One of the questions I am asked regularly by professional photographers on my Business & Marketing Workshop is “how can they find customers who really value photography?” Let’s be honest, we all hope to work with customers for whom price ISN’T the primary decision when booking us for a family photo shoot. We want them to love our photography and be excited to work with us. “Your vibe attracts your tribe” is a quote you may have seen on Instagram or Facebook, but at its heart is a business principle that is completely relevant to running a photography business. What it says is:
"The messages you put out directly impact the type of customer you attract"
The first stage in making sure your business attracts the right customers is understanding WHO your ideal customer is. To successfully market to these families, we need to know WHO they are and WHAT they like. Prior to becoming a professional photographer I worked as a Marketing & Brand Manager for 15 years. When developing our marketing plans we would invest heavily in projects which helped us to understand our target customer. This would include focus groups, online surveys and, in some cases, asking customers to wear cameras as they shopped in Tesco :-).
The great news is being a photographer means we get to personally engage with our customers on a daily basis. We can gather insights into our clients from multiple sources, including social media. On my Business & Marketing for Photographers Course, one of the early exercises is to brainstorm our ideal photography clients. The end goal is to have a one page description (which can be kept on the wall in your office) to use as a guide for developing marketing activity. If you have clarity over WHO you are speaking to, HOW and WHAT you say in your marketing should become much clearer. We break the task down into 4 key areas:
Knowing WHERE you want to work really can impact your business model. As an example, my business is designed to fit around my young family. Ideally I want to work within school hours which therefore means I would like to work as close to my home as possible.
Therefore this enables me to list the towns in which I want to photograph families including Hemel Hempstead, St Albans, Berkhamsted & Harpenden.
Another great way to understand your ideal customers better, is to think about how you would like to interact with your client DURING and AFTER the shoot. Are the families you want to photograph outgoing & outdoorsy? Are they the type of family which is happy to go off the beaten track to get the best images? If not, do they have a home with very cool features that you could utilise on the day?
This is your opportunity to define your ideal family and what type of shoot will inspire you to deliver your best images. After the photo shoot do they want to spend time with you looking at the images deciding on wall art for their home? Alternatively, would they be excited to see the images online allowing them to easily share with friends and family?
To understand your ideal customer even more, take some time to think about the shops and brands they love. As I work in customers’ homes, I see the same homeware over and over again (the same rugs, picture frames and prints).
For example, my clients tend to have open plan homes and colourful decals on the children’s bedroom walls. Take time to identify the brands & companies which appear frequently in visits or discussions with clients.
Facebook can be a wonderful resource for helping you to understand your customers more. I find social media a great way to see what other pages my clients find interesting, what issues are important to them and where they go for days out in my local area.
For example, I find that my customers are interested in photography in general and will often already own an entry level DSLR. This means that there is a natural crossover between my family portrait customers and my Beginners Photography Course for parents.
As mentioned at the beginning of this blog ‘Your vibe attracts your tribe’ so be clear to speak in a way that appeals to your ideal customers. When you go to design your next promotion ensure the language and visuals you use will appeal to the clients you are wanting to attract.
I hope you have found this blog post food for thought, and if you would like to delve more into understanding your clients and brand I offer 1-2-1 bespoke training and small group workshops all throughout the UK.