Business Development for Photographers: Getting Leads the Old Fashioned Way

© Paul Mozell 2014 updated in 2019

Ice Cllimbing In New Hampshire

Climbing the business development waterfall

After you have built a responsive website that works on all devices, created a strong social media presence, implemented SEO and bought Adwords you might think you’re done with marketing. Well no… you’re not…especially if your clients are primarily in the business community. You still have to talk directly to people, on the phone and at business and social events. Here are some pointers put together by a photographer who spent many years in B2B sales, selling to large and small businesses and decision-makers at all management levels.

The Elevator Pitch — You’re lucky enough to be riding from the 15th to the 35th floor of a downtown office tower with someone you’ve recognized as the creative director of a mid-sized ad agency. What do you say or do? This is not the time to be tongue-tied. The Elevator Pitch is a 30 second, rehearsed yet natural sounding request to get in the door without being pushy or obnoxious. It may go something like this: “Hi, I’m Larry Lenscleaner, a photographer based right here in town. I specialize in food and product photography and I’d love to learn something about the current photo needs of the agency. Are you the person to contact at the firm or should I get in touch with someone else? ” Don’t offer your business card until the end of the conversation because your prospect will be looking at the card rather than listening to you.

Practice  your elevator pitch with friends and family. Use positive language and avoid things like: “You wouldn’t mind if I called you next week, would you?” The same pitch will help get you in the door on a telephone cold call.

Uncovering Leads — In sales lingo, you should always be building your pipeline. Always be looking for names and opportunities.

Cold Calling Secrets Revealed — You are going to have to phone people you don’t know. It’s hard, tedious, necessary work. Consider these pointers

  1. Don’t leave messages for people you don’t know. Unless you have something they urgently need today, you are not likely to get a return call.
  2. Everyone has caller ID. However, it may not work if your call is transferred by an operator. If you’ve been calling a prospect for weeks and they never pick up, chances all they’ve been there all along.
  3. Calling on your cell rather than your home or office phone may yield better results because caller ID usually isn’t always implemented.
  4. Practice your elevator pitch and use it. Speak naturally and warmly. Slower is better than too fast. Don’t sound like you’re reading or bored.
  5. Don’t call on Friday after 3:30, or first thing Monday, or right after a holiday. Everyone is catching up and stuck in meetings.
  6. Want to duck the gatekeepers, admins and receptionists? Do call during lunch, after 5:00 an before 9:00
  7. Stand up when you talk on the phone and smile 🙂

Finding Names Online — The first place you should go on a prospect’s site is the News or Press Release tab. You’ll almost always find the name, title, and phone number of someone in Marketing Communications in the footer of every post. Articles will often contain news about new hires and promotions, often with emails and phones. You should only send email to someone who requests it from you.

You should be using Linkedin, and if you are not, please sign up today for a free account and start exploring. Linkedin may be the only site that is all about business contacts, not about hitting you with targeted advertising. At some point you’ll realize that Linkedin is not giving you the last names of people you uncover in searches. Here’s a really important trick. Highlight and copy the line of text with the name and title of the person, and paste it into the Google Search bar. Hit return and presto! You’ll have the full name of the contact. Don’t tell Linkedin I told you about this.

example: Groucho M.GROUP  Art Director, Brothers Design —> Groucho Marx, Art Director, Brother’s Design

Keeping Records — You are now telemarketing and keeping records is critical to your success on the phone. Do you have a copy of Filemaker Pro or MS Access? Great! They both ship with contact management templates. At the very least you want to record contact information, notes about conversations, and some way to be reminded who you should be calling back each day. If you are using photo studio management software, like Blinkbid and FotoBiz, most of them have Contact Management built in.  There are numerous free and inexpensive cloud-based CRM tools available. You can use MS Outlook but it really isn’t designed for contact management although it’s a good address book.

Getting More Names — Again, social media isn’t going to get you all the leads and contacts you want. Go to business trade shows, attend Meetups, and attend association meetings whenever possible.

What has been working for you? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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