The secret to business success
Nina Mace is Founder of Nina Mace Photography, a highly successful and award-winning photography and training business she launched in 2010.
I talk to Nina about her business, key learnings particularly from a marketing perspective and the secret to her success.
When did you launch your business?
I started my business after I had my daughter (child number 2). I had worked in Marketing for the previous 15 years and decided I wanted to move to a role which allowed me more discretion around when and where I worked.
Describe your business?
I run a photography business which has grown over time from a family photography company to a training and mentoring business. I began photographing babies, families, weddings and events and as my brand visibility grew I was approached by aspiring and professional photographers to train them. This has grown into a substantial business where I now train throughout the UK, speak at events, plus individually mentor a select number of photographers. I also train beginners photographers and have recently branched out into commercial photography. My plan is to have multiple revenue streams from which to grow my business but the synergy is that they all are centred around families and children.
Who is your target audience?
I have a number of audiences and subsequently market to them in different areas.
- Families who appreciate photography and are willing to invest in a family photo shoot once a year. My target client tends to have children under the age of 8, pets and a love of the outdoors.
- Mums and dads who have great cameras but don't really know how to use it! I target local families for my beginner's workshops and these parents become wonderful brand advocates for my business.
- Professional Photographers who wish to grow their outdoor photography, editing style or develop solid, practical business and marketing plans.
- Children centric brands such as crafting, clothing and toy companies. Brands that are looking for upbeat colourful imagery.
How do you juggle running your own business, doing the actual work and doing your own marketing?
What an excellent question and the answer is not always well! The last few years have been incredibly busy and I’ve had to focus more on efficiency and planning to make the best use of every hour. I’ve now started to schedule marketing activity further in advance and am working towards scheduling everything at the start of each month using Hootsuite for example. I have a new regular series for my professional photographers called motivating Monday and have these now ready a month in advance. As the business continues to grow I may well bring in some additional marketing and admin support.
What marketing techniques have you found most effective?
My brand awareness has been driven predominantly by social media. I’m a very active community member in groups and organisations. This means I’m quite well known within particular photography circles. I’ve also worked hard to feature in major publications (such as Canons Pro photo magazine) to continue to drive awareness.
My most successful campaigns have been born from informative and educational content which starts conversations, sharing and refers people to my online community. I try very hard to ensure anything I do has a real value for my followers. Then when photographers or families think to book a photo shoot or training session I am top of mind.
How often do you do marketing planning and what type of planning do you do?
I work on a quarterly basis and develop a top line plan of what I want to deliver and when. This most often includes launch dates for new products, major blog posts and communication messaging on my socials. That said it is something I need to dedicate more time too as the more I plan in advance the better the results!
Have you outsourced any element of your marketing? If so what parts?
Not yet but it is something I am considering for 2019. Idea generation is my strength but having the time to deliver is the challenge. I would also like to have a quarterly planning session with someone to challenge my plans and also offer a perspective I may not have considered.
How do you market your business?
My strategy is 2 fold - to generate content and discussion to drive my brand awareness PLUS to have a top ranking website so anyone searching who has not encountered my brand finds me first. I manage and maintain my own site and do all of my own SEO and now rank 1st for over 100 key search terms.
What lessons have you learnt along the way?
I have learnt a lot from testing different media and now exclude certain activities including;
- Traditional print media. I have found magazine advertising to be ineffective in terms of generating leads and to some degree generating brand awareness.
- Competitions and offers. These generate interest but I find it challenging to move these clients away from the offer mindset. I now don’t offer any type of discount and instead focus on the quality of the work and my brand.
What marketing advice would you give to someone running their own business?
Work hard to understand WHO your ideal client is and what really matters to them. Develop marketing which is about solving their needs and this will translate into business for you.
Marketing can be a big investment for a small business, what one tip would you give a small business if they are deciding on what to invest in?
I would suggest any initial spend should be invested in marketing planning sessions. Having a clear vision of who you are talking to, what your brand stands for and what your key marketing activities are, are vital for a business's long-term success. As a small business, you can then choose to implement the activities yourself but you will have clarity on what you’re trying to achieve and how to measure success.
Visit ninamacephotography to hear more about Nina and see some of her stunning work.
For free tips and trends in marketing, visit my my blog the sharp end