Wouldn’t life be great if we could just go out and do what we love – photograph horses, of course – all day long, without having to worry about all the legwork that goes with it? I don’t know about you, but marketing our businesses used to be one of the jobs we’ve always felt the least inspired by. It’s time-consuming and it’s frustrating, particularly when it feels like no one is responding to your efforts.
But we’ve put some serious work into honing our marketing strategies, making them work not just for our businesses, but for our busy creative brains. We want to share with you some of the secrets we’ve learned along the way – they don’t have to cost you a fortune, they don’t need to take up all your time, and they can even, believe it or not, be quite good fun.
Top marketing tip #1: Design custom cards
Let’s start with what we’re good at – great visuals. When you’re spreading the word about your equine photography business, you need to find ways to stand out from the crowd. Sure, stunning images speak for themselves – but you need to get people to your portfolio and convince them that you’re the best choice.
Show potential clients that you’re more than just any old equine photographer. Flex your design muscles – we love Canva as a user-friendly design tool if you’re not ready for the likes of Adobe Illustrator or InDesign – and create a gorgeous invitation or custom card to send to your leads. Little touches like this will set you apart and make these potential customers feel special – and that’s valuable.
Top marketing tip #2: Get involved with charity events
Take a look in your local newspaper, or have a browse around online to find out if there are any equine charities near you, or any events going on that will be for the benefit of a charity. Sometimes these are demos, other times they’re horse shows – but in any case, it pays to get in touch and offer to photograph the event for free. You can then pass out your business cards and sell cheap and cheerful digital files to competitors.
When you’re more established, it’s a great idea to continue your charity links. Auction off a print and donate the proceeds, or offer to do a creative photoshoot with a charity’s resident equines, and then submit the results to a local or national publication. Charity work will make you feel great – and it can be the key to getting the phone ringing, too.
Top marketing tip #3: Invest some effort into your website
First things first: having a website is totally non-negotiable. You absolutely must have an online home for your portfolio, your contact information, and your rates. If you don’t, you’re cutting yourself off from loads of potential income.
Once you’ve put the time and effort into making your website gorgeous, useful, and on-brand, you need to make sure you’re offering something extra – a pop-up, for example, that allows visitors to download something they won’t get anywhere else. It could be a look-book of photos, or a guide to your favourite locations, or a style guide for potential clients.
You should also make sure there’s a sign-up point for your monthly newsletter, which will update people on your latest news, any special offers, and new blog posts, as well as showing off your favourite images from your latest shoots. Create an automatic welcome message for new subscribers that asks them if they’d like more information on booking a shoot – simple!
Top marketing tip #4: Use photos for testimonials
Your previous clients are a pathway to plenty of brand new clients, and sometimes, it can be as simple as pairing your favourite image from their shoot with a testimonial from them about their experience. Sweeten the deal by offering a 6×8 print in exchange for a testimonial about their experience with you. Then, you can share this testimonial on your website, your blog, your Facebook page – wherever.
A testimonial reinforces the notion that you’re the best person for the job. When you can prove that you’ve already got happy customers, other people will feel more confident about spending their money with you.
Top marketing tip #5: Don’t skimp on the little things
Are you ready for a truth-bomb? Here it is: it’s about ten times harder to attract a new client than it is to re-entice a previous customer. But this doesn’t need to be a bad thing – instead, we’re going to use it to our advantage to make sure the ones you get come back time and time again.
Keep a calendar just for important dates relative to your clients – birthdays, anniversaries, and so on. Then, when those red-letter days roll around, send a personalised email offering a special discount or offer, just for them. Often, this will be just the reminder they need of how fab their previous shoot with you was – and they’ll be so touched by your personal treatment that they’ll likely book in again!
Top marketing tip #6: Go old-school
So you’ve signed yourself up for a tradestand at a busy equestrian event – brilliant! But now, with a list of new contacts, how can you make sure you stand out from all the other photographers that were there?
Try sending them a physical booklet showing off the best of your portfolio. Sure, it requires some additional expense, but putting your work in their hands just days after they met you can instil confidence, turning a lead into a client. Very few photographers use this trick, but it’s an almost guaranteed converter.
We like to include a couple of printed postcards with our favourite images, a business card, and a discount voucher, too, when we send our brochures out. All together, the design is cohesive and beautiful, and it really gets people excited about how their own photos might look. Attention to detail speaks volumes – so use it to attract your dream client.
Top marketing tip #7: Offer up your interior design skills
Do you have a friend who owns a physical business – like an office, a pub, a shop, or so on? Ask them if you can supply some of your prints to help fill the space. Leave your contact details in the corner of the frame and some brochures or business cards on the counter, and offer to take some photos of the business for your friend to sweeten the deal.
There are so many ways to spread the word about your business, and the more you exercise your creativity in marketing it, the more effective you’ll be. Have you found a unique way to reach your customers? Let us know!
Marketing can be the biggest bug-bear in most people’s businesses. Emily and Hannah have learnt the best and worst ways to market themselves…check out their Business course below!