How to separate yourself from other photographers on 3 different levels so you can attract more business and charge higher prices.
By the way, this model works for any small business, but I’ve created it here with the intention of teaching photographers the basics of marketing.
- Focus – The first degree of separation is Focus. You must separate yourself from your competition because of your focus. Look at the diagram below of concentric circles. If you label yourself as a “photographer”, you are competing with ALL other photographers. Your chance of success is limited. You can narrow your focus slightly and call yourself a “commercial photographer”. You’ve now limited your exposure to competition somewhat, but you’re still competing with all commercial photographers – food, product, corporate, etc. If you want to be successful, narrow your focus as much as you can. If I were a wedding photographer, I’d narrow my focus so far that very few people would be considered my competitors. I’d say, “I’m a wedding photographer that only shoots black and white, outdoor shots”. Many people hesitate to narrow their focus because to do it effectively they’d have to turn a way potential work. You’re right. By staying completely focused, you’ll have to say no to work that falls outside your area of focus. This may seem a little extreme to many people, but watch what happens next.
- Uniqueness – The second degree of separation is your uniqueness (or you could say, your quality). This degree of separation is entirely dependent upon the first. You must select a focus that you are THE EXPERT at. If you don’t, then the 2nd degree will fail you. So, be sure to figure out exactly what you can do better than anyone else. This may take a little soul searching – but it’ll be good for you. So, carrying on with the example I started above, if I were a wedding photographer that focused on outdoor, black & white photos, I’d express my uniqueness/quality by saying “I have a unique ability to capture the powerful moments of a newly married couple because I can bring in the dramatic elements of the sky and the surrounding elements like no one else can.” When a prospective client hears that kind of a statement, he or she is going to think twice – no doubt about it. Why would the client choose another, cheaper photographer if that photographer does everything under the sun, but does it in a mediocre fashion? People want the best and they’re willing to pay for the best. You just have to position yourself as the best. It really is that easy. When you position yourself on top, the competition cannot touch you and you’re an obvious standout choose. If you can do something that no one else can do, then you will get the business every single time.
- Connection – When your focus is narrow and your unique qualities are strong and rare, you become a lightning rod. You’re exposed to the world and on top – ready for action. People will come to you because you’re the best. The third degree of separation capitalizes on the first two. To understand, let’s first take a look at the physics of lightning.
Lightning occurs when positive charges on the ground are attracted to negative charges in the sky. The opposite charges are attracted to eachother and accumulate, pulling eachother closer and closer until SNAP – lightning – a connection happens. The positive charges on the ground accumulate at the highest points (trees, towers, mountains, etc.) because they’re trying to get closer to the negatively charged clouds. When your focus is complete and your unique qualities are obvious, you are the lightning rod. But, it is up to you to reach out and make the connection. The world is slowly losing the power of personal connections because the internet allows everyone to interact in very impersonal ways. But, smart marketers are leveraging technology and the internet to create even more powerful connections. If you can be sure to follow up with every single prospect and customer in meaningful ways, you will create connections that will provide more business and referrals than you’ll know what to do with.
If you do some soul searching and define your focus, your uniqueness, and your systematic way of making powerful connections, you will have no competition. I promise you, the competition will not be able to touch you. And, since you’ll be the BEST at whatever you do, you can charge whatever prices you want. If you don’t believe me, try it. If you don’t believe me, check out some of the most famous, successful photographers out there. They all use these tactics, whether they know it or not.
I’ll be teaching these tactics in detail in upcoming seminars and in my Over[Exposure] course. Stay tuned.
Once you decide to separate yourself from your competition, let me know. Give me your comments on this post and share your successes.