Demanding anything is a scary notion but the trend towards social and global responsibility is growing in 2014, and having the right voice and attitude can result in elevating your brand. As we enter the New Year it is no longer enough to make separate personal and professional goals. The distinction between the two is blurring for many businesses as the global marketplace looks towards feel good solutions. How can you be part of the change?
Without a doubt we have all established some sort of goals for this year and most of us have probably split those goals into personal and professional categories. Our professional goals are often very utilitarian; increase revenue by x amount, find x amount of new clients, increase market share, enter such and such new markets, etc. It’s all very definitive and very calculated.
If you take a look at our personal goals they are usually far more romantic. We may wish to work out or eat better so that we lead healthier lives. We might pledge to recycle more in order to reduce the amount of pollution in the world. We might volunteer our time at an animal shelter because we feel strongly about abandoned animals. Notice how these goals make you feel better even if you are simply reading about them?
That is no coincidence, and what’s more, your clients feel it too. If you take the extra step this year to merge your personal and professional goals the result will be a more personable and relatable business. The goal of any good marketing campaign is to inject some personality into a brand. By having a story and a cause, or something you stand for, you go beyond connecting with your clients through a traditional business transaction and you tap into a more complex emotional relationship based on trust and respect.
However it is not enough to simply make a bold mission statement hidden somewhere within your “About Me” page and proceed with business as usual. The key to this trend is engaging the end user.
Challenge Your Clients
Whether you are passionate about women’s rights or fair trade make it known to your clients and have them show support for your cause. Challenging and demanding things from your clients may seem counter-intuitive at first but just like any good relationship if you don’t push yourselves to grow the relationship can get stale. Challenging your clients gives them a chance to build their own brand story and to find common ground with you.
Don’t be afraid of the initial sticker shock that comes with making a stand and being demanding. It will come as a surprise to your potential clients and not everyone will be fond of the time, money, or energy contributions you are asking them to make. Those clients who align themselves with your cause and ambitions however will have a far deeper respect and appreciation for what you do because ultimately they know you are both taking action towards making something better.
This is certainly not a tactic for the faint of heart. Injecting some personality into a brand and demanding action from clients will inevitably alienate some of them, but in a congested marketplace such as photography, that may just be the best way to stand out in the crowd. The power of saying NO can really turn heads. As long as you have conviction in your goals and are passionate about doing the right thing other people will take notice and those who are on the same wave length will join in your cause.
Pick Your Battles
It may sound sexy and glamorous to fight the good fight but you don’t want to spread yourself thin. Choose one cause and stick to it. Last thing you want to do is sound like a beauty pageant contestant with ambitions of ending world hunger and bringing peace and joy to all on earth and, for comic relief, beyond.
You need to clearly define your personal goals and ambitions. If you’ve got more than one, that’s fine, but choose one to merge with your professional goals and become all about it. Just as with your photography if you don’t specialize it can become easy for the end user to get overwhelmed. Just as you don’t want your portfolio to look like a bag of mixed nuts, you also do not want your goals and ambitions to become diluted because you don’t have one strong central message.
Along with a strong message you will want some form of consistency. You do not need to barrage your clients consistently like that telemarketer who always seems to call when you get home. How do they know I just walked in!? That said you also don’t want to come off as a cheap one-off publicity stunt. When you do choose something to stand for make sure you don’t back down. If you are in it for the long haul people will admire that. Giving those gentle reminders and short updates will keep them interested without being overbearing.
Pick Your Friends
In order to help spread the word about your work, personal and professional, it is always important to reach out to like-minded people. Try and pair your clients with causes that make sense to them as much as they do to you. Fortunately photography is such a fantastic medium for raising awareness that there is no shortage of opportunities for getting involved in some social change. You could go as large as collecting donations from clients so that at year end you can go overseas and document the work of an NGO through photojournalistic coverage. Or, if you are a food photographer, you can simply demand that your clients donate the leftover food from the shoot to a food bank. Whether your ambitions are large or small the important part is to have an ambition that your clients can get excited and feel good about.
A Whole New World
Even though I am filing this article under marketing tips it most certainly goes much farther than that. Sure, the resulting brand loyalty and PR can do wonders for your business, but at the core of this trend are some genuine good efforts that will better our communities. As working photographers we are quite fortunate to be able to make a career out of our dreams and much of our success comes from the communities that support us and our businesses. As business owners and responsible citizens we should demand that those who are in a position to help others do so. We could be part of the change our children’s children will someday speak of. Till next time! Feel free to visit me anytime at Peter House – Commercial Photographer to follow our work.