This is a question that I know as a small business owner you grapple with on a regular basis.
When you are just starting out, you might wonder how someone will notice you in a sea of other somewhat similar photography businesses.
Even when you are established, there are times when it may seem like your competitors have everything going right, they appear to have it all together, including having all the clients they can handle.
And then there are times like now, when even the most weather tested business is feeling the pinch of an economic downturn.
How on earth can I stand out?
My first piece of advice is to think of long term solutions versus quick fixes.
The last thing you want to have to do is constantly think of short term solutions. Everything you do should be with an eye towards the bigger picture.
If you set goals (yes this is one of the first things I teach you to do!) then you already know what your current long term vision looks like. All your short and long term moves need to be in line with this vision.
Being reactionary, like having a fire sale because business is slow – is short term thinking.
A trickle of new clients that want what you offer at less than your regular rate, but at what cost?
You gain a few immediate dollars but these new clients will never be the right clients. They will never remember that what you offered was at a reduced price from regular pricing, they will only remember what the reduced pricing was. In their mind, you are pigeon holed.
My motto: Free or full price. You will hear me say this ALOT. You can reduce your price by offering less but please please please DO NOT discount your pricing. Trust me, I have alot more to say on this.
Which brings me to my second piece of advice. Always speak to your ideal client.
Don’t try to be all things to all people. This will backfire. You will end up attracting the wrong clientele.
Who is your ideal client?
Every shred of verbiage you use on your website, in your correspondence and in person should have a message that speaks directly to this ICA.
If you are a wedding photographer and your ICA is a twentysomething, educated, well traveled, bride to be and she needs a wedding photographer, talking directly to her about what she wants from her wedding photography (candid, sophisticated), then this is exactly who you are speaking to with your messaging.
You are not simultaneously trying to speak to a couple who is looking to posed, contrived wedding photos. The messaging is so much different.
If you try to speak to both at the same time, both will be confused. And a confused mind says no.
To stand out, you honestly have to be you. Your unique you. Genuinely you.
What do you provide that no one else does? This is really difficult on the surface because when you look around, you see all sorts of photographers doing exactly what you do.
But au contraire my friend. We may both be photographers and there are thousands upon thousands of photographers out there, but no one sees exactly the way I see or the way you see.
We may have the same creative profession, but the reason I do it, how I see and why I see the way I see are very different then the next photographer.
My messaging needs to reflect me and why I am different.
Which brings me to my last point about standing out in a crowded market: your brand.
Inject who you are into your messaging.
This is the culmination of understanding who your ideal client is, understanding who you are and what you provide that no one else does.
This is a little bit different than me explaining why I am different than the next photographer.
What is your story? Maybe it is your background, your loves, your passions, your causes. What makes you YOU.
When you are able to look at your short and long term goals, market directly to your ideal client while being uniquely you then it is inevitable that you will stand out in an oversaturated market.
You can do this.