Ninth in a series.
Finally, in part nine of this series, we get to promotion — which most people think of first when they hear the word “marketing.” There’s a reason we waited this long: it’s best to know what to say, and whom to say it to, before you break out your bullhorn.
Promotion is how you inform, persuade and remind your potential photography clients about your products and services. There are four primary means of promoting your wares: advertising, public relations, sales promotion and personal selling.
Four Kinds of Promotion
Here’s a quick overview of each:
- Advertising. This is paid, non-personal communication through a medium with the hope of informing or persuading members of a particular audience. It can be about your business as a whole, or a particular product or offering. When advertising, your choice of media is important. For instance, newspapers offer a short turnaround time and daily exposure. Magazines deliver a more targeted audience — and have higher production quality, which is important to ads by photographers. Web advertising can be extremely well-targeted — but sometimes so much so that you wonder if anyone has seen your ad at all. When choosing a medium, it is important to consider the cost per contact, frequency of the ad, the reach of the ad, and the selectivity of the exposure.
- Public relations. When you think of public relations, you probably think of sending out press releases or asking a reporter at the local newspaper to write a story about you. Public relations is much broader than that, however; it encompasses all your efforts (other than advertising) to create an image for your brand with your audiences. Teaching a photography class or donating a portrait session to charity are examples of public relations. So is blogging. While public relations activities are inexpensive compared to advertising, they generally take more time and effort.
- Sales promotions. These are short-term incentives designed to motivate prospects to purchase immediately, either by lowering price or adding value. Typical tools for sales promotion are coupons, rebates, premiums, loyalty programs, frequent buyer programs, sampling or free merchandise. For example, a photographer might offer a premium of a 8″x10″ print with the purchase of a sitting, or give away an engagement session in order to book a wedding. It works with channel partners, too; you might give away free photography to a bridal store in return for referrals.
- Personal selling. In some businesses, products can be sold on advertising or sales promotions alone; you see an ad, go to a Web site and — click — make the purchase. That’s not the way it is for photography services. Photographers generally must do some personal selling to earn new clients. That means generating and qualifying leads, approaching prospects and probing their needs, developing or proposing solutions, handling objections, closing the sale and following up.
Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse
You can find endless advice on the Web about each of these promotional techniques. The trick, though, is to not put the cart before the horse in your marketing efforts.
Promotion is only one part of the marketing plan — and it can only succeed if you’ve got the other parts down pat. The most creative advertisement or best-written press release in the world will fall flat if it’s not selling the right product to the right audience.
Next: marketing mix — price