How to Increase Your Following
It's all about relationships, whether it's our commercial clients, our portrait clients, everything that we do, we build relationships with people that we work with. So here's how you can think about building relationships with people in your community. Do a search. Which businesses in your community serve your target client? For me, if I were stationary, I'd be looking for the nearest outdoor store. The high-end outdoor store, that's my client. That's who I would partner with. And so, if I were to call that business, a locally-owned business, and say 'Hey, I'm a photographer 'that specializes in outdoor adventure sports photography. 'I would love to give a gift to your clients. 'How about anybody that spends 'over a hundred dollars in your store, 'you give them a hundred dollar gift certificate 'to Holcombe Photography.' The store would be like, 'Whoa, you just added a hundred dollars of value 'to my hundred dollar sale? 'I'd love to do that. 'Maybe that'll motivate them 'to spend mor...
e money in my store. 'If they're on the fence of buying something or not, 'that'll help my clients out a lot, 'that'll help me out a lot, 'and it'll give you new prospects.' And then all I ask them to do is keep a list of the name and phone number of everybody that got a gift certificate so that I can take the initiative and call them and book the session, okay? Gift certificates are amazing. So, which businesses in your community serve your target client? Where do they shop? And then, how can you collaborate with those businesses, this is really important, and help them? It's not about you when you're building relationships. How can you work with those businesses and make their job easier? Those are the people that wanna have long-term relationships with you. If you can give something to them to make their life easier, they will wanna work with you forever. And weddings. What did we do? When we wanted to work at a new venue, did we call and say, 'Hey, will you put me on the preferred vendor list?' We tried that, they said no, every time. (laughs) If we called that same venue and said, 'Hey, we are mountain wedding specialists, 'and we've never worked at your venue. 'I would love to bring a bride and the groom up there, 'create some sample images that you can use 'in your marketing materials, would that be okay with you?' What are they gonna say? 'Uh, no, I don't need any images of my venue?' Of course not. They're like, 'Are you kidding, yes. 'We will, in fact, coordinate a florist, 'we'll set up all the tables, 'we'll make it look like a real wedding. 'Let's collaborate and make this really amazing.' That's how we got in the high-end venues in Aspen and Vale. So call them, do something nice for them. Make their life easier. Give, and you'll get back so much in return. Host and attend networking events. If you have a space, use that space as much as you can. Can you get a group of your target clients together for a certain reason? And if you can't, find out who is hosting these events, and go, and talk to people. Remember that 140-character pitch that we talked about earlier? Use that. Use your expanded pitch. 'Hi, I'm Kathy Holcombe, I'm a photographer here in Boulder. 'I specialize in inspiring family adventure.' 'You do what? 'What do you mean? 'Tell me more about that.' That's an intriguing thing to say, right? 'You specialize in inspiring family adventure? 'How do you do that?' Give them something interesting to ask questions about. So, host and attend networking events. Write articles, you're an expert. Everybody wants to know how to be a better photographer. Set yourself up as the person that knows, and is willing to help other people. Can you teach small photography classes about how to take better pictures of your kids? Of course you can do that, you're really good at that. That's what you guys do. Write articles about it. Have people come in, teach them something. Then you're the expert. 'Oh and by the way, 'did you know that we have a special next week 'where we are taking kids to this amazing place? 'We're gonna go to this super fun playground 'and photograph kids playing all day long, 'you're gonna love it.' It's a great opportunity to book some sessions. Alright, so along with businesses that you can partner with, what are the organizations in your community that serve your target client? So, in Boulder there were all kinds of organizations that supported recovering alcoholics getting out in the wild and doing therapy that way, or people who had lost limbs or were in a wheelchair, and how to get them out in the wild. These are things that we believed in at our core of our business. They were ones we wanted to donate with, and support, and volunteer at, so it was a natural, perfect alignment for our business, to help them and be part of that. And it embodied the entire outdoor adventure community in our area, and so all the people that we wanted to work with were there. And so, are there organizations that align with your business and your values, and your business personality, and how can you help them? Can you donate a gift certificate? Can you donate your services? Can you help their client some way? Can you help them with their marketing needs? Here's one thing to avoid though. Oftentimes, when you call an organization and say 'Hey, I'd love to help you.' They'll say, 'Oh we're having an event, 'can you be the photographer at the event?' That's not what you wanna do, because that's not what you're promoting. You're setting yourself up as staff at that event, and oftentimes at these events, people get really irritated being photographed all night long. They want to drink in peace without having anyone point a lens at them. And you're not representing the kind of business that you wanna do, unless of course you're specializing in event photography. Then that would be a good fit. But if you're specializing in portraits, and you're pointing a lens at this event, nobody's going to get the connection, okay? There are better ways to partner with them to show what you really do. Stick to your brand. Unless you're doing event photography, don't be an event photographer.