Many small business owners have trouble with marketing. They think its difficult, an acquired skill that takes years to learn.

In reality, marketing is something you have to work at for the life of your business. Yet it isn’t difficult to learn or do. You just have to realize it is a part of your business and you have to do it. Many of the things that will help you be most successful you already know. See how many things you are already doing.

1. Understand, know and love what you are selling.

Sounds easy enough; yet in reality many people create packages they aren’t really sure about. If you don’t have faith in what you are selling and know it inside and out, you’ll never be able to sell it to a prospect. And they really want to buy!

Marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. And you don’t have to create complex messages. In fact, the simpler the better. If you aren’t sure if your packages are simple enough, explain them to a family member or friend that doesn’t spend a lot of time in your business. Can you explain it in a few sentences and have them get it? If not, go back to the drawing board and rewrite your content. You should be able to quickly describe what you do, what you have to offer, and have them wanting more information.

2. Have your information in a variety of ways.

If you’ve ever told someone what you do, what is the next question they usually ask for if they are interested? They ask for more information. People are skeptical by nature. They don’t hear a few sentences and immediately buy, especially if it’s a larger ticket item. In order to appease their instincts and help them determine if they can indeed trust you, they ask for more information to prove in their minds that you are legitimate. While you don’t have to have volumes of content, you do have to have your content in a variety of ways. Your website is the easiest, especially if its in blog format, because you can add a ton of content to it any time you choose. You can also have postcards, brochures, videos, and a variety of social profiles. Make sure they all say the same things and frame your business in the same way. They should be able to move from one place to another, improving your image in their minds.

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3. Talk about what they want to talk about.

Have you ever sat through a sales presentation that seemed to go on and on? Even if you wanted the product/service, or even tried to stop the sales person to buy, they continued to rattle on and on through their pre-established sales pitch. Boring, right? The key to being great at sales is to put the ball into your prospects court. Sure, you have certain things you have to get out onto the table. But when it comes right down to it, your prospect is the one who needs the information. Instead of moving through a planned out pitch, start out with a question. “What are you looking for in a photographer?” Then sit back and listen. Modify your sales pitch to match their language and you’ll be a sales “rock star” in know time.

4. Follow up means everything.

Most people will not jump at your sales pitch and sign on the dotted line the minute they meet you. Instead, they need gently persuasion to push them along. This is true in every stage of your business, not just with your prospects and customers. If you want action, you must be the instigator. If your client needs time to make a decision, tell her you will call and check in three days from now … and stick to it. If a prospect needs to check with another family member before signing up, call her back to move the process to the next level. Call. Mail reminder cards. Email. Whatever you choose, schedule it and do it. Its up to you to see things though to fruition.

5. You will be forgotten if you don’t keep in touch.

While its important to keep in touch throughout the sales process, its equally important to keep in touch after the sales is complete. People are busy and they don’t think about you or your business on a regular basis. If you keep a low profile to avoid annoying people, all you will accomplish is being forgotten. It doesn’t take much to stay in someone’s mind. On occasional postcard. A monthly newsletter. Regular posts on Facebook. Whatever you choose, make sure you stick with it and are there for the next time your client begins thinking about photography.

6. Talk in stories.

Think back in time. Thousands of years ago, people handed down their history not through lectures and sales pitches, but through stories. The more exciting they were, the easier they were to remember. The same holds true with the best sales people in our industry. They don’t sell by talking about what camera they use or what paper they print on. They sell through stories.

“This bride was one of my favorites. She spent days trying to find the right dress, and wanted to spend time alone with her husband-to-be before the ceremony so she could really see how much he loved the way she looked. So we found a little spot out behind the chapel and had him wait for her. When she walked in, he started to cry. Look at his face in this photograph. She absolutely loved it. She loved the emotion that shows on both of them in this series of images. In fact we got so many great images of this session, we created a mini-album just for this moment. They treasure it to this day.”

See how this story helps you sell? Yet I haven’t made one sales pitch. That’s how powerful stories can be.

7. Always ask for what you want.

People have this way of assuming others know what they want. We lose the ability to ask for what we desire. If you think about a 2 year old, you know there is nothing shy about them. “I want it. I want it.” They’ll go on for hours if you let them. Yet after no, no, no, we eventually lose the ability to ask for what we want.

Stop and think about everything you want within your business. Do you want them to read certain pages on your website? Do you want them to request more information? Do you want them to fill out a form? Do you want them to choose a package? If you need to write it all down, do it. Then work call-to-actions into every part of your business. “If you want more information, fill out this form.” Put buttons on your site, or physically tell them how to proceed into the next step. Don’t assume it. Make it obvious. If you keep asking, you may not always get what you desire. But if you never ask, you’ll NEVER get it. So keep asking.

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