Is the marketing you do for your photography suffering from an overdose of “normal”?
What do I mean, exactly?
Well, you might think you’re doing all the right things to get your name out there, keep Google happy, or to create engagement on social media, but why is it taking so freakin’ long to get your photography studio off the ground?
I know it’s not for the lack of hard work – like everyone else, you’re probably working 60 hours per week doing all the “right” things and pedaling like crazy just to keep up.
So why isn’t there a line of people stretching halfway round the block, just waiting to get in front of your camera?
What’s more, don’t you sometimes get the feeling that the harder you work on marketing, the more stuff you do, the worse it gets?
Ask me how I know 🙂
Chances are, you’ve gotten a bit too much “normal” and not enough “different” in your marketing recipe, probably from doing too much of what most other photographers assume are the proper ways to do things.
You can easily identify these attacks of “normal” because other photographers look at you with a puzzled expression whenever you question their validity.
Instead of sharing your curiosity, they give a shrug and simply say something like:
It’s just the way we do things in this business. That’s how it’s supposed to work because we’ve always done it that way…
In the previous article, we looked at the big problem around this idea, which affects marketing for so many photographers.
It’s an especially big problem for the inexperienced or those new to the business, and manifests itself as picking up those bad marketing ideas from everyone else because you think it’s what you should be doing, and you honestly don’t know what else to do.
For example, if most other photographers you look at have a fancy slideshow at the top of their home page, then it would be natural to assume you should also have one, right?
Um, no, not at all.
Because blindly copying the slideshow idea itself most likely won’t produce the results you expect; not unless you understand completely what the slideshow is supposed to do for your specific marketing goals. If it fails to achieve the result you want then you should come up with something else instead.
Of course, you won’t know if the goal has been achieved without measuring its actual performance, and tracking those important marketing metrics is something I see many photographers overlook for one reason or another.
But, without those numbers, you’re flying blind.
However, one marketing system you can track and measure is your lead generation…
4 Superpowers Of An Irresistible Photography Lead Magnet
Want more photography clients you LOVE to work with? Attract them with an irresistible lead magnet to keep them engaged in your marketing system...
Success Relies On Generating Valuable Leads
We’ve been talking a lot about this topic lately because drumming up valuable leads for your photography business is the central key to finding more clients. In fact, everything you do to market yourself and your photography is determined by the need to attract more leads.
And, as I mentioned at the end of last week’s piece, one of the most important pieces of the lead generation puzzle is what we call the “lead magnet”.
Because your lead magnet is so critical to the success of your lead generation system, this is what we’ll be talking about today and in a follow-up article next week.
So what are we going to cover today?
First, we’ll look at the problems caused by what we might call the “normal” ways to market a photography business. These are the strategies most photographers follow simply because everyone else does them. Since they are so common and easy to replicate, they’ve become the accepted norm, and no one ever questions their effectiveness or the reasons behind them.
From there, we’ll look at the simple newsletter subscription idea.
While this is definitely a step in the right direction away from “normal”, it more often than not fails to produce any good results. There’s also a rather nasty side-effect of this, which can severely cripple the unsuspecting photographer, so I’ll talk about that too.
Moving closer to the idea of a more serious marketing system, I’ll talk about what I call the superpowers of an effective lead magnet. This is where your marketing starts to produce real results because your lead magnet is a bit like the one special ingredient in a recipe that makes all the difference between an okay dish and a truly outstanding one.
Ready to dive in?
Great! Let’s get started!
The Problems Of “Normal” Photography Marketing
First, I want to talk about the problems we tend to see if we operate in the world we might call “normal” photography marketing.
What do I mean by “normal”?
These are those easy go-to methods used by the vast majority of photographers, especially those who are new to the industry or perhaps inexperienced in running a real business.
For example, someone starting out from scratch might look at what the other photographers in their area are doing and come to the conclusion that all they need to start with is a website, a Facebook page, and possibly a blog.
Not a bad start, and those things are definitely on the list of essentials.
However, big problems arise in the creation and execution of those assets.
For the website, the “normal” way is to have a home page with a slideshow and maybe a paragraph or two of text along the lines of “welcome to my website”, and some links to galleries or portfolio pages. Then there’s usually an “about me” page, a “contact us” page, a pricing page perhaps labeled as “investment”, and a link to a blog.
These types of websites usually make some basic effort with search engine optimization (SEO) with varying degrees of success, but there’s no sign of an obvious path for prospects to follow – what we might call a marketing funnel. Instead, visitors are left to their own devices, wandering around the website haphazardly, until they get distracted by something else and leave.
Moving over to the Facebook page we find a lot of updates about promotions, special offers, mini-sessions, sneak-peeks, random quotes, and photos, but little in the way of real engagement with followers. A few likes and comments here and there, but not much of any real substance.
Checking out the blog, I more often than not find posts heavy on photos, but thin on actual text, and with no clear call to action for readers to take the next step.
Ending up in this situation is understandable up to a point because there’s so little prominent information out there about how to do these things any differently, but if what I just described makes you think to yourself, “hey, that sounds a lot like what I have!” then ask yourself how it’s working out for you.
Are you getting the clients you want to work with, and in the numbers you need?
Do the people who do contact you seem focused on price more than the experience they get from working with you?
Is your phone ringing or your email inbox full of serious inquiries?
My guess is no, they’re not.
Business is quiet for the simple reason that this type of marketing, which so many photographers take for granted as the “right way to do things”, is actually broken.
It may have worked in the 1990’s or early 2000’s when Internet marketing was new and having any website at all was almost enough to get clients just by itself.
But it doesn’t work in today’s overcrowded marketplace.
In the kind of scenario I just described, where a photographer has only the basic components of an online presence, we encounter symptoms such as unpredictable and wildly fluctuating numbers of website visitors with no obvious baseline average we can work to improve.
The search engines might send a few visitors here and there, but it’s nothing like enough to sustain a profitable business. Heck, it’s not even enough to perform any meaningful kind of statistical measurement of individual page performance within the website.
This makes any kind of optimization process extremely difficult, if not impossible.
Because of low volumes of traffic, inquiries from potential clients are few and far between and 99% of the people who do visit the website go on to leave without doing anything, and never come back.
This is where most “normal” marketing will get you, and is the kind of struggle most photographers are facing today.
Not too appealing is it?
Let’s try raising it up a notch to see what happens.
The Simple Newsletter Subscription Model
Faced with the problems caused by a marketing system made up only of the basic components, such as a website, social media profiles, and a blog, a lot of photographers turn to the newsletter subscription model as a way to at least put a name and email address to more of their website visitors.
This is definitely a step in the right direction, and can add prospects to the top of the marketing funnel. However, most people don’t go any further than just setting up an email list and then adding a “subscribe to my newsletter” form to their website.
This is clearly better than doing nothing at all, and helplessly watching your leads leak away.
But the problem of doing it this way is it totally sucks with respect to conversion.
Just to be clear, what we’re talking about here is an extremely simple form with a headline that says “subscribe to my newsletter”. There are usually some fields asking for the person’s name and email address, and then a button labeled “submit”.
While this is a good attempt at collecting email subscribers, people are a lot more discerning these days and they know that the word “newsletter” is actually code for “let me send you regular sales and offers”.
Besides, no one is particularly interested in any actual news from your photography studio, and a typical newsletter isn’t something they’re going to look forward to unless they’re only ever going to hire you when you’re having a special offer or giving them a discount, in which case they’ll have their radar tuned mainly for those.
The word “submit” on the form button is also a big turn-off, and we’ll be talking in detail about what you can use instead in the forthcoming lead magnet workshop.
However, the biggest problem has to do with trust.
Personal information, such as our email address, isn’t something we just want to hand out at random, so people are reluctant to part with that information unless there’s something appealing in it for them and they have a certain amount of trust in the person or website they’re giving it to.
In the case of a simple email newsletter subscription form, there’s nothing offered in return other than a vague promise of a newsletter sent out at some indeterminate or infrequent interval. The prospect usually doesn’t even have any idea of what the newsletter will look like or what the content will be.
For these reasons, the conversion rate of these kinds of forms is usually very low and photographers using this type of system rarely have more than 100 subscribers, and it can take quite some time to get even that many.
This can lead to a bad situation where the photographer loses all faith in the effectiveness of email marketing, leaving them convinced that it doesn’t work, and quite likely confirming any incorrect suspicions they might have had about it before they started.
But email marketing actually does work and the primary ingredient you need if you want to take the simple newsletter subscription model to the next level is a good lead magnet. Not only will it appeal to people, it also comes with a great set of superpowers.
The Superpowers Of A Lead Magnet
Just in case you’re not 100% sure what a lead magnet is, it’s pretty simple.
Usually a PDF, eBook, or short guide of some kind, the lead magnet is intended to be irresistible to your ideal target client. Many marketers call it an ethical bribe, or a free giveaway, but the basic idea is it attracts the people you want to serve and entices them to sign up to your email list in order to get the giveaway.
There’s nothing too complicated about it, and you can think of it as a bit like fishing.
Expert fishermen know you can’t just throw a bare hook into the water, and expect to catch anything. Actually, I once knew a fisherman who would do just that because it got him out of the house and he preferred sitting on the riverbank in peace and quiet instead of actually catching fish! But anyway, real fishermen obviously need some kind of bait, and they know exactly the type of bait to use to catch certain fish.
Your lead magnet is just the same as the fisherman’s bait.
But, unlike a wriggling worm, a piece of squid, or an artificial fly, your lead magnet has at least four superpowers you should be aware of.
Here they are…
Superpower #1: Boost Your Conversion Rate
It improves the conversion rate of your email sign-up form, and gets more people onto your email list as a result, because the prospect now has a clear and tempting reason to do so.
The lead magnet appeals to their curiosity or need to learn something new, so they’re happy to give you an email address in exchange for it.
Superpower #2: Makes Your Prospects Smarter
A lead magnet helps to inform, educate, or entertain your prospects in ways that make them feel more engaged with you and your photography.
Because your lead magnet can also help them overcome potential objections or stumbling blocks in the process of hiring a photographer, you can help smooth the way forward for them. If you specialize in photography with a high level of emotional context (for example, weddings, portraits, or fine art), using your lead magnet to communicate the stories around your photography makes them feel like they know and understand you better.
Or, you can use the lead magnet to help them become aware of questions they never realized they needed to ask, or important points they should consider, which can increase their sense of urgency to move forward.
Superpower #3: Turns Your Prospects Into Winners
The lead magnet can give your potential clients a “quick win” or ammunition to help persuade others about the importance of hiring a professional photographer.
For example, most moms harbor a desire to have their children photographed or family portraits created, but communicating the compelling reasons to their spouse can often be a challenge. The lead magnet can help with those things.
Superpower #4: Inspires People To Take Action
An effective lead magnet doesn’t stop there, it actually moves your prospects closer to becoming a client by spurring them into action to take the next step toward working with you.
Such a step might be to call you on the phone to chat about the kinds of photography they’re looking for.
Of course, having a lead magnet with all these superpowers to turbo-charge your marketing is great, and it’s a lot more effective than the methods we see most often, but it’s of little use to anyone if it’s not tuned to the right audience.
In the next installment I’ll clue you in on who it is you should be aiming your lead magnet at, and how to craft content that makes the biggest impact on those people.
I’ll then show you where the lead magnet fits into your overall marketing system and why things should be set up in a certain way to help you best track and measure its performance. Doing so allows you to identify areas you can optimize even further to improve and maximize the results.
We’ll also look at some of the big questions I get so often on this topic, such as what should the lead magnet look like, and how do you actually get it into the hands of your subscribers, so stay tuned.