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Marketing and Understanding Your Customers
I wanted to share this because it is so important, especially if you intend on making money with your camera. Had some really huge breakthroughs this last week with my marketing. Many of these examples will be detailed in the Wedding Photographers Crash Course (and Business Marketing for Photographers Crash Course which will be included on the WPCC DVD). I really hope we can have these out by next Summer (2010). Canon 7D DVD should wrap Today or Tomorrow.
I want to impress upon your mind that there are hundreds, if not thousands of customers, in your area, wanting your services (isn't necessarily only in regards to photography) or they may want and not know they want, in which case, you have to PROVE to them that they want your services. This has a lot to do with the quote I put up the other day, let me add a few words: "Its not enough to think you are a great photographer and have skills/services people will want, you have to place this burden of proof squarely on your shoulders, then go out and prove it to them in such a way that they are both eager and happy to hire you. It is your job to find them, not theirs to find you."
Ive seen it at least a hundred times, a student goes out, invests a small fortune in fantastic gear, throws up an amazing website, which displays undeniable talent- and then they sit and wait...wondering why no one is calling. Its not enough to have gear, skill or even confidence.
You absolutely cannot underestimate the importance of understanding the behavior and tendencies of your ideal customers. If you do not, you will waste a lot of time and money trying to find customers who already want your services. During the workshops this summer, I compared this to fishing. If you have a knowledge of the behavior of a certain type of fish, you are much more likely to be successful than if you were blindly fishing in some random lake or river or bathtub. The more specific you understand this behavior, the more successful you will be able to target your efforts.
Is it possible to "over-market" yourself and your business? Absolutely- its called wasting your money. Obviously, this is a lot to go into now, but spending more money for more business is not a great idea- spending less money for more business is what we should all be aiming for.
The most curious thing that I learned last week was how most students are thinking when they are looking for a good training DVD, what part of the week/time of day they are most likely to think about it, as well as what mood they are in (yes, mood). Ive learned what type of ad they are most likely to respond to, as well as where that ad is to be found. The most helpful thing all of this has done, was to eliminate wasteful marketing, where I was investing large chunks of time and money on things that weren't working.
I still have much to learn, and it was quite expensive over the short run / took a good 18 months to figure out, but now that I know what I do, I am spending less than I ever had on marketing, and sales are up. If it was anything like last year, I will see a small spike right after Christmas and sales will go back down to normal.
There has to be some specific connection between the marketing you are investing in, and your ideal customers. Sometimes there is a temptation to throw some extra cash into an advertisement blindly. In some ways this is commendable because it shows the business owner is willing to roll the dice, and yes, I have done this several times and have lost quite a bit of money doing it. Learned some valuable lessons the hard way. (Isnt it ironic how the more money I lost on an ad, the better I remember the lesson?) - Which reminds me, I never told you guys the story of when I lost all that money on the TV ad did I last year? I remember why now....lol...wow....embarrassing!
So, I just wanted to throw this out there to everyone who is marketing something. Don't be afraid to try new marketing techniques, measure their success, and then optimize them by removing the less effective methods.