Real estate photography is like just about any other business. You could be the greatest real estate photographer in the world, but if you do not get your work in front of potential clients, no one will know what you can do. Marketing, and sending a consistent message, is the only way to get your business's name to your potential clients.
There are three types of marketing that I have focused on since the start of my business. Those are cold calls with mailers, LinkedIn, and word-of-mouth. I have found these three areas to be my most successful and I am going to explain how I use each one.
First cold call with mailers. When I first try to gain a client who has the potential to do a lot of business, I first send out a mailer introducing myself. Normally it is a white 9x12 envelope with an into letter, business card, and a few portfolio prints all on heavy card stock. After I have sent out the mailer, I will normally wait a week to call to ensure that everything has been delivered. After that week is up, I make a call, and I call until I actually speak to the agent. Sometimes you end up speaking with the assistant which is ok as well, as the assistant is going to be the one who takes the pictures for that agent. But, I will only settle with an assistant if it is the agent's personal assistant, not the office secretary. Leaving messages with the office secretary is not good when trying to reach agents.
The reason I include mailers when I cold call is so that I have something talk about during the first cold call. It helps to break the ice on your end and also familiarizes the agent with you. During this conversation, I talk about what I do, how I do it quickly, and how I do it with excellence. Do not put down your competition, it will do more harm than good. Before hanging up with the agent, you must ask for the sale. Lots of people can talk about themselves, but for get to ask for the sale. Ask, "can I photograph your next listing?" You might get shot down and that's ok. Move along and go to the next agent. It has been said that you will received 10 "no's" for every 1 "yes."
The next area I focus on is LinkedIn. I use LinkedIn more than Facebook because I can focus my audience on LinkedIn. I ask to be connected with only real estate agents. That way, all of my suggested connections are real estate agents as well. I have removed anyone not associated with real estate from my connections on LinkedIn so that I can truly focus who sees my posts. Try to add a 15 connections every week to build a large network. I have found that after a number weeks of asking to be connected to people, other will ask to be connected to you.
As you post on Twitter and Facebook, you can have those posts published to LinkedIn where you have targeted your audience and your message will not be muddied. I have gained a number of clients through LinkedIn have come to value it more than Facebook as a business builder.
Finally word-of-mouth. Once you have a network of agents that use you, more and more agents will see the quality work and want to work with you as well. I have stopped all advertising besides LinkedIn, and I still get 1 to 2 new inquiries a week just from the work I have done in the past and the new agents seeing my images. Word of mouth is your most valuable form of marketing because it is not what you have to say about your business, it is what your clients have to say about your business and quality of work.
Marketing can be a huge pain in the butt and parts of it can make anyone uncomfortable, such as cold calling. However, if you stick to it and continue to put yourself out in front of potential clients, agents will see value in your work and want to start to work with you. I had a lot more then 10 no's early on in my career, but everyone of those no's get you closer to your next yes.