It’s a new year (FINALLY. . . YAY!) 2020 has been brutal to the photography industry. We’ve faced more unknowns in one year than we ever imagined we’d have in our entire career. Before we dive into to creating our path for 2021, let’s all take a deep breath. You made it to 2021! The start of a new year is always a great time to look at your goals, focus, and put your biz plan into action.
Let’s focus on setting intentional strategies in our business. One of the most important things you can do for your business is to ID your ideal client (or avatar.)
Knowing my avatar helps create a foundation for everything I do in my business – from writing a social media post, producing this podcast, speaking at a public engagement, taking on a client, and more. The photography industry is extremely saturated and if you do not identify your avatar you’ll find yourself screaming in the middle of a crowded room filled with people who are likely not your ideal client. You’re going to waste time, money, and energy advertising to the wrong crowd and you’ll find yourself discouraged, frustrated and burned out with your biz. If you’re a wedding photographer you don’t want to market to 40 something moms, right? And family photographers… why are you marketing to boudoir clients? You shouldn’t be! This is why understanding your client is almost as important as knowing how to use your camera.
One of my favorite ways to identify someone as my ideal client is to run ads including a photo of me in ripped jeans, a pair of heels, and a black blazer jacket making a funny face. This is a visual representation of myself – creative lawyer and entrepreneur – it conveys emotion, but it also repels people that would not be interested in my type of personality. Do you see what I did there? I cut out the noise created by people who aren’t interested in what I offer. If a consumer believes a silly face belongs in a gag reel, rather than the highlight reel, we may not be a good fit. Using photographs to clear out the noise is perfect for photographers because you have a wealth of images to use.
Alright – now let’s have some creative fun. It’s time to create your ideal avatar. This will serve as the base audience you’re trying to reach and can be tailored for the different products/services you offer. What do they look like? How old are they? How do they spend their weekends? What do they do for fun? Go ahead and give them a name. I call mine “Jane.” Your “Jane” will serve as your target audience. This doesn’t mean you disregard anyone who doesn’t fall into your perfect “Jane”, but you are focusing on Jane, and if you catch an Erin while you’re looking for Jane, that is a-okay! Having a blueprint of your ideal consumer helps keep you focused on those who will want to hear what you have to say.
Now that you have an example of my client avatar and an idea of your own, let’s grab a pen, a notebook (you’re going to need one for this journey we’re on!) and your favorite drink. Click here when you’re ready to get started creating your consumer avatar.
UNIQUE SERVING PROPOSITION
“I’m all about serving over selling. The reason I got into entrepreneurship was so I could serve to help others. They could have real business, real life; have a real business to sustain and support the real life.”
Now that we’ve narrowed down your audience from the giant room full of potential clients to your ideal client avatar. Now it’s time for the next step of your business formula: evaluating your unique serving proposition. Together we’ll learn why serving is much better than selling when it comes to your photography business, how to become the “go-to” photographer in your niche, and simplify what you offer, while selling more of the things you keep on your price list.
“Here’s the deal, yes, systems are great, strategy is awesome, but at the end of the day it’s all about really who you are, how you put yourself out there, what you put out, and how you package it.”
In an industry that is full of complexity and competition, the best thing you can do is SIMPLIFY your business.
Your audience is interested in very specific products or offerings, and you provide it for them. It truly is that SIMPLE. As photographers, we often think we need to offer multiple products and a variety of extras and choices, but you actually don’t.
When I first started my business, I wanted to help everyone. I wanted to offer everything. But then I ended up reaching no one. I knew something needed to change, so I refocused. I needed to narrow my offerings and not worry about polarizing people. In fact, I needed to learn to embrace it.
Repeat after me: I will not attract everyone. I cannot offer everything.
Your focus needs to be on the audience YOU want to reach. The last two weeks we dreamed up your client avatar and evaluated your unique serving proposition. This is where your focus should be – simplifying your offerings to attract your ideal consumers. Realistically, we can’t serve everyone and make everyone happy. In the end, you must serve YOUR purpose, and you’ll watch your client list grow.
“You’ve got to have a runway with content, connection, messaging, branding, all that tie in and go through the lens of this formula.”
I am so proud of you for sticking with it! Over the last couple of steps we’ve prepped your business for 2021 by finding your client avatar, unique serving proposition + simplifying your offerings. Now we’re going to apply everything we’ve learned and create a marketing plan for the rest of the year.
You don’t want to hit your clients in the fact with every session theme you plan in 2021 and new product you’re releasing all at one. Remember, people get overwhelmed very easily. Your clients need to be led down a simple and easy to follow path to their final destination of booking you as their photographer. Each year, the team and I sit down to make a plan for the upcoming year that leads you down a path that we’ve predetermined. Ultimately, you must have a content calendar in some form, whether it be monthly, quarterly, or another structure of your choosing. Those “touchpoints” will walk your clients through solutions to their problems, create branding touchpoints and show how you can serve them.
Sit down, grab a piece of paper, and let’s get started: Write down January to December, then pick a theme for each month (it could be themed sessions, the type of bookings you wish to bring in that month, etc), along with a product you want to push, and what your call to action is going to be. Write down the main message you wish to share.
That’s it! You’ve just completed the path in which you’ll lead your clients along over the next few months.