While talking with and listening to other photographers lately, I’m left with the sense of doom and futility shared amongst some people in the photography business. Not only do I find this sad and depressing, I believe it’s totally unfounded, and is compounding an already negative issue – that marketing is not working that way people expect it to.
It Doesn’t Matter How Much Marketing I Do…
This statement is dangerous in the extreme to any hope of success in business. Most of us became professional photographers because of a passion for the art of photography and what it means to people’s lives. We didn’t think in terms of being marketers or sellers, but that is precisely what we are, like it or not. The fact is that if we can’t market ourselves, or we can’t sell what we do, we’re not going to be in business for long.
Several industry colleagues have tried to tell me recently that marketing isn’t going to encourage anyone to work with us at the prices we should charge, no matter how hard we try. I don’t think you could be more wrong about this, and if this belief is one that can’t or won’t be abandoned, then I politely suggest that it’s time to move on and go to work for someone else.
So what’s the perceived problem? Why is that photographers are falling into the trap of thinking this way? Obviously, they are intelligent and hard-working people, so what’s going wrong? After thinking about this for a while, I believe there are several reasons why their current marketing efforts might be ineffective:
- Not marketing at all
- Engaged in the wrong kinds of marketing
- Being inauthentic
- Marketing to an ill-defined target market
- Ineffective reach
- Lack of a marketing plan
- Missed opportunities
- Emergency marketing as the main efforts
These are all valid reasons why our marketing (or lack thereof) might fail, which can in turn lead some to the mistaken conclusion that the act of marketing in any form just doesn’t work at all any more.
But there is one other major problem with most of the marketing I see going on, and I’m about as guilty of making this mistake myself as anyone else:
Marketing has changed with the times – why can’t we?
The truth we all need to face is that traditional marketing methods are dead, just not buried yet. Unfortunately most businesses haven’t realized this yet, so we’re still haunted by legions of zombies in the form of TV advertising, direct mail, print ads and other forms of marketing that no one responds to any more.
But all is not lost – there’s a new form of marketing that’s very much alive and kicking its way out of the box. In fact, it’s been around for some time, but most of us haven’t really caught up with it yet.
If you’ve read anything by Seth Godin or Brian Solis, then you’ll know what this is all about. If not, then head over to Amazon and grab a couple of these to read. I promise they will change the way you think about marketing:
- Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable
- Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
- Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us
- All Marketers are Liars
- The Dip
- Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers
- Unleashing the Ideavirus
- Engage: Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web
- Putting the Public Back in Public Relations
- The Art and Science of Blogger Relations
Tomorrow, I’ll be following up this post with a discussion of marketing in the age of social media and how we can really make the best use of this amazing new resource where our clients want to do a lot of our marketing for us.
In the meantime, please share this with others in this season of giving, and especially share your comments either through the regular comment box or the new Facebook comment plug-in below.