Email marketing for photographers is hands-down, without a doubt… undeniably… the MOST valuable marketing tool you can use to grow your business.
(Actually… it’s the second most valuable. Nothing — ABSOLUTELY NOTHING — can compete with the power of word-of-mouth referrals. But for marketing tools that you control… email is king.)
You’re probably thinking, “I’m a photographer. I’m supposed to be creative and cutting-edge. Email isn’t either of those things.”
I get it. But the truth is, if you’re not using email marketing for your photography business, you’re holding your business back, letting an awesome opportunity slip right through your fingers.
Every single one of us in today’s modern era are fighting a battle — one between “timeless” vs. “old fashioned”, “trends” vs. “fads”. We face these show-downs in everything from fashion to gadgets to technology.
One of the main places we see it? The app store.
The sheer number of apps has been multiplying since the grand opening of the Apple’s App Store in 2008. They began with a menial 15,000 apps, but now there are over 2,000,000 apps at your fingertips. Google Play now has almost 3,000,000!
A few have stood the test of time (all 10 years of it), but most apps fail. In fact, only 0.01% are successful. Just one glitch can tank a new program.
Social media platforms have walked a similar path. Some fail so fast you’ve never heard of them. Others shine for their 15 seconds of fame never to be heard of again.
Others seemingly dominate, but then, something new comes along and suddenly they’re a joke. (Think MySpace.)
But out of all of these apps and social media sites, what’s the one platform that’s remained relevant?
It literally became popular before internet… and it’s still here.
People say email is dead — they’ve been saying that for 20 years.
But email is here to stay.
Email is the trusty vehicle that never fails. In the land of “new apps we love” and the social media outlets that rise and fall with the tide, email is the constant.
As a matter of fact, what’s the one thing you need to sign up for all those new apps and social media platforms? An email address!
It’s our default platform for communicating. It’s not sexy. It’s not new. But it works.
It’s the one thing most of us still check every day — just like we did five or ten years ago.
And most importantly, it’s the best tool for building the trust and relationships you need to earn people’s business.
How to Compete in Advertising (Without Spending a Billion Dollars)
Every year, companies spend more than $1,000 advertising to YOU.
That’s how much money goes into directly influencing what each person buys! Countless companies are competing for our attention, and they’re spending billions of dollars to do it.
After awhile, it becomes an ocean of noise, and we’re floating right in the middle of it. It’s everywhere.
- On the edges of your screen when you browse online…
- In your news feed on Facebook…
- Outside your car window when you drive across town…
- At the beginning of your favorite podcast…
- In the middle of your favorite TV show…
There’s no escaping the constant cries for our attention. As photographers and owners of our own small businesses, how are we supposed to compete with that?
How could we ever hope to get new clients’ attention and promote our photography in all the noise?
I’ve found that adding generic marketing to the ocean of noise doesn’t really work. And there’s no chance of “shouting louder” than the noise.
If we want new clients to hire us, we need to build relationships with them. That’s what drives the success of the people who are really making it in photography.
Should You Skip Online Marketing?
As we’ve learned how to market through websites, mobile sites, Facebook ads, and social media ads, we’ve realized just how hard it actually is.
1. Online Marketing is Always Changing
We all like trendy, new apps — but they come and go. Does that mean that we give up? Not at all! I’m not saying you shouldn’t invest in these tactics, but you’ve got to build it on the foundation of email.
Remember, what’s the one thing you need to build an account with any of these tools? An email address.
Rather than spin our wheels on each of the latest apps or social media sites we think will stick around, we need to start with the basics.
2. Consumers are Skeptical
There’s another layer of difficulty to marketing online. As consumers, we’re becoming increasingly skeptical.
Just look at the news! We have no idea what to believe anymore. Just because something’s online doesn’t mean it’s true.
When we’re shopping for a new service, we’re naturally skeptical. How do we know this person is who they say? What if they don’t deliver the product they offer? What if it’s not as good as it seems?
This skepticism makes booking new photography clients a lot harder. We need a way to build trust with our prospective clients.
3. We Live a Fast-Paced Life
The pace of life and business keeps getting faster. People used to browse a website for ten minutes and read everything on it, but no one spends that long on a website anymore!
Our audiences are younger, more mobile, and it’s tough to connect. You have less than 30 seconds to make a good first impression before people move on. If you want people to learn more about you, you need a way to gradually show them small pieces of your business’ big picture.
What can you do to combat the pace of life, skepticism, and dynamic nature of online marketing?
Find a way to use your online tools to gradually connect with people and let them get to know you.
To be perfectly clear, I’m not suggesting you give up on all of your Instagram promos, Facebook ads, or improving your website. But the key is figuring out how to market online in a way that builds a relationship.
That’s where email comes in.
When you meet potential clients in-person, you build rapport, they get to know you, you show them your work, and they start getting excited about the pictures you’ll take of them.
The online experience is completely different.
Your website doesn’t make the same first impression you would in-person because it can’t keep up with your personality.
We have to close the gap. We have to help your online presence make a better first impression, just like you would in-person.
Email is Your Best Bet
We’re not the only ones who realize that email is the basic ticket we need to market effectively online. Check out these stats that compare email to other marketing channels:
- Email has an immediate return on investment of 122%. That’s four times higher than other marketing formats including social media, direct mail, and paid search.
- 86% of professionals prefer to use email when communicating for business purposes.
- Even more importantly, 89% of marketers said email was their primary channel for lead generation.
Easton Reynolds — a friend of mine who runs his own six-figure portrait studio — says, “without a doubt, email is the glue that holds all of my online marketing together. Email is the foundation of the marketing successes of our own 6-figure studio.”
We keep in touch with dozens of marketing and industry experts to see what works best for them, and guess what?
They’re all using email and they have been for years.
Email works… and there’s a huge gap between people who are using it and people who are struggling.
Spam is out. Permission is in.
The people that say “email is dead” are partially right.
Yes, email is dead IF you’re a spammer… for two big reasons.
1. Spam is illegal.
2. Tools keep getting better at eliminating spammers.
Spam methods are dying. But as long as people read emails from people they know, like, and trust, email will stay alive and well.
Let’s say a casual friend stops by your house, approaches the front door, and just walks in… without knocking!
How would you feel? They’re not family! They’re not even that close of a friend! Why didn’t they knock?!
We like knocking. It’s a social norm that allows us to actually give people permission to come inside our homes. Without a knock, we feel like our personal space has been violated.
Now if that same friend stops by, approaches the door, and knocks, you’re much more likely to be glad they came because you gave them permission to come into your house.
Consider this idea of permission in your marketing approach. Permission Marketing, as Seth Godin says, “is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal, and relevant messages to people who actually want them.”
This is how you build a relationship. This is how you get people’s attention… and keep it! You don’t barge into someone’s inbox, just like you don’t barge into someone’s home.
Online marketing may be riveted with trendy apps, but don’t underestimate the value of email.
No, it’s not fancy, flashy, or new.
But, it’s a proven way you can communicate — and build a relationship of trust — with your potential clients.
You’re already using email for everything else in your life, but if you’re not using email to market your business, it’s time to get onboard.