Not many years ago, photographers could count on word-of-mouth to get a steady stream of clients. More recently, however, the growth of professionals in this field have made it more difficult for photographers to differentiate and stand out, and the pursuit of new business is grueling.
Facebook Marketing for Photographers: How to Find New Customers
Both professional photographers and amateur photographers are now more aggressively using marketing tools, for example, local newspapers and local magazines, mailers, flyers. But as competition intensifies, many photographers, especially smaller practices, are discovering the limits of conventional marketing. As a result, both, brick-and-mortar businesses, as well as sole owners are experimenting with new media: coupon sites like Groupon, review sites like Yelp, and the more tech-savvy ones are beginning to test Google Adwords and social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
As digital media becomes more popular, photographers are discovering the greater value in social media marketing as opposed to traditional media. Furthermore, many are starting to investigate how to use Facebook and Instagram to advertise their business.
In this article, we’ll review the most common marketing challenges that professional photographers face more often and how the use of Facebook and Instagram can overcome these difficulties and more importantly, how social media can help sole proprietors compete with larger, more established photography businesses.
In our agency, we speak with many professional service individuals and these are the concerns we hear more often in regards to acquiring new customers:
1. Buyer uncertainty
2. Perception of experience
3. Limited differentiability
4. Immeasurable benefits of advertising
5. Allocating time for marketing
6. Cost of marketing
The goal of this post is not only to help people understand how Facebook and Instagram can help alleviate these challenges in a cost-effective and practical way.
1. Buyer Uncertainty
Professional services require people who purchase to place great faith on those providers of the service. Unlike other professional services like lawyer services or accountant services, photography has an actual visual deliverable that people can relate to and evaluate before making a purchase decision.
One of the basic principles of photography advertising is showing past work to potential clients. When photographers do not include their work either on the website or ads, it is the equivalent of a restaurant not showing pictures of the food on their website or ads. For a buyer, it becomes much more meaningful to see as many examples of past work as possible.
A photographer’s website should include different pages that focus on a particular service each: Wedding Photography, Winter Family Portraits, Newborn Photography, Headshots, etc. Each page should depict past work in that relevant area.
Once the website includes all services, with a page devoted to each, then advertising should follow suit. Facebook and Instagram are perfect platforms to advertise photography because you can target people very directly. For example, imagine being able to show your maternity/newborn portfolio to pregnant women! With Facebook and Instagram, you can hone into very specific desires of your target market. For example, advertise wedding pictures to engaged couples, newborn pictures to pregnant women, graduation pictures to parents of 18 and 22-year old’s about to graduate, etc.).
Not only can you target very specifically, but with carousel ads, you can show several pictures of your work to increase the chances of a click-through to your site.
When you present your services in such form, then you’re guiding people to make the decision of why they need a photography session.
On your website, information should include:
• Why people should hire professional photographers rather than taking pictures themselves
• Which attributes to consider in evaluating different photographers (highlighting what you have to offer)
• What they should expect when they hire you
2. The Perception of Experience
Because buyers of professional services are many times not sure about how to choose a service provider, they tend to focus on the question of experience. People feel more comfortable hiring others that “have done it before.” Here again, is where the specific ads to the specific segments on Facebook and Instagram come in extremely handy. By showing 5 or 6 images of wedding photography to an engaged couple, you prequalify yourself even before someone hits your site. Moreover, Facebook and Instagram, being social platforms, include a “social-proof” element that naturally serves as a confidence builder.
3. Limited Differentiability
With the increase in market penetration of high-quality cameras and image editing software like Photoshop, more and more entrepreneurs are entering the field of photography. Hence differentiation is harder to achieve. When using Facebook and Instagram in advertising, professional photographers can emphasize geographic location, giving a more personal feel to their ads. Value propositions such as On-time completion of deliverables and use of state-of-the-art equipment, and easy-to-work-with photographer, should be emphasized on both ads and website.
With Messaging turned on, photographers should be able to respond instantly to people that might have questions even before they click on through the website.
Facebook and Instagram have made it easy to be closer to the consumer than ever before, and those who take advantage of this will differentiate, even from their largest more established competitors.
4. Immeasurable Benefits of Advertising
“They found me through word-of-mouth,” everyone says. The truth is, when we’ve tested it through call tracking software, we’ve found that most people that declared they found a business through word-of-mouth, they had in fact dialed a pay-per-click number. We’re not saying that word-of-mouth does not exist, we’re just highlighting the importance of measuring and tracking in advertising. In the old days, marketing was not measurable – you’d put an ad on the paper and hope that some of the business that came through the door came from that ad, but you didn’t know. Digital marketing has changed that. When you advertise on Facebook and Instagram (as well as most of the other digital platforms out there), you can track visits, and cost. For those more sophisticated, you can track calls, form submissions, and trace those to each media. Furthermore, web analytics can show you what pages people are visiting, how long they’re there for and where you lose them. The more you know, the better you’ll be at reaching your target market at the lowest cost possible.
Many people object, and say “numbers are not my thing” and all we say is you’re missing out on the value of good information. Regardless, even the basic tracking should be done and does not take much effort or money, if anything. Tracking is possible, therefore measuring the results of your campaigns is too – which leads to our next challenge.
5. Allocating Time for Marketing
Determining the amount of time you should spend on marketing and advertising is challenging. Each company will have different constraints both in time and money. But one thing is true – without marketing and advertising growth will be slow for larger companies, and survival tenuous for the “solo-preneur.”
In years past, the cost of publicity was high for starting a business. Still today, traditional marketing has a lot of waste. Coupon books, for example, are a preferred method of advertising for professional service companies, yet the geographic reach of these mediums is often too broad. Also, the “target” typically includes very minimal segmentation such as income and home ownership. Digital media reduces waste, therefore can be less costly and more efficient. Facebook and Instagram allow you to advertise with whatever budget you have and with no time commitment, making these platforms a great option for people who need to manage their costs carefully.
For photographers, the most logical way to approach advertising in this new digital era is to identify precise target audiences on Facebook and Instagram. Monitoring of the results of this approach – by tracking cost per impression, cost per lead, click through rate, visits, time on site, and conversions (calls, form submissions, or messages) – should allow you to fine-tune the advertising strategy.
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