Fix Your Marketing Mix; The ABCs Of Growing Your Business

Your "marketing mix" is your plan for the variety of ways to keep your name and your work in front of prospective clients, and to help grow your business. Most photographers will do an ad, promo piece, or mailing now and then. These contacts are good but you need all these marketing tools in a "mix" that will tie them together to get the best results. Because it takes 6-16 of these "contacts" before a targeted client even recognizes your photography, your job is to create a plan for diverse ways to reach them. This marketing mix should use a variety of tools, including logos, advertising, web presence, direct mail, public relations, and a sales campaign, and should be designed for repetition to create recognition to build response.

Your Logo
Start with a powerful logo. It differentiates you and your photography business from the flood of marketing materials clients receive. Given the great number of photographers to choose from, this identity and positioning in the marketplace will help clients remember to hire you, and not your competition. The logo must be consistent throughout all printed and electronic promotions. Been in business a long time with the same logo? Maybe it is time for a logo upgrade. It is a true challenge for a graphic designer to maintain the identifiable value from your current logo and bring the design up-to-date.

Your Web Presence
Websites are the newest ingredient in your marketing mix. Think of your website as a showroom where clients can visit and be enticed to stay and "shop." Your website design should be easy to navigate, offer interesting information on projects and clearly labeled ways to contact you for more information. Add your URL to everything printed, including estimates, invoices, business cards, letterhead, shipping labels, envelopes, notecards, proofs, prints, CD covers, and all promo pieces.

An Ad Campaign
Advertising is just one tool in your marketing mix, most useful when you need to reach very large groups of clients. Buying ad space is how you broadcast your marketing message. Using print ads, you expose thousands of people to your marketing message. Using a web page, the reach is broader in geography and larger in potential visitors to your site. Your print ads must refer clients to your web page and your web page must refer clients to your print ads. Plan this cross-referencing in your marketing mix; don't waste any chance to build repetition and create recognition with potential clients. Remember, clients are looking at advertising because they are looking for someone new. Your advertising objective is to show clients the strong visual impact of your photography and then ask them to respond. Add people from your ad responses to your direct mail list.

Direct Mail
Direct marketing by mail and by e-mail are additional tools. Today's direct mail lists are so well researched and targeted that you can buy the names and addresses (street or e-mail) of highly qualified, prospective clients. It is more targeted than advertising but does not have the broadcasting effect of ads or the web. Production values have increased considerably as clients become more visually sophisticated. The simple image/name post card design simply does not work hard enough to justify the time and money for direct mail. You will want "selling" copy added to your images as part of the overall design. Don't forget about the strong visual impression you must make. To further push the mix, always include your URL on your mailer to send clients to your website and invite clients visiting your website to be added to your mailing list.

Getting Publicity
Your marketing mix should include a public relations campaign. Start by updating your media list (or creating one if you do not have it). Don't forget to include the online media; often, contacts for sending press releases are different for print and the web. Even though it reaches a broad audience like your advertising, publicity is very different because you can't buy it like an ad. It is another essential tool in your marketing mix because it adds credibility to your business--something unavailable from your ads and mailers.