It is really important to understand your niche as a professional photographer so you can explain to others what type of photography you focus on. This helps you fine-tune the marketing of your skills. In this video, author Skip Cohen explains the hierarchy of why people hire a professional photographer.
- Let's talk a little bit about your niche and why people hire a professional photographer. That's really important to know because if you understand why they hire a professional photographer, then you can also adjust your marketing and different aspects of your business to better meet the needs of your target audience. So when you look at why people hire a photographer, right off the bat it's what I call the trifecta. The trifecta is brides, babies, and pets. Those three have been the top reasons people hire a professional photographer going back to a survey done in the industry probably 25, 30 years ago.
And I don't believe it's changed one point. So you want to remember right off the bat, especially in what's called the portrait social category, I want to say it again, brides, babies, pets. Now other specialties that come in there, next I believe would be children, then family portraiture, then high school senior photography, and then boudoir, and that would probably be your top seven or eight in terms of why people are hiring a photographer. Also you need to remember male versus female in terms of your target audience.
Women make 98% of the purchase decision to hire a professional photographer. Again this is in the portrait social categories. In the commercial, architectural, aerial photography world, and so many other specialties there are obviously, it's a different mix of male versus female. But in the portrait social side, your target audience is typically going to be mom or the bride. So again women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in those categories.
Trust, trust is critical. You have got to work to build trust with your clients. It's not about how many awards you've won or what gear you shoot with, it's about whether or not your clients can trust you to capture the kinds of images that they're hoping you're going to be able to get that they want to see. Are you going to be able to photograph their family in a way that they see their family? Are you going to be able to stand behind your commitment to be there when you need to be there? Building an album for example is the, a wedding album is the first heirloom of a brand new family.
It's not just a book of pictures. It's incredibly personal and valuable and it requires trust between you and the client to also get the best images. They need to be relaxed when they're working with you. Your quality has to be impeccable. There is no room to compromise on the quality of an image for a client. I'm going to give you a few examples later on of exactly why. Then you've got service. This is a service oriented business. It's a word of mouth business.
It's all about providing the best possible service to the client. It's about making sure that they're happy with what they get. It's about over-delivering. It's about making yourself habit forming. You want to exceed expectations with every client. And then the last reason that people will hire different photographers, and this will vary between photographers and the demand that the client has, is price point. And you need to be thinking through your price points. As you start to build a reputation as a professional photographer you want to be competitive with what a fair price is in the community, but you also don't want to be the lowest person at the very bottom of the food chain.
One of my favorite quotes, "People don't buy what they need-- they buy what they want". As a professional photographer, it's your job to make them understand what they want. It's your job to share images that are so exciting, that get people so pumped up that they want to share them. Remember with social media today and the internet people can look at your images and they will be shared hundreds, sometimes thousands of times with other people. So you want to be able to create so much excitement around your brand, that people just simply want to work with you.
And then most important of all to remember, this is a word of mouth business. I mentioned it just a second ago. This is word of mouth. You want your clients so excited about working with you that they are sharing that information with their friends, with family members, and they also in turn, they become ambassadors for your business.
- Defining your niche
- Understanding your target audience and specialty
- Getting practice
- Understanding the industry and building your network
- The elements of your brand
- Gear: lease vs. buy
- Tracking your costs