We all know that marketing is a crucial ingredient for success in the competitive world of portrait photography.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, having an effective marketing strategy can make all the difference in standing out from the competition.
But here’s the thing – even the best photographers can stumble and fall into common marketing traps that hinder their growth and success.
That’s why we’re here to help!
In this blog, we’ll dive into 18 marketing mistakes made by photographers and arm you with the knowledge and insights to avoid them.
So, let’s buckle up and get ready to take your marketing game to the next level!
1. Copying your competitor’s marketing
It’s time to differentiate yourself by being one step ahead of your competitors. Rather than copying their marketing campaigns, embrace innovation and come up with fresh ideas that reflect your unique style and vision.
When they zig, you zag!
Dare to experiment with unconventional promos, explore niche market segments or incorporate ideas from other industries to set yourself apart.
Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo and create a marketing approach that represents YOU. Just because it’s the way it’s always been done, doesn’t mean it’s the way you have to do it.
Avoid the trap of imitation and infuse your campaigns with your own personal touch. By doing so, you’ll differentiate yourself from the competition and attract clients who appreciate your individuality.
Unleash your creative spirit, stay informed about industry trends and let your “remarkable” scream the loudest!
2. Not calling leads
In today’s digital age, many photographers fall into the trap and convenience of communicating with clients through email or social media.
Some would prefer to not talk to their clients at all.
Unfortunately this might be an unpopular opinion, but “calling your leads” and ACTUALLY talking to them is an is a crucial part of doing business.
By picking up the phone, you can provide that personal touch that email lacks, allowing you to build genuine rapport and establish a connection.
Phone calls have a higher conversion rate because it allows you to find opportunities to change their perception of the value of photography.
By engaging in meaningful conversations, you can shift their focus from price-based shopping to appreciating the quality of your work and the overall experience you provide.
So break free from the confines of email and embrace the power of calling to create lasting impressions that turn leads into loyal clients.
3. Not following up leads quickly
When following up leads, timing is EVERYTHING.
Did you know that conversion rates drop significantly 15 minutes and 24 hours after a lead makes an inquiry?
That’s why it’s essential to act quickly and follow with potential clients as soon as you can. Particularly if they are the result of paid advertising so you can maximise your return on investment.
Assume that every potential client is shopping around for other photographers. Quite often it will be the first person to call who win the booking.
So, keep that phone close by and make sure you have a system in place to respond promptly to inquiries. Show your commitment to exceptional customer service and prove your level of professionalism.
4. Failing to plan
Struggling to see results from your photography marketing efforts? It’s easy to get caught up in haphazard promotional activities without a clear plan in place.
That’s why creating a comprehensive marketing strategy is crucial for maximising your efforts and staying focused.
By setting both short-term and long-term goals, you’ll have a roadmap for success and a compass for staying organised.
But it’s not just about having a plan.
You need to track your progress, analyse your results and adjust your strategy as needed. Don’t wait until it’s too late to make changes.
Every step you take matters, so make sure your marketing plan is clear, concise, and action-oriented.
5. Not knowing your client intimately
In order to create marketing that cuts through the noise, you need to know your target market like the back of your hand.
Who are they? Where do they hang out? What keeps them up at night? What do they value most?
These aren’t just random questions … they hold the key to crafting marketing messages that truly speak to your audience.
Take the time to develop detailed buyer personas that capture the demographic, psychographic and behavioural traits of your ideal clients.
When you intimately understand who they are, you’ll be able to create messages that resonate deeply, capturing attention and driving conversions.
Time to roll up your sleeves, gather insights and let your marketing message speak their language, loud and clear.
6. Thinking you don’t need to market
Sure, word of mouth and referrals are amazing, but here’s the truth … they can only take you so far.
There comes a point in every business where you need to venture out and actively market to grow and expand your reach.
Even if you’re incredibly talented, you can’t rely solely on your work to speak for itself. You’ve got to embrace marketing as a necessary component of running a successful photography business.
It’s like shining a spotlight on your amazing work and unique offerings, allowing you to capture the attention of a wider audience.
So, don’t hold back!
Get out there, promote your work and watch your business soar to new heights.
7. Not “Selling” WHY they need your offer
Many photographers fail include an “marketing” when promoting an special offer they might have running at any given moment.
Simply putting an offer out there and saying “buy my stuff” won’t be enough to convince potential clients.
Your marketing copy needs to sell more than what is included in the offer – it needs to sell the emotional experience, the memories and the value of capturing those fleeting moments.
You need to make potential clients imagine the joy of gathering their loved ones, the laughter shared and the bonds immortalised in stunning photographs.
And you need to subtle make them feel the pain of what might happen if they don’t capture these memories (eg kids grow so quickly).
Show them that family portraits are a true treasure of a life well lived … not the allure of new gadgets, fancy vacations or material possessions.
Let your marketing messages convey that deep emotional impact and the legacy that your portraits can bring.
8. Not tracking your results
If you’re not tracking every aspect of your campaigns you might be missing out on valuable insights that can help improve results or lower your marketing costs.
By tracking your campaign – for example lead to call rate, lead to booking rate, cost per lead, cost per booking, average sale – you can analyse where it might be falling short and make informed marketing decisions.
You’ll be able to see exactly what’s working and what’s not, and adjust your approach accordingly.
9. Giving up after a campaign fails
We know the feeling all to well … you put your heart and soul into a marketing campaign and it falls flat.
It can be so disheartening.
BUT failure is not the end, it’s just the beginning.
When a campaign doesn’t quite go as planned, it’s a golden opportunity to problem-solve and uncover valuable insights.
Take the time to review what worked and what didn’t. Was it the messaging, the targeting, or the timing?
By analysing your failures, you’ll gain critical data on what hasn’t worked, bringing you one step closer to what will.
So, don’t give up!
Embrace your failed campaigns as stepping stones to success. Learn, adjust and watch how each setback propels you forward.
You may be just one failed campaign away from your best campaign yet!
10. Focusing on digital ONLY
I hate to say it, but photographers have a bad habit of wanting quick wins instead of doing the groundwork that builds a strong foundation over time.
And with the rise of digital marketing, it’s tempting to rely solely on online platforms like Facebook Ads to bring in leads fast.
But what happens if your account is compromised, for example, by hacking?
Putting all your marketing eggs in one basket can be risky business. That’s why it’s crucial to diversify your efforts across multiple channels – both online and offline.
Don’t miss out on the potential of traditional marketing avenues like local events, print advertising or strategic collaborations with businesses.
By building a well-rounded marketing strategy, you’ll ensure that if one channel falls flat, the others will still bring in leads.
11. Not marketing enough
Unpopular truth bomb … simply doing one marketing campaign is not enough to stay ahead of the competition.
If you want to outshine your competitors, cut through the noise and make a lasting impression, you need to go all out!
And it’s not just about shouting the loudest or doing everything bigger and better than everyone else.
It’s about consistency.
Many photographers fall into the trap of only marketing when they desperately need new clients, leading to a never-ending cycle of feast or famine.
To avoid this, develop a regular marketing schedule that keeps your brand in the spotlight all year round.
This way, you’ll maintain a steady flow of inquiries and bookings, while your competitors wonder how you’re always one step ahead.
12. Not having a unique point of difference
Standing out from the crowd is a must in an oversaturated market place.
And let’s be honest, clients are spoilt for choice when it comes to photographers.
Establishing your “unique point of difference” is your secret weapon to create “remarkability” in a sea of sameness.
So how do you find your unique point of difference?
By identifying your strengths, niche or specialised style and showcasing them across your marketing materials.
Maybe you specialise in photographing women in a black and white “no make-up” empowerment shoot.
Or capturing newborns in a unique style that NO ONE else is doing.
OR maybe YOU are the “unique point of difference” and have a unique / quirky / creative personality and view of the world that is so magnetic that clients book you because of YOU.
Whatever it is, let your potential clients know what sets you apart from the rest. Remember, a unique point of difference can be the key to success and turn heads in a saturated market.
13. Shooting the same as everyone else
Ever noticed how the industry has been flooded with look-a-likes in recent times?
With the rise of photography “influencers” teaching specific styles, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing the same work EVERYWHERE.
But … is that truly being remarkable?
By shooting the same as everyone else, you’re making it easy for clients to shop based on price, rather than your unique value.
Don’t be a clone, be yourself!
Embrace a unique perspective, an artistic vision and continuously improve your craft while maintaining your individuality.
Remember, being true to your vision and standing out from the crowd is crucial in an industry where everyone is trying to make their mark.
14. Not posting the content your audience wants on Social Media
Fact: no one wants to be sold to on social media.
We want to be entertained, inspired and engaged.
And with so much advertising flooding our feeds, we’ve learnt to tune out the majority of promotional content.
So, how do we break through the noise?
It’s all about striking a balance. Showcase your amazing work and promote your products/services, but don’t forget to inject some personality and entertainment into the mix.
Share behind-the-scenes stories, provide helpful tips and advice or even post some lighthearted and relatable content.
By connecting with your audience on a personal level, you’ll foster engagement and ensure that your posts don’t get buried by Facebook’s algorithm.
Remember, social media is your playground to showcase not only your work, but also your unique personality.
So, let’s entertain, inspire and keep those potential clients coming back for more!
15. Ignoring your market
One of the biggest mistakes a business can make is ignoring the market.
Think Kodak, Blockbuster, Borders … all business that ignored the market and failed to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape.
So how do you avoid the same mistakes?
LISTEN to your market and recognise when its trying to tell you their wants and needs. Tuning into this might help you make changes to your product offering that increases your profitability.
For example, Photographers have been resistant to selling digitals believing it devalues the industry. And yet, not including digitals is one of the most common objections a photographer faces when booking a client.
Meet the market and remove the objection by offering digital packages. This doesn’t mean they need to be cheap!
Quite the opposite.
Your digitals are the most valuable asset in your business. They are the blueprint of a client’s memory. They are the culmination of your skill, experience, creative vision and ability to elicit human connection to create unforgettable moments.
So price them accordingly.
Are there specific products on your price list the sell the easiest? Sell more of that.
Client’s asking for a specific style? Create more of that.
Is a specific segment of the market or niche drawn to you? Focus your marketing to bring more of them in.
Continually research, evolve and adapt your marketing efforts to keep up with your ever-changing audience.
16. Too shy to self-promote
It’s something many of us struggle with … imposter syndrome.
Know that you are not alone!
It’s common to feel like we’re not good enough or worry about how others perceive our work.
But here’s the thing, we need to embrace self-promotion and be front and centre of our marketing.
Why? Because people crave human connections and they want to connect with the artist behind the lens.
It’s not about being pushy or salesy. It’s about sharing your passion, expertise and unique value with others.
So let go of those doubts, reframe self-promotion in a positive light and showcase who you are and what you offer.
When you confidently put yourself out there, you’ll attract the right clients who appreciate your authentic approach.
Remember, you have something special to offer, so let your creativity and passion shine!
17. Thinking customer service isn’t important
In this increasingly digital world we live in, we’ve been lured into believing our businesses can be put on autopilot with CRMs, email automations, chat bots, etc.
Yes. These tools can absolutely improve productivity.
But they don’t replace good old fashioned customer service.
And while sometime in (not so distant) future, we might be conversing with AI bots like they’re humans … we aren’t there quite yet.
We still crave the human touch.
We also really value and appreciate customer service when we experience it ourselves.
It’s these simple acts of customer service that can truly set you apart.
Taking the time to pick up the phone to call your leads and clients could mean the difference between them choosing YOU over another photographer …
… or spending $2000 instead of $1000.
Building relationships, fostering trust and providing attentive service go a long way in ensuring client satisfaction and referrals.
So don’t underestimate the power of that personal touch. Let’s bring back the human element and deliver exceptional customer service that our clients will rave about.
18. Not asking for referrals & testimonials
If you’re not actively asking for referrals and testimonials from every client, you’re missing a marketing opportunity that costs you NOTHING.
Testimonials from happy clients can boost your credibility and attract new clients.
They help those new client feel confident that choosing YOU as their photographer is a great decision.
It’s like having your own cheerleading squad, working for free, spreading the word about your amazing work.
So don’t be shy!
Ask for those referrals and testimonials.
Levelling up your photography marketing
Avoiding these common marketing mistakes is the secret sauce to boosting your visibility, attracting dream clients and building a thriving photography business.
Effective marketing is all about putting in the work consistently, getting to know your target market on a deep level and always seeking ways to improve.
Now it’s time to put these strategies into action.
Take the tips we’ve discussed in this blog and forge your path to marketing success.