Happy Monday Boss Ladies!
Last Monday I shared information on my ideal client. You can check out the post here, but just to review, my ideal client is the bride. She loves fashion, social media, her friends and family, and she wants a marriage more beautiful than her wedding. Her wedding style is blog worthy and her budget is bigger in order to accommodate all kinds of special details. Now that my ideal client is defined, it's time to find her!
As a small business owner, you have to wear so many hats, and marketing your business is one of them. As your business grows, you may want to consider passing this task off to an expert or taking a course to teach you some advanced ideas. I don't have any formal training in marketing, but it's something that's interesting to me-I enjoy strategizing new ideas. Right now I don't have a huge budget for marketing, so I'm working to take control of this myself. Marketing doesn't always mean paid advertising, instead it's any way that you're promoting your business or services. I want to share 5 ways that I'm working to market my business right now--and some of them are free!
Blogging is a great way to reach your ideal client, and it's free! Share your events that are going to appeal to your ideal bride and link back to the local vendors that were involved. Use key words that your client is searching for to help boost your SEO and drive up traffic. Think about what your client wants to know. What answers are they searching for? Then answer those questions on your blog. Establish yourself as an expert. Something that I'm working on when blogging is to create a reason for my brides to return to my blog. I don't want my posts to come off as a sales pitch, but instead as a conversation. Instead of ending each one of my posts by encouraging my brides to book me, I share my knowledge and expertise. I want to educate my brides--share how much time goes into planning a wedding and make them think of all of the details they need to remember. Which, in turn, will get them thinking about how helpful hiring a planner would be and guess who they've decided is the expert!
2. Social Media
Similar to blogging, social media is free or mostly free marketing. My ideal bride loves social media. She has every platform and loves scrolling through her news feeds at least once a day. My goal is for my ideal bride to start following me on social media BEFORE she's engaged. I want to build up a following of ladies that are in relationships but might now quite have the ring yet. They want to follow my work because they love my style and want to hire me as soon as they're engaged!
Every single blog post should be shared on social media. (I'm still working at scheduling all of these and making sure I don't forget a platform.) Keep your images cohesive and make sure that every post is going to appeal to that ideal client. Share your events and tag other vendors that were involved on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Encourage those vendors to share your posts. Pin your blog posts and portfolio images to Pinterest. Pin them multiple times (a few days or weeks apart) on separate boards. The more people who see your post the better. You never know when a bride or someone that knows a bride will find an image and fall in love with your style.
You can boost posts or pay for promoted Pins, but it's not something I do regularly. I've heard good and bad results from both and I hope to learn more about the process in the next year (2016 goal!).
Referrals from other vendors can be a huge way to gain clients. If a bride already adores their photographer or venue director, their advice is going to mean a lot. I definitely think that networking is one of the best and easiest ways to find amazing brides that fit your ideal client. Work with vendors that have a similar clientele and make sure if they refer a bride to you that you return the favor (if they are a great fit for one of your couples) and send them a thank you!
My biggest piece of advice when networking-BE GENUINE! Don't reach out to a fellow business owner for a coffee date and then spent the whole time trying to sell your business to them. No one enjoys a sales pitch. Instead when I meet with vendors, I take them a little box filled with my business information and some fun treats and leave it at that. I always let them know I'd love to work with them on a wedding or a styled shoot and share a little about my business when they ask. But treat networking like you're meeting a new friend, because that's what is going to create a genuine relationship. If you're really not interested in their business, please please please save them their time. You're not going to form any relationships by trying to sell your business to another vendor, instead you're probably going to turn them off to your business all together.
4. Styled Shoots
Depending upon your business, Styled Shoots can get a little expensive, but they're a great way to market to your ideal client. They take a lot of work, but they're great for multi-level marketing. Any shoot that you plan (or are involved in) should market directly to your ideal client.
Every vendor that you include in the shoot should be one that your ideal client would be interested in hiring. Then wow those vendors by sharing your design ideas, organization skills, and your passion for your business! Make sure that you are thanking your vendors, even if it's just a simple email after the shoot. And don't use and then lose your vendors-keep in contact with them because they can send you very valuable referrals.
Create excitement around your shoot by sharing a sneak peek on social media and encourage all your vendors to do the same! Ask each vendor to share the image at their ideal posting time, when the most of their followers are active. Make sure every vendor is tagging the others involved when they share the sneak peek (and every other time they use the images). All the vendors should have similar ideal clients and therefore you should gain some new followers that are potential clients!
Work to get the shoot published. My ideal client wants a blog worthy wedding, so she's excited about vendors that have been published! It's great free publicity and helps your SEO when a big site links back to yours! You'll gain followers who love that blog and could be potential clients. If someone loves your work enough, you never know what opportunities could open up!
Plus, you're going to have so many GORGEOUS images that you can share on your website and in your portfolio. Every vendor should post a gallery and/or blog post after the shoot is published. They should all link back to all the other vendors' sites which will reach more potential clients and improve your SEO!
5. Vendor Listings
Vendor listings usually aren't free, but make sure you take advantage of any that are! Wedding Wire and The Knot (along with some other sites) have free options. There are so many other paid options out there. Make sure you do your research if you're going to pay for a vendor listing. Think about your ideal client. Where are they finding their vendors? Again, my client wants a blog worthy wedding, so if I'm going to invest in a paid listing, it's going to on a blog that my client regularly looks at and respects. I think it's very important that the blogs or sites that you advertise with support you if you're supporting them (by paying for their advertising). It's important that they want to feature your work on their blog and share it on social media. (Again the more people who see your work, the better!) These blogs should be choosing their advertisers because they respect their work, not because they want to make money, and sometimes this isn't the case. So, if you're going to pay for advertising, make sure it aligns with your values and your ideal client!
I hope this post give you some good ideas to market your business. What do you like to use? I'd love to hear more ideas!