One thing I keep hearing from photographers? “The photography market is saturated.” Yes. Competition is tough and, undoubtedly, the area you live in is filled with other photographers looking for gigs.
That said, competition in our field is a good thing. It breeds excellence. It ensures we continue hone and improve our craft. It is why photography marketing is a thing, and we spend so much time trying to build our respective photography businesses. Still, while it is good for the industry at large, the fact that there are so many different photographers out there makes it difficult for any one of us to stand out. Which is the same for most industries, though, correct? Apart from being featured in a magazine article, or how do you get noticed?
Photography Marketing and Standing Out: Being Thoughtful
I’ve written in the past about regularly checking in with your clients. But there’s more you can do than just sending off a pre-written email. Do something that goes beyond just a basic holiday card sent in December.
A friend of mine shoots a lot of product, including ice cream for a local manufacturer. When she’s done with the photography though, there’s a ton of ice cream left over that is perfectly good—but just can’t be sold. Instead of enjoying it herself, she passes it out to other clients, friends, etc. for them to enjoy. This is a great example of doing something extra for people who can get her more business. They don’t have to recommend her, but they do because they appreciate her thoughtfulness.
I currently have a sponsorship with a local community theatre group. In the past, this included an advertisement in their playbill for each show. But after seeing less than satisfactory results from this traditional advertisement, I talked to the theatre about getting creative.
We took the value of the advertisement and put that towards tickets that I could then hand out to other clients. So far, the clients who I’ve offered this to have absolutely loved the experience. This isn’t a kickback or a consideration for receiving work. It’s called being thoughtful.
People remember those who do thoughtful things for them. At the very least these folks will think of me as going out of my way for them. It might even lead to getting asked to bid the next project.
Standing Out as a Photographer: Get Involved in the Community
Even if you’re not shooting, it’s important to get out on the town and stay involved in your community. This might mean attending and/or exhibiting at networking events. Think about carrying your camera.
People will ask you “What do you do?” Of course, you will answer “I photograph events and corporate portraits.” Then you ask them the same question. A conversation will ensue assuring you both will find common interests or more importantly, finding out that they know someone who needs what you do and can recommend you.
Attend events where your current clients have a good chance of running into you. It’s a great way to freshen a relationship and will help you get back to being top-of-mind with a client. In my case, I photograph a food truck and concert lunch event every few weeks for one of my clients. The event actually takes place every week. I often go to it during my off-weeks as an attendee and enjoy some great food and music. I almost always run into at least one client there. And a few times, I’ve gotten a call from them within a week asking to hire me for a photoshoot.
Photography Marketing: How do you stand out?
These strategies might sound simple, but they truly work! The theme with all of these is communication and consistency. If you get in front of your potential and current clients and do what you do best, work will ultimately follow.
About Bryan Esler
Bryan is a photographer specializing in capturing events, theatre, food/drink and corporate moments. Based in Grand Rapids, MI, he has worked with clients such as CNBC, Michigan State University, ArtPrize, Steelcase, SpartanNash and more. His work has also been featured by Delta Airlines, NBC, Microsoft, LiveStrong and Pure Michigan. Learn more about Bryan via his website: bryanesler.com.
A version of this post first appeared on Photofocus.
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