As a professional photographer, you’re not just competing with cheap, shoot, and burn photographers. You’re competing with FREE! Anyone with a nice camera may consider himself a professional and can find clients who are willing to pay for their services. Competition is increasingly fierce for you, as a professional, to find clients who are willing to pay you for your artwork.
So how can you find these clients who value photography and want to invest in your art? In my 25 years of marketing experience at Coca-Cola Enterprises along with my career as an advertising agency marketing director and photography business owner, what I’ve found is that it all starts by developing a strong brand.
Your brand is how people feel about you. To charge what you’re worth, it’s essential to carefully craft and manage your reputation for being the best at what you do before you start marketing. Yet as photographers, many of us fail to develop a strong brand before we begin trying to attract clients and that’s where we go wrong.
We recently had the privilege of working with Daniel and Clare Troutman of Troutman Photography in Salem, Oregon to give them a brand makeover on creativeLIVE. The Troutman’s had been struggling to find an identity that truly represented their photography style for the last 18 months. While they KNEW who they were, their brand wasn’t accurately communicating that to potential clients. Like many small business owners, Clare and Daniel were using several logos throughout their website and marketing materials. And while ranking high in search engines, their website that didn’t reflect the style of their photography.
As part of their brand makeover, a professional graphic designer created a new look and feel for their brand that reflected their photography style. But that new logo needed to be reflected every place a potential client came into contact with Troutman Photography so PhotoBiz provided them with a new FLASH+ Portfolio Site with an HTML Mirror, plus a mobile mirror. And the results have been incredible.
If your business looks different every time a client sees you (i.e., your style, signage, marketing pieces versus website, look, personality), you’re making it very hard for them to trust you. And without trust, it’s hard for a client to fall in love with your brand or even refer you to their friends. So what’s to stop them from going next door for the cheaper products of your competitors? Your brand – when it’s strong – can keep your clients loyal and referring you.
Your brand lays the foundation for attracting the right clients and increasing the results of your marketing efforts. Your fantastic, reliable brand will put you ahead of the competition, whether the competition looks like a huge corporation or the brand-challenged mom-and-pop next door.
Your brand is worth more to the long-term success of your company than most other things. Don’t hand it off just because you don’t know how to manage it. You have the ability, unlike shoot and burn photographers who are focused on volume, to directly oversee the management of your identity and reputation with every single impression. From your logo design to your business card, price menus, marketing materials and website, the bottom line is, your identity and brand are worth protecting and investing in.
I’ll also be doing a webinar with PhotoBiz next week on Tuesday, January 8 at 2 PM EST, so make sure to tune in and learn How to Create Value for Your Photography So You Can Charge What You’re Worth.