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.

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Comment by TourBuzz Support on May 22, 2012 at 9:58am

Thanks so much for the detailed post! There are a lot of great practices that should help people get the most out of their "marketing" time.

A few questions about LinkedIn - have you tried InMail to reach out to the top agents and see if you can spark a sale that way? It'd be a cost-effective way to reach top listing agents. Also have you tried LinkedIn advertising? We use it at TourBuzz and find it to be pretty cost-effective as well. It's text-ad only which isn't that great, but it's not bad.

A few other ideas -- do you use Google AdWords? Our experience tells us that there are some great keywords to use to find local business, like "real estate photographer [your city]". You could probably get several clicks a day with a ~$3-5/day budget.

Also I never see anyone mention ActiveRain. It's quite a bustling community and I find it's pretty easy to make connections with agents in your area using the platform.

Thanks again for the great post.

Alan 

Comment by TourBuzz Fellow on May 22, 2012 at 5:36pm

I have done a few things on Active Rain and I am not a "Rain Maker,"  but there are not many local agents on ActiveRain actively. I have used Google AdWords a little and have had some success but not as much as I would have liked. I am pretty high up in the Google rankings if you search for "Buffalo real estate photographer." 

I would be interested in trying to advertise using LinkedIn. I have not done that yet, but I will look into it. Thank you.

Comment by Ted Wiatrak on May 22, 2012 at 7:30pm

We've tried LinkedIn ads, never had much luck, but they keep running.  We've just invested into Yelp advertising.  A Hefty $350/month, but worth a try.  We're doing it mostly to advertise our web and video services vs. real estate photography, but it is there.  The nice thing is the agents will write nice reviews.

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