Do you feel confident that you are attracting the ‘right’ type of senior client for your business?
I know that there was a time when I didn’t feel that way at all. I struggled with getting the right type of clients in my door – ones who valued my work and would spend what I needed them to in order for my business to be profitable.
At the time I thought it was just an ‘off year,’ or that there were too many senior portrait photographers in my market to make it work. But what I found is that it was a combination of missing pieces in my marketing mix.
1) Branding and pricing affect who you attract to your business.
This was a big eye opener for me. At the time I thought I had a pretty strong brand. After all, I had a pretty logo with pretty colors that were ‘current,’ and my tagline was super cool. But boy was I wrong! A brand is way more than a logo with pretty colors. It is what your audience thinks and feels when they hear your name. It is what comes to mind when they see your logo- not just based on how your logo looks, but, more importantly, what it represents. It is everything about you rolled into one.
Have an objective third party take a good hard look at your brand and ask them what they see.
- Is your branding consistent across all your marketing platforms?
- Are you using too many fonts?
- Does your brand say the right things to the right people?
For example, if your business is high-end modern portraiture, but your logo and fonts are swirly and ‘cute’ and your colors are bright and busy, then there is a disconnect. Start by ensuring your brand is solid and complete, and that it says what you want it to say.
Your pricing also needs to be in line with your value and your business goals. By pricing myself too low, I found that my target high-end client was not interested in what I had to offer. The clients I was attracting were price-sensitive and, often times, simply price shoppers. In order to create value for my products and services, I had to create pricing that was profitable for my business and that placed a value on my time and products at a level where my target market appreciated what I had to offer. If you are unsure where to start, check out PPA’s benchmark survey and online resources on how to price your products. This will help you create pricing that is profitable for your business model and target market.
2) Pre-qualify your clients – and don’t be afraid to say no!
When your schedule isn’t full it can be tempting to try and book everyone who calls. I completely get it! You have to photograph people in order to make money to stay in business, so why wouldn’t you want to book everyone? But the reality is this: if you are not pre-qualifying your clients before you book them, you can end up booking the wrong type of client.
Once you have established your prices so that your sessions are profitable to your business, don’t be afraid to say no! Not everyone is your client, and that’s ok! If you book every person who calls, then there is no demand for your services. If someone cannot afford your prices – or is not willing to pay them – then spending time photographing them, editing, retouching and selling will cost you time AND money in the long-run. Be sure that the person you are booking is a good fit for you before you put them on the books.
3) Ensure your work is at a level that commands top dollar.
This seems like a no-brainer, but you need to be sure that the level of your work is in line with your pricing. Trust me – my work when I first started leaves a lot to be desired (and no, I’m not going to show you – I’ve burned it along with the pictures of my high school crush). But when I created profitable pricing that was in line with the quality of my work, I began to attract the right type of client for my business.
The key is this – never stop learning and growing in your craft. As your skills increase, your pricing should increase along with it. If you are charging Mercedes pricing for Chevrolet work, then you will not be able to attract the right type of client. The same goes in reverse, if you are charging Chevrolet pricing for Mercedes work, you will attract clients who do not value what you have to offer. Enroll in workshops and work one-on-one with mentors who help to increase your photography skills, and you will see an increase in the caliber of your clients.
4) Show only your very best work.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘less is more?’ This is especially true in your marketing. A mistake that many photographers make is feeling that they need to display ALL of their work in their marketing. Ever go to a photographer’s website and see gallery upon gallery of hundreds of images? You see some that look great, and then others that don’t. You should only be displaying your VERY BEST work in all of your marketing – both in printed pieces and online.
Show people examples of your photography style, and show them images you want them to buy. They may not always buy these types of images, but oftentimes the impact images are the ones that bring them in even when they purchase the more traditional ones. Stand out from the rest by showing your best! (Hee hee – that rhymes!) By showing the day-to-day work in your studio, you are giving off the impression that this is the best that you can create, and it dilutes your value to your target market.
5) Presentation is everything.
We are in a visual industry, and – like it or not – presentation is everything. How you present yourself, your work, your images, and your product speaks volumes about the type of business you run and the type of client you attract. Are you dressed appropriately to appeal to your target market? Is your work presented to them in a method in line with your business model? For example, if you have a high-end business model, are you using in-person projection sales appointments, or are you leaving your clients to make their own decisions online without the help of your professional expertise? Does your packaging make your clients feel they have invested well in a high-end product? Do they feel it is a gift to be treasured? Take a look around at all areas of your business with a set of objective eyes and see if there are areas that need to be tweaked to be more in line with your brand image and your target market.
I’m ready, so now what?
Now that you’re ready to market to the ‘right’ senior client, I want to help you get started! Seniors Ignite has created a FREE guide with ’12 Low Cost Marketing Ideas That Will Grow Your Senior Business’. The photographers at Seniors Ignite want to help you take your senior business to the next level, and we’re here to help you reach your target market in a cost-effective way that will have you bringing the right clients in your door all year long.
Peace and popsicles.
About the author
Jen Basford owns 3 girls photography in Edmond, Oklahoma. She is best known for fashion-inspired high school senior portraits and the annual must-see fashion show she puts on for upcoming seniors each spring. Jen is one of the top senior portrait photographers in the Midwest largely due to her out-of-the-box approach to marketing and client relationships.
Jen also owns Seniors Ignite, an organization dedicated to providing next-level senior portrait photography education to photographers to help them grow their business.