The Business of Photography: Be Remarkable. Build Fans. Get Clients.
“Remarkable marketing is the art of building things worth noticing, right into your product or service. Not slapping on marketing as a last-minute add-on, but understanding that if your offering itself isn’t remarkable, it’s invisible.“- Seth Godin
In the first article, we covered some basics in the business process and how it will affect your business. Let’s figure out some ways to build your brand and get more clients.
The Business Process
The business process consists of many smaller subcategories that make up a business in its entirety. We are going to break down each one through this series. The first one we are starting with is the sales process which will tie directly into marketing. As stated before, without a client we do not have a business, we have a hobby. Our goal is to get to do what we love full time and have more time actually doing that which we love. A majority of the photography business is running the backend and dealing with minutiae, leaving a very small percentage for actually shooting, and we want to skew it more in our favor. We want to cut the fat and streamline, so we may run the business less (through effective process) and spend more time in the field doing what we love.
The Sales Process
In the photography sales/marketing process, there are parts that collaborate and depend on the other to ensure a smooth transaction. We need clients to have a sustained business and having a sustainable business starts with sales. Let’s break down what the sales/marketing process includes. Remember, each item in the process will be broken down even further. Soon we will all be experts at selling and running a photography business! Then, we will dig and get our hands dirty.
- Find potential clients (prospecting/marketing)
- Booking initial meeting or consult (appointments)
- Presenting your available photography packages
- Finalizing the sale
Finding clients and finding potential clients can be an exhausting task. However, it is the most important task in the business. Finding clients boils down to our marketing and how we are getting our word about our business out there. Getting people to reach out to us and us reaching out to people to earn their business is the goal, and, of course, it must be earned.
How to Find Potential Clients
The best way to establish a name and get noticed is to be remarkable. In Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow,” a book I highly recommend, he talks about a trip to England and how amazed his family were at all the cows in the country side. However, after only a few minutes, the family was bored with them and the cows went unnoticed. He then thought to himself about how awesome it would be if there was a random purple cow in the mix. That would get his attention!
The best way to market and get noticed is to do something remarkable, something that people find worthy of noting and talking about. There are thousands and thousands of photographers in the industry. So many that everyone starts to look the same. Their their logos look the same, their websites look the same, even their photos look the same. What make YOU stand out from the rest? Think of your favorite photographers, think about the well known, well established working photographers in the industry. Are they average? Do they just do the same as everyone else and have clients lined up at the door because they blended in? Or are they the purple cow? I have a feeling they do something remarkable, something that their clients want to share with other potential clients.
I was freshly introduced into the photography world a few years ago when I first attended WPPI working for a company on the tradeshow floor. I only knew a handful of people there. I would go to the parties and see certain people surrounded by adoring fans and I had no idea who they were. Their names held no significance to me, I’d never seen any of their images. However, I do remember one image and one photographer that made a lasting impression. He did remarkable work, at least, this one image I saw was remarkable. This image was a bride on fire. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing at first and how impressed I was with his creativity and originality. I was later told that his name was John Michael Cooper and he is credited for starting the “Trash the Dress” trend in wedding photography. This was remarkable, this was something worth sharing and talking about.
Building Your Fan Club
There are millions of fan clubs, ones we consciously know we are in and some unconsciously. A perfect example of having raving fans is Lady Gaga. Whatever you think about her and her music, I think we can agree that her style is “remarkable.” It’s something people talk about because it’s different. Her fan club of “Little Monsters” have a dedicated website to sharing their culture and their passion of being different. The opening line includes, “This is for us. LittleMonsters.com is a place for all monsters to gather, to create, to share, and to inspire.”
Lady Gaga created these raving fans by carving out her niche market and appealing to them. She definitely doesn’t appeal to everyone in the world, and she is ok with that because she has her group of Little Monsters who rave about her and connect with one another. This is the type of fan club you are looking to create – a group that is dedicated to you and your work, who will rave about your business and connect with other members over their shared passion, YOU. It doesn’t grow overnight, just like the Little Monsters didn’t, however, it does grow organically and will eventually spread if cultivated correctly.
Where are you currently finding clients? If you’re brand new to the industry and making the leap, where have you tried to find clients? In my history of sales, referrals are the strongest way to grow a business. Referrals come from existing clients or your existing fan base. If you’re ready to make the leap to full time photography and don’t have that long list of clients to get referrals from yet, start building your fan club. Start local and grow. Photograph friends and family, coworkers, your neighbors. They will be your first group of raving fans. Since your work will be remarkable (right?), they will naturally spread the word for you. In growing your business, it is all about momentum, and anything you can add to that momentum will build through time- just like your business!
Things To Think About
As mentioned previously, this series will start elementary and grow to a professional level. The goal is to help you grow your current business or help you make the leap from part time/hobby to full time doing what you love and doing more of it. Feel free to jump into a conversation in the comments and throw out some ideas and comments. Let’s grow this together.
- What makes your business unique and remarkable?
- What is one action you will implement this week to become more remarkable?
- Where are or where can your raving fans come from?
- Look what you are doing currently for marketing. Think of one or two different ideas that may seem off the wall but could be considered remarkable, and implement immediately.
In the next article, we will finish off with finding more potential clients and we will dig into booking appointments with potential clients and tips on presenting a client.
Until then, be remarkable.