price, like sub $100 type of thing, copy it into your account and then customize it and use it in your business. So we have all of that built for you. However, again, come over to the article for this podcast. That’s what this is. Come over to the article for this podcast and you’re going to see this entire list of 30 things that you can put on your marketing calendar. Reasons for you to run a promotion, reasons for you to run a campaign, sessions, a sale, a discount, an offer, whatever it is. We’ve got them all listed for you there over on the website, on the article that accompanies this podcast.

So that is, as you can see, a highly action packed podcast episode. I appreciate you listening. I hope that you enjoyed it. I hope that you got some value from it. Again, we’d love to connect with you wherever you want to connect. We’re on YouTube. This is a podcast, obviously, as well in wherever you listen to podcasts, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube for YouTube Shorts, LinkedIn as well. Gosh where else Pinterest, GetSproutStudio.com. Just come on and connect. We’d love to connect with you. We’d love to make sure that we can keep this content in front of you as much as we can. Because my drive, the reason that I exist, the reason that we exist at Sprout is to help you make a living doing this thing that you love to do. And this is the best way for us to do that, is to help you succeed, to give you the tools, to give you the strategies and to give you the tactics, and to give you Sprout Studio to actually implement all this stuff and actually make a difference in your business. So thank you for listening. Thanks for hanging out and looking forward to talking with you next week in the next episode.

Thanks for listening to the Business of Photography podcast powered by Sprout Studio, a studio management suite built for photographers by photographers. You can do it all in one place with Sprout Studio. Stay organized, give your clients a seamless experience, and get more done faster. Visit getsproutstudio.com to learn more about Sprout Studio.

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