So you want to attract more of your ideal photography clients? OK, let’s talk about that!
Knowing how to reach and attract more of the right calibre clients to your photography business is a common challenge. We’ve all had those clients who, with hindsight, are most definitely NOT ‘ideal’. But, don’t lose faith!
Your ideal photography clients ARE out there, and it’s entirely possible to win more business from the right people and, in doing so, to build a thriving photography business that you love. That is, once you’ve understood a few basic principles about marketing and applied these to your business.
Back to basics: Marketing fundamentals
1. Marketing is most effective when it’s customer-centric
Rather than create a service and then try to sell it, you should do it the other way around. So, identify an audience – a group of people with a common need – and create a service that meets their requirements.
If you create something that the market doesn’t want or need, you’re going to have a hard time convincing people to buy. Instead, always be striving to understand what the market you’re hoping to serve really needs (rather than what you believe is needed), and create genuine solutions to their problems.
In relation to photography, what are your ideal client’s specific needs and desires? Have you really made this a priority to understand? How customer-centric are you? How often are you asking them what they really want?
2. Marketing is about change
We all buy products and services that help us in some way. We might have a need or desire to look good, get fitter, or eat healthier, for example. So, we invest in things that will help us to achieve these goals. We buy certain clothes or style our hair in a particular way, we invest in a gym membership, and we choose healthy food options in the supermarket.
These purchases are based on a desire for change. We have identified a need and we are prepared to spend money on whatever it is that we believe will help us get closer to achieving our goals.
What change or transformation do you offer your clients? What need or desire does your photography fulfil? How does it change their lives?
3. Emotion plays a huge role in marketing
Emotion is a huge factor in why we buy the products and services that we do. We aren’t completely logical when deciding what to buy and what not to buy. We are massively influenced by our emotions! This is why it’s so important when trying to define who your ideal client is to look beyond demographics.
If you’ve only ever created a vague description of your ideal photography client before, focusing on things like their age, gender, income, and what car they drive, then you’re missing a trick. Your ideal photography clients might well be of a certain age, be married with 2.4 children and all live in a particular geographical area, but aside from this you also MUST consider the emotional aspects of why they might invest in a professional photographer or buy photography products.
- What are the problems and frustrations they’re experiencing, and that you can help to solve?
- What are their fears?
- What are their reservations about potentially hiring you?
- What is the risk to them if they don’t hire you?
- What do they value? How do they see the world?
- Who do they trust? Who influences them?
- What might make them buy? What would put them off from buying?
Knowing the above – the ‘psychographics’ of your ideal photography client – which go way beyond demographics is essential in order to truly begin to understand what they are looking for and why they might buy.
It’s only by knowing who they are as a person and what makes them tick and what keeps them awake at night, then can you begin to attempt to create persuasive messaging that will attract them to hire you as their photographer of choice. You need to understand them as people and to be able to emphasise with who they are and what they are striving for through photography.
4. Marketing to everyone will attract no-one
Having a tightly-defined niche is a far more effective way to grow your photography business.
When presented with two options – a jack-of-all-trades photographer and a specialist family photographer, for example – it’s highly likely that a busy mum looking for timeless family portraits will hire the specialist.
People love to work with experts. Having a signature service or offering just a handful of complementary services or products will make it not only far easier for you to market and promote yourself, but also make it more likely that your ideal clients will choose you.
There will always be exceptions to this rule – photographers who are absolutely bossing it in their business and who are serving a wide variety of people or businesses but, generally, specialists are more likely to be seen as the go-to photographer than someone who claims to offer many types of photography service.
Are you a specialist or a generalist? How’s that working out for you?
Related reading: Five ways to become a go-to photographer in your niche
Are you working with the wrong photography clients?
If you find that you’re attracting photography clients who aren’t ‘ideal’, no doubt you want to change that, and fast! Otherwise, you’ll continue to be trapped in a vicious circle of attracting and booking the wrong kind of clients, and you’ll find yourself running a business which is nothing like the one you want.
Who is, and isn’t, your ‘ideal’ photography client?
I’d hazard a guess that the clients you probably DON’T want to work with:
- consider photography a commodity – they fail to see the value in your work
- compare you to other photographers on price alone
- don’t take the time to understand who you are and how you’re uniquely able to help them
- have unrealistic demands or want to micro-manage their photography session
- are impossible to get hold of and to build a rapport with – they ignore your calls, emails and reminders
- don’t appreciate your need for boundaries – they keep private messaging you and expect you to respond at any time of the day or night
- show up late for their session or, worse, not at all!
- delay payment or fob you off with excuses when it comes to settling your invoice
- aren’t likely to re-book you or spread the word about your services among the people you want to attract in the future.
In contrast, the kind of clients you DO want to work with:
- appreciate your creativity and adore your unique creative style, wanting the same for themselves
- book you without questioning your prices, without haggling for discounts on your packages or asking for freebies
- turn up on time on the day of the photoshoot (if you’re a people or pet photographer)
- follow your instructions and let you get on with the job
- trust your expertise and follow your advice
- pay promptly
- are thrilled with the images you create
- happily recommend you to friends, family (and even total strangers) who also match your ideal client profile
- become a customer for life, booking you time and time again and again
- wouldn’t even consider using any other photographer. They love what you do and you’re the only person they’d want to hire.
How to attract your perfect photography client
Now we have an overall picture of who you do and don’t want to work with, the challenge now is to go deeper. After all, the ‘ideal’ client we’ve just described is the kind of client everyone wants, right?!
These are all common traits of someone who might well be your ideal photography client, but this description only scratches the surface. You need to know far more than this about them in order to know that they are the right fit for you and to decide how you might attract them to your business.
The ideal client attraction process
STEP ONE: Define your ideal photography client
Aim to map out exactly who your ideal photography client is. Define, visualise and truly understand the people you are really trying to connect with, and it will allow you to move forward with greater clarity and purpose than ever before. You need this clarity in order to effectively reach and attract them.
STEP TWO: Place them at the heart of everything you do in your business
The right people will only hire you as their photographer if they identify with your brand and your marketing messages. Your website and all your marketing content should make them feel as if you’re speaking directly to them. It should demonstrate that you understand them, know their challenges and have a solution.
So, always keep them in mind when crafting your brand, your marketing messages, your social media posts, blogs and videos. This person is the most important person in your business and should always be top-of-mind.
STEP THREE: Aim to actively repel those who aren’t an ideal fit for your photography business
Through your brand and your marketing, you can communicate not only who is the perfect fit for you but also who you are not the right fit for. Don’t be shy about overtly stating this.
I’d argue that turning work down, which might make you overworked, stressed and unhappy, is better than accepting anything that comes your way. With more time and energy available to focus on targeting the right clients to your photography business, you’ll be more likely to attract them. Short-term pain for long-term gain.
Attract more of your ideal photography clients
As I’ve emphasised, defining who exactly you want to target is crucial to the success of your photography business. But it’s often a missed-out step.
You may well have considered your target audience before, and perhaps even put pen to paper about who this person is. But have you truly defined your ideal photography client in great depth, looking beyond the demographics and focusing on their internal needs and the emotional reasons why people buy?
If not, set aside some time to do this important work. This really is the secret to attracting more of your ideal photography clients.