Marketing your studio: Website 101.2
Photographers are creative beings. They turn the ordinary into the extraordinary with just the right light, just the right angle and of course just the right talent. The problem is photographers have to market themselves and often that visual “right” brain just freezes at the thought of creating and implementing a studio-m arketing plan.
Marketing has taken on a new life with the advent of websites, social networks, blogs and the ability to post video. It’s become more creative, so it’ s actually easier than ever for you right brainers!
“Our website is our #1 marketing tool,” Michelle Stevens said. Stevens and her husband Justin own Artistique Photographie based in Tualatin, just outside Portland, Oregon. Stevens was named Wedding Photographer of the Year in 2009.
Their website layout is elegant, yet warm and inviting. The home page is divided into three sections; Weddings, Blog and Portraits. The blog is front and center.
“We’ve been blogging for about three years,” Stevens said. “The greatest thing about blogging is how searchable the content is.” The studio has booked weddings simply by adding the name of a venue into the title of their blog. “The important thing is to put both the ceremony and reception venue, as well as the city and state in your blog title,” she said.
Social networking has been an instrumental part of Artistique Photographie’ s marketing plan. “Facebook is a huge part of our marketing strategy,” Stevens said. “ I don’t think there’s any studio that should not be using Facebook as a part of the way they reach clients.”
Stevens always pulls one or two photos from a session and posts them to a client’s Facebook page. This creates “teaser” photos on their wall and of course those photos are posted wearing the studio logo. This creates a buzz, getting the client, their family and friends excited about seeing the rest of the photos.
“Last week I received an email inquiry from a bride who saw our images on her friend’s Facebook page,“ Stevens said.
That is the entire point of social networking. Your work speaks for itself and the social networking machine is doing all the heavy lifting. You have no direct mail printing costs, no postage, and no expensive print media advertising.
Stevens’ primary focus when marketing her studio comes down to four avenues: the website, the blog, a Facebook presence and online bridal sites.
The studio has a few more marketing strategies that work exceptionally well to demonstrate their talents. They’ve created a gallery that showcases wedding details, something that is often overlooked. Most photographers show details but few make it a point to bring attention to the fact.
“Brides spend a ton of time on the details and they want them captured,” Stevens said. “One big thing about marketing is that even though you know that you do something and think it’s a given, it isn’t necessarily so. You really need to show all the aspects of how you capture a wedding to make sure you’re covering what is important to each bride.”
The last important piece of Artistique Photographie’s marketing plan is one that engages the viewer and allows them a peek behind the scenes. Stevens had Ambient Sky Studios shoot a video about the photo shoot experience. “People buy experience as much as they buy physical products,“ she said. “We wanted to show what a shoot with us is like. We are very lucky to know some amazing videographers who create cinematic wedding movies so the quality of the video is great. Networking with professionals in other fields like this is critical to being able to come up with different ways of marketing.” Stevens had a huge response from the video and reposts it periodically to keep it close to the top of their blog.
Heading into the New Year, it’s impossible for a studio, serious about marketing, to discount the value of a website and blog. The cost of creating and maintaining a website is negligible and blogs are free. Social networking is simply a form of communication
Whatever you do, start with a website first. It’s the most important piece of any marketing plan. Stevens has plans to rework their website for even greater search engine optimization. “ If you come up on the top of a Google search and you have an amazing website, you really shouldn’t have to do any more marketing!”