Its sad to see a photographer who is really good at photography, yet knows nothing about business.
When we were first starting to climb the ladder of success within the photography industry, we met a couple who were several years older and had several more years of experience. We looked at their work and instantly knew they were one of the best photography studios in our area. Until we got to know them and started learning more about how they ran their business.
When we would get together for dinner, they would proceed to list out several things they were currently working on. And those several things seemed to change every few months. Then they confided the real truth.
“As much as we love photography, we just can’t rely on it for a full time income. We have never been able to figure out how to push it to the point of creating a secure and profitable income.”
These people had some “major player” clients. They were written up in local media. They won awards and were recognized within the photographic industry. Looking at them, they were the people to model. They looked like they had it all together.
But while they were very good at photography, they had never taken the time to learn about the business world.
They created their pricing structure for the low end because:
They felt guilty about charging “too much”, even though it was their belief system that created what “too much” meant, not what others were willing to pay
They let the low end structure their pricing – and their high end was more than happy to pay it, knowing they got a “deal”
For all of these reasons and more, their marketing, pricing, and financial tasks struggled.
They aren’t alone. Many photographers love being a photographer, love being an artist, and completely ignore the business side of things. “I would rather continue being a great artist then ending up looking like a used car salesperson,” they say.
Because business stuff is intimidating, they put it off and say “maybe later” instead of taking the time to mesh the two pieces together.
You can be good at photography and business too.
If you fast-forward years into the future, this couple took the path so many photographers do. They now each have a full time job to earn enough to survive and pay the bills – and pay for medical insurance. They sell a direct marketing product on the side. And of course they still shoot for “fun”, yet they do it as easily as possible now, taking the images and handing over the files.
So if we could go back in time and stop this couple before they headed down this path, what is the one thing that could have helped them build a successful business?
Create a one-two punch marketing strategy.
If you would have asked this couple who their target market was, they would have answered “anyone who needs portrait or wedding photography in the Denver marketplace”.
And that’s where most people go wrong.
If you target everybody, nobody will buy.
If you promote to everybody, your message is missed by the people that would truly love you.
If you price for everybody, you are missing out on huge profits from the people that would pay you exactly what you are worth.
When it comes to understanding marketing and how to target the right person, there are three basic targeting methods to choose from.
Demographics – a characteristic that holds this group together – something they have in common
Price – where is this target market on the socioeconomic scale
By using these three qualifiers, you can put together an exact target niche, and create a business that is stronger and more profitable by giving this audience exactly what they want and need. This is how it looks.
Qualifier 1 — Qualifier 2 who desire [your services]
A few examples would be:
- Newly engaged couples in the United States that are planning destination weddings in Mexico and the Caribbean
- Parents of children who act/model in Colorado that need portfolio images for further advancement
- Small business owners in the coaching/consulting industry who need images for online publicity
Hopefully when you read each of these items, you could visualize exactly what people in this target market look like.
They are very unique in their demographics, yet they all have several things in common that would be easy to target. You could be very descriptive when talking and marketing to them, so much so that you would move beyond “just another photographer” and become a resident expert.
And who do you pay more for? An expert of course.