3 Marketing Mistakes I Wish I Didn't Make

Ok ok, stop rolling your eyes.

I know, you got into photography so you could take pictures, not worry about things like bookkeeping and marketing and blah blah blah.  

But be honest with yo'self and admit that if you don't worry about the boring parts of your business, you won't be in business very much longer.  

We could talk about business nitty-gritty til the cows come home, but today we're just going to touch on marketing. And not even a comprehensive, all-encompassing look at marketing either - we're going to talk about 3 things that I did when I first started out that I thought were great marketing things, but really weren't (followed later this week by some actual great marketing things you should do).  

So grab a martini (because I already have one), get a notebook, and let's get started.  


1. Thinking my business card would do all the work for me.

I was new to the business, and probably one of the first five things I did for my business were buy business cards. Why? So I could leave them everywhere, sprinkled all around God's green earth like fairy dust.  

Heck, sometimes I even handed them to prospective clients so they can get in touch with me later (though be honest, I pretty much just shoved it in their hand and ran away before they could give it back to me), or leave them in a stack on some business's front desk.  

This is marketing, right?

Leaving my name out there for everyone to see.   Well.....not really.

Because guess who else hands out their business card and leaves them in stacks on other business's front desks?   Yeah. Every other business out there.

And not just photography businesses, but literally, tons of other businesses.   My card got lost in the shuffle, alone and forgotten, amongst a pile of other forgotten and forlorn business cards.  

The bottom line is leaving my business card everywhere didn't really do much for me. Instead, it made me look like every other business on the planet. It did nothing to really separate me from the crowd and assure the client that I would be the one who can do the job they need doing the best out of any other business out there.  

It is a good thing to leave your card with potential clients, because it does have all your contact info on it. But that can't be your main marketing strategy either; you've got to be doing other things that will actively put yourself in front of your ideal audience and clients.  


2. Paying to be in the mailer with every other non-related vendor in my city.

This also echos what we talked about in #1. And that should make sense - you've seen (and probably receive) business advertisement mailers, and have to admit to yourself that they are a mad jumble of stuff. Everything from carpet cleaning to pizza deals to classes for underwater basket weaving, it's all in the mailer.   In that sort of a jumbled mess, my business did nothing to stand out. But there's another reason this didn't work for me either.  

Think about it this way. Who gets the mailer? Just about everyone, right? Whether they're old, young, getting married divorced, baptized, bar mitzvah-ed (I think I made that word up), you name it - they get the mailer.

What percentage of those people do you think are actually looking for a professional photographer?   If you guessed a very very small number, you'd be correct.

Rather than categorizing myself and finding my niche to advertise to, I was advertising to everyone who received the mailer. This, in turn, watered down my visibility.   Being more intentional with my advertising would definitely have made my dollar worth more.   What does that mean?  

Here's an example. A wedding photographer shouldn't be paying for advertisement space in a mailer (which we've already discussed, goes out to everyone and their brother, whether they're looking for wedding photography services or not) - they should be only trying to advertise themselves to the people looking for their services, such as brides.  

How do they do that? By putting themselves in front of a bunch of brides, like at a booth at a wedding fair. By doing this they've already dramatically increased the percentage of potential clients that will see them, and therefore increased their chances of being booked.


3. Doing exactly what my competition was doing.

There's sort of a theme going through this blog post if you haven't picked up on it yet, and that is that your business needs to stand out from the masses.  

Yes, watch your competition.

Yes, take notes. Yes, learn. But most importantly - find out what they aren't doing. Think of how you and your business will stick out like a sore thumb (but in a good way!) and make your potential clients say "Yes, this is the photographer for me."

This will probably vary a little bit from photography genre to photography genre, too: for example, I once heard of a senior portrait photographer who drove by the local high school after the final bell and just threw business cards out his car window (and literally sprinkled them like fairy dust).  

Yeah, we talked about how you can't expect your business card to do all the work for you, but I think in this photographer's case we can overlook that because how much you wanna bet he stood out from his competition?  

If you answered 'a lot,' you'd be correct.   So now we've talked about what you shouldn't do......what should you do?   That, my friends, is covered in our next blog post 4 Marketing Tips I Wish I Knew When I Started

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