When Spencer Lum was starting out in the photography industry, he was 100% willing to hustle and do whatever it took to succeed.
And hustle he did.
He took whatever jobs came his way and found himself working 80 to 90 hours each week. He was busy. He was in demand. And he was just barely paying the bills.
When his son was born, Spencer was forced to take a hard look at his business and realized that he needed to figure out a way to work less and make more money.
On today’s show, Spencer shares how he was able to turn his business around and take his booking rate from 38% to booking 24 out of 25 weddings.
(Here are the highlights, but you can listen to the full conversation below or listen to the episode on the Momentum podcast).
Like many photographers, Spencer started out with some knowledge about branding and marketing but something was missing. He didn’t know how to connect with people and reach them or how to differentiate himself from the crowd. Learning to differentiate yourself is crucial because if you don’t stand out, you won’t get noticed.
Spencer’s marketing strategy is a mix of old-fashioned marketing principles and the latest tools and technology. His goal is to build “bulletproof connections” but he doesn’t believe in being pushy. Over the years, he’s learned that the way to connect with people is to be creatively different.
Ask yourself, “What is the problem you solve?” As photographers, there are many answers to this question and you get to choose the answer. If you say something like, “I capture moments.”, you’re saying what a lot of other photographers are saying and it won’t stand out. Nobody will read that on your website and think, “That’s exactly what I’m looking for. This is the person I want to work with.” because chances are, they’ve seen the same thing in ten other places.
Be imaginative about the problem you solve. Why is it important to capture moments? You can take the most basic thing and explode it into all sorts of possibilities.
When it comes to marketing, people very often say, “Blah, blah, blah…it just doesn’t work.” Very often, what’s actually being said is, “I’ve gotten to a place where I’m facing a challenge or a hurdle and so I’m just going to stop doing it.”
If something’s not working, your job is to figure out how to make it work. There will always be a challenge and most people spend their life getting 60% in and then pull back when it gets hard instead of figuring out how to make it work. There’s a tendency to believe that little things aren’t worth it but Spencer has found that it’s the little things that make you stand out.
The best way to connect with new clients is to listen. Create situations where you are able to get input. If you listen to what people are saying you will get all the information that you need to speak to your audience and be heard.
Spencer gives a great example about an experience he had a few years ago while he was trying to come up with a new headline for his website. After spending hours trying to come up with something unique and falling flat, he started to think about his sales meetings and about what people were saying repeatedly.
They weren’t looking for shoe shots.
Yes, that’s right. It was a time when shoe shots seemed popular. They were being shown on wedding blogs and in portfolios and on social media. Photographers were leading with shoe shots but what Spencer was hearing from clients was that they didn’t care about their shoes. They were having a people-centered event and those were the images that were important to them. Spencer’s headline became. “We like you for you, not for your shoes.” and it worked. Using the information that his clients gave him was much more effective than anything he had come up with on his own.
For more great marketing and business tips, be sure to check out Spencer’s blog, Ground Glass. To get access to the Foundation Framework Course and Pricing for Profit ebook that we talked about, CLICK HERE. It’s the exact blueprint that Spencer used to build a fully booked photography business for over 10 years running.
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