Paid media advertising can cost a bundle! Even a small ad in the
classified section of a local newspaper can be costly. Yellow Page
display ads, and listings, are also expensive for someone like
yourself who it trying to build a small business.
Instead, why not consider doing some guerilla, street-smart marketing?
I have visited your website, and I like both your work and what seems
to me to be the very viable marketing premise behind it: more and more
people eschew the formalized and trite look of studio portraits and
are looking for something more ?natural.?
I think your best sales tool is your actual work. Therefore, I would
strongly suggest that first you create a simple 8? x 10? sheet that
prominently displays your ?best shot? and that conveys a succinct
message: ?Nothing Artificial Added? (as the headline) and
?Natural-light photography where you live. Truly beautiful.? (as the
short copy). Or something like this, that really telegraphs the
uniqueness of your services.
I don?t know where you live exactly. If it?s in one of the more
affluent Chicago suburbs, then you are already in the midst of your
best target group: Better educated people who are more open to new and
unconventional ways of doings things. People who are of a more
?experimental? cast of mind. And for whom ?natural? (in food, looks,
lifestyle) may be a core value.
Where?s a good place to find such people? Certainly one of them has to
be a Whole Foods Market store. Go here for their locations in the
What I like about this notion is that there is a natural synergy
between them and you.
Here?s what I would suggest. Go to a Whole Foods location and just
hang out there for a while. (Do NOT simply start passing out your
flyers to customers outside the store.) Once you have a sense of the
place and how it runs (Whole Foods employees are all part-owners, I
believe), ask to speak to the manager.
·Tell the manager you feel your services would be of great interest to
Whole Foods customers and employees. Ask the manager if you could
distribute your flyer to the employees in their lunchroom or, failing
that, post a flyer on the employee bulletin board? Say you want to
offer a discount to all Whole Foods employees (including the manager).
You could just handwrite on your flyers something like: ?10% discount
for all WFM employees.? If the manager and/or other employees try
your services and are satisfied, you can then move on, with the
manager?s support and agreement, to the customer phase.
·The Whole Foods Market can tell their customers a special offer of a
reduced price on ?all natural? photography is available exclusively to
them. Maybe they would make this offer in a newsletter they publish
for customers. Or maybe on a customer bulletin board. Or maybe simply
by allowing you to leaflet customers with this offer at the store?s
entrance. (If you are comfortable with this kind of thing, the
personal contact and conversation can be a terrific way to introduce
yourself and YOUR ideas about portrait photography). By the way,
leaflets on windshields is probably not a good idea for this target
market and probably not the sort of thing WFM would allow you to do
·My feeling is that WFM is probably quite protective of its customers,
so they will most likely not let you simply leaflet them, without you
laying this kind of groundwork and propsoing this kind of
So that?s one idea: try to form relationships with places where YOUR
target customers are most likely to be found. Maybe a local hospital,
where packages for new mothers might include a special offer for your
services. Or maybe childcare centers. Or LOCALLY-OWNED child clothing
or toy stores.
Also, there ARE some locations where leaving flyers on parked car
windshields might be a good idea, such as parking areas at family
sporting events like Little League games or at public parks.
With this TYPE of non-media, non-paid marketing, you have to be
willing to put yourself out there and make the pitch. Maybe you feel
you don?t have enough time for this, especially to stand outside a
location and pass out leaflets. But one-on-one marketing is what?s
called for here, I think, whenever and wherever possible.
Finally, using the search terms, ?Chicago small business maketing,? I
searched to find what resources might be available to you locally.
There are many, as listed at:
www.launchchicgao.com/smallbiz. Note the services of digitalwork.com.
But unless you don?t want to spend a lot of time and/or are willing to
spend some money, I think you should be self-reliant (and continue to
use resources like Google Answers). To my mind, you already have the
essentials to effective marketing: a Unique Selling Proposition
(?all-natural photography of your family?s life where you live it? is
one way to put it); you have great product ?samples?, and you don?t
have to spend a lot of money to create a flyer that will do you proud
(Kinko?s can help, inexpensively.)
I hope this answer opens up some exciting possibilities for you. By
the way, I have worked in advertising most of my life, as a
copywriter. And the principles of effective marketing have permanently
embedded themselves in me.