Without Customers You Don’t Have a Business

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© lculig

Without customers you don’t have a business. You have a hobby!
Don Peppers and Martha Rogers
I tweeted the quote above earlier today. However, the more I thought about it, the more appropriate it became for the theme of a new blog post.

Many of you don’t know whether you’re making money or not until you do your taxes. You’re working hard to raise the bar on your skill set and be the best artist you can be, but you’re running your business as an amateur and in turn, each year you’re closer and closer to the definition of a hobbyist rather than a business owner!

This year is only a month way from being history. So, let’s set the bar a little higher for 2016 and look at some ideas on getting more customers and making money. Seriously, none of you got into this business as a philanthropy. While many of you give back in so many ways to your community, wouldn’t it be nice not to worry about whether or not you’re going to be eating Mac N Cheese every night?

Let’s start with getting customers!

  • Let start with your existing data base. As everyone worries about finding new customers, so many of you forget your previous customers. Assuming they were happy with your services, they’re the best ambassadors you’ve got. From repeat business to referrals, they already know you.  Here’s a great example: Let’s assume you’ve got a base of wedding clients. Couples start families. Couples get puppies and kittens. The hierarchy of why consumers hire a professional photographer goes brides, babies and pets. Maybe it’s time to do a mailing to your past clients and either build your skill set to include newborns, children and pets or partner with another photographer in the area.
  • Get involved in your community. It doesn’t matter what, just look for opportunities where you can give back. This doesn’t need to be in the form of money, but investing your time helping any non-profit event or association. You want to be known as somebody who’s giving to the community, not just another vendor looking for customers.
  • Use your blog! Your website is about what you sell while your blog is about what’s in your heart. So, open your heart. Share topics that mean something to you and your readers. Be helpful. Share picture-taking tips with your readers. Do profiles of noted people in the community. Help publicize community events and photography opportunities.
  • Publish press releases! You’ve heard the expression about “tooting your own horn.” Well, nobody is going to do it for you, so you need to be publishing press releases regularly about things you’re doing with your business, clients, other photographers, etc.
  • Own your zip code! My buddy Scott Bourne talked about this years ago. It’s time to hit the pavement and knock on the door of every business in your area. Introduce yourself and let them know you’re in the neighborhood to help if they ever need anything photographic. And, it doesn’t matter what your specialty is. There’s nothing wrong in saying for example, “My specialty is wedding photography, but there’s nothing I can’t photograph. I also have a large format printer. So, if you ever need anything printed quickly or maybe a new headshot, just give me a call.” Your greatest marketing tool is relationship building. That means you need to get out of the office, house or studio and meet your potential clients. 

One blog post can’t cover everything, but let’s hit one more challenge you have, pricing. I’ve shared this video before, but nobody does a better job talking about the philosophy of pricing better than my buddy, Sal Cincotta. This video is at least four years old, but his message is timeless!

Here’s another terrific resource, a guest post from Bryan Caporicci. It’s loaded with solid information to help you plan your pricing strategy.

With 2015 coming to a close and the new year about to launch, starting out in January without a plan for building your business is the equivalent of getting in the car and driving across the country without GPS or a map! You’re working so hard on your technical skills. Isn’t it time you focused on the bottom line?

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