This article is written for both the established and the emerging photographer. If you’ve been in the industry for years and have a good thing going, use these questions as a gut check and to evaluate your current situation. If you’re starting out, you can use the questions as a guide to point you in the right direction and to grow a successful and happy business. Obviously, the article is geared toward photographers, but the questions are the same no matter who you are or what business you’re trying to run. Before we get into the questions, I’m going ask you to do something ludicrous. Forget about the money. For the next 30 minutes, making money isn’t primary, secondary, or even tertiary (that means third … I might have had to look it up) concern. Let’s just think about you, what you want to do and with whom you want to do it. Cool?
As a photographer, what moves you? What do you love to look at? What do you love to shoot? Is it landscapes? Wildlife? High school seniors? Brides? If you had to pick just one thing to shoot, what would it be? Now, write it down. Seriously. Do it.
Question 2 – Who is My Target Market?
Of course we all want the whole world to buy what we’re selling, but right now, forgetting about money, think of your perfect client? It’s a busy world full of noise, and if we target the whole world, our voice is drowned. However, if we narrow that market, shrink it down to much smaller and very specific pool, the noise level is lower, and our voice can be heard. People start to notice us. So ask yourself: my perfect customers … where do they work? What do they do for fun? What are their hobbies? How do they socialize? Make some specific assumptions and come up with a very narrow group of people.
Let’s say, for example, that I love shooting high school seniors. But to just say that is not enough. I have to narrow it down. Get myself a small sliver to market to. Does that mean I can only shoot people that fit my target market? Heck no. But by getting specific, I can create very specific branding and get their attention. As I build awareness with this group, my presence will naturally spill out and I’ll be seen by others as well.
Let’s look at an example of this method of segmentation. Several years ago, Apple had the novel idea to launch a new music player called the iPod. Of course they wanted the whole world to see and purchase their new device. However, they didn’t target their marketing toward my mom, or the business executive, or the 10-year-olds running around. Their market was music enthusiasts between the ages of 15-35 who own a Mac. That’s right, at the time the the iPod was launched, it only worked with a Mac!!! Even today, after significant growth in market share, the Mac now only owns 6.45% of the global market. But a few years later, guess what? My mom, just about every 10-year-old, and most business executives own an iPod of one form or another. Why? Because they made a phenomenal and superior product, then made serious waves in their target market. Then, their target market became iPod evangelists, spreading the word for them!
So let’s go back to my high school senior discussion. How do I narrow the market even further? I could focus on seniors that are into music and play in bands. Or maybe I focus on the thespian seniors. Or the jocks, or the dancers, or the fashion forward. It could be anything. Just pick a genre that matches your own interests so you can both relate to and enjoy working with them. Now write all this down below the answer to question one.
Question 3 – How Do I Get in Front of My Target Market?
Now that you have identified a small group of people and have figured out where they are, what they’re into, and where they socialize, get in front of them. Let’s say for example I chose the jocks. Talk to the coach about shooting some games and get permission from the parents to post images from the games and tag the players on Facebook. Talk to the coach and tell him for a limited time you’re offering to shoot a “game spotlight” as part of the senior package. Maybe team up with other sports related vendors to put together a “welcome packet” to give parents of the athletes at the beginning of the season. Get out your pencil and brainstorm how to get in front of YOUR target market.
Now, let’s put it all together (you can start thinking about money again, even though I’m sure you cheated already). At the end of the day, the objective is to figure out what you love to do, identify the people to whom you want to offer that service, and then make yourself heard. The more narrow your market the more you can focus your voice and the more likely it is that you’ll be heard. Now get to work, and start marketing!