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How one photographer used savvy marketing to skyrocket his leads

This article is a guest post by photojournalist Alan Staats.

One of the problems I’ve run into with internet marketing is, for lack of a better term, noise. Sure I can buy an email list targeted specifically to the client demographic that I want to reach. I can create a beautiful HTML-based document detailing all the wonderful things I can do for those potential clients. The issue is, many of the thousands of recipients will hit the delete button, before reading my beautifully crafted message. Or, it will get buried or lost in the “chaff” that clutters my prospects inbox.

 

After experimenting with a plethora of digital, social media, and print marketing activities I can honestly say that melding internet outreach with print marketing yields far greater rewards than using either as a sole source.

 

I also look to the internet to maintain a complex (as well as a hopefully informative and attractive) website, send out query letters, estimates, contracts, and maintain an active social media presence. But experience has taught me not to rely exclusively on the World Wide Web for all of my marketing needs.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I relish the internet and all of the marvelous things it offers. For example, without it, you wouldn’t be reading this article.  Unless, of course, someone printed it for you.

 

Having owned my own photography and video production company for more than 30 years, I have always believed in the power of print.

 

By chaff I mean those truly annoying (yet occasionally entertaining) emails (among other offers) from, say, Princess Shewanna of the landlocked kingdom of Katangaland-who desperately needs help moving her 600 million dollar inheritance.  If only I could reap even one percent for each spam message I receive.

 

So, sending out an email message promising great photography and video services has an unlikely chance of being read, much less acted upon.

 

However, I am not averse to internet marketing. What I am averse to is using the internet as a “single source” for marketing. Used in conjunction with “traditional” marketing methods, it can yield results far beyond what you’d expect.

 

For example, this is a true story:

 

I recently ordered 500 rack cards from an online printing service, (overnightprints.com) branded with my logo and contact information, and select photos. The chief reason behind ordering rack cards was not to place them in racks but rather because they fit in standard envelopes.

 

I printed a cover letter on letterhead stock, “wrapped” the rack card in the letterhead and mailed 100 of them, to a targeted list (that I also had email addresses for).

 

Since the addresses were local, I waited two days and sent an email to each recipient; the subject of the email was simply the name of my company.

 

The email had a little more information about my company and a teaser directing the recipients to my website, which has literally thousands of pages of information and imagery… and a “hit” tracking feature.

 

By the end of the week the results were astounding!

 

On day four, hits increased from an average of 60 hits per day to over 400, a rate that lasted the rest of the week before tapering off

 

Eight recipients responded directly with a phone call and requests for rate information

 

Three recipients booked me for work, one recipient bought, as a stock photo purchase, the photo that was used as the primary image on the front side of the rack card.

 

In comparison, an earlier solely email-based effort to a qualified list of recipients (which cost me five times the amount) yielded only a dozen responses, five of whom insisted I take their names and email addresses off the list, and seven who asked for printed material as a follow up.The bottom line is that internet marketing can be successful, of that there is no doubt, but if you are looking to maximize your reach for the dollars, combine the internet with print for an unbeatable combination.

 
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