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Marketing Trends for Creative Businesses

Book 5 new clients this month in your creative business!

2020 has been a weird year, hasn’t it?  I think we can all agree about that.  No one knows what’s right or what’s wrong.  We’re all just trying to do the best we can with the information we have.  I mean, even marketing has been completely different than it was in January and February when things were still normal-ish.

It’s a completely new and different world.  No one is expected to know what to do during a worldwide pandemic.  It’s not like any of us have lived through this before, so we are all just learning as we go. Let’s all be patient with each other!

Marketing in this new climate is a whole different beast.

Have you noticed this, too?  Things that used to work aren’t as effective now.  Things that were effective before work far better now.  It’s so crazy the changes that have happened in just a few months’ time.

My boudoir photography business has a super solid marketing strategy that I’ve had in place for 5 years. Over the past few years, I’ve improved on the strategy, but the original foundation is still the same, and you’ve probably heard me talk about it in previous blog posts, on my Instagram stories, or on my Facebook Lives.

I have a regular social media presence, a beautiful and strategic website(thanks Natalie McGuire!), a solid email marketing strategy, and amazing businesses who regularly refer my dream clients.

I’m in front of my ideal client in as many places as possible(rule of 7 anyone?), and if I had any small holes in my schedule when I planned to be in the studio, I could turn on a Facebook ad for about 4-7 days for less than $20 a day and book those sessions completely out.

Now, though, my photography Facebook ads aren’t working at all, but my email marketing and B2B referral system is working so much better.

2020 Marketing Trends for Creative Small Businesses. See more at

My super solid marketing strategy is paying off though.

Although some other parts of the country aren’t back to work quite yet(as of August 2020), in Saint Louis, we’ve been working since mid May.

Marketing was a little hit or miss at first, but now, my solid marketing strategy is more than paying off.

And the best part- these strategies are organic and FREE.

Instead of relying on overpriced Facebook ads, I’m relying on my Business to Business marketing, which we call Dream Partner Kickstarter in 90 Day Dream Biz.

I’m also relying on consistently blogging content with great SEO that my ideal clients want to see, while still regularly showing up in their email inbox.

By the way, did you know that email marketing has a 38% ROI?

No?  It does and I personally believe it’s where most business owners need to be spending their time and it’s also what most business owner’s avoid.

Since the Stay at Home order, we have all been on our phones even more than we were before(and that was a lot). An email personalized and sent directly to ideal clients who signed up to your email list because they WANT to hear from you… why wouldn’t you be using this method?

Let’s break this into smaller chunks that will book you clients faster.

I realize that if you’re new to business, or if you’ve been avoiding the marketing side and relying on previous clients to refer new clients, then you probably don’t have a solid marketing strategy in place.

And that’s fine! I promise.  We can start building your strategy today. 🙂

So let’s think about it… what will help you get clients the fastest?

Because let’s be honest, that’s what you need.  New clients now.

Business to Business Marketing

You’ve heard of it.  You’ve probably even tried it. Business to business marketing… which I cover in TLC’s Photography Marketing Course.

Two types of referrals

Did you know there are two types of referrals you can get as a business?

Referrals from past clients or referrals from other businesses.

When I ask business owners how they are getting new clients or if they’ve tried referrals, they automatically assume I mean referrals from past clients.

And while referrals from past clients are amazing, personally, I would much rather get referrals from other businesses that I’ve strategically chosen to work with.

I hand pick businesses I want to refer to and receive referrals from because those are my IDEAL clients, the clients that I know will spend money on what I offer.

The clients I’ve specifically chosen to work with in my business.

But how do you choose which businesses you want to ask for referrals?

This is a great question.

How do you know which businesses are ones who would even refer clients to you?

Well, you don’t… but what you CAN do is make a list of businesses your ideal client is most likely frequenting and start making conversation with them.  It can be on Instagram or through email.  Or you can literally drop by and chat with them.

Well pre-Covid you could.  Right now may not be the best time for drop-ins, but it is a great time to create relationships with other businesses. Most have a bit of free time and are looking for ways to find new clients, or show appreciation to current clients. So now is the PERFECT time to start creating these relationships.

And be sure to think outside the box.  Think about businesses other than the obvious choices.

For example, say your ideal client is a bride.  The obvious business to ask for a referral would probably be a venue, right? They see a lot of brides every day.

Let’s be honest though, wedding venues already have a huge list of businesses they already work with.  Newer businesses aren’t likely to get a foot in the door at first.

So instead, what if you went to a fitness instructor who specializes in personal training for brides? There’s your ideal client, and you already know she is willing to spend money for things she finds important.

So action step:

Make a list of businesses from which you’d like to have referrals and start making conversation.

But don’t immediately ask for the referrals.

Well then, how do you ASK for those referrals?

Short answer: you don’t.  You aren’t going to go to the business owner or office manager and say “hey will you refer your clients to me?”

Instead, plan to give more than you receive.

Create a conversation and forge a relationship, and then eventually offer something for their clients that’s a win win for both of you.

For the business, it makes them look great.  For you, it gets new clients in the door.

And, side note, that something needs to be an offer with a specific call to action.

Here’s an example:

A popular thing with newborn photographers is to display framed photos in an OBGYN office.

Well, every other newborn photographer in the area is also trying to do that.  I know every time I go to my yearly gynecology appointment, the walls are full of photos of babies by local newborn photographers…

So, while your ideal client is seeing your work, they aren’t going to remember yours compared to the 6 other photographer’s images displayed in the same waiting room.

Instead, meet with the office manager or the doctor and offer a gift card for a free session and a percentage off of prints.   When the office gives this gift card to new moms, you not only book a new client, the office also looks super caring because of this gift card.  The new mom doesn’t realize the office didn’t actually purchase this session for her.

Downloadable Guide: 3 Steps to Book 5 NEW Clients This Month

I created a FREE downloadable AND printable guide for you to organize your thoughts and create an ACTIONABLE gameplan to book your new clients. You can download it here:

Dream Biz Developer

Dream Biz Developer is a Facebook Group with FREE weekly coaching calls covering all things business, marketing, and automation. Find out more at

This week, inside Dream Biz Developer, it’s all about what’s working in marketing this year, what’s not working, and how to stay ahead of the competition.  You can join the FREE group here. 

Each week, we cover a new topic on a recorded coaching call.  Most calls take place on Thursdays between 12-2pm CST, depending on my schedule, and they are recorded, so if you miss a call, you can easily watch it later. 🙂

I hope to see you inside the group!

Book 5 new clients this month in your creative business!


Tracy Lynn is a boudoir photogapher for brides-to-be in the St. Louis area, and a mentor + coach for photographers looking to level up their businesses with better systems and processes.

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Sales Strategy As A Boudoir Photographer | Tracy Lynn Coaching | See more at

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