You are about to embark on a magnificent afternoon of fishing, under a sun-soaked sky. Do you simply drive around town till you see running water, hastily place the car in park, and cast out, or instead carefully plan out a spot on the water that nets you the greatest chance of success. The answer may depend on what the goal of the afternoon is. Let's change that opening to you are about to embark on the one and only chance of the day to put food on the table. Catch a bounty and you eat tonight, reel in nothing but tangled weeds, and you go hungry. If you are a photographer by trade or see this as how you will one day soon survive in society day-to-day, then be kind to yourself, and plan your fishing hole in advance.
Are You Jamming a Square Peg Into a Round Hole?
So how does this apply to your business? Are the style, direction, and subject of the photos you capture all over the place, with no clear consistency? If so, how do you go about marketing your business to a targeted audience with style spilled out in all directions? The trick may be to figure out who is it that your brand, ultimately as it stands, appeals to. And compare that to the clients that you started out hoping to connect with. Are things lining up correctly or are we jamming a square peg into a round hole?
For a healthy exercise, take some dedicated time and study the current images in your portfolio that have been freely released into the wild. As well the color scheme, chosen font behind your messaging, and logo design that fronts your website, and marketing material. Who does this body of work appeal to? Is it modeling agencies, or is it the parents on the local youth sports league, could it be the small business owners, or even expecting mothers, or say newly engaged couples, perhaps product campaigns.
Generic or Name Brand
The body of work as it exists in your portfolio surely appeals to someone, but we all know he or she with the best images alone does not necessarily win the day. I would go as far to suggest, those who have expended time and energy branding their respective business with intentional style, will more times than not be the ones consistently booking the work. As an example, if I am at the supermarket, typically I will pick the name brand cereal with the more polished, and appealing box art, versus the generic store brand sitting beside it, even though it has a more appealing, cheaper price. Do I think they will taste comparable? You betcha I do. Would I like saving money, again you bet. But more times than not, I leave the store with the name brand box.
For me like many others, there is psychological value in that branding, even when I know it’s not necessarily any better tasting. It’s similar for your photography business. The photographer located down the road from you, who is raking in triple figures, but whose images are on an equal playing field as yours, is very likely generating more business than you. Again not because the images are necessarily more advanced, but because they mastered the branding phase, and now market to a more narrowly focused segment. A segment who perceive the value, and will likely opt to pay for their services, because they feel a connection to the photographers branding.
Is this something that you can course correct overnight, the answer is absolutely not. And you should not feel pressured to do so. It’s going to take time to continuously evolve the business into what you will hopefully settle into. But now is as good a time as any to start and ask yourself, what would your ideal customer segment look like. Is there enough of that segment within reach of you to tap into, and if not what could be a secondary or minor brand focus to combo with your major portfolio messaging overall.
The good news is there are many business tools out there for you to break down where you currently stand beside just dollars and cents. Take a purposeful look into the business's analytics, most social platforms like Instagram, and Facebook, as well as website hosts like Squarespace, provide these tools to you for free, or as part of a paid service. Get into a rhythm of breaking these down on a consistent basis, so as the captain you can keep the ship pointing towards profit and maybe even name brand food on the table.