Engagement St Louis

In marketing your business, it’s easy to think that targeting the largest market possible would yield the best results. In both marketing and SEO, your attempts to reach every possible prospect would be the wrong approach to start off with. Unless you’ve got a money tree in your back yard, you should be starting small, then building out as you have success in the smaller market.

As photographers, most of us want to land destination weddings for the rich and famous. We want to travel the country as a highly sought after artists going from east coast to west coast and coming home only for a little rest between gigs. But how many photographers or other businesses have you known that have followed this path at the beginning of their careers? My guess is not many. That’s because targeting an entire country as potential clients is not an effective marketing strategy.

The first step is to establish a small area to focus your marketing. Great news, unless you’ve got a vacation home, you probably live in one city all year round. So guess where your point of entry should be? You got it – your local city. I made the mistake early on in marketing our photography studio to target the metro area that’s much bigger than our city, but is 30 minutes away. The problem is that I ignored the low hanging fruit of starting with a much less competitive market in our city.

If you start with a target market that is too big as an entry point, you’ll find that your time and money for marketing won’t go as far as the established names, and you probably won’t make it as a business long enough to become one of those names. Putting the same amount of time and money into marketing to a smaller niche will mean fewer people hear about your business, but people will hear it more often. While it doesn’t seem as exciting because the masses won’t have the chance to rush to the phone to call about your amazing business, you’re much more likely to get at least some phone calls from people who’ve heard about your studio more than once.

There are some easy ways to build up your photography studio locally. The quickest way is to list your website on the local services for popular search engines. For smaller cities, you’ll probably find that you’re showing up in local results within a few days. For more crowded markets, you’ll have to work harder to show up, but it’s still doable. Another thing you should be doing to market your business is to attend meetings for chamber of commerce, BNI, and other local networking groups.

After you’ve established yourself in your local area, then you can consider branching out into surrounding areas. After we had established our studio name in our city, THEN our efforts to reach out to the metro area around us have been more successful because we’re already established locally. If we ever get to the point where we’re well established in the metro area, then we can expand out further than that, but I highly doubt that we’ll exhaust business from the metro area.

For you guys who have successful businesses, have you found the principle of starting small to be effective too?

4 Responses to “Go Small Or Go Home – Local Marketing”

  1. Tommy says:

    TJ,

    Great advice. Actually we are scaling down our marketing to cater more to our “micro community” as it’s called. We are in Houston, which is a HUGE market, saturated as well, but we have found greater success the closer we stick to home.

    • TJ says:

      Definitely – build some buzz getting the locals talking to each other, then let them tell their friends in neighboring communities. Even when you venture into a bigger market, it will probably be a good idea to go small by targeting specific venues or vendors who would be good referrers.
      TJ recently posted..Go Small Or Go Home – Local Marketing

  2. I have found over the years that local marketing and word of mouth. I find the best way to do this is simply to shoot as much as you can.

    Facebook really helps here – once you tag your customers in images (which i do for customers buying disks) then there freinds and family get that wod of mouth right away.
    Andy A.S Photography Milton Keynes recently posted..Milton Keynes Doorman Charity Calendar – Raising Money in aid of Willen Hospice

    • TJ says:

      Andy,
      Word of mouth is definitely great for spreading the word locally. I completely agree about Facebook too. I think as long as you’re shooting good stuff, you’ve got something to market, and your customers do their part to spread the word about your studio.