When our business started growing by leaps and bounds, we made a conscious decision to stay small – Andrew, myself, an office manager, and two part time assistants – yet look like we were a very large photography studio that could take on clients anywhere in the world.
Guess what? It worked.
It doesn’t matter if your business is in a large office building, or run out of the basement in your home, there are certain things you can do to give it the large business appearance. Along with the comfy feeling of being a small time studio.
Brand Yourself For Mass Appeal
Your brand is your window into the world. Just because your current client lives 10 miles from your studio doesn’t mean she won’t be mailing photographs and sharing your information with a friend that lives 1,000 miles away. Especially in today’s world, there are no boundaries when it comes to promotion. We’ve had clients in Germany plan a long distance wedding and choose us as their photographer by viewing our online portfolios and making decisions through email – that’s a long way from Colorado.
Start out by looking at the name of your photography business and your tagline. What do they really say about you as a photographer? Does it say we stay local, or does it say we are willing to travel anywhere? When we were in the process of doubling our business, we changed our logo by deleting “Denver” from our tagline, and adding “Worldwide” instead. From that point on our business grew exponentially. Not only did we have a different attitude, our clients did as well. We received many phone calls asking if we had offices in different regions of the world – and they were always surprised to learn how small our employee base really was.
Concentrate On The Little Things
A small business tends to do things once to get it done; and only makes changes when absolutely necessary. If you think big, you spend time on the little things, knowing that’s what gives you a mass appeal. Let me give you an example.
No matter what you do, you have a system in place. You have a system for marketing to prospects. A system for turning prospects into customers. And a system for moving customers from beginning to end. If the system works and you are comfortable with your sales, you’ve probably never looked at refining each piece. But there’s always room for improvement.
Maybe you can create a better promotional piece you mail out to prospects. Or maybe you can design customized bags, boxes and wrap for the final presentation of your images.
Leave nothing to chance. This is what sets you a part from your competition. Work on one tiny piece until you complete it and make it a part of your system. Then move to the next. You’ll be amazed at what you can create very quickly.
Use Technology Wisely
How comfortable are you with today’s technology? Do you jump at every new idea that comes along? Or do you hang back, only using things when you absolutely have to?
The first place to look is at your email. Do you give your email as Lori@VirtualPhotographyStudio.com? Or do you use a hotmail, gmail, Comcast or other generic account? While its important to have multiple email accounts for a variety of situations, when you are handing out a business card or talking with a potential customer, always show your professionalism by giving out a business email with your company name in it.
Then take it to the next level and make multiple email accounts. You can create a variety of email extensions – i.e. sales, media, customer service, web, weddings, portraits, etc – and use them for specific marketing methods. Even if all email accounts route back to your inbox, you’ll instantly know what the email is about. And you’ll look a lot bigger to your audience.
Also look for automation strategies to make your life easier. One of my favorites is aWeber, an email and autoresponder tool. You can create a variety of messages that will respond immediately to your customers when they put in their email address into a contact box on your site. This helps you provide quick and easy responses to your prospects while giving you the flexibility of working a normal workweek.
In today’s world, make it easy to find you no matter what technology your client loves. How about a Skype number, a Facebook account, or a way to text you? Technology isn’t about what you favor; it’s about what your client loves. Don’t make it hard for them to get a hold of you, or have to find a way to step back to contact you. Give them every opportunity to connect up. And make sure you check often to see if you have any connections. Nothing is worse than setting up with good intentions and lacking on the follow through.
Finally, look at your business through the eyes of your customer. While this may be difficult to do, it does allow you to see things in a whole new way. Are there more pages you can add to your website to make it user friendly? Are there things about your business they don’t understand?
The wonderful thing about technology is you can add so many things with a click of your mouse. Listen to what customers ask for. Watch what your competition is doing. Then use it to build your own business. Small, with that worldwide appearance.