Marketing is so crucial to business that you should definitely invest. However, this doesn’t mean you have to be extravagant to make it work. During my first year of business, I wasn’t even sure I was going to “make it work”. I was afraid to invest a lot of funds, so I found creative ways to market.
If it’s the month before Christmas and you’re just starting to market, you’re already behind! By planning out your marketing plan ahead of time, you can watch for sales. Researching creative and less expensive ways, plus the longevity of marketing has a probability for increased success over a short period of time (thus, maximizing your money!) Forward planning also will keep you from impulse spending that can result in blowing through your marketing budget and cut into profit. Sit down and plan out your yearly marketing plan. It’s not written in stone tablets so it CAN be changed, but it will help keep you on budget and creative track!
Hit up after holiday sales/off-season sales
Stores like to clear out their shelves after holidays. Photography vendors are no exception! During the “slow” times (right after Christmas through Spring), stores/vendors offer incentives and lower prices to get rid of older inventory. Utilize this time to stock up on your packaging and marketing products.
Keep your social media/blog interesting
What is better than FREE marketing? Web presence (aside from the internet, hosting and domain) is the cheapest and easiest way to spread the word about your business. This will give you the most bang for your buck if you’re utilizing it correctly. Here are some tips on keeping your facebook interesting: 5 Marketing strategies to maximize Facebook’s potential. Also, ensure that your SEO is working for you. These are no -cost things you can do to increase your web presence!
One of the biggest tips to having web marketing work for you is engaging your clients/fans. Utilize free and low cost applications (such as RipeSocial) to provide capabilities to your Facebook page that make it stand out against your competition!
Have others market for you
Do what? Yes! Seriously! I’m not talking just word-of-mouth. Get engaged and plugged in with local businesses or vendors that are willing to talk you up. Scratch their back and they’ll scratch yours! Keep a list of preferred vendors that you know (i.e. that you trust!) and that have a quality product. Work out a system. I keep a list of preferred vendors on my website to help others find vendors I believe in AND that I know will talk me up in return!
This is especially true for client incentive programs. You don’t necessarily have to invest a lot in your client incentive program – just a small thank you will go a long way to encouraging your clients to spread the word about you.
Buy in bulk
After looking at your entire budget and allocating for what type of marketing you want to use, figure out how much per client you want to spend. This will help when you go to buy in bulk to ensure that your cost of items isn’t cutting into profit. Every time you go to spend, keep in mind what you’re going to use that item for and the PPU (Price per unit).
Don’t forget to use a free application, such as Google Analytics, to give you feedback on how well your marketing is working! This will tell you the time of day people are logging on the most, where they are coming from, what campaigns are working or aren’t working! This information is FREE and so crucial to your biz!
To learn more about how to use Google Analytics, read: Using Google Analytics to track your marketing.