Most professional photographers are great with their cameras.

When it comes to marketing however, sometimes things seem more complicated.

As much as we would love a single-bullet marketing approach that would send droves of new clients through the door, there isn’t one. Each photography business is different, and each one requires an equally different marketing strategy.

The most effective technique for gaining clients, is the one that is tailored specifically to your clientele.

Read on to learn five professional secrets for gaining new clients, and see how you can put these techniques to work on your specific customer base.

1. Identify your Customer

First things first. It is important to know who your ideal customer is. How else will you be able to market to them successfully? Not having a clear understanding of your clients is a mistake that can lead to ineffective marketing.

Think about your photography niche and your target clientele. If you do wedding photography, your target market will be brides. If you do family portraits, your target is parents, mainly moms. It’s important to know who your customer is, and to understand their needs. This allows you to create a successful marketing approach.

2. Form a Marketing Strategy

Once you have identified your customer, you can create your marketing strategy. Ask yourself what your clients want, and design your strategy around their needs. Be specific with your approach; think like your client. If you are selling wedding and engagement photography services, an idea for a marketing strategy would be to set up a website, portfolio, blog, and social media accounts. It could include a plan to join social media sites frequented by brides-to-be, such as Pinterest or wedding related forums.

Be sure to set aside time for daily/weekly marketing work. Put it on your calendar so it doesn’t end up pushed aside! Update your strategy as you go along, you will find that it helps keep you focused and prevents you from being overwhelmed.

3. Social Networking

Once you have a plan, you can get to work on executing your strategy. The first step in social networking is to build your portfolio or website, if you don’t have one already. This gives you somewhere to link back to from all your web activity. Starting a blog is another important part of maintaining a web presence. Blogs are usually more interactive than websites, which means more chance to connect and build a following.

Be social. Post comments on other blogs and social media accounts, add friends on Facebook, and follow people on Twitter. Always publish your blog articles to your social media accounts. Social networking is a great way to get your name out there. It introduces you to people, and gives them a chance to see what type of work you do.

4. Network in Person

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Now that you are armed with a marketing strategy, and a well- established web presence, it’s time to get out there and promote your work. Networking in person is an important way of putting your name out there and meeting new people: potential new clients.

Have some business cards printed with your phone number and website address, and get ready to hand them out. Volunteer at local events, and meet new people. Do photoshoots with friends or family and have prints made for them, and upload the photos to Facebook. Post ads on bulletin boards, and run free classifieds. Consider contacting your local newspaper to see about submitting some photos to them, they may need local sports or event coverage.

5. Cross-Market

Connect with other venders in your area, ones that have a similar target market to yours. Networking together is a win-win situation for both parties. You could offer to provide photographs of the vender’s products, or portraits of their staff. In return, they can display the photos along with your contact information below it.

Wedding photographers often connect with other wedding specific venders in the same area, such as florists, bridal boutiques, and caterers. Family portrait photographers could cross-market with hair salons, or dentist offices. Pet photographers could try veterinary clinics and pet supply stores.

Even the world’s best photographer will be lacking clients if they are a secret. So don’t stay unknown. Getting your name out there is essential to your success as a photographer. While having a great portfolio is important, it’s just as important to have an effective promotional strategy.

How do you gain new clients?