How to Find Photography Clients, Part II: Creating Partnerships

PIN - Photography clients PartnershipsIn last week’s article, we talked about setting the foundation for finding new photography clients, and we gave you a free workbook to help you get stared.

This week, we’re going to dive in with the tactics behind the first new way to bring in clients…

…Local partnerships!

We mentioned a question in the last post from Kimberly, a Hobby to Pro reader, who asked:

“The one thing that I am struggling with for my photography business? Lack of customers. Because I am only a part-time photographer, I really don’t get a lot of requests for my services. I have a website, I hand out business cards and post them on store bulletin boards, but business remains slow.”

-Kimberly K.

This is a great question, and many photographers feel this way.

Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been around for a while and would simply like to increase your flow of clients, it’s important to realize that setting up a website and doing the basic marketing tactics like pinning business cards to bulletin boards here are just not enough to bring in new clients anymore.

These days, people experience so much input every day from different brands and companies that you have to do something different in order to stand out and be seen.

One way to bring in new clients when you first start out is to work directly with friends, family, and acquaintances (which we show you how to do here.)

But once you’ve exhausted that initial circle of people, it’s time to get creative!

One of the most effective and low-cost ways to get seen and bring in new clients is through local partnerships.

So, what exactly is a partnership?

It is a relationship with local businesses that already serve your ideal client and that offer services or products complimentary to your own.

Creating a partnership is all about building a relationship that will benefit both you and the other business.

When an established local business allows you to display your work on their walls, they are in effect endorsing you.

These partners often become your most enthusiastic “cheerleaders,” and having a potential client referred to you by someone that they already know and trust means they are more likely to book with you.

Let’s look at an example of how this works…

When we first moved out of our home studio to our first retail location in Warren, Rhode Island, we found a great partner in a small children’s clothing store in the same town.

It was run by a wonderful, kind woman who quickly became a fantastic partner and friend.

She allowed us to put displays in her windows, as well as on her walls. In return, we offered to photograph her best clients in her outfits as models for her displays.

Her clients were thrilled. They often bought the outfits from her that they wore in the portraits, and usually bought portraits from us, as well.

It benefited us both and brought us dozens of high-end clients through the years. Yet, the clothing store-owner did the heavy lifting by contacted her clients and sending them to us.

The Cumulative Effect

There are numerous other businesses that we have partnered with over the years. Some relationships have proven more productive than others, but that’s fine!

The goal is to create a cumulative effect – having partnerships with multiple local businesses so that people can come into contact with your brand repeatedly.

Unfortunately, local businesses do sometimes come and go, so it’s wise to create relationships with both new and established businesses.

Who can I partner with?

The number of local partnerships you will be able to strike up will depend on what type of photography services you provide, as well as how many local businesses would be a good fit.

Keep in mind that you can partner with businesses outside of your immediate town or city.

  • Let’s think of some possibilities:
  • Pediatrician and dentist offices
  • OB/GYN office (perfect for newborn and maternity portraits)
  • Children’s clothing boutique
  • Dog groomer or daycare
  • Wedding gown store
  • Prom dress store (great match for high school senior photographers)
  • A salon or spa (Lots of options for wedding photographers, as well as family or even high school senior photographers)

Creating An Attractive Offer

You may be wondering, why would an already established business bother helping us?

Well, because they will be ecstatic to help if the partnership is going to help grow their business as well!

“Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’

-Brian Tracy

So, before you can approach a business owner, you need to figure out what you can do for them.

What value can you propose to make this an offer they can’t refuse?

Let’s look at some key ingredients to a successful offer:

  • The offer cannot cost the owner anything.
  • The offer should have no risk to the owner. For example, assure them that you will remove the display promptly if they are not happy with it.
  • Offer to photograph their clients (for free) as models for the displays.
  • Offer to display their business cards visible for your clients at your location (if you have a physical studio.)
  • Offer to refer your clients to their store.

Can you think of any other ways to sweeten the offer?

Take Action!

Okay – now it’s your turn! Take a moment to brainstorm a list of businesses in your area that would be a good match for your type of photography and where your ideal clients are likely to be found.

Think about what your Attractive Offer for these potential partners in return for displaying your work.
Leave your ideas in the comment section below!

Looking for more in-depth help?

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