Marketing your business and your creative work can be tough. Doing it in a small market can be even tougher. It can often seem overwhelming, but with some careful analysis and planning, you can maximize your opportunities. Having worked in sales and marketing for the better part of 18 years, I've picked up a few tips and tricks that I believe would help any photographer struggling to establish themselves in any market.
Tip 1: Understand Your Market
Above all else, you must first understand your local market. How many people live near you? What is their average income? Is it mostly male or female? Analyzing and understanding this kind of data can help you understand what products and services might be best to market to your local area. I would start by using the census website to collect all of this data. Once this data is collected for nearby zip codes I would create a marketing plan with offerings that target and appeal to that market. This data also helps out tremendously with understanding the best route for pricing. If you're going after a high-end market but you find in this search that your local area's average income is under $40,000, you may want to rethink things. There are many other websites out there that can help you collect more data, and I would recommend using them to create a broad picture of how your local market is composed.
Tip 2: Target Your Audience
Once you've established who is in your local market, it's time to target them with relevant marketing efforts. Allow me to use myself as an example. When I was soliciting headshot photography business in my old local market of Orlando, Florida, one of the first things I did was find out where my target audience would congregate. Every week, there were local networking events, which gave me opportunities to get in front of the people I wanted to work with and make my marketing pitch face-to-face. I used websites like Meetup and created a calendar of events that I wanted to attend. Once there, I would make it a challenge to talk to as many people as I could within the allotted time about my services. I would collect those business cards and follow up each interaction with an email thanking them for their time and giving them an opportunity to check out my work. For your situation, you'll want to come up with a similar tactic. Passive marketing efforts such as sending emails or creating a website have to be supported by active marketing efforts like going to meetups and other events where your prospective clients may congregate.
Tip 3: Curate Your Marketing Pieces
Now that you understand your local market and some ways to target them, it becomes super important to curate everything. This means that things like your website should be custom-tailored towards showing those clients only the types of images that you want to be hired for. When I was going after headshot work in Orlando, I made sure that people coming to my website saw that I specialized in headshots and portraiture. Photos of random things that gave a confusing message to clients (like pictures of pets, landscapes, etc.) were either removed or hidden away in other parts of the site. The same goes for social media. Stay focused to only show the kind of work you want to be hired for, and you'll find that as time goes on, you'll be identified as a specialist in that area.
Recently, I got together with fellow Fstoppers writer and friend, Jeff Rojas, to discuss this topic. What are some challenges you're having in your own markets? I'd love to hear about it, and maybe we'll revisit the topic again in another video in the near future!