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Most of my business revolves around ad words. Unfortunately. I do believe that Adwrods is the best tool to help get your business running. For that reason I made a whole separate presentation just for ad words.
I have recently heard from sales clients that they've had a lot of luck with Thumbtack. I have just started it myself and will get back to you on how it is going. At least three people across the nation have told me they've been booking events with little investment using Thumbtack. You buy leads for very cheap, then immediately send them bids for their event. It is very handy because you only need to buy the leads for dates you already have open. Unlike all other advertising, you don't need to spend money on a date unless you can do it.
*** Groupn doesn't get the results that it once did (At the time that I wrote the section below) It still may be worth trying because it's no-risk.
I do recommend starting with Groupon or LivingSocial. The very best time to do something like Groupon or living social is when you are just starting out, for a couple of reasons. One your schedule is wide open so if you get the chance to book a lot of dates all at once, there will be fewer that you have to turn away. Two because people buy the Groupon's up front. And that could generate good seed money to start more serious advertising. The thing about Groupon and LivingSocial is that they take half your money. Around 40%. *But the upside is that there is zero risk!*
I will tell you what I did, even though I'm not sure I can still recommend it. In January of 2014 I ran my own "daily deal ". I didn't use Groupon or LivingSocial, I advertised my own daily deal in which I offered 50% off using Facebook alone. I ended up booking 100 events At $300 each, in only 12 days. If I had used LivingSocial they would have taken $12,000. I only paid Facebook $1000. Now here is the catch: I thought this idea was so great that I should tell my clients who buy photo booths from me. I told a lady in Washington state to do it, she ran the same promotion in June and booked zero events. I told another guy in Las Vegas. He ran the promotion in July and booked five. I gave it a shot again in that same month of July and booked 35 events. I've been racking my brain trying to come up with why the same promo for the same booth with the same website booked me so many and others so few. The only thing that I can come up with is three sentences on my website: In business since 2002. Largest Photo Booth rental company in Dallas. Voted best of Dallas by the knot three times. I also referred a lot of people to search the Internet for my reviews. Which are mostly all five star reviews. Also i have 1000+ Facebook likes. I think when we ran the deal independent from Groupon or LivingSocial, nobody trusted us. I think they all believed that it was too good to be true. Maybe as an older company, with a greater presence on the web going back for years, More people took a chance on me. But that is all I could come up with.
So after all that, I'm not sure that I still recommend going it alone. It might be worth handing over 40% to a company like Groupon or LivingSocial that is trusted. You may end up working events for maybe under $200 each, but you will be gaining experience, getting yourself out there, and you just might book a whole ton of them.
Another thing that might work would be to try running it just on Facebook, but not ask for 100% down. It might be the 100% down that is spooking people, if you try to ask for it without a ton of credibility.
Something to think about.
You can do targeted advertising on Facebook, which means that you can show your ad on the Facebook page of only engaged people within your area. You can even select their age, which is advisable because although people over 35 do you still get engaged, they are less likely to be the type of crowd who wants a photo booth. You can also select gender, if you want. I never select gender because I operate with a pretty good budget. But if you were just starting out, it might be advantageous to select only females because they are the ones doing the wedding planning. You can also select income, this is smart because if you don't select income your ad will be shown only to low income people. I can't say for certain how Facebook does it, they don't share that information, But in my experiences I've noticed that if you don't select for an income group, then Facebook only displays your ad to the people that nobody else is targeting, Which obviously ends up being the low income people. When I ran the daily deal that I mentioned above, I did not select income at all, because even low income people would be likely, and perhaps more likely, to buy a discount Photo Booth. But if you are running a regular Facebook ad, I would definitely Target people's incomes. Even if you selects all available income brackets, it will make a difference because I think they start around 35,000. That's what I would do: select them all. Facebook is less expensive than ad words, but less effective. If I had a dollar for advertising I would spend it on adwords first. If you are going to do Facebook, I think it works best when you're running some sort of coupon or promotion. This is what prompts people to like it and anytime somebody likes it that advertising is free. People are anxious to tell other people if they discovered a great deal, but are not likely to tell other people if they discovered the great company. So don't tell the Facebook audience that you are a great company, tell them that you have a great deal.
Facebook is also great for companies that have a DJ or photography business as well. If you can put your ad in front of engaged people in your area, they may need a DJ or a Photo Booth or both.
You don't have to spend money to have Facebook work for you. Before my babies were born, I would put up a sign at every event that said "these photos will be on Facebook later tonight! " Then I would stay up late to upload them. This method got me 900 Facebook likes in about six months. Those likes got me credibility, i.e. I didn't look like a brand-new company. I'm sure there were a lot of people who went with me because that many likes made me look reliable, especially of course while doing the daily deal which I mentioned above. Other than credibility, the likes don't really get you that much. There's a chance that someone will be ready to hire a Photo Booth and they happen to have liked you six months earlier while looking at their friends photos from their friend's wedding. Anytime you can book any job for free, It's awesome, but it's a drag to ever depend on free jobs. It's faster and easier and more lucrative to pay for advertising in my opinion.
Craigslist – why not
Craigslist cost about $25 to run for a whole month, so why not? It may or may not get you any jobs at all, or you might get one. But for such a low cost, you might as well do it to get your name out there.
There is only one type of free advertising that I believe in, and I don't personally have the personality to do it. Networking. If you are the bubbly, people person type, and you can get in good with the owners of the venues, Golf clubs, hotels, schools and churches, They have the power to totally hook you up. And to a far far lesser extent DJs and photographers etc. The venues are the places the people who are planning events book first. The venues are the ones that people listen to. Schools and churches are great because they may do one or two events a year, and then invite you back every year. But wedding venues have 1 to 4 events per week. It might be worthwhile to butter them up, if you have the knack for that type of thing.
Good luck with your new business! Please let me know of any awesome strategies that you come up with, so that I can pass them on to other great people who are in your same shoes, but different cities.