I was huffing and puffing down the road, willing one foot in front of the other. I just wanted to get this run over with. You know, running. They say it’s fun and all that stuff. Some days it might be, most days (for me) it isn’t. It is a means to an end. But that’s a discussion for another day.
I was slugging down my street with the low hum of a riding mower coming around the side of a house. If I didn’t know the sound, I would have wondered what the heck was happening. A huge cloud of dust and particles were whipping around like a small tornado. Knowing that I no longer live in Texas, this surely couldn’t be one.
Nope, it was just my neighbor mowing a dead lawn.
Yes. He was working hard, putting in the effort, and had the right machinery, but dry and broken grass blades were just kicked up with dust.
About this time, in true Rachel fashion, I was slugging my way past his house. I thought to myself, “Surely, he is aware of all this dust and he sees me. He won’t fill my gaping mouth with this mess.” But alas, he did. He was so concerned about making sure he fulfilled his mission of cutting the grass that he was completely unaware of his surroundings, and ultimately, the failure of his plan.
Now, had he been the next neighbor over with the lush and beautiful green lawn, the cut pieces would’ve just settled right down into the grass. To be absorbed and not showing a great display of unwelcoming pieces of vegetation.
In my fit of coughing to get the dust out of my lungs, I thought that marketing is much like this man.
Cut as he might. Work as he might. He wasn’t going to have the lawn he wanted. He failed to provide the correct cultivation strategy. He was throwing machinery and activity at it but resulted in no success.
Many of you have done the right things.
You’ve figured out the equipment you need, the style you have, got your logo in order and have even settled on the pricing you need to sell your products and services. He was mowing merely as a feeble attempt to preserve what little remained and to avoid any ordinance fines that may come along. But you’re doing nothing but kicking up dust, and particles, and suffocating the unsuspecting individuals watching. Those individuals who are crossing to the other side of the street to avoid your mess. Who, now, will always avoid that side of the street for fear of getting caught up in another mess.
So let me ask you?
How many potential clients have you driven away? Ones that ARE your target client, but you unknowingly pushed them aside when kicking up dust and particles, when attempting to just cut the lawn?
How many repeat clients haven’t achieved repeat status due to lack of follow-up? (Hint: marketing doesn’t end when they get in your door).
How many individuals have you missed as clients because you weren’t in the proper path?
How many business affiliations have you unknowingly deterred because you’re so focused on keeping the mower on your own lawn you didn’t look around to see who else was nearby?
These are real-life examples that I see every single day when photographers are struggling with marketing.
It is time to end this madness.
Marketing is not that hard.
In fact, I want to show you the process to it now. I have used this with every single one of my businesses and the countless photographers I’ve coached through their rough patches. You can do this whether you’re new in business, or have been in the industry for decades.
Get to know the basics that are right for YOUR business.
These basics range from drilling down, whether for the first time, or doing it again, to who your client truly is, where they are, what times they are online to how to market correctly, legally, and the most effectively to them.
It is not as simple as thinking “I will do X marketing” and then go out and do it. It might work, or it might not. Hint: Mowing a dead lawn never works. But if you want to keep at it, make sure you do it right the first time.
Imagine if you knew that your target client is a working mom, between the ages of 30 and 40 with multiple school-aged children. How would your marketing plan change?
Immensely. You would be able to figure out the time of day they are online, which shops they frequent, the social proof needed to help build up their buyer confidence, as well as simply what buzzwords would attract them.
There is a great danger in the photography industry that many photographers fall into when marketing. They do what everyone else is doing, NOT what their client would be attracted to.
I may love what Photographer X is doing, but that doesn’t mean MY clients will.
So we need to put the blinders on and focus on YOUR photography business.
Learn from other’s mistakes.
I know, I know. I just told you to quit looking at other photographers. What I mean is – quit looking and slapping their mowing actions onto your lawn. Because that is what the mower dude probably thought right? He had the right equipment and willpower, so he went out do it. But he didn’t lay the foundation of his lawn like this neighbor had. So the actions meant nothing; they just kicked up dust. So quit just looking at what they are doing and doing it yourself.
Start learning from their mistakes.
Of course, these photographers are probably not going to share their mistakes, right? Well, I want to help share some of mine, as well as some that I see many of you frequently do.
So let us focus on ourselves, look to mistakes being made around us, then come back and implement our plan with this new perspective.
Implementation sounds so common sense, huh? But so many of you are guilty of seeing, planning, then falling back on actions that don’t work.
I can envision mower man sitting at his kitchen table, sipping coffee and watching green-lawn-neighbor mow his lawn. Dead-lawn-man was probably taking note of the actions that the green-lawn-neighbor made, but didn’t do anything about it in his own lawn. He just went out with his mower and hoped for the best.
That is not implementing. That is wasting your time. Falling back on the bad plan and never getting anywhere. Just kicking up dust.
Then it is time for us to look at our mistakes. One of the best ways to identify mistakes is to do a good, strong, and honest evaluation of our business. I like to pull out my spreadsheets filled with goals, money numbers, inquiry numbers, converted client numbers, and sales numbers. I can methodically pair these up with my marketing actions to see if there is a correlation while I examine the analytics in hand, as well as thinking of external influences in the marketplace.
This is the hardest part. The strategy part isn’t. It is the “getting honest with yourself and changing what you’ve been doing. Revision is a necessity. Brown-lawn-man needs some revision in his process, don’t you think?
This process never ends. Sorry, friends. Time to start it again!