We're Erica + Jon, professional photographers, Mr + Mrs and Mom + Dad. We like to share insights into our industry, behind the scenes and stories about our life and chips + salsa obsession.
If you have been following along with our series on Social Media Marketing, you already know that we are complete believers in the power of social media marketing and that one of the ways we use social media is to attract our ideal client. A majority of our social media strategy is built around attracting our clients, but we also are intentional about creating valuable vendor relationships through our social media profiles.
When we started our career as full time photographers, we realized quickly that developing solid relationships with other vendors in our space would be key to growing our business. We personally have not invested in traditional advertising in any way. We have paid $0 for common advertising costs like promoted profiles on industry websites or invested in trade shows of any kind. We know that there are many people that do invest in traditional advertising that see great returns on the money they spend – so it’s not that it doesn’t work. It’s just that our approach is to grow our business for the long term which usually means the slower, yet longer lasting way of doing things.
Instead of investing money in advertising and marketing, we’ve created the same stir and word of mouth referrals by investing our time and attention in people. We’ve created long lasting friendships with other vendors in our space that consistently lead to new opportunities for anything from collaborations to business referrals – and we’ve done it all through social media.
As photographers, we know our brand and style of photography. We are natural light photographers. We specialize in bright, timeless and candid imagery. Naturally, we are attracted to others within our industry that produce products or services that align with our own brand and style! Once we have identified a vendor that we think we might enjoy working with, we take a moment to determine if there is an opportunity to bring that person value. This might seem like a strange step, but it is the absolute one and ONLY key to making vendor relationships work. It’s also the reason that we said our way is the long road – no shortcuts found here.
The key is to be able to bring real VALUE to that vendor. How can we serve them? What needs do they have that we can help with? How can we live out our ‘why’ and positively impact them?
But it gets even deeper than that.
Here’s the part where some people get hung up.
How can we bring that value to them while expecting nothing in return?
It’s completely contrary to everything our society tells us. Our culture is very self-centered. Many of our intentions as a culture are be based on what we think we might be able to gain. Having that mindset will absolutely result short term gain, long term loss. You might see something exciting happen at first, but as your intentions become more and more clear, it will fizzle out and die. It’s all about short term sacrifice, long term gain.
Once we identify the ways we might be able to bring value to that vendor, we reach out to them, often through DM, and offer that value to them making it clear that there are no strings attached. It sounds easy, but going in with no strings attached both outwardly and inwardly is the part that trips most people up.
If you are thinking, “This all sounds great, but I can’t make a living doing things for free,” you’d be right. But if we can be truthful with you, if that is your default mindset, you’ve already lost.
Guys, this is so powerful, and let us tell you that it really does work. Putting care and compassion in front of your own wants is so opposite of what the rest of society leans to that it makes a lasting and meaningful impact when you do it!
We reached out early in our career to a vendor we thought was completely out of our league. We offered value, but assumed that they had anything and everything they needed – there was no way they would need us. We were so wrong. We were overwhelmed with joy when they responded with an opportunity for us to serve them!
We served them and brought them value on multiple occasions – all at no cost to them. We went in with hearts wanting to bless them, expecting nothing in return, and something absolutely crazy happened! From that handful of times serving them with love, we’ve booked thousands of dollars in photography sessions from people we either met during the sessions or saw our work on their social media profile! Today, we even work for that vendor on a compensated basis!
There is real power in using social media for vendor networking! We just can’t stress more strongly the importance of doing it with the right intentions. It has to be all give with no expectations. If you can get yourself into that mindset, you are set up to win, friend! Now it’s just about finding that vendor, identifying the value you can bring them, and making contact!
Did you miss the other parts to this series on Social Media Marketing? Find them here:
Part 1 – Does it Work?