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WRITING YOUR MARKETING PLAN A RESOURCE FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS MATTHEW D KAUFFMANN


Table of Contents FORWARD .................................................................................................... 5 Writing Your Photography Marketing Plan.......................................................... 6 Marketing Plan Components ......................................................................... 6 Approaching the Market ............................................................................... 7 Product orientation. ............................................................................ 7 Sales orientation. Here ........................................................................ 7 Market orientation. ............................................................................. 7 Social marketing orientation. ............................................................... 7 The Product Life Cycle ................................................................................. 8 The Executive Summary ................................................................................. 9 The Five Ws ............................................................................................... 9 Who. ................................................................................................ 9 What. ............................................................................................... 9 When. ............................................................................................... 9 Where. .............................................................................................. 9 How.................................................................................................. 9 Why. ................................................................................................ 9 Sample Executive Summary ....................................................................... 10 Rhyme and Reason ................................................................................... 10 The Mission Statement ................................................................................. 11 Lighthouse in a Storm ............................................................................... 11 Aspirational, But Attainable ........................................................................ 12 Sample Mission Statements........................................................................ 12 Don‘t Just Write It — Use It ....................................................................... 13 Setting Goals .............................................................................................. 14 Six Types of Goals .................................................................................... 14 1.

Financial goals............................................................................... 14

2.

Non-financial goals ........................................................................ 15

3.

Short-term goals. .......................................................................... 15

4.

Mid-range goals. ............................................................................ 15

5.

Long-term goals. ........................................................................... 15


6.

Wild goals. .................................................................................... 15

Work Towards Your Goals .......................................................................... 16 The SWOT Analysis ...................................................................................... 17 The SWOT Components ............................................................................. 17 Strengths. ....................................................................................... 17 Weaknesses..................................................................................... 18 Opportunities. .................................................................................. 18 Threats. .......................................................................................... 18 Market with Self-Knowledge ....................................................................... 19 Determining Target Markets .......................................................................... 20 Jack of All Trades, Master of None ............................................................... 20 Identifying Target Markets ......................................................................... 21 1.

Geographic. .................................................................................. 21

2.

Demographic. ............................................................................... 21

3.

Psychographic. .............................................................................. 21

4.

Product-related. ............................................................................ 21

Getting Started ........................................................................................ 22 Marketing Mix – Product ............................................................................... 23 The Four Ps.............................................................................................. 23 1.

Product. ....................................................................................... 23

2.

Place. ........................................................................................... 23

3.

Promotion. .................................................................................... 23

4.

Price. ........................................................................................... 23

Defining Your Product ................................................................................ 24 Shopping vs. Specialty Products ................................................................. 25 Marketing Mix – Place .................................................................................. 26 Where Are Your Customers? ....................................................................... 26 Agencies and Reps vs. Direct Selling ........................................................... 27 Marketing Mix – Promotion ........................................................................... 28 Four Kinds of Promotion ............................................................................ 28 1.

Advertising. .................................................................................. 28

2.

Public relations. ............................................................................. 28


3.

Sales promotions. .......................................................................... 29

4.

Personal selling. ............................................................................ 29

Don‘t Put the Cart Before the Horse ............................................................ 29 Marketing Mix – Price ................................................................................... 30 Price for Profitability .................................................................................. 30 Researching the Competition ...................................................................... 31 What the Market Will Bear ......................................................................... 31 The End — and the Beginning! .................................................................... 32


FORWARD This series was originally written for the Black Star Rising Blog (http://rising.blackstar.com), and published in February and March of 2011. I definitely owe some credit to their editors for helping my put this into a more readable format. I hope that you find it beneficial as you grow your photography business. Please feel free to contact me at matt@mdkauffmann.com if you have any specific questions. Also, visit my photography at http://mdkauffmann.com or join my fan club at http://facebook.com/MDKauffmannPhoto Happy Marketing!

Matthew Kauffmann July 2011


Writing Your Photography Marketing Plan There is no shortage of marketing guidance for photographers on the Web today. ―How to Use Social Media.‖ ―How to Use SEO.‖ ―How to Use Trade Shows.‖ ―How to Use Business Cards.‖ ―How to Write ‗How to‘ Posts.‖ The list is endless. But all this information isn‘t worth much if you don‘t have a plan. And by that I don‘t mean some vague goal of becoming the next Nachtwey or Leibovitz. I mean a formal marketing plan.

Marketing Plan Components It is often said that failing to plan is planning to fail — or, for the alliterative among us, proper prior planning prevents pitifully poor performance. A marketing plan is a dynamic document that acts as a guideline for all of your marketing efforts. As such, it‘s a valuable tool for avoiding ―pitifully poor performance.‖ The elements of a standard marketing plan include:         

Executive summary Mission statement Goals SWOT analysis Target markets Marketing mix – product Marketing mix – place Marketing mix – promotion Marketing mix – price


Approaching the Market Before setting out to create a marketing plan, you must first decide how you wish to approach the marketplace. There are four basic approaches to choose from: 

Product orientation. This means you will focus on marketing your

unique capabilities, rather than adapting to the needs or desires of the marketplace. This is a ―Field of Dreams‖ approach: if you build it, they will come. As a photographer, you are going to offer something special — and because it is special, people will want it. Sales orientation. Here the focus is on the sales technique; people will buy your product if you sell it in the right way. As a photographer, you are going to rely on your personality or sales abilities to convince your client that they need you. Billy Mays illustrated this approach perfectly. Market orientation. Your focus is on the consumer. What do potential buyers of your product want or need? As a photographer, you are stepping back and looking at your target customers. Is there an opportunity for a high-end wedding photographer in your geographic area — or do you need to be sensitive to price? Social marketing orientation. Here you highlight your efforts to serve the community, with the expectation that consumers will appreciate this — and reward you with their business. If you donate time to Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, or convince people you are Earth-friendly, clients will like what you are doing and use your services. Prime examples of this are Method soaps and cleaners and Toyota Prius.

Upon selecting one of these orientations, a photographer can begin to plan a marketing strategy.


The Product Life Cycle Another overarching point to keep in mind is the product life cycle. Every product or service goes through its rise and fall, from introduction, through growth and maturity, and into decline. The goal of the business is to ride the wave of maturity for as long as possible. Knowing where your photography business stands in its life cycle can help with your marketing decision-making. For example, if you are just starting out, you must first define and establish yourself. You can‘t get by with the ―because you‘ve always known me approach‖ that a mature photographer can. A mature photography business, on the other hand, can forestall decline by introducing a new service to play the ―revolutionary‖ card and jump-start sales. Your marketing plan doesn‘t have to be a thick, gray document. If you aren‘t a fan of sentences and paragraphs, you can do it in simple bullet points. Or you can do it on a big whiteboard and allow it to be dynamic within your organization. The important thing is that you do it. Take the time to give serious thought to what you are really about — and how to sell that to a client. Then you can start worrying about social media, SEO, trade shows and the rest.


The Executive Summary Although the executive summary is the first section of your photography marketing plan, you could make an argument that it‘s the last part you should write. The executive summary answers the basic questions about your photography business; if you haven‘t given these a lot of thought, staring at a blank piece of paper (or a mercilessly blinking cursor) can be a little overwhelming. So if you want to move on to the other parts of your marketing plan and come back to the summary, that‘s fine. But your best bet is to write something down and then revisit it from time to time as you draft the rest of your plan.

The Five Ws To start your summary, let‘s look at the kind of questions this section should answer. We can organize these in terms of the Five Ws (and one H): 

 

 

Who. Who makes up your business; it is a team or just you? What

skills, traits, training, or experience do you have that are going to convince someone to hire you? What makes you special? What. What does your company do? What makes it different from the thousands of other photography businesses in your geographic area? What do you like to shoot? Do you have a specialty? When. When are you available? When do you do your work? When did you start in this business? Where. Where do you do business — on site, in a studio or both? Where can clients meet you? Where can your work be found — a neighborhood gallery, a Web site? How. How do you do things? How do you serve your clients? How do you package and sell your work? How can you be contacted? Why. Why did you get into this business? Why would a client choose you over someone else? Why do you do things the way you do?


Sample Executive Summary Once you‘ve thought about these questions, you‘re in a position to take your first stab at an executive summary. Here‘s a brief sample summary that might spur you along: John and Jane Doe Photography provides award-winning documentary wedding photography for couples in the Chicago area. This marketing plan sets out our company‘s goals, target markets, competitive hurdles, and specific plans for growing our business and sustaining that growth over the long term. John and Jane Doe are uniquely suited to serve the growing market for photojournalistic wedding photography, having both served as staff photographers for metropolitan newspapers in Illinois and elsewhere. As a couple that has been married for 12 years, they cherish the memories of their own wedding day and are passionate about using their talents to share this joy with others. Do you see all we‘ve learned about John and Jane Doe Photography in two paragraphs? We know who they are, what they do, why they‘re good at it, and what motivates them.

Rhyme and Reason Why is this exercise important? Ultimately, everything you put out to promote yourself should be an extension of your executive summary, and answer one or more of the Five Ws questions. If it doesn‘t, there is no reason for you to bother. You use Twitter and Facebook — great. But if all you post about is what you eat for dinner, why should a client care? Yes, it puts a human face on your business and there is something to be said for that. But it doesn‘t set you apart. You have a blog — great. But if all you do is post images, you‘re not capitalizing on the opportunity to explain who you are and what you‘re about professionally. Use your blog to answer client questions, for example, underscoring your areas of expertise and commitment to service. Answer the Five Ws of your business in everything you do.


The Mission Statement Now that you have completed an initial draft of your executive summary, your next step in developing your photography marketing plan is to craft a mission statement. The mission statement is the single most important piece of information about your company. It answers a deceptively simple question: What do you promise to be as a business?

Lighthouse in a Storm Your photography business is only as good as the promises it keeps. And the first step to keeping promises as a business owner is to write them down — and keep them simple. The most effective mission statements are brief but powerful. Some companies write lengthy ones, full of business speak and industry jargon, but that misses the point. You want a statement that you — and your employees, as your company grows — can commit to memory, and take to heart. Your mission statement should be timeless — as applicable in five years as it is the day you write it. Don‘t get caught up in your quarterly or even yearly goals in creating it. As a business owner, a mission statement can serve as a lighthouse in the stormy seas of commerce. On your bad days, going back to your statement can remind you of why you started a business in the first place. On days when you are struggling with creative difficulties, your statement can remind you of what you enjoy shooting, or why you shoot it that way. It also keeps you from going astray in your daily decisions. If you choose to donate to a cause, for example, does the cause mesh with your mission statement? If you raise your prices or change how you do business, is your decision consistent with your mission — your promise to customers?


Aspirational, But Attainable Writing a good mission statement takes time and effort. Generally, each word is chosen specifically for its meaning. It should be something attainable, but never easy to achieve. It should be motivational and inspirational to those within your organization, and to your customers as well. Generally, a mission statement should answer three questions: 1. What are the needs or opportunities that we exist to address? What is our purpose? 2. What are we doing to address those needs? What is the business of our organization? 3. What principles or beliefs guide our work? What are our values?

Sample Mission Statements Here are a few mission statements for photography businesses that I found online. I like some better than others, but I hope they‘ll spur your thinking and encourage you to create your own: Seize the Photo Photography Seize the Photo Photography provides expressive, artistic photographic services, tailored to each client, for those with a discerning taste for quality photography. We believe in creating dynamic, comfortable photography sessions that allow the client to relax and reveal his or her true personality. We also value individuality and understand that each client’s photographic style will be different, making us passionate about getting to know each person. Kelly Weaver Photography We promise to photograph you with passion and professionalism. We promise to be loving, warm, conscientious and energetic. Our hope is to have a personal connection with every client.


Firefly Studios Firefly Studios will provide top quality photographs at a fair and reasonable price for corporate and editorial clients for use in their annual reports, brochures and publications. All clients will receive the highest level of attention, devotion and commitment. We will conduct ourselves in a professional manner and represent our client’s best interests within the limits of our professional responsibilty. We will protect our client’s proprietary information and respect the privacy and property rights of our subjects. A Thousand Words Photography As to photography: “I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.” (Diane Arbus). As to business: “Count no day lost in which you waited your turn, took only your share, and sought advantage over no one.” (Robert Brault).

Don’t Just Write It — Use It After you have prepared your mission statement, the secret is to start using it. Post it somewhere you will see it every day. Put stickers on your monitors. Hang it above your door. Put it on a tag on your camera bag. Remind yourself of it and live it. Let your clients know about it, too. If your mission statement is written well and used in advertising — business cards, flyers, letters, catalogs, Web site — it will attract clients. And as an added bonus, the clients it attracts will be those you want to do business with, because they agree with your mission.


Setting Goals In this series, we are exploring the creation of a marketing plan for photographers. We have already covered the executive summary and mission statement. In this installment, we discuss the importance of setting goals, and how they relate to marketing. Much has been written about goal-setting. Almost anyone will tell you the importance of having a destination in sight before you set off. Who would pull out of their driveway for a vacation without knowing where they are going? The same is true for our day-to-day work as photographers. Who would shoot a wedding without thinking about which images are needed for the album? Who would shoot a product without thinking about what the client needs and how the image will be used? How can you shoot an image without thinking about the final framing? Almost every action is performed with a goal in mind.

Six Types of Goals In marketing plans, goal statements set your direction. They should not simply be ―to do‖ lists; they should reflect long-term plans that require hard work to achieve. If your goal statement reads like a checklist, you may want to consider setting larger goals. There are several kinds of goals. While you don‘t need to have goals in every category, setting multiple, complementary objectives gives depth to your planning — much like shooting with multiple lights creates more depth and interest.

Here are six types of goals to think about: 1. Financial goals. In business, this is the bottom line — so even if you think of yourself as an artist first and a businessperson second, your goal-setting should start with money matters. How much money do you need to make for your business to be successful? How soon do you need to make it? At what rate do you want to bill your services?


2. Non-financial goals. In photography terms, if your financial goals are your main light, the non-financial goals should be the kicker and highlight that give your image personality. Yes, we all want to make money, but what are the parameters you set for your business? Do you want to make enough income from weddings that you can spend 20 percent of your time pursuing personal projects, or doing pro-bono work for environmental causes? 3. Short-term goals. These are your most immediate concerns, so it‘s OK if this part of your goal statement looks like a ―to do‖ list. These dayto-day or week-to-week objectives serve as incremental steps toward your longer-term goals. 4. Mid-range goals. These require a little more work and are achieved in multiple steps or by achieving smaller goals first. Think six months to one year. 5. Long-term goals. Ah, the dreaded ―career‖ goals. You may find the prospect of setting long-term goals for yourself intimidating, but they are critical to building a successful business that will last five years, 10 years or more. Don‘t stress out too much over getting everything just right, though; as John Maynard Keynes once wrote, ―In the long run, we are all dead.‖ 6. Wild goals. After you‘ve done all this serious thinking, it‘s OK to have a little fun, too. Write down some of your wildest dreams. For example, maybe you‘d like to open a small wedding boutique in the Midwest — with the dream of eventually becoming the photographer that A-list Hollywood celebrities call upon for their nuptials. It may never happen, but it will stretch you to think about what Hollywood photographers do and to learn from their styles — which will benefit your local clients. And who knows? Maybe it will happen. Nothing is impossible for those who dare to dream.


Work Towards Your Goals Once you‘ve set goals for your business, the trick is to remember to work toward them. That may sound obvious, but the sad fact is that too many of us write our goals down, then get caught up in our day-to-day activities and forget about them. Don‘t set goals just to set them aside. Begin thinking about how you are going to put your goals into practice. For example, if your objective is to turn photography from a hobby into your primary source income in three years, how are you going to do that? How much income per year will that require? How many assignments per year, at what fee level, will you have to earn? It‘s also smart to share your objectives with others. Sharing your goals makes you accountable for them. It can be a reality check, too; if your plan is to make a million dollars shooting sheep in the suburbs of Santa Fe next year, you‘ll probably need to expand your scope. Share your goals with your family, as well as with your friends in the industry. Finally, make sure your goals are measurable. It is not enough to say, ―I want to make a lot of money.‖ How much do you want to make, and how soon do you want to make it? If your goals are not measurable, how will you know when you accomplish them?


The SWOT Analysis In this series, we are discussing the importance of creating a photography marketing plan and the steps in that process. In this installment, we cover the SWOT analysis — an exercise in which you assess your business‘s Strengths, Weaknesses, and Opportunities, as well as the Threats you face in the marketplace. If you‘ve ever taken a business course, you‘ve probably heard of a SWOT analysis. While they are more often associated with business plans than marketing plans, they are critical to developing your marketing strategy.

The SWOT Components Let‘s take a look at each of the four parts of SWOT: 

Strengths. These are the things that make you stand out. What are

the tools/weapons in your arsenal? Was your training exceptional? Is your equipment top of the line? Do you have years of experience? Has your life outside of photography added something to your work? A wedding photographer might write: ―I have shot weddings of all sizes at every major event venue in the Boston area, so when a couple chooses me, they know what they‘re getting — and that unwanted surprises will be kept to a minimum. My experience means my clients have one less thing to worry about.‖


Weaknesses. The worst move you can make as a business owner is to

ignore your weaknesses. Instead, you should admit them, embrace them — and then conquer them. I like to call weaknesses ―growing edges,‖ because they are the places your organization has the most room to improve. An advertising photographer might describe her weaknesses this way: ―I enjoy shooting for ads but I sometimes have difficulty taking direction from art directors, and this has cost me agency relationships in the past. I also tend to become uncomfortable in crowds, which makes it a challenge for me to network for new business.‖ 

Opportunities. These are the areas where your company has the most

potential for growth. Is there an untapped market that you have a unique opportunity to serve? Are you the only one offering a particular product or service? Do you do something better than anyone else? An editorial photographer might write: ―More and more media outlets are looking to integrate video into their Web sites. Since I have video training, enjoy shooting video, and own a Canon 5D Mark II, I can deliver high-quality stills and video at a competitive price, offering added value for clients.‖ 

Threats. These are the competitors, trends, and other factors that are

working against your organization. As with your weaknesses, it is important to be honest with yourself. Threats are not necessarily bad things; they simply have to be addressed. In my business, for example, I feel threatened by ―Shoot & Scoot‖ photographers — but it doesn‘t stop me from keeping my prices high and offering a premium product. A corporate photographer might describe his biggest threat this way: ―More and more of my clients are slashing their annual report budgets or even dispensing with annual reports altogether, both because of the poor economy and the trend toward online communication. Assuming this continues, I‘ll need to find a way to replace this portion of my income.‖


Market with Self-Knowledge A SWOT analysis can be performed in a couple of intense hours — particularly if you involve your friends and associates in the process. Once you have performed your analysis, start using what you‘ve learned on your Web site and in your marketing materials. Make a big deal of your strengths. Compensate for your weaknesses. Exploit your opportunities. Overcome your threats. This kind of self-knowledge is the key to successful marketing.


Determining Target Markets Many photography businesses fall into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone. You are so hungry for business that you will work for anyone and attempt anything. That‘s certainly understandable, particularly in this economy. But it‘s not a good marketing formula for long-term success. No one can be all things to all people. Even a corporate giant like Wal-Mart is, at its heart, just one thing: a discount retailer. Sure, it has expanded over time to offer groceries, automotive care, financial services and other products and services, but it is all built on the same foundation of convenience and low prices. And it is all targeted toward the same types of consumers, with the same purchasing motivations.

Jack of All Trades, Master of None While all young businesses can succumb to mission creep, photographers seem especially prone to this universalism. You set up shop as a wedding photographer, and before you know it you‘ve added babies, commercial, architecture, and an editorial assignment or two when you can get them. You throw it all in your online portfolio. Your prospective clients come to visit — and see that you can do a lot of things. But they‘re not sure if you do anything particularly well. Look, we live in a world of scarcity. You have a limited marketing budget. Your prospects have a limited amount of time to find, say, a high-end wedding photographer in Milwaukee. So you need to market your business in a focused way — spending your marketing dollars to maximize the number of prospective high-end Milwaukee wedding couples who call you or visit your Web site. And making sure that when they do visit your site, the first thing they see will be other high-end Milwaukee wedding couples smiling from ear to ear — and at the very same venues your prospects are considering. You can have more than one target market, but to do this successfully requires time and investment. In an earlier Black Star Rising post, Sean Cayton profiles a group of photographers that does this well.


Identifying Target Markets Here are four ways to segment a target market for your photography business: 1. Geographic. Focus your business on a specific geographic area, such as your town, zip code or region. Assuming the prospect base within the targeted area is large enough, this is an easy way to manage your marketing costs; you won‘t be trying to advertise or travel all over the state or country. Showcasing the city you love in your marketing materials also establishes an immediate connection with prospects. 2. Demographic. These are the most traditionally thought of segments: age, gender, income range, ethnic group and family type. Perhaps you are part of a particular ethnic group and have strong ties within that community; this could be a good foundation for building a photography business that caters to the group‘s particular interests and needs. If I want to hire a photographer for my daughter‘s quinceanera or my son‘s bar mitzvah, for example, I would be naturally attracted to a photographer who showcases these rites of passage on his or her Web site. 3. Psychographic. Though not always outwardly apparent, these definers — such as personality, lifestyle, and motives — can be valuable in defining a target market. For example, if you‘re selling signed, highend prints to individuals, you should know that many buyers purchase wall art for the snob appeal, rather than because they actually understand art or photography. That means you‘ll do better if you travel in the right circles, appear in the right galleries, and get reviewed by the right critics. 4. Product-related. This is where you build a segment around the distinct attributes of your product or service. For example, if you aim to offer the best customer service in town, you can market your business to all those who have been frustrated by the service they have received from photographers in the past.


Getting Started After your target customers are defined, it‘s time to start marketing to them. The best way to accomplish this is to think like them. What do they enjoy doing? What is important to them? How do they spend their money? Where do they spend it? Why do they spend it the way they do? This will be the roadmap that tells you where to advertise, what to say about your business, what to charge for your services, and so on. It all starts with knowing your audience.


Marketing Mix – Product We have been exploring the process of creating a photography marketing plan. In the final four posts of this series, we take on the ―four Ps‖ of marketing — product, place, promotion and price — as it pertains to photographers. Together, the four Ps are known as the ―marketing mix‖ — the combination of tools marketers use to sell a product. The term ―four Ps‖ has been around for 50 years, and while others have promoted variations of it (e.g., the ―four Cs‖ and ―SIVA―), the four Ps have served as a remarkably durable and useful structure for organizing a product marketing strategy.

The Four Ps The four Ps are defined broadly as – 1. Product. What is it, exactly, that you are trying to sell? How clearly have you defined it? Have you defined your product based on what‘s convenient for you to sell — or based on what customers actually want to buy? 2. Place. Where can people buy your product? Do they have to call you? Can they fill out a form online? Can they place an order with you through another vendor? 3. Promotion. How are you getting the word out? Are you distributing press releases? Buying ads? Blogging? Have you set up a referral network? 4. Price. What are you going to charge for your services? Have you taken into account your competition, your target customer and the identity you want your product to have in the marketplace?


Defining Your Product Developing the marketing mix for your photography business starts with your product. Before worrying about the other three Ps, you must first configure your product with your target customers in mind. ―What do you mean?‖ you might ask. ―I shoot pictures, and I expect to receive $X per hour/day/assignment for doing this, no matter what I‘m shooting or who I‘m shooting it for.‖ That may be true, but it‘s not the way customers think about your business. They think in terms of the end product they want to see online and hold in their hands when your work is done. So that‘s what you need to focus on in defining your product. For example, wedding photographers, portrait photographers and others who work directly with consumers generally find they do better by packaging their services rather than simply charging an hourly or day rate. It makes the offering more tangible to the customer — and therefore more valuable. You might offer two packages for wedding couples. The first is a basic package that includes photography of the wedding day, a wedding album and online proofing. The second is a premium package that includes all of these things, plus a second photographer, photography at the rehearsal dinner, a slide show that can be shown during the reception, a fancier album set, and so on.


Shopping vs. Specialty Products The three major categories of consumer goods are convenience products, shopping products, and specialty products. ―Convenience products‖ are purchased frequently, without much thought or effort (e.g., groceries). ―Shopping products‖ are bought less often, generally after the buyer has done some comparison shopping and research (e.g., a new TV). ―Speciality products‖ may be purchased about as often as shopping products, but are purchased for a reason other than price (e.g., an expensive brand of champagne for a special occasion). As a professional photographer, you will undoubtedly encounter prospective clients who view photography as a shopping product, and others who view it as a speciality product. The former market may be larger, but the latter market will generate higher margins. Which kind of product do you want your photography to be? Part of defining product is determining the width and depth of your service offerings. The width is the number of product lines you offer, and the depth is the number of products in each line. For example, perhaps you want to specialize in weddings and family portraits. That‘s two product lines. You then decide to go with a simple ―good, better, best‖ approach to packaging your services in each line. So you offer a total of six products. Greater width means lower risk — but by not having a specific specialty, you dilute your talent and penetration into the market. In determining your product width and depth, you should consider the size of your market and how many photographers you are competing against. And don‘t forget to factor in what you‘re passionate about. That‘s key to creating a product that your clients will want to buy in the first place.


Marketing Mix – Place As a photographer, how do you get your product in front of your prospect and convert the sale? Do you take orders and provide free quotes online? Tell people to call you? Partner with a photographer‘s rep or agency? Put your work in galleries? Use stock or microstock sites? Deliver prints? How you distribute your work has a lot to do with how and what you shoot. A fine art photographer, for example, is more likely to focus on gallery distribution than a wedding photographer. But virtually all photographers today should be using multiple distribution channels.

Where Are Your Customers? The first question to ask yourself in identifying the ―place‖ in your marketing plan is this: ―Where are my prospective customers?‖ That‘s where you should go to meet them. I have an acquaintance who has used the same photography studio for all his children‘s pictures since they were newborns. Do you know why? Because a representative of the studio came to the hospital when the baby was born and took a set of photos for free. These were, of course, delivered to the home later — along with the offer of additional photography. In this case, the studio had an exclusive arrangement with the hospital. However, there are lots of other ways to be where your photography customers are. If you take baby pictures or family portraits, you could cut deals with children‘s clothing stores or toy stores, family restaurants, recreation centers, daycare centers, pediatricians — the possibilities are numerous.


Agencies and Reps vs. Direct Selling Of course, it‘s always nice to have some help in your selling, isn‘t it? That‘s why photographers work with photo agencies, photographer‘s reps and stock sites, rather than attempting to do all the heavy lifting themselves. Working with a Getty Images, Black Star or other agency is attractive, because it allows you to focus on taking great pictures rather than finding a buyer for them. But smart photographers today know that they must distribute through as many channels as possible, and take control of their own business. A great example of this is John Harrington. John is a longtime Black Star photographer who receives assignments through the agency. However, he has also established his Web site as a top destination for corporate and editorial clients seeking photographers in the Washington, D.C. area. More channels means more opportunities. So build a great Web site and sell your work through it. Upload your photos on stock sites. Try to hook up with an agency. Put your photos on posters, postcards and t-shirts and sell them at CafePress. Shoot free promotional photos of children at the neighborhood toy store on a Saturday afternoon. Whatever you do, don‘t just do one thing. Your customers don‘t stay in one place; neither should you.


Marketing Mix – Promotion Finally, in part nine of this series, we get to promotion — which most people think of first when they hear the word ―marketing.‖ There‘s a reason we waited this long: it‘s best to know what to say, and whom to say it to, before you break out your bullhorn. Promotion is how you inform, persuade and remind your potential photography clients about your products and services. There are four primary means of promoting your wares: advertising, public relations, sales promotion and personal selling.

Four Kinds of Promotion Here‘s a quick overview of each: 1. Advertising. This is paid, non-personal communication through a medium with the hope of informing or persuading members of a particular audience. It can be about your business as a whole, or a particular product or offering. When advertising, your choice of media is important. For instance, newspapers offer a short turnaround time and daily exposure. Magazines deliver a more targeted audience — and have higher production quality, which is important to ads by photographers. Web advertising can be extremely well-targeted — but sometimes so much so that you wonder if anyone has seen your ad at all. When choosing a medium, it is important to consider the cost per contact, frequency of the ad, the reach of the ad, and the selectivity of the exposure. 2. Public relations. When you think of public relations, you probably think of sending out press releases or asking a reporter at the local newspaper to write a story about you. Public relations is much broader than that, however; it encompasses all your efforts (other than advertising) to create an image for your brand with your audiences. Teaching a photography class or donating a portrait session to charity are examples of public relations. So is blogging. While public relations activities are inexpensive compared to advertising, they generally take more time and effort.


3. Sales promotions. These are short-term incentives designed to motivate prospects to purchase immediately, either by lowering price or adding value. Typical tools for sales promotion are coupons, rebates, premiums, loyalty programs, frequent buyer programs, sampling or free merchandise. For example, a photographer might offer a premium of a 8″x10″ print with the purchase of a sitting, or give away an engagement session in order to book a wedding. It works with channel partners, too; you might give away free photography to a bridal store in return for referrals. 4. Personal selling. In some businesses, products can be sold on advertising or sales promotions alone; you see an ad, go to a Web site and — click — make the purchase. That‘s not the way it is for photography services. Photographers generally must do some personal selling to earn new clients. That means generating and qualifying leads, approaching prospects and probing their needs, developing or proposing solutions, handling objections, closing the sale and following up.

Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse You can find endless advice on the Web about each of these promotional techniques. The trick, though, is to not put the cart before the horse in your marketing efforts. Promotion is only one part of the marketing plan — and it can only succeed if you‘ve got the other parts down pat. The most creative advertisement or best-written press release in the world will fall flat if it‘s not selling the right product to the right audience.


Marketing Mix – Price OK, so now you have almost completed your photography marketing plan. You have defined your business, your product, your place, and how to promote yourself. You are ready to go. Except for one last question. How much should you charge? Pricing is undoubtedly the most deceptively simple task that most photographers face. Setting prices too high will drive clients away, as we all know. On the other hand, setting prices too low leads to working too hard for too little. Believe me, there are thousands of photographers who have gone out of business despite having shoots scheduled every day of the week. They just didn‘t make enough money from them to get by.

Price for Profitability Ultimately, you can be successful with either high prices or low prices, depending on what you‘re selling. It‘s not about price so much as maximizing profit (also known as income minus expenses). This can be done by selling more units at a lower price, or selling fewer units at a higher price. As a photographer, if you are selling your services, you generally want to command as high a price as possible while still filling your schedule. That‘s because you are a limited resource; there are only so many ―units‖ of your time you can sell. On the other hand, if you are a microstock photographer, the key to success is volume, so lower prices make more sense. If you are selling prints, you could go with either high prices or low prices, depending on your subject matter and your target clientele.


Researching the Competition When setting your prices, a good place to start is with research. Study the pricing of the photographers in your area who offer similar services. This will give you an idea of the customary price, or what customers expect to pay. Pricing yourself above the going rate may lead to fewer clients, but if you can prove your value or experience, or package your services in a compelling way, you can earn more money and establish yourself as offering premium services in your area. Pricing yourself below the going rate is a strategy that many photographers use when starting out — but it can be a trap if you‘re not careful. Too often, when you start low, you are never able to raise your prices to a reasonable level. Why? Because once you establish yourself as a ―cheap‖ photographer, that‘s why people come to you. The referrals you get are from customers who do you the dubious favor of proclaiming: ―Yes, I know a good photographer — and he‘s really inexpensive.‖

What the Market Will Bear Another factor to think about in setting your prices is elasticity. This is the amount of stretch a client is willing to give in their purchase price. For example, if the customary price of an 8″ x 10″ print in your area is $25, a client may be willing to pay you $27.50 — but if you raise your price to $30, they may consider another photographer. Elasticity plays a part in the annual (or more frequent) reconsideration of pricing, and as you compare your rates to those of other photographers. Finally, don‘t forget to think about your own costs when setting your prices. If you charge $900 for a day‘s work, a good rule of thumb is to assume that $300 of that will go to the government, $300 to your costs, and you will pocket the last $300. Your costs include more than the cost of materials. They include studio expenses like rent and utilities; advertising costs; equipment and repair costs; memberships and insurance; assistants; gas and travel; and so on.


Some photographers price their services on a cost-plus basis. They estimate their costs for a typical wedding shoot, for example, and then add X percent for profit, and then charge that price. That‘s fine for making sure your costs are covered, but it‘s not the best way to optimize profits. You should set your prices based on the maximum your market will bear, rather than the minimum you would be satisfied with.

The End — and the Beginning! This concludes my series on writing a photography marketing plan. We‘ve covered a lot of ground, from mission statements to SWOT analyses, target markets to the four Ps. While far from exhaustive, I hope this overview has been beneficial to you. Now, get out there and start marketing your photography business!

Photography Marketing Plan  

A RESOURCE FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS MATTHEW D KAUFFMANN Table of Contents 6. 3. I hope that you find it beneficial as you grow your photography bus...

Photography Marketing Plan  

A RESOURCE FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS MATTHEW D KAUFFMANN Table of Contents 6. 3. I hope that you find it beneficial as you grow your photography bus...

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