Photographers and Target Marketing


© Aleksandr Bedrin

by Skip Cohen

I’ve written a few posts over the years about demographics and target marketing. As the year comes to a close and we hit the holiday seasonality, now is the time to pay attention to every aspect of the promotions you might be running now, as well as early next year.

The longer you’ve been active in social media and made purchases on line, the more likely you are to get specific offers from companies who found something to suggest you’re a candidate for their products or services.  When we get a relevant offer, like things from Trip Advisor on restaurants and events going on in the Sarasota/Tampa area, I love it, but when it’s completely irrelevant, it becomes spam. In fact, my spam filter is loaded with irrelevant offers every day.

Plus, most of us discard more email than we open. Often the subject line alone is enough to trash whatever the pitch might be. We discard email left and right, often on our phones, before we even sit down in front of a computer.

The challenge for most of you is thinking through who your target audience is. In most cases you’ve done nothing to identify the demographics of your client. I know you’re not doing massive email blasts to thousands of people, but even a small campaign to your community is important enough to be done right. Even better is staying out of everyone’s spam filter.

Here are five easy points to help you think through the process of target marketing:

  • Your promotions have to be relevant. You’ve got to know your target audience. For example, doing a mailing about a children’s portrait program to people in Sun City, AZ where the average resident is retired is a waste. However, fine-tuning a promotion specifically targeting grandparents and planting the seed for a portrait session with grandchildren might be dead on.
  • Targeted advertising: Advertising your photography business in Guns and Ammo magazine, when 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer are made by women is another waste of money. You need to pick communication vehicles relevant to your audience. Remember, women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a photographer in the portrait/social categories.  
  • Added Value: Create programs providing added value rather than a discount.  Do you honestly get excited about any discount today that’s 20% or less? We’re so conditioned to discount programs that we automatically assume the retail price was originally too high to begin with. However, added value like an additional album or a extra hour or two of coverage at a wedding or an event can have powerful appeal. Remember how many different products you have to work with, especially from your album company or lab. All it takes is one call to your lab for example, and ask the question, “So, what’s new?”
  • When to promote: Timing is everything!  Look for windows of opportunity where you can make a lot of noise and actually have people hear you.  I’ve referred a lot to Bruce Berg in Oregon and a program he does during the first quarter. What makes it exciting is the studios involved aren’t competing with other events. They’ve got the spotlight all to themselves. It’s all in the first quarter, the slowest time of the year in most markets.
  • More on Timing: If I were a professional photographer specializing in family portraiture I’d be working hard to plant the seed right now on a family sitting at Thanksgiving time when families are typically together. There’s also the opportunity for holiday cards for your clients and the time to get that message out is now. Marathon Press has a “BOGO” program going right now on holiday cards and they also have a complete family marketing program.

Most important of all – start thinking NOW about your promotional calendar for 2017.  Wouldn’t it be nice to not be reactionary all the time, but have a planned out series of activities and promotions? If you start thinking about next year now, you’ll have the time to align yourself with the appropriate partners, advertising and publicity elements you need for success.

There’s no such thing as knowing too much about your target audience. In fact, there’s a great line I’ve used for years, thanks to Ed Foreman, a motivational speaker from Texas which I’ve shared before:

                  “If I can see the world through my client’s eyes, then I can sell my client what my client buys.”

You don’t want to just walk in their shoes, you need to see the world they way they do. You need to understand everything that’s important to them, including the content you share on your blog.  

It might seem early to be thinking about next year, but look how fast 2016 has flown by. Think about what kind of year you’d like 2017 to be, and then take the time to start thinking about the planning process.

And, if you’re stuck and need some ideas or a little help, you know where to find me. Yes I’m serious!


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