5 Ways Data Collection Can Help Your Photography Business Grow
There is nothing more exciting in this world than data collection. Okay, we can admit, on paper it really doesn't seem too enticing for your average person (though, admittedly, Chris is a bit of a nerd and likes data, and even working in Microsoft Excel!). But! Data is a really powerful force in the business world, and can directly impact your ability to grow your small photography business into a larger, more profitable, and more sustainable business.
First, let's get this out of the way - when we talk about data collection, we are not talking about illegally collecting information about people. In general, the best methods for collecting data in the photography industry is making note of characteristics about your clients (or prospective clients/inquiries), and providing ways to collect data while providing value to your clients (such as in the form of a non-mandatory questionnaire). Over time, these observations and pieces of data can be turned into something useful.
Here are 5 Ways Data Collection Can Help Your Photography Business Grow
- The right data can help you optimize ad campaigns. Early on in our wedding photography business, we had looked into using Facebook advertising to help get our brand more "out there" so as to build more traffic and drive more potential clients to contacting us. One element that was both surprising and pretty cool (and maybe a little creepy in some ways when you think about the privacy ramifications) was how we could target a specific audience. Not specific like - "men" or "women," but specific like - "newly engaged women, aged 21-35, in Eastern Pennsylvania and within a radius of 25 miles, who like Game of Thrones." It is really an incredible thing, and this sort of hyper-targeted marketing would not have been possible even a decade ago. For better or worse, there is value to photographers using a platform like Facebook to advertise, and experimenting with the data specifications in your ad campaigns, and tracking how they perform, can help reveal new insights about your audience, too.
- The right data can help you define who your target audience is. It is easy to imagine how some new photographers start off thinking that they can serve everyone. After all, we do just take pictures, right? Well...wrong. Every photographer caters to a specific audience, and those who define their audience well tend to perform better than those who leave it up in the air or too ambiguous. Of course, when just starting out, you may not know who exactly your target audience is - and this is understandable, because it can take some time to figure out for sure. Even if you view this as a step-by-step process, you will find collecting data will help you to objectively refine the process for you. As we began to narrow our target audience, a few things started to become clear - we are only really contacted by women (the guys usually take more of a backseat in the contacting of vendors for the wedding day), and we tend to attract like-minded people who not only like our photos, but also like similar things (which you can read about on our About Us page).
- The right data can help you determine what social media platforms to focus on. Data comes in many different forms. When it comes to determine what social media platforms you should focus your business time on, you should consider both the "opinion of the masses" (so: what are other photographers saying about certain social media platforms online and in your local area?) and the performance of those platforms in generating new leads to your websites Contact form. In this instance, experimentation and spending some time on different social media platforms is essential - and generating useful data might take some time. In our experience, out of all the social media options out there, Instagram is the best in terms of presentation of our photography and in the ability to generate leads that translate to new business. On the flip side, while it's valuable to have a presence on Facebook, new changes on this platform have made it less valuable as a tool for business in our case.
- The right data can help you determine what works, and what doesn't. Like we just noted with a quick comparison of Instagram and Facebook as social media platforms, the data available to us that we can collect and actually see tell us to prefer one over the other. The data of "what works, and what doesn't" can be applied in other ways, too. For example, one piece of data that you might find useful in running a good photography business is asking your client's what they liked about your service, and what could have used a little more attention. It is no doubt a frightening thing to ask for feedback like this, but it can be invaluable so you can make changes going forward. Over time, with enough feedback like this, it becomes easy to paint an accurate picture of what you are doing well, and what you could look to refine and make better.
- The right data can help you become more aware of your new client needs (without even being told). Sometimes data is available, but you just need to make note of it to remember. During client meetings, we often will ask if there are any special relationships that we should be made aware of for the wedding day (like divorced parents who don't get along well). While an answer of "yes" and a brief explanation is no doubt useful, even more useful is the body language that comes along with the words out their mouth.
Hopefully this high overview of how data can be leveraged to grow your photography business is useful. We are in no way suggesting that you should fully automate everything, and treat clients and prospective clients as just more data to throw into a pot, but when it comes to marketing and getting your name out there...and actually finding clients...using the information you have on hand, or have collected, is powerful in helping to proactively shape the future of your business.