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Change Your Marketing Philosophy and Get More Clients

Getting clients is one of the most difficult parts of being in business. Unfortunately, marketing knowledge doesn't just appear once you have your license in your hands. As a result, many of us look at what our competitors are doing and try something similar, never realizing that there is a good chance that our competitors are also operating from a place of marketing ignorance. One of the most common marketing mistakes I've seen is photographers spending too much time talking about themselves, and not enough time talking to their clients. This means many photographers are shooting themselves in the foot by making their landing pages self-centered, rather than client centered, and they may be losing out on business because of it.

If I do a web search for photographers in several different large cities, like Denver or Seattle, one of the things I see all too often is a landing page with text that goes something like this:

"XX is an award winning professional photographer who loves to capture authentic memories. She has her masters in photography and always uses the best techniques because preserving your memories is her passion. She has two kids, and loves to hang out on the back porch, drinking tea."

Do a quick search for yourself and have a look at how many photographers do this or, what's better, take a quick look at your own website and see if you've fallen into the same trap. 

I know that these photographers are well intentioned, because I've done the same thing. We want our clients to know who we are, that we understand, and that we have the skills it takes to give them great imagery. We think that if our potential clients feel like they know us, then we are creating a bond with them. In a way that's true, but creating a bond that will bring in business takes a lot more than a few words on a page. What's worse is that, when a photographer includes things like this on a landing page, it sends the subconscious message that this art is all about the photographer and not about the client. This kind of stuff is perfect for your "about" page, but maybe not so much for the landing page, where a potential client wants to know how you're going to serve them.

this stuff is fine for your about page fodder, but always see if you can bring it back to you how you serve your clients

On the other hand, take a look at the landing pages of these two successful portrait artists, Julia Kelleher and Emily London. Rather than focusing on their own accomplishments or motivations, these photographers make it all about their clients. Since they understand exactly why their ideal clients would be looking for portraits, they've created experiences that potential clients get to engage in before ever hiring them, and this little taste makes their services even more desirable. Notice that these landing pages are using a truth that most of us who don't study marketing have yet to realize: people aren't buying photographs, they're buying the benefits they get from the photographs. These photographers know their target market enough to understand exactly what need their ideal clients want to have fulfilled.

This can be extended far beyond just websites to our blogs, our advertisements, and to our entire philosophy on marketing. Understanding what your ideal client needs, what they want, and how you can meet those needs, will change the way potential clients perceive you and your work. Make your efforts client focused, not artist focused, and make it much easier for leads to follow through and become clients.

Keep in mind that different markets will require different approaches, and those working the advertising world and dealing with art buyers, rather than expectant mothers, will be operating under different client expectations, and proceed accordingly. They key in either case: understand what your ideal client is looking for and why, and then explain how you can give it to them.

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marknie's picture

I wonder what she would think about my site?

Chris William Williams's picture

Great article Nicole, it brings up a good point that more of us should consider--the "About" page shouldn't be "About Me" so much as "About" why clients should buy in. This helped change my perspective and I'll be updating my website after work tonight. Thanks! :)

Nicole York's picture

Glad to hear it, Chris, good luck!

Scott Mason's picture

The self-centered bio is so common with photographers that I cringe every time I come across one.

In the best case scenario your visitor/lead will think you're possibly qualified, but have no idea how you can help them. In the worst case scenario, they will think you're bragging and will still have no idea how you can help them!

Having customer-centric copy is especially important for commercial photography, where the end goal is for the client to (indirectly) profit from using your work in their marketing.

Chris Ramsey Jr.'s picture

Great article! Definitely a new perspective on how to market ourselves.

Tiina Söderholm's picture

I updated little my about page just now, because of this great article. Thank you.

C V's picture

Notice that a lot of people do this. Thinking that someone told them that a landing page was the way to go. Landing pages are too much of an in-your-face advertisement .. not subtle or welcoming at all.

Our audience consists of architects, interior decorators, home stagers, home owners, and art buyers ... people who are looking for images for their home, hotel, conference center, restaurant, etc. ... so when they arrive at the website, they see images.

Diego Nossa's picture

Great article Nicole!