Its no secret that people are less accepting of more traditional types of sales methods and marketing. How many people truly use a yellow pages anymore, or trust an ad they see in a newspaper? The percentages are dwindling rapidly.

But one thing will always remain true.

People hate being sold to. But they love to buy.

Because they hate being sold to, its more important than ever to use current marketing methods that will give your potential customers exactly what they want; without feeling like they’ve been speaking with a used car salesperson.

Attract in great numbers, then focus on filtering

When you’re in business for yourself, its easy to fall into the trap of wanting to “book” every person you talk with. Yet that isn’t reality. If you book every person you talk with, you’re actually doing things wrong. You’re prices are definitely way too low. And you probably haven’t defined your product enough to make it exclusive so that you attract a certain kind of clientele.

Yet through all of your marketing methods, it is good to drive a large amount of traffic to your business, then selectively choose the ones that are right for you. Its called funneling your prospects.

Dig Deeper: The Photographers Marketing Funnel

Funneling can actually work in two ways.

First, through all of your marketing, you can drive customers into a marketing pattern in which they learn more about you. It may be through a marketing campaign in which you mail out postcards regularly, or online as a part of a drip campaign with email marketing. Only a select few will really like what you do, calling you to book a session.

Second, once you have customers in your business as a paying client, you can funnel them to other areas of your business. A business portrait client can turn into a baby portrait client, and from there a family portrait client. You simply move them from one part of your business to another by keeping them in the know of what you do.

In either case, its all about focus. Bring people in; then focus on how to convert them into clients. Again and again.

Deliver lots of value at first, soft sell later

Here at Virtual, I talk about content a lot. And one of the things I always mention is to provide great content that your visitors and prospects will love. It has to be quality if you are willing to put your name on it.

Dig Deeper: 5 Tips To Make You Better At Blogging

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In all forms of sales, people don’t buy a product alone; they buy because of the relationship they form with the company, product or salesperson. Think back to the last thing you purchased. I know for me, I changed my mind several times this holiday season and walked out of a store empty handed, only to turn around and buy from someplace else. Why? I wasn’t treated the way I wanted to be treated. My questions weren’t answered, or the salesperson simply had his own agenda without listening to my needs.

People rarely walk into any situation uninformed anymore. They love doing their own investigations and research before they move forward and connect with people. Its not the salespersons job to educate from the beginning; its to listen to where a prospect is and fill in the pieces.

Value comes from providing quality information to a person so they can do research and investigate first. That’s what your blog is for. And if you do it correctly, the second step (the sale) will come much easier.

Create online demos and presentations to show what you do

Salesforce.com recently conducted a survey and found that up to 70 percent of a sales process starts long before a salesperson ever connects with a potential customer, depending on the industry. Again, its back to the investigation and research idea.

When people come to your site, they aren’t looking for information they can find in a brochure. They want to get a feel for what you do. They want to get to know you without having to come in for a one to one meeting. How can you do that? In a variety of ways.

Your blog is the best place to start. Fill it with content and let them get to know you. Add your photographs, fill it with things you’re doing in your studio, and talk about places you visit. Did you receive an award? Talk about it. You’ll be amazed at what people read and the paths they follow – you just have to direct them.

Then take it to the next level. Provide people with a “demo” of what you do. With a simple video camera, possibly an external mic and some editing software, you can produce a high quality video that will showcase what you do with your clientele. [Take a look at the video here as an example.]

You don’t have to perfect it before you release it. And you don’t have to shoot for one presentation that is the “best”. Instead rely on your blog to showcase what you do over and over again. Photographs are great – that’s why they are coming to you in the first place. And if you combine it with movement in video, or even a presentation like Animoto, you’re sure to capture their hearts forever.

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