Marketing Is Not A Random Process
One of the biggest mistakes I see photographers making with their marketing is doing things haphazardly because they don’t have a clear picture of the marketing landscape in which they operate.
One day SEO (search engine optimization) is king, the next it’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Then it’s the blog, or whatever system grabs their attention at the time.
On Friday afternoon, they suddenly realize the bank account is getting low, panic, and then slave all weekend to come up with a marketing campaign by Monday, which usually fails to perform.
It’s almost as though they treat online marketing like a random journey through a chaotic world made up from a loose collection of distantly separated marketing opportunities.
For example, when I see a question like, “how do people get clients from Facebook?” it shows a fundamental gap in the understanding of where Facebook sits in the grand scheme of things, because Facebook (and any other social network for that matter) can’t be treated as a standalone marketing vehicle.
The same is true for SEO.
Yes, it’s useful to have people find you from the search engines, but it’s all for nothing if the website they land on isn’t optimized to convert those visitors into leads or sales.
The truth is, there are many ways to market your photography, and a lot of tools at your disposal to make them work, but it’s important to realize that they are all connected and reliant upon each other.
For example, you wouldn’t jump in the car to go visit your relatives scattered across the country without first planning the most efficient route, would you?
Of course not. Driving from Washington to San Francisco to see one person, then heading over to Boston to see someone else, before dragging yourself back over to Los Angeles and then home to New York just wouldn’t make sense, unless you love driving or have shares in an oil company.
Anyone remotely familiar with the layout of the United States would instinctively know they need an organized itinerary because they have an internal high-level map of the country fixed in their head.
Online Marketing Needs A Map Too
To overcome this commonly-fractured view of online marketing and gain a clearer understanding of the landscape you’re working with, it helps to map out your online presence.
But no two photography businesses are exactly alike so there isn’t one map to suit everyone.
Unlike the United States, the map varies slightly for each photographer, depending upon who you serve, your position in the marketplace, and your chosen specialties.
Creating a marketing map for your business shows you where all the pieces of the system are, how they connect and interact, and gives you a bird’s-eye view of your online marketing system.
And, as with all things in business and marketing, it pays to keep it simple.
You don’t need a detailed map for this, just something to help you see where everything fits together.
Start With Your Website
The place to start is your website, since it’s the center of your online marketing universe.
Just about every sale or booking you make online comes from your website, so this is the place to which all roads lead.
Alongside the website is your blog because it’s usually built on the same platform, and you get the best results when the two work together to turn visitors into leads or sales.
Radiating out from the center are your incoming channels:
- Social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc.).
- Video channels (YouTube and Vimeo).
- Email marketing system (newsletters, offers, autoresponders).
- Advertising systems (Facebook ads, Google AdWords).
- Guest posts on other blogs.
- Syndicated posts (content you republish on other sites, such as on LinkedIn Pulse).
- Search engines.
As you can see, it resembles a wheel, with your website and blog in the center, but the spokes all point inwards to represent the flow of traffic.
This is the essence of what marketers call inbound marketing.
While an inbound strategy is a long-term play because it takes time to get it moving, it’s more effective in the long run than the old broadcast-style outbound system where you’re constantly pushing your marketing message out to your channels in the hope of someone taking notice.
Outbound marketing still exists, of course, and we’re subjected to it every day in the form of interruption marketing such as TV ads, unwanted mail, radio ads and the like, but you need to do a lot of it to get enough attention.
This next point is important:
All your marketing activity should flow in the direction of your website or blog. Once there, eliminate (or minimize as much as possible) anything that might send people away from your website (against the flow)…
Plastering your website with links to your social media profiles is an example of going against the flow. The purpose of social media is to build relationships and nudge people (in a natural way) toward your website, so why expend effort to send them back to social media when you already have them where you want them?
Although it might feel like it goes against the grain, I recommend you remove social network links (not sharing buttons, just links to your profiles) from most of your website and blog pages, and to have them only on relevant pages such as the about page or contact page where they make a little more sense given the context.
Grab a piece of paper and a pencil (or draw this in Photoshop if you prefer), and sketch out a high-level view of your marketing channels, as they apply to your business.
There’s no need to use every possible channel under the sun, just those you know will bring you interested and engaged prospects. For example, choose the top 3 social networks where you know your audience are active, and use those for your primary social interactions.
You can also check out the strategies outlined in my free photography website traffic builder course.