Marketing Advice Needed for Photographic Printing business.

8 replies
Hello!

New to the forum. After doing some research i hope to get some advice. It seems there are a lot of very bright and knowledgeable people on this forum.

I am looking for any advice to marketing my printing services to photographers and artists.

Background: I have 20+ experience as a photographer, designer and in digital printing, specializing in large format (up to 44" wide by any length) printing.

2+ years ago, I invested in the high end equipment to do this work, both for my own photographic exhibits and to print for others.

This is a one man operation. My primary marketing is through Craigslist. Since i am mainly mail order. I decided to spread out across cities in California, Arizona and Nevada. I offered both a low cost 24x36" "poster print". to attract new customers, and High end Gallery quality printing. My main advantage is price, fast turn around time, and highly custom "handmade" prints.

Even the best photographers don't know how to get the best print from their images. I put in a lot of extra work on the files at no additional cost to give them a very high end result. I often get feedback, how Awesome their prints are. And how much better i made their photos. I say this, to show my Niche is different from a low cost Costco print.

First year things were VERY SLOW. Then by end of the year I had one Photographer who had a lot of printing to do. This accounted for the majority of my sales for about 6 months. $1-3K per month from one client. I knew this could not be relied apon, having all my eggs in one basket. Then there was a 6 month drought from him. Did a couple more fast jobs for him.

I have a few regular clients in the $300 range per month.

On occasion, I will get a referral, and do a $600-900 job. This takes a couple of days. If I could only have 5 jobs like this I'd at least be okay, not negative.

That being said, I need some advice how I can market, my services to a larger audience. I'm not good at cold calling. as a photographer myself, I wouldn't be thrilled getting unsolicited calls.

Marketing is not my strong area. Craigslist isn't optimal but it has brought in clients across California.

So can anyone offer some advice.

Sincerely

Max Harcourt
Sky Galleries Printing
#advice #business #marketing #needed #photographic #printing
  • Profile picture of the author Steve B
    Max,

    Effective online marketing is all about understanding your specific market and what needs/problems/desires/wants they have - then filling those needs and desires with your own products and services.

    Usually some not-too-difficult-to-do research into your marketplace will give you the answers you need. It's very hard to convince or persuade a potential prospect to buy what you offer if that prospect doesn't already want it and is ready to make a purchase. This is called "selling into demand" and it beats the heck out of cold calling when you don't know anything about the prospect.

    Your research should help you to locate where your market prospects can be found ... places like social media groups, niche forums, authority web sites, membership sites, niche blogs, etc, etc. Every market is different so you'll have to "discover" where your prospects can be found online.

    When you know where to find your best prospects online, then it is a matter of presenting your prospects with an offer - something that is of good value in exchange for their email address so that you can contact them again and again and begin nurturing them with your expertise. Get these folks on your mailing list and treat them like gold! When they come to know and trust you, they will buy from you because they know you are an expert in the marketplace and are willing to share your expertise.

    In summary, know what your audience wants, find out how you can best contact them, get them on your subscriber list, nurture them in your niche and show them the value you can provide, then offer to help them with their problems, wants, desires in your market. Keep building your list and growing it - you will find it's much better (conversions) to market to people on your list than to the public. Strive to have "back end" products and services so you can continue to sell to those that are already your happy customers.

    I realize this is the "big picture" and an overview of just one selling process - but many online marketers have been successful with this model. You must plug in the details according to your market findings and what products or services you are going to offer.

    If you need help with those details, ask specific questions here and check through the archives (search function) and you'll find your way.

    Good luck to you,

    Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author cynthiaSEL
    Originally Posted by Sky Galleries View Post

    I offered both a low cost 24x36" "poster print". to attract new customers, and High end Gallery quality printing. My main advantage is price, fast turn around time, and highly custom "handmade" prints.

    Even the best photographers don't know how to get the best print from their images. I put in a lot of extra work on the files at no additional cost to give them a very high end result. I often get feedback, how Awaesome their prints are. And how much better i made their photos
    You've got a great approach! It's working. A website with this information would give you a way to get in front of people with an offer you know fits you well and gives good results for new clients. Put that together in a simple way. Then experiment with your current place of Craigslist and see if you increase your results. Test there first because you already have results happening there. As you get better results, expand beyond Craigslist. And yes, in the background start building a list of prospects! But first expand what you're doing just a little bit to see what happens. Your business growth is about your personal growth and that comes from getting just a little bit out of your comfort zone at a time and trying things, evaluating and adjusting.
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    By the way, do you want to learn how to get over your fears so that you can accomplish your dreams? If so, do this exercise How to Get Over Your Fears so that You Can Accomplish Your Dreams

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  • Profile picture of the author Sharon McElwee
    Hi Max,

    I have several years of experience in commercial printing and I know that high-end photographic printing is a great market but photographers are a finicky bunch.

    I googled your company and didn't find a website for you. I would start with a simple website to serve as a portal for potential customers.

    You've already got some happy customers, so ask them to provide you a written testimonial and picture, as well as permission to use their info on your site.

    Don't be afraid of creating a website; you can find some great developers and copywriters to put together something small to Start with.

    I'd also ask them what problems they've experienced in the past and why they chose you. Use this information to develop points of difference and add them to your site.

    Steve B. gave you some great insight into finding your prospects online. I would invest in getting some articles published in these places about how photographers can improve their files for the best print possible.

    If you can afford to, once you've contacted prospects I would send them a small sample print so they can see the quality for themselves.

    Once you have a better understanding of the problems your clients experience, use that information to write posts and create tools to help them solve their problems.

    Feel free to PM me if you have any other questions.

    Sharon
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    • Profile picture of the author Sky Galleries
      Thanks Gang!

      I do appreciate all you feedback and advice.

      A client did suggest instagram, and I did start that and began posting. Focusing on photographers on the West coast. Had a couple inquiries but no orders.

      I was compiling a list of photographers in the So Cal area, to contact once i have an approach figured out.

      I do have a website, but started reworking it based on what I saw other similar print companies had. I will hunker down and get that running again.

      I will digest all the tips and see what I can get in the works. I have a "friend" with a printing/frame business and he was boasting that he just had an order for 100 large canvas prints for a Hospital. That could easily be a $30k job and take only 2 weeks.

      I'd love that:-)

      Thanks

      Max
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      • Profile picture of the author cynthiaSEL
        Originally Posted by Sky Galleries View Post

        I have a "friend" with a printing/frame business and he was boasting that he just had an order for 100 large canvas prints for a Hospital. That could easily be a $30k job and take only 2 weeks.

        I'd love that
        Maybe go in person to each hospital in your neighboring towns/cities. Find out who would order such a thing! Then hand write a personal note to that person and deliver that note with an example of your work. Do it while you're there, and be there as and when you're in that area, one a week or one a month or whatever, basically until you run out of nearby hospitals. Then keep one in the car in case you unexpectedly pass a hospital when you've got time to pop in. You'll learn how to interact with people the first few times. Then you'll get better at it, just like anything in personal growth. Taking action turns into confidence. Confidence with practical experience over time turns into skill. If you're building an email list, when you follow up to make sure they got your gift, ask if they're interested in getting your newsletter or whatever your follow up mechanism is going to be.
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        By the way, do you want to learn how to get over your fears so that you can accomplish your dreams? If so, do this exercise How to Get Over Your Fears so that You Can Accomplish Your Dreams

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  • Profile picture of the author Marcus W K Wong
    Welcome Max!

    Great to see another bidding photographic entrepreneur here.

    There's a whole bunch of online marketing tactics you could use, but I've always found with print work, you're always best to build a presence with the local market.

    Here's some suggestions for you to consider:

    - Create a Referral Program for existing clients (spread the word = 10% discounts etc)
    - Outreach on dense photographic communities online (try somewhere like modelmayhem.com and localise the search to Los Angeles & Photographer filters).
    - Host a free color management workshop for <niche> photographers (niches like wedding, event, portrait, landscape etc..). Offer a single 8x12 print for free to attendees, plus discounted initial print pricing for attendees to get them familiar with your business on a paid level.

    Photographers are a very visual bunch of niche, you basically want to be able to express the absolute differences between a print from a 44 inch SureColor and a refurbished Noritsu and the biggest selling point I've always found was paper weight and native paper luminance.


    I've done similar marketing for print with Leica Camera, Ilford and Epson in Australia so feel free to ask away. With artists, that's a whole 'nother ball game that even I'm trying to familiarise myself with.

    (hahnemuhle paper master race!)
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  • Profile picture of the author Daniel+
    I think that referral program for existing clients. it will be good
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  • Profile picture of the author michaelandy
    Well, for a beginner it is a little bit tough to get proper responses or referrals at the initial stage. If you join any of referral program then you have chance to connect with beneficial referrals.
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