How to Find New Business Customers for Your Studio
F. Scott Fitzgerald once told Ernest Hemingway, “rich people are different from the rest of us.” “Yeah,” Hemingway replied, “they have more money.”
Making more money is the goal for most photo operations, and while some startups often know who their target market is, only a few know who their actual customers might be. What they often lack is the kind of depth of information about future clients to sustain their new enterprise, but finding new B2B clients can be easy; all it takes is some hard work. What surprises me is how many newly minted photographers are more interested in their golf game than beating the pavement to find new business. If you’re not afraid of some old-fashioned, roll-up-your-sleeves sales techniques, here are five steps for increasing your share of any market segment you choose.
Step One: Start is a geographic area that has a high concentration of potential clients and visit each business in the field you’ve targeted. Present your business card, and introduce yourself to the receptionist. Don’t be put off by any “NO SOLOCITING” signs that are there to scare of the faint of heart. Ask who’s responsible for buying photography products or services and present them with an informational package. (Oh yeah, you’ll need to develop one of these two but you can keep it simple—list of services, rate sheet, and business card.)
Step Two: Using database software or even old fashioned index cards, use information from the cold call to prepare a list of potential client names. In addition to contact information, add impressions about your visit to a database that will form the nucleus of your target market mailing list. Send a letter or postcard to each contact informing them about your products and services. I have found that clients will hang onto postcards—especially those with photographs on them—for years.
Step Three: After a week’s gone by, call all of the people on the list. The potential client can say they’re not interested and never will be. If they say “NO,” delete that record. If they say “YES,” make the notes on their card. My experience is that 10% of the time; these calls result in appointments.
Step Four:After you make an appointment be brief and to the point. Clients usually don’t have a lot of time to spend with vendors. Tell them you’ll only take twenty minutes and when times up, prepare to leave. If they want you to stay longer, they’ll tell you. At this point, you may or may not make a sale. If not…
Step Five: After building a list of potential clients, keep in touch. Sooner or later, they’ll need your products and services. They are more likely to call someone whose name appears on their desk from time to time than “A. Nonymous.” Be sure to mail—not e-mail—reminders that you’re alive and well at least twice a year to everyone on your list. When there’s a staff change, make an appointment with the new person to get acquainted.
And yes all this takes time and is a lot of work. That’s why it’s important to remember that most important of Farace’s Rules of Business: Success is hard, failure is easy.
Joe is the author of the new book, “Studio Photography Anywhere”