When you're wrapped up in the day-to-day of your photography business, it's sometimes difficult to find creative ways to attract more clients. Sometimes the solution is so simple, it's right in front of our nose. Here are three offline client attraction strategies I've seen successful photographers use that made me wonder "Why didn't I think of that?"
Go Where Your Ideal Client Is
I'm sure you've heard the whole "ideal client" talk enough to want to pull your hair out, but it really does work!
Case Study 1 - Knowing Who They Are
One of my photography clients does a lot of civil unions for same sex couples. So she decided to put up a table at a recent gay and lesbian fair with free giveaways that would lure them over and get her portfolio in front of them. Simply brilliant!
Investigate what type of couples tend to be drawn to you and use that to brainstorm ideas for where and how to reach them.
- Are they idealists who volunteer a lot of their time?
- Are they nature lovers who join hiking clubs and climbing groups?
- Are they foodies that obsess over finding the best family owned, local grub?
- Are they obsessed with trying every craft beer around town?
- Do they treat their pets like kids and spend all day at the park every weekend?
Your ideal client's hobbies, interests and favorite activities will reveal a lot about where you can find them in real life.
Case Study 2 - Understanding Their Behaviors
When I had my bridal jewelry business, I knew that many of my customers were environmentally and socially conscious because my pieces were made with eco-friendly and recycled materials, which appealed to them. So when I was asked to speak at a local town hall on the topic of recycling, I jumped at the chance.
I knew that my ideal clients were the type of people to show up to a town hall meeting; especially when it was on a green topic. They were activists who cared about the environment and their community.
I brought a sampling of my best work to display next to me as I presented and made sure to have plenty of business cards there as well.
It might be a charitable cause that brings your ideal clients (and their families) together. It could be a neighborhood festival, citywide marathon, sporting event or even farmer's market that draws your perfect prospects in. The better you know your best client's personality and interests, the easier it will be for you to identify where they might hang out.
Turn Local Events into Photo Ops
When you do spot a chance to connect with your audience offline, it's not always at a wedding-related event. These folks won't necessarily be actively looking for a photographer in that moment. It doesn't mean they won't need one soon or even know someone else getting married; it just means they aren't hunting for one in that environment.
That's why you need to have a strategy for capturing attention and showcasing your work; otherwise, attendees may be too engrossed in the main attraction to notice you.
As a photographer, one of the easiest ways to stand out at a local event is to utilize your talents and create fun photo ops for the attendees.
For example, let's say that your ideal clients love spending time on the beach and outdoors so you decide to sponsor or exhibit at a surfing event to expose the locals to your wedding and event photography services.
You could set up a mini photo tent where attendees come to get a free, cold lemonade and a photo with their friends and family next to an artistic surfboard. After the event, they'll get their photo link emailed to them. It's an easy way to collect email addresses, and with their specific permission of course, stay in touch.
Turn Natural Photo Ops into Lead Lists
Some local events are natural photo ops. Think fall festivals with pumpkin patches and corn mazes, Fourth of July parades and downtown winter holiday celebrations. These happenings don't just attract families with kids; they are favorites of engaged couples too.
These are the types of events that people want a nice memory of, which gives you a prime opportunity to give it to them.
Whether you're roaming the event on foot with your camera and an assistant (to record names and contact details) or taking portraits in front of a holiday-inspired scene, the potential is there. A single day or full weekend of shooting portraits either for free or for an affordable flat rate could result in hundreds and even thousands of new leads.
Lean On Peers
Your peers don't have to be your competitors if you choose not to look at it that way. Jasmine Star, a photographer who's become Internet famous in her field, reveals how partnering up with other local photographers grew her business faster than she ever thought possible. They swapped leads and gave each other overflow work when booked up for that date.
Give Your Work Away as Art
Give your photography away as wall art to local wedding boutiques, salons, spas and any other brick-and-mortar location you can think of that might come across your ideal client.
I found a local family photographer this way. She gave a whole set of her lifestyle photography on canvas print to my chiropractor, who posted it all around her facility. I fell in love with her style right away and had to find out who was behind the lens.
Here are a few tips on making this one work for you:
- Make sure the shop or office agrees to carry a stack of your business cards or postcards. My chiropractor actually placed the photographer's business cards and postcards on tables right in the waiting area next to reading materials.
- It's a lot easier to get shop owners and office managers to agree to this if they have empty wall space or decor that isn't as eye-catching, so watch for that.
- Don't make your partners work for it. The photography should come finished and ready to display. Choose a presentation that fits with the style of their location. If their decor is more modern and minimal, go with a simple print-to-canvas style. If there is a luxurious feel to their space, choose ornate gold frames.
- If you can find a classy way to place your contact information at the bottom of the print and get the store owner to agree to it, this increases your chances of getting a call.