A marketing plan is a critical tool for your business. It gives you a goal to work towards, and when it’s done correctly, it can take the pressure off of your marketing activities. Planning can be time-consuming on the front end, but it will save you a lot of time in the long run and you will be glad you did it. After you’ve completed your plan, all you have to do is set it in motion and follow the schedule.
To understand the importance of a plan, let’s imagine what your marketing strategy looks like without one. Every day, you’re trying to figure out how to get new customers, planning your latest posts, and starting and stopping different campaigns. It’s all a little chaotic, and chances are you spend more time on the marketing side of things than you do running your actual business. It’s not a very effective way to operate.
What kind of issues should you address when working on a marketing plan? Start with the big picture: When are you available to work and when are you planning to take a little time off? What kind of clients are you looking to attract? The better you know your target market, the more clearly you are able to speak to them. Try to draw up a very clear picture of your ideal customer; give them a name, age, occupation, family, interests—whatever you can think of. This will help you hone in on your target audience as you begin your marketing campaign.
Be realistic with your budget, too. Decide whether it would be better to spread it out evenly throughout the year or to plan for the off-season and the busy times. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, you know when most of the weddings in your area take place. Why not save up to market heavily in the weeks leading up to the wedding season?
Next, you should take a look at the various platforms available to you and how they match up with the kind of photographer you want to be. Which social networks are working for you? Where do you feel like you’re wasting your money? Are there some high-profile events coming up that you could associate with that would raise your profile?
You can start right now with an action plan that breaks down your marketing plan by using the following steps and questions:
By approaching your plan methodically, you can focus on your marketing needs and gain confidence that your marketing plan will bring you the exposure you want. Recognize that there are busy seasons and off-seasons. During the off-season, you should scale back on your marketing spending but maintain a strong marketing presence so people can book you early for the next busy season.
Be nice to yourself. After all, being a professional photographer is extremely challenging in this day and age. Everyone with a smartphone and an Instagram account seems to believe they have what it takes to succeed. You need to spend time thinking about how you market your services and develop a plan that will get your work noticed and help you succeed.
Having a plan is one thing; sticking to it is another. But if you can lay down a roadmap for how you’d like to proceed, then you can adjust to the reality of business as you go along and still know that you have a plan that you can go back to when you’re ready.
One of your most useful assets is a robust community of like-minded professionals who can help you succeed. Join PPA today and take your photography practice to the next level.