"Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning."
"Whether you're just getting started with your photography business and looking to generate your first leads or you have an established photography business and you're looking to ramp up sales during the quiet months, laying the foundations of a solid digital marketing strategy that is relevant to your type of photography, your target demographic and your location will mean less time spent on sales and marketing in the long term and more time spent on your passion."
|The Buying Cycle.|
Focus on a Niche Market.Large organizations like Nike and Pepsi have the deep pockets to do mass marketing across multiple channels for extended periods of time without having to segment their audience. Their goal is to reach as many people as possible.
Niche marketing (also known as targeted marketing or micromarketing) is the smarter way for a small business like yours to get a measurable return on investment for your marketing efforts. This means means focusing all your marketing efforts on a tightly defined niche.
This can seem counterintuitive and you wouldn't be the first to think that offering as many different services as possible might lead to more customers. As it happens, the opposite is true.
Focusing on a niche market helps you gain a deep understanding of your customers and their needs and how to really engage with them. It also gives you the ability to use laser focus in your marketing efforts which will help to keep costs from running wild. Additionally, businesses that focus on a niche market can often charge more because of their specialist expertise and lower number of competitors.
Your niche market will ideally be your passion. If you're a wedding photographer, you might favor photo-journalistic wedding photography over traditional wedding photography. If you shoot portraits and love working with children more than formal business portraits, make that your niche.
Know Your Target Audience.Your niche market will determine who your target audience is. Knowing your target audience and the problems they're trying to solve will help you create a service and product they will seek out and hire you for.
Put yourself in their shoes and think about how they would use the web to seek out your services and what related problems they might be trying to solve along the way.
Let's take the example of children's portraits. Your customer here would be the children's parents. In addition to bringing home a memory they can treasure for years or gift to the grandparents, what other problems could parents have in mind?
- Clothing — how should I dress them?
- Distraction — how can I intercept the inevitable tantrum?
- Entertainment — how can I keep them from getting bored?
If you can shape your service so that your customers extended needs are met, not only will you create happy customers that will be loyal advocates but you'll have a lot to talk about in your marketing material that will help them find you and book you in the first place.
Understand the Buying Cycle.Once you know the right person to target, having an understanding of the buying cycle helps you to deliver the right content through the right channels at the right time. The right time is when your leads are ready to move from one stage of the buying cycle to the next. Most photographers and indeed most small businesses don't take advantage of the buying cycle and so putting this information to use will give you a huge advantage over your competitors.
Read also: Digital marketing strategy with Stat Counter: Choose the Right Digital Marketing Channels."Instead of one-way interruption, web marketing is about delivering useful content at just the right moment that a buyer needs it."David Meerman Scott
Awareness, consideration, conversion, loyalty and advocacy are five stages of the buying cycle. Each stage leads to the next, with the final two stages helping to grow your audience by introducing new potential customers into the buying cycle.
Stage 1: Awareness.The first stage of the buying cycle is awareness. Prospects are aware they have a need to fulfill and are starting to research potential solutions.
Your goal for this stage is attract the right prospects via search. Your prospect may not know exactly what they need at this stage. For example, they may be searching online for wedding locations in their area, but also have in mind that they need to find a wedding photographer soon. Or they may be looking for a gift for their parents anniversary and not have thought of a family portrait session. Your strategy here is to publish content and focus on keywords that describe their needs and show how you can meet those needs.
The most effective channels to deliver this content is through your website and blog, via social networks like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest and using paid ad campaigns on Google Ads. The key here is to provide educational content and avoid the hard sell. For example, a blog post about how to make sure your wedding day goes smoothly speaks to the hopes and fears of a bride-to-be in need of a wedding photographer.
Stage 2: Consideration.Prospects in the consideration stage are aware of their need, have found your website and are researching all potential solutions, including your competitors. During this critical stage, social proof can make or break the deal.
Social proof can include:
- Customer reviews
- Case studies
- Social media likes, shares and follows
86%+ of consumers say reviews are an essential resource when making purchase decisions.Alex York
If you provide a photography service such as weddings or portraits, case studies including some shots from the session can be extremely reassuring. Craft a story about the experience and include a review at the end.
Some other types of content your prospects will be looking for at the consideration stage include details about your product or service, pricing, terms of service, guarantee, returns policy, availability, delivery details. The more information your can provide here the better.
Stage 3: Conversion.Your prospects are ready to buy. They have browsed through portfolios, read case studies, compared reviews, and are ready to make a purchase decision.
What qualifies as a conversion depends on the type of service you’re offering. Your conversion goal may be a purchase in the form of a voucher for a portrait session or payment of a deposit on a wedding photography package. Alternatively it may simply be the completion of an enquiry form, with the purchase taking place offline.
In all these cases it’s essential to ensure you optimize your website for conversion. This means employing tactics to reduce shopping cart abandonment, maximize the usability of web forms and create clear calls to action that guide the buyer through the process with the least amount of friction.
So what’s the best content strategy to use for prospects in the conversion stage?
Pricing information, reviews and case studies are still relevant at the conversion stage.
Placing a few select excerpts from your customer reviews on your payment page or enquiry form can be a great confidence booster.
Offering a discount or highlighting a promotion at this stage can dramatically increase conversions. To create a sense of urgency, make it a time limited offer.
Invite prospects to your shop or studio or arrange to meet them in person to see physical prints.
Stage 4: LoyaltyMaintaining a relationship with your customers after their initial purchase takes further effort but not nearly as much effort as nurturing fresh prospects through the buying cycle. All the trust and goodwill you have earned during the previous three stages means existing customers are more likely to convert. You’ve helped them fulfill their needs before and they trust you.
The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5 – 20%Marketing Metrics
At this stage you know enough about your customers to provide targeted, relevant content via email, SMS, social media and your blog. If you work with family portraits, email reminders around milestone events such as birthdays and anniversaries can provide great gift inspiration for your customers. Announce new products or services in your newsletter as you add them to your arsenal.
The main thing is to stay in touch and keep offering stellar service.
Stage 5: AdvocacyWhen you’re looking for a service you haven’t bought before, if you’re like most people, you’ll reach out to friends and see if anyone has recommendations before doing your own research. Word of mouth is the most effective marketing technique and while advocacy is the last stage in the buying cycle, it helps bring more prospects into your buying cycle, which is why we call it a 'cycle'.
Some powerful strategies to use with customers who have become advocates:
- Email them and offer exclusive discounts for referring you to their friends.
- Share their posts about you on social media.
- Ask them for feedback about your services so you can improve.