Photography Marketing Is Much Like Holiday Traffic
Holiday traffic is a bummer. Especially when you live in large metro areas with lots of cars. Living on the 95 corridor is an experience – to say the least. You have to gauge even your trip the mall based on rush hour traffic, but when holiday/summer traffic comes along – watch out. You may as well just stay home.
Well, I didn’t listen to this advice.
I decided to get myself out in it because I “had to have” this marinade for steak. Had to – and no replication or substitution was going to do. I was solely focused on this one. And I had failed to plan ahead.
So off I went. Going there was easy. I drove along with windows down, sang along to music, and completely blind to the crawling traffic in the other direction. Got my marinade. (Geez, what a thrilling life I lead! Ha!) Headed home.
On the way home. Dead stopped traffic.
I settled in, knowing it was going to probably be an hour drive as opposed to the standard twenty minutes. Didn’t bother me. I put myself here, and nothing I could do about.
I sat and watched many swerving in and out of lanes, believing they have this strategy to get ahead of the gridlock. They end up expending lots of time, energy, and stress (along with a higher potential for an accident) but don’t end up farther along on their journey. In fact, this one maroon car was causing such road rage in himself and backing up traffic because he was SURE he was going to beat us all – guess what happened? I ended up way far ahead of him.
Because I stayed in my lane.
I strategically chose one lane because I’m a local and the travelers passing through didn’t know that when the road slightly curved ahead, everyone slammed on breaks. Even more than the existing gridlock was already causing. I had strategically entered this lane knowing the traffic patterns and driver reactions.
Further, I didn’t get distracted by the other cars around me, or try to strategically cut people off. I was strategic in keeping my windows down, the music on, and my focus on the stop and go in front of me.
And because of this, I got further ahead. Less stress. Less gas spent. More Taylor Swift lyrics were being sung at high off-key volume.
So how does this relate to business?
I am now primarily a referral-based business (meaning I only take clients that are referred – and I have so many I end up referring out)– with minimal investment in paid advertisement. The exact same strategies for a low-stress drive home mirror what I’ve done in my businesses (yes plural, different industries – they all work). Let’s break down my driving example and connect it to some marketing actions that help me to stay on cruise-control with marketing (see what I did there?)
Choosing a lane
Choosing a lane is probably one of the most foundational and critical aspects of marketing a business. By knowing who my ideal client avatar is (how they act, respond, preferences, desires, fears, etc)., I know specifically how to act. I know which lane to choose to get in their path. SOOOO (yes capitalized with lots of O’s) many business owners, especially photographers, are like the maroon car guy. They get on the highway and think about the end point – or they just have a goal to get through the traffic.
But they aren’t mindful of the cars around them, unaware of traffic patterns and driver responses, and allow frustrations to drive their actions instead of a plan. This will lead you targeted marketing that gives a better return on investment of your time, energy and money. It will also qualify the clients for you – to help reduce the potential for getting into business with someone who isn’t your ideal client avatar.
Giving help to others around you is another foundational cornerstone to navigating the madness of marketing. Give help to other business owners. To organizations. I’m not saying give completely of yourself without a return. But giving of you and your business to get known by others in the community. These can be done with business partnerships (#2 way I’ve grown my businesses into referral based), expos, fairs, and other events.
There is always a great return that comes back. I’ve seen in traffic when an out-of-towner (highlighted by their license plate) has rolled down the window and asked a local for directions. Local gave directions. Out-of-towner was able to exit and find a new path. Both win – the local achieved one less car on the gridlock (not a big difference, but some nonetheless), and the out-of-towner got insight into a new and quicker path.
Keeping a map
Keeping a map (read: marketing plan) keeps you focused on where you’re going and what you should be doing. Nowadays, most of us are using our smartphones or car GPS to help us – and these often have traffic reports or re-calculating options. This technology will automatically do this for you without much action other than responding to it.
But maps/plans should always be reevaluated. Marketing plans don’t typically have this re-calculating measure. You must commit to frequent analyzing of metrics and feedback. These analytics will help to adjust your actions (that will ultimately adjust your trajectory).
This seems to simple but communicating with client avatars properly (think back to choosing a lane) makes it for an easier ride. This is two fold – with other drivers and with your client avatar.
First, there is undoubtedly going to be other business owners in your lane targeting the same client avatar. THIS IS OKAY. There is plenty of road and destinations for all of us. The key is communication with one another. Make it a two-way street of communication and referrals. You both can’t take on all clients at one time. Service the community properly, service one of another properly, we all win.
Second, communicating with clients is important. Not much unlike billboards that are set up every X amount of miles on the highways. Repeated messages and specific calls to action pull these drivers into attractions and dining establishments, you should be doing the same with low-cost and high-return actions (think email marketing, social media strategy, etc.) Narrowing on your communication properly and not just what everyone else is doing (read: quit making your IG feed look like every other IG feed out there). Get focused on the communication that truly speaks TO your client avatar, and not AT them.
As you can see, navigating the roads of marketing can be madness. But if you take each of these points and use to cultivate your plan – you will be farther ahead than maroon car guy. You’ll get to that beach faster. Under that umbrella faster, and hopefully a fruity drink with an umbrella in one hand or playing an intense game of beach Frisbee with your family.
Please take these points and get them going in your business. While we are coming up on half year, YOU CAN STILL TURN AROUND 2016. There’s a 45 minute video here that expands on these topics.
I just opened enrollment for Marketing Madness – a 6-week web course with yours truly that walks through much of what I talked about above and more. Lifetime access, fully downloadable. Videos, handouts, transcripts. It’s all yours for the taking and using.
My goal is to get you through the madness so you can get on “cruise control”. Because once you hit that stretch of highway with no gridlock, you’ve chosen your lane – you can switch that baby on since you’ve done most of the heavy work. From here on out, it’s only minor changes and revaluations.
See y’all inside – I’m closing enrollment Friday!