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So far you've learned the basics of Marketing and figured out how to recognize your target audience. Now, what do you do with this information? You can't just willy-nilly start throwing ads out there or hitting social media without a plan! So, the next step is to get organized and create that plan. Just follow these easy steps, and you'll be ready to start marketing your photography business!

Step 1: Situation Analysis

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It's as simple as, what is your current situation? Where are you and where do you want to be? Start with a SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.


Strengths and Weaknesses are qualities that currently exist within your business. Is your photography great, but your bookkeeping could use work? Do you work really hard, but for too many hours? Are you strong with event photography, but need more practice in the portrait discipline? If you take a little time to reflect on your work, you will know where you excel and where you could use a little help. If you have outside mentors, friends, or even members of your business that you trust and respect, you can ask for their help in identifying some of these areas with you.

Opportunities and Threats are forces that are working outside of your business. Is there an opportunity to expand your market, but there's more competition in those markets? Can you include different types of photography, but maybe you aren't fully educated in that area? Think about what you want to accomplish as a business owner.  What conditions in the market are favorable or will help you reach those goals?  Opportunities are everywhere.  They can be relationships you're building with influencers in your area, a new photographic niche that's becoming popular or even technology advancements.    Finally, identify those outside forces that could hinder you.  Threats could be an economic downturn, discontinued product items and again, changes in technology.

Once you've done that, think about what makes your photography unique. How can you set yourself apart from your competition? Maybe you specialize in print photography. Maybe you're the only high school senior photographer in your area. You know what makes your work special, so just pause and identify what sets you apart from the rest.

Step 2: Describe Your Target Market

Lucky for you, you've probably already created an outline for this. If not, take some time to create your buyer persona. Once you've done that, you can write a short paragraph about your target market. Make sure to detail where (geographically) your audience resides, their age, gender, etc. Make sure to identify their wants and the challenges associated with providing solutions for said wants. Make it clear for yourself, and anyone else that might not be fully invested in your business (for example, a freelance marketing assistant).

Step 3: Identify Your Marketing Goals

When thinking about your marketing goals, remember that they need to fit into your overall business goals. Also, don't forget to create S.M.A.R.T. goals.

So, what are your studio's goals? To increase your bottom dollar? To expand the reach of your business? To tell clients about new products or services? Make a list of your goals, from most important to least important, and attack each goal individually. Make sure you are clear about each goal, so you have a clear path on how to effectively reach it.

Step 4: Decide on the Marketing Strategies You'll Use

Your buyer persona will again help you in this area. Many of these strategies will be based solely off of age. Does your audience relate to Facebook, or are they more Snapchat savvy? Would your target audience pick up a magazine, or would they be more likely to see a sign at the local coffee shop? By knowing the likes and recreation habits of your target audience, you can decide the best and most effective outlets for your message.

The most effective strategies will be multilevel. What do you mean MULTILEVEL?! Multilevel refers to engaging your potential client at every moment of their buying journey. You have probably made a decision about a big purchase before. Did you dive in and buy, let's say, the first car you came across? No, you probably did your research, picked your favorite kind, and then shopped your options. That's exactly what your potential clients are doing.

For example, maybe a potential client does a Google search for photographers in their area. There's your first outreach opportunity. Maybe that potential client then checks out your website, but then leaves to run an errand and forgets about their family portrait. Maybe the next thing they do is surf Facebook. Boom! There's your next opportunity to reach out. Maybe later that night your client goes to the local coffee shop to get a late night mochaccino. Did you remember to hang up a flyer there?

Think about all the paths that your buyer persona might take during their buying journey and plan accordingly.

Step 5: Set a Budget


Piggy.jpgIt's time to set some money aside. If you run the finances, make sure that you are putting the appropriate amount aside to achieve your marketing goals. Also, make sure you aren't setting too much aside in order to protect your profits. If you're a little nervous about creating a budget, the PPA Business Challenge and the Square One tool are great resources to get you on the confident budgeting track.


If you're the creative, and you have a partner or a financial advisor, they may be a huge help in this area. Talk over your plan with that person, and let them know your intent and your ideas on how much you might need for running a marketing campaign.

If you're just starting out, this may mean that you'll need to incur some costs up front. In this case, you should monitor your spending and still try to keep to a budget. If you see that some things are proving to be expensive with not much return on your investment (ROI), that's when you start adjusting your plan. Don't worry about keeping a hard line on the original plan; it should always be flexible and serve your business needs. As our marketing director at PPA always says: "Test, Test, Test!"

Once you've followed these steps you should have a clear outline of your next steps. If you're looking for additional marketing tools, check out the See The Difference© campaign and PRINT. The Movement campaign. If these intrigue you, find out more about becoming a PPA member today!

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Lisa Sharer is the Marketing Campaign Manager at Professional Photographers of America. As a Creative Writing graduate, she loves any chance at getting pen to paper. When she's not being creative in the workplace, she can be found skating with the Atlanta Rollergirls or volunteering with the Weloveatl Project. Or really - snuggling with the dogs.

By Sarah Ackerman

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PhotoVision's latest release has a wide range of photography topics to help you become a better photographer! In addition to the hundreds of videos already available to PPA photographers, we're adding the following in the next few weeks:

Parker Pfister gives a tour of his beautiful studio in downtown Asheville, NC. Parker talks about his progression as a photographer and why he has been focusing on large format imagery. He shows off his antique lenses, including one that is technically radioactive, and tells why he enjoys the look he's able to achieve with the use of these older lenses. Parker talks about his inspirational sources and how taking on a collaborator has enhanced his work after years of going solo.

John Pyle shares his exposure tips for broad daylight when using off camera flash that will ensure balanced lighting between your subject and the sky.  At a sports track photographing a high school senior with a javelin for kinetic sports images or in a quaint downtown area capturing gorgeously lit fall portraits, John explains how to manage your camera settings to enable clear, blur-free imagery when photographing moving subjects.

Melanie Anderson shares her techniques on how to pose newborns in a way that's natural and comfortable for them. Melanie discusses the newborn portion of her business with PhotoVision correspondent, Janine Killian, then takes us inside her studio to photograph two of these sweet new arrivals She talks about why she sometimes prefers photographing two different newborns at once and where she finds some of her specialty items that help ease the process. Melanie demonstrates how to light babies using only natural light and reflectors to achieve a soft and sweet look.

Amy Doerring explains why she loves photographing hands and what inspires her to pick the objects she does.  She then photographs a young girl holding various sentimental items. Most importantly she explains how she markets her hand art photographs and how they can make for great seasonal gifts. Amy is always inspiring photographers to give a personal touch to every image.

As a PPA photographer, you have immediate access to 24/7 streaming of PhotoVision and PPAedu content! Not a member? Join today! Check out the latest from PhotoVision on the newly redesigned website at photovisionvideo.com. Be More Educated!

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Sarah Ackerman manages all things social media for PPA and Imaging USA. When she's not living on the internet, she loves improv comedy, going on wilderness adventures, gallivanting around the globe, knitting, wood working and yoga. 

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This week the third annual Southeastern District Photographic Competition results were announced. The 2013 competition had over 800 entries, with 310 photographs earning a Seal of Approval with a score of 80 or above. The sealed images can then be entered into the 2013 International Photographic Competition to earn a merit and they will automatically be accepted as part of the PPA's prestigious General Collection.

For the photographers who received high enough scores to merit, now is the time to ramp up your marketing and public relation skills! Issue press releases (we have press release templates to make it easier for you!), promote your achievements across your social media channels and add a mention on your website! Go ahead and toot you own horn - you earned it!

As Sandra Pearce, M. Photog. MEI. Cr. of Sandra Pearce Photography says, your customers might not completely comprehend what earning merits means, but they will recognize that your work has been honored by some hard to impress judges. Like most competitors, Pearce has had both successes and what we'll call "opportunities for improvement" with photographic competitions.

"Competing gives photographers those extra credentials," said Pearce. "Clients can read an article about your awards and--though they may not understand what the awards are--it shows that other people think your work is great, too. I believe I've done well in photographic competition because I love what I do. And even if I don't win, it won't ruin my life or make me stop competing. I do it to become better."

If your images did not merit, please don't be discouraged! Remember that shooting for competition is not the same thing as getting a fabulous image that your clients will want ten 30x40 copies of. It's a different kind of beast and learning from this experience is a great opportunity to discover areas that may require some continuing education to meet the inexorable 12 elements! To boost your chances, explore PPAedu for online support, or see if there is a Super Monday class in your area that covers areas that need a little extra attention. Practice does make perfect (or we should say practice makes a merit worth image)!

To continue to perfect your passion, the International Photographic Competition is now accepting entries through June 28, 2013. Why wait to show the world what you're made of?

Photographers who requested critiques from the Southeast District Competition will be notified when they become available. 



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