In this article you will see how a recent visit to a local flea market sparked some inspiration for photography marketing. In fact, shopping at a Flea Marketing (or swap meet) can teach you a lot about photography marketing.
Englishtown, New Jersey is known for two things.
The first is the racetrack where cars, trucks and motorcycles come together for racing, off-roading and other events. Of course, those are perfect events for photographers as well.
The second is the Englishtown Auction, a flea market, where people set up early to sell their “junk” (treasures). The Englishtown flea market is split up into 3 sections.
- The dirt is the most popular location to find treasures because it’s more of a garage sale.
- The pavement is where you find As Seen On TV products or KOACH bags (how about PRADO?)
- The buildings are where you find companies who have been selling there forever, like a toy store or jewelry. The buildings also have places to snack when you’re hungry.
I absolutely love the market, because I am able to find new cameras to add to my old camera collection.
Recently my wife and I went to the market looking for antiques for our new house. While walking around in the dirt section, I was hit was a spark of inspiration. “Shopping here teaches us a lot about marketing”
Speak Their Language
One thing about the Englishtown location is that there is such a variety of languages thrown at you from all directions. What I found really neat was this one table where a guy was really pushing sales by way of enthusiasm. It works at a flea market!
The first time we walked by the table, the man was loud and speaking in English. The second time we walked by the table, the man was loud and speaking Spanish. Although I could not understand what he was saying, he used the same tone and vocal expressions in both languages. So you knew that the “pitch” was the same.
What do we learn from the man? As a photographer, you must do what is necessary to boost your chances of selling to clients. If you meet with a family that speaks Spanish, either learn their language as much as you can to get by, or bring someone along that can translate for you.
Don’t Over Price
As a side before, I love the market because it’s the perfect place to find old cameras.
As I walk up and down the rows of tables, I scan left and right for a glimpse of a camera or camera accessory. My radar went off when I noticed an old Russian rangefinder in a fairly good condition leather case.
I stopped, picked the camera and examined it. Being that it was in the dirt section, there was sand throughout the camera. But that’s ok because I could clean it. I asked the man at the table how much he wanted and he said “$60, it’s the best”.
My older brother taught me a very important lesson as a collector. (He collects old beer trays) Never spend more than what you can get it for on eBay. Think about it. If you’re at a flea market and see a camera there for $60, use a smartphone and check eBay for the same camera. If that camera sells on eBay for $10 then there is no reason to try and haggle with the guy. But if the camera sells for $40 on eBay then maybe you can get it close enough where it’s worth it. (my brother won’t spend more than $2 on a beer tray) So knowing that, I just walked away.
What do we learn from the man? As a photographer, you must know your competition, know the market and most important, know your customers. If you price your services where your target market can not afford it, or your completion is either much lower or much higher, it can hurt you.
Don’t Over Sell
Going back to the guy with the old Russian camera. After I started to walk away from his $60 price tag, he went on to telling me how it’s the best and there is no other as good.
This I found hilarious. A good sales person should know his/her product. If a customer walks up with an expensive, and new(ish), camera on his/her should then do not tell say that your 60 year old camera is the better. Apples to Oranges…
What do we learn from the man? As a photographer you must be honest and humble. Do not tell a customer that you’re the best. Do not try and show off. Just be yourself.
You Must Stand Out
Walking down the rows of tables, you often find a seller in your face. Not because they’re pushy or obnoxious, but because they are smart and stand in front of their table instead of behind.
This does three things:
- Gives the appearance of people at the table
- Gives the seller an opportunity to talk to the customer right away
- Gives the seller a better chance to grab a customers attention
What do we learn from this technique? As a photographer you must do what you can to stand out in the crowd. Having a stunning photography WordPress theme, implementing great SEO practices, and educating your customers through a blog or social media can do this. Of course, there are many other ways to stand out as well.
Show Your Best Stuff
I often notice that people try and sell cheap APS cameras at the market. They try to push it as though they’re high-end cameras. When this happens I laugh and then walk away. If it were me at the table, I wouldn’t try and sell those. I would donate them a school for kids to play with. I’ve done it before and I’d do it again.
What do we learn from this? As a photographer, you want to share you work with customers. Do not share every photograph you take. Only share your best. Doing this simple task will improve your website engagement, social engagement and increase business.
Selling Dirt Cheap
I wanted to save my favorite for last. Remember before when I mentioned the guy selling the Russian camera for $60? Well, imagine he said it was $2 (because some people do sell them that cheap) Would I have purchased it? Heck yea!
I thought of a fun quote that I wanted to share, so here goes… “Just because you’re selling on dirt doesn’t mean you should give everything away dirt cheap.”
What do we learn from this? As a photographer, you must price your services at market value. While you do not want to over price your services, you do not want to sell yourself short. Find the happy price point and go with it.
If the reaction is not what expected, restructure and try again.
In this article you learned how a recent shopping trip to a local flea market sparked some inspiration into photography marketing. Please note that I am not saying to compare yourself to flea market sales or saying that you should brand yourself as a cheap photographer. However, I hope that you walked away with a different view on a very fun, but difficult, topic.
Thanks for reading,