You know that moment when you meet someone and you just know that you were meant to be friends? You find out quickly that you have the same interests, that your Friday nights consist of the same Netflix shows and you're both rocking Doctor Who shirts. It's clearly a match made in geekdom.
Now let's change gears. Let's say someone walks into your studio interested in you photographing their wedding. They're obsessed with exactly the kind of images you take, love the way you tell the story and think you're perfect for their style.
I've had conversations with some of the most talented photographers about this topic, and their biggest concern is that they can't find the right clients. Nothing necessarily wrong with the clients they have, but sometimes they come back at the end of their process with different expectations - they wanted more traditional poses, they expected a different process, they have quiet cocktail hour weddings, when you'd prefer to shoot fun late night parties. All these are just results of not connecting with your dream client.
When these conversations come up, I always go back to the same answer - how much of your branding is YOU? How much of your personality is infused into your social media? And are you sharing the photographs you want to be shooting?
Here's a few simple steps that can help you make HUGE progress in finding and connecting with your dream client.
1. Define and Know Your Target
When we re-branded in 2013, Brian and I had to do a lot of soul searching. And I'm forever thankful to Braizen because they made us answer the hard questions. Who EXACTLY was our target client? What did they do for a living? Where did they live? What were their interests? And then we had to look inward. What did we WANT to shoot? Why? What was the philosophy behind our style? What experience did we want to create?
With a name deeply rooted in our geeky obsessions and business re-branded to appeal to those who had the same loves, we began a new marketing strategy that was filled with exact details and information on who we wanted to book us.
2. Appeal to Your Future Clients on a Personal Level
Once you've got a grasp on the who and why of your business, it's time to start appealing to them. What do they like? What sort of things do you want to share with them?
Example. Brian and I love our video games, we're big into science fiction and comic conventions, and we've used Instagram as a way to show people those are the things we enjoy. In return, people know that about us upon entering our studio, and it's an immediate conversation starter. We love spending the first parts of every consultation just chatting about movies, books, and games, instead of photography. Building that personal connection with our clients makes us happier, tells us that we'll likely have an enjoyable time with them, and that they're going to have just as much fun with us. And we don't feel the need to sell to them. If they've submitted an inquiry and agreed to meet with us, they already like our work, they've already "met us" and we're just having a chance to get to know them. No selling, no gimmicks, just a casual, "hey lets be friends, possibly forever" type conversation.
This can be easily achieved with social media. Share the things you're currently enjoying, that you spend time on, that you would love to have your clients appreciate as well. It could be cooking, your new puppy, your obsession with fashion, or anything else you appreciate.
3. Show Them Your Vision
Your website has already been your firm handshake and professional greeting. Your blog, Instagram and Facebook pages have added the "here's what I love to do" part. Now it's time to set their expectations on what THEY can expect.
The best way to do this is with your blog first, then social media. What kind of images do you want people to book you for? Editorial and traditional? Modern and dramatic? Fun and romantic? Whatever it is, go through your website and make sure that 90% of the images you are sharing match that. Because if you post traditional because you think that's what people want to see, then you're going to book people who want traditional because that's ALL they see. If you love laughing photographs, and silly poses, and funny faces (like we do) make sure that that is front and center on your page.
You can also use your blog to educate. Explain why you don't include the engagement session images in your wedding collections. Enthuse about your love of albums and why you think they're the best way to display your wedding images (and share lots of examples and photographs). Talk about why you sell the items you do, or why you love your wall collections. Give them a heads up on the vision and heart behind your business decisions so that when they book you, they're already aware of what's important to you, and have appreciated it enough to contact you.
We all know how "easy" it is to be in the photography industry, and it's a field completely filled with photographers of various levels. The only way you'll ever stand out is if you share your HEART and your VISION with the world. Tell people why you're different from the similarly priced photographer two doors down. If your portfolio is good, and people are knocking on your door, you're already killing it. All you're doing now is helping them know just how freaking hilarious you are before they knock.
Happy friday and be brand spankin' awesome today!