This is a principle that really struck me when I read Michael Gerber’s famous book, The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work And What To Do About It. If you haven’t read this book yet, go get a copy today and start reading. This is a must read for anyone running their own business.

One of the main points in the book is to structure your business as if you were going to franchise it in the future. In other words, create systems and processes that allow you to capture leads and contact them regularly thereafter, something that could be franchised or duplicated later on.

McDonald’s is one of the greatest examples of this. Pull up to any one of their bazillion locations and you will find a picture-perfect model of consistency, from the way you look up to view the menu to the line on the inside of the cup showing how much ice to put in! They have systems and processes for practically everything that could, and has occurred in their restaurants. Their systems are so well-documented and organized that you can plug nearly anyone into many of the positions in their restaurants and they will succeed. (Another one of Gerber’s main points).

In all likelihood, you have some kind of operations system in your business that allows you to provide high-quality photographs and service to your clients time after time.

BUT…I’d bet that for most of you, if I asked you to present your MARKETING system, you wouldn’t have anything to show me.

Do you have a marketing system?

If not, then what you have is money you spend (notice, I’m not using the term ‘invest’) on random acts of hope and faith (both often misplaced!). Is that the way you should be running your business?

To push even further: Based on your current marketing promotions what are your sales going to be this week? ___________

Could you fill in a number that’s at all accurate? If your answer is anything BUT a number, then your current system is one of hope and faith.

With a marketing SYSTEM you get to go to bed knowing what’s going to happen in your business tomorrow, next week, and next month with reasonable certainty!

At the heart of your marketing system there needs to be a well-thought-out structure to capturing leads and continually nudging them along towards the sale.

For most photographers, their “system” means emailing a new client inquiry once or twice after the initial contact. And if they don’t hear from them after that, then they move on.

What if I were to tell you that MOST of my clients take 2-6 months after the initial contact before someone actually books me for their wedding? If I were simply to stop contacting them after only hearing from them once or twice, I’d be leaving the vast majority of my clients (tens of thousands of dollars each year) on the table for someone else to snatch up. No, thank you.

It’s not enough to simply follow up.

You need to be turning the focus off of YOU and onto THEM. This can be done by educating your prospects on what they need to know to make the best decision possible. Let them know what their realistic options are and the likely outcomes if they choose you, choose someone else, or don’t choose anyone at all.

It is through systems that you truly allow yourself to maximize your time, give yourself the best opportunity to capture and convert leads, and provide a consistent experience to each of your clients.