The lifeblood of any service business is its leads pipeline. This means the number of people you have contact with who have indicated an interest in your services. Despite this being the aspect that can make or break a business, the biggest struggle that photography business owners say they have is not getting enough leads.
If asked, a business owner usually describes a lead as someone who has reached out to book their service. However, if you’re waiting for people to reach out to book you, it’s probably already too late. Unless you have a fantastic steady stream of referrals from raving fans, you’re missing out on an entire realm of prospects that you could nurture into leads. This means that you need to reach people before they reach out to you to inquire.
Most of the time, when someone reaches out to ask about your services and has never had contact with your business before, they are just price shopping. Business owners hate this and lament that their ads on Facebook or their SEO aren’t working because all they get are price shoppers. As we already discussed, if your content is created correctly and for your ideal client, you’re already well on your way to dissuading the wrong types of prospects from reaching out to you. If you need advice on your wedding photography, check out our photography packages and services at Wild Romantic Photography.
You can have a killer portfolio, a stellar business strategy, and a ton of talent, but if you don’t have any clients in the pipeline, what’s the point? Rather than lament a lack of clients, picture this: You wake up to an empty calendar, send a quick email over coffee, and–voila!–by the end of the day, you have a calendar full of sessions. How? Because your lead generation game is on point.
The best way to ensure you always have a schedule full of clients is to have a solid lead generation system in place – one that will continually bring in more clients on an ongoing basis.
Wait, What Are Leads?
Leads come in various styles, strategies, and forms, but their premise is simple: a leader is any consumer with solid potential to purchase a product. So a lead for your photography business is someone likely to buy photography services.
That said, leads are pretty damn important when it comes to running a successful business. So how do you get them?
Start by Developing a Strong Lead Generation System
During a recent interview with Joy Vertz, she shared that she never has the problem of an empty calendar. And not because of witchcraft, magic, or even an abundance of referrals. But simply because she has an excellent lead generation system in place.
By shooting one email to her audience, Joy can fill up her calendar with less time and effort than it takes to make a sandwich.
That said, the difference between a flawed lead generation system and a strong one is the difference between an empty calendar and a calendar bursting with client sessions.
“Lead generation system” might sound complicated, but all it refers to is cultivating connections with new clients and creating ways to keep your current clients engaged and invested. That can look like a monthly newsletter, automatically generated emails and a highly interactive social presence.
The goal is to remind your clients that you’re here while providing content that they find interesting and valuable – the operative words being exciting and worthwhile.
You know how annoying it is to receive spammy emails from companies screaming why you should pay attention to them, and maybe you’ve even seen other photographers do that with their clients.
Don’t be that photographer.
Instead, focus on thoughts, ideas, current events, and photography products or services you know your clients will care about.
This isn’t a time to SELL SELL SELL, but rather a time to nudge and engage with thoughtful emails and posts gently. Doing so will make the selling a whole lot easier down the line. As your clients come to trust and respect the content you deliver to them, your relationship with them will become less about you selling to them and more about you providing them with photography services they want and are willing to pay for.
Think of the lead generation process as a friend reaching out to connect with another friend, rather than a company spitting sales game at a client. Your photographs will be your most treasured wedding keepsake. Not sure where to start when it comes to looking for your wedding photographer of choice?
The primary goal of online marketing for photographers is usually to market your services as a photographer. To achieve this goal, you need to have ‘leads’, i.e. potential clients.
‘Leads’ can mean people you meet, but since we’re dealing with online marketing here, leads equals email addresses. The process of getting these email addresses is known as lead generation.
Unless a visitor to your website intends to contact you, they will leave your site and potentially never return. This is why it’s essential to capture the lead, giving you the option to market to the future information.
Having a lead is like having a second chance to convert someone into your client.
The most basic lead generation tool is a ‘lead capture form’ placed on your photography website. This consists of a space (usually a sidebar widget) that asks website visitors to enter their name and email address.
Nurture the Folks Who Are Already on Your Side
Tapping into the pool of clients who have already used your photography services is your best bet when it comes to keeping the leads comin’. Not only is it more expensive to market to new clients, but according to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to an existing client is 60–70%, while the chance of selling to a new lead is only 5-20%.
When you’re feeling super enthusiastic about the future, it’s tempting to look at the void of clients you don’t have versus the ones you already do.
But doing so makes your job a whole lot more complicated than it needs to be.
Your current clients have already invested in your business – by purchasing your photography services, they’re saying they trust you, they’re on your team, and they’ll be loyal unless you give them a reason not to be, so to ignore them would be a huge mistake. And it’s a massive mistake that a lot of businesses make.
Instead of solely setting your sights on a pool of new and unknown clients, make connecting with your current client’s priority number one.
Keep Your Organisation Game Strong
Make keeping up with client organisation a daily priority. The last thing you want to do is invest a ton of time and energy into getting new leads and fostering loyal client relationships, only to have valuable tips fall through the cracks because of a sloppy system.
At the bare minimum, you want to maintain an updated list of all of your leads’ names, email addresses, and phone numbers in one place. Keep it centralised, keep it accessible, and most of all, keep it updated.
Even better? Make an ongoing spreadsheet categorising your people by whether they’re a new or existing client, what photography services they’re interested in or have already utilised, and what you predict their future needs will be.
Sure, it can be a little dull and monotonous to keep this spreadsheet up to date, especially for those creative at heart, but if you make it a daily practice, it’s just a few minutes a day that can convert to thousands of dollars in value.
Make Your Website the Ultimate Lead Grabber
Don’t fall into the hole many photographers do by making your website all about, well, you. Not because you aren’t super awesome, but because clients care a lot more about their needs than they care about you.
A website solely dedicated to highlighting all that makes you exceptional is more than tempting – after all, it is you they’d be buying into. Not really. They’re looking to invest in themselves.
Think of it this way: You decide to visit two different photographers’ websites in a day. One website has a portfolio, credentials, and contact info, while the other is centred around tips, tricks, and strategies a photographer can use to improve their skills or business.
Which one are you compelled to receive more information from? Of course, it’s the one that has valuable information directly about your life and business.
The same is true for your clients. They are most likely to work with a photographer who understands their lives and what is important to them. There’s certainly a place for your credentials on your site, but don’t make it the focus. Instead, focus on value-driven content that your clients can apply to their own lives and businesses.
A what-to-wear guide, the best spots for photography in your local town, and how to take great photos on an iPhone are all examples of value-driven content that’ll engage more clients and keep them coming back for more. Once you have killer content, the next step is to make it super, duper clear and easy for them to sign up for more.
Once they click that sign-up link, the hardest part is over. Now you can add their email to your pool and reach their inbox with that killer lead generation system you’ve just developed. Wild Romantic Photography has the best range of services of wedding photography Yarra Valley. Check them out here.
Curate Your Portfolio – Especially On Instagram!
We talk to successful, experienced photographers every day, and they all tell us the same thing: they’re booking tons of work through Instagram!
How do you ask?
They’re Showing the Right Photos
Your Instagram feed should be thoughtfully curated. The ratio of casual shots to professional imagery should be approximately 1:7.
To get more bookings, DO post these photos on Instagram:
- pictures you’ve made for clients
- professional-quality images you’ve created of your own family or friends
- no more than ONE behind-the-scenes photo per week!
- If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy professional/personal balance, maybe it’s time to create a separate Instagram account for your photos – one your clients won’t see or associate with your brand.
Social media is an ongoing experiment for many marketing photographers. Try something for a couple of weeks, then (if it’s not working for you) change it! Everything from posting times to the types of photos you post will garner extra attention depending on your unique audience and personality. Don’t be afraid to try new things!
Planning your dream wedding and don’t want to miss out on the special moments on your big day? Worry no more, Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
They’re Using the Right Hashtags – In the Right Place!
Your hashtags shouldn’t go in the caption field below your photo. They should go in the first comment after you post your image! Share at least 11 hashtags for the best results. While hashtags like #ILoveMyClients may be cute and fun, they won’t get you anywhere if you’re looking for new business.
They’re Posting (Almost) Every Day
Get more clients by posting a fresh image on Instagram every weekday – and on the weekends, too, if you’re ambitious! One of the best ways to improve your photography marketing is to choose a day each week to pre-select your upcoming week’s Instagram images and schedule them to post automatically.
Don’t worry if some of the photos you share are old. As long as they’re high-quality and representative of your ongoing work, they’ll resonate with your audience! As you get to know which images your viewers love most, post more of THAT.
Check your Instagram Direct Messages DAILY. Instagram ONLY notifies you of DMs from people you’re already following, so you’ll need to check for DMs from new prospective customers manually!
Identify Your Target Market
Finding your niche helps you choose the right photography marketing strategy. Leaning into what you are already passionate about is one of the best photography marketing strategies. It’s much easier to think of the best style, content, equipment, or marketing approach when you know who you’re talking to!
Build a Customer Database
After identifying a target market, photographers can build an organised database to monitor all projects and prospects. To help you get started, you can categorise clients as:
- Potential clients or job leads
- Past customers or shot jobs
- Potential co-marketing or charitable partners
- Vendors and partners
When times are slow, you can go back to the list and see who you can send follow-ups, marketing ads, proposals, or promotions.
Get More Clients Simply By Asking
You know people. You have friends and family, and they have friends and family, and they have friends and family… and so on! You’re connected to these people through social media, your church, your day job, your kids’ school… And you can reach out to them directly and ask them to book you.
Sound scary? Maybe a little. But it’s not as difficult as not having any clients!
Here’s how marketing to them works:
- Offer A Promotion
- Reach out to past clients, potential clients, and your friends and family and tell them:
“It’s a portfolio-building season, and I’m looking to book five fun portrait sessions for October! In exchange for allowing me to select an incredible new location, I’m offering each couple or family 20% off their session! If you (or someone you know) is interested, email me directly to reserve your spot. I can’t wait to create beautiful new photographs with you!”
Direct communication is vital when motivating people to buy!
Of course, you can tweak this offer in any way that will help you get more clients!
- free 8×10 matted print
- bring a friend
- save $500 off any winter wedding package
- free Mobile App
- book a wedding, and get a FREE engagement mini session
Host a Giveaway or Contest
In addition to asking for something, give something to your audience as well! To market your photography business, contests and giveaways are fun ways to attract potential customers and celebrate existing clients. Try running a game on social media to generate new leads and gather new likes–audience building works wonders!
For example, ask people to follow your page, share a specific post, and tag three or more friends. Think of a prize that resonates with your target audience, has relevance to your business, and will urge people to use your services in the future. Looking for a Mornington Peninsula wedding photographer? Look no further! Wild Romantic Photography has you covered.
These offers and discounts will not hurt your bottom line if you’ve priced your services appropriately. Deals such as these are considered part of your photography marketing budget and are an average cost of doing business. Don’t be afraid to provide special promotions to obtain new clients! Just make sure you know your numbers and aren’t losing money on the offers you make!
Boost Online Marketing Presence
Use Social Platforms
Most photographers and clients spend A LOT of time on social media, which can be a budget-friendly way to market. So, why not take advantage of these free marketing tools to boost clientele and bookings? Depending on your style or niche, you can try marketing on the following platforms:
- Tik Tok
Consumers get ideas from Pinterest photography boards you make. If you specialise in event photography, create boards showing your photos of event venues, wedding receptions, or corporate event ideas. Then add a succinct description of your panels, as well as relevant tags, to increase their visibility.
For maximum marketing impact, upload photos at least three times a week. Add creative captions, as well as relevant hashtags and tags. Along with posting, be sure to show up in Instagram Stories! That’s an excellent way to show followers behind-the-scenes clips of you on a photoshoot or even your office where you work.
Take advantage of live video, tagged photos, and posts encouraging followers to interact with your page. Make sure you include relevant details about your photography business, like your email and website, as well as call-to-action buttons to enable followers to contact you quickly.
Even though this is a newish social platform, please don’t wait to get started on it! The target audience on Tik Tok is a bit younger; however, if you’re a senior portrait photographer, utilising this platform could place you in front of your ideal clients. Additionally, you can use it to drive people to your Instagram account if you prefer a social media channel.
Why Leads Aren’t Booking
Reason 1: You’re Attracting the Wrong Prospects
While you may think your business can serve everyone, you’re not a good fit for every single type of customer, and they’re not always a good fit for you. Once you’re clear on who you are meant to serve, take a hard look at all of your current opportunities, telling people who inquired about your services.
When you compare them to your ideal client avatar, were these opportunities a good fit? Why or why not? What differentiated them from your ideal client avatar? What were some of the similarities that they had with that perfect client avatar?
If you see a lot of divergence between how you’re presenting your business online and what your ideal client might look for, you have answered one part of why your leads aren’t booking. It’s also essential to take a long hard look at your business’ online presence. Is it geared towards attracting your ideal client? Does the content on your website answer a demand from your ideal client avatar? Does your social media educate, inspire or connect with that perfect client?
Sometimes it can be challenging to look at our businesses with a clear eye. So take a step back and ask a trusted colleague who they think your ideal client is based on your online presences. Areas, where you’re not connecting with the right kind of people are opportunities, so take note of them.
Also, take some time to visit the websites and social media profiles of your competitors. Based on their content, can you guess who their ideal clients are? What words, images, and subjects are they using to attract that kind of client? Without copying them, look for ideas that might translate into your own business and for your ideal client.
Reason 2: You Have No Lead Pipeline
Larger businesses break their sales pipeline into various stages and lead qualification stages. While you don’t need to go this far, it’s helpful to understand those stages and envision how they might look in our businesses.
There are six different stages. The first is when someone subscribes to your blog. The second is when someone has provided their email address for a contact form. Then the acronyms MQL and SQL stand for Marketing Qualified Lead and Sales Qualified Lead, respectively.
This example shows how if someone still in a research phase downloads a buyer’s guide for a piece of software, they are considered a qualified marketing lead. This means they are currently in the market for the product this company is selling. However, when someone signs up for a software demo, they are a sales qualified lead. It’s only when someone reaches out after the lead moves into the opportunity phase after the demo stage.
Most photography business owners only consider two stages of their pipeline: when someone becomes an opportunity and book as a customer. Without any qualification process, this opportunity might not be the right fit for your business. This is why we get those price shoppers and, sometimes, those nightmare clients.
Having a pipeline for your business culls out the people who are not a good fit for you and your business. It also helps nurture the people who are right for you.
Reason 3: You’re Not Nurturing Leads
According to Salesforce, it takes between seven and 13 marketing and sales touchpoints with someone before they are ready to make a high-ticket purchase. In the early stages of a customer’s journey, they are either building awareness of your product or services or they are beginning to collect information. Most companies don’t consider these stages to make someone a qualified lead because the interaction up until this point isn’t in-depth enough. Either the potential prospect isn’t educated enough about your services, or they are not ready to convert yet.
According to this definition, even someone who is contacting you for a price may not be educated enough to be considered a prospect. This is even though they are closer to deciding on someone who is in the awareness stage. So, what’s a business owner to do?
By now, you know you need a lead pipeline. Now it’s time to talk about how to put that into play using SEO best practices, a solid social media strategy that creates healthy backlinks to your content, and newsletters and email marketing to nurture your leads.
If you’re getting people to sign up for your newsletter but are not engaging with them regularly, you’re not nurturing your leads. And if you’re waiting for someone to reach out and book with you before you’ve invested in the first, you’re not promoting your tips either. So think about how you can begin to develop a relationship with ideal prospects before they’re ready to book – that way, you’ll nurture them to the point where booking with you is a no brainer!
People Love Passion
People are attracted to passion. When you’re photographing scenes and subjects that light a fire in your soul, that excitement spills over into your portfolio, your social media, your website, and your communications with potential clients.
If you’d like to work with professional photographers for your wedding, book with us at Wild Romantic Photography.
As you grow your portfolio and your business into something that excites you, share that joy with your followers and fans! We don’t get more customers by anxiously, aggressively insisting that the universe send work our way. We build our businesses by creating with intention and connecting with purpose.