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In this solo recap episode, I discuss the most important points and takeaways from my recent chat with Heidi Thompson, the business and marketing strategist for professional photographers.
Today I want to zero in on three things: communicating your photography businesses benefits and value, analyzing your “perfect” clients so that you can get more of them, and being fiercely protective of your personal time.
1. Learn how to communicate your photography business’s benefits and values to your clients. This is an important distinction to make.
Do NOT just give a long, dry list of features on your website, or in a conversation with a client. Anyone can give a list of features. Simply listing features commoditizes you. It doesn’t show the priceless value you bring to the table.
Yes, they need to know how many hours of coverage they get with a particular package, but make sure you attach the value that you bring to that statement. Here’s an example close to one Heidi gave us (and feel free to use it):
- Example: “For xyz package, it includes 8 hours of coverage so that (insert reason here).“
- Example Applied: “For my premium package, it includes 12 hours of coverage so that you don’t miss the priceless moment your father-in-law loosens up enough to bust a move at the end of the night.“
With this example, you’re communicating your value through the fact that you won’t miss a single moment. You will catch those priceless moments. The bride can have peace of mind that you’ll catch. You’re showing that you care about those details, and that you understand the bride’s concerns. It’s almost like getting in her head.
2. Analyze your past “perfect” clients, and know where their clients are, email marketing
So in every one of our businesses, we have those perfect clients that we love. You know what I’m talking about: the ones that are a breeze to work with, make you smile, and are more than willing to pay you what you’re worth. You wish you had more of them. Heck, you wish all of your clients were like them.
Well, they can be. Or you can at least increase that percentage by sitting down and taking a day (heck, even a couple hours will do) and analyzing why you enjoy these types of clients so much, and how you can get more of them.
To help you figure this out, ask yourself these 3 questions to get started:
- Who is the most fun to work with?
- Who never has a problem paying my fees?
- Who expresses the most happiness and satisfaction with my work after the final product has been delivered?
Example: For my corporate photography brand, I’v found that I really enjoying working with hospitals. Their marketing budget is so large that they never argue with my prices, and they also like to order headshots in bulk, which is great for me because I get to pump through a bunch of people and only have to set up once. And, as an added bonus, it’s the one time I get to order around doctors (in a pleasant way.) They regularly express how happy they are with the work, and as proof of that, they have billboards all around time with their new headshots. It’s a great relationship so far.
Once you’ve figured out who your ideal client is, think about how you can attract more of them. Consider where they hang out, online and offline. This is where you should put your marketing time and dollars. You can also ask your existing perfect customers for referrals, because there’s a decent chance they hang out with people who are similar to themselves.
Just imagine how much more enjoyable your photography business would be if you genuinely loved working with every single client.
3. Be fiercely protective of your time, scheduling meetings with yourself
I want to acknowledge right off the bat how tough this one is. I still struggle with it myself. It’s reserving personal time for yourself to either rejuvenate, or to be in CEO mode for your business. Having or not having time for both of these things can either make or break your business. Let’s talk about you.
Rejuvenation: Taking time to relax is totally allowed, and even encouraged if you want to run your business for the long run. What you will find is that, as you step back from your business and relax, you will become refreshed, and then re-inspired.
It can be as simple as taking a walk for an hour, or reserving a week off for a vacation or “stay-cation” in your home. For me, it’s a weekly Zumba class. However, in order to make this happen, you need to mark it in your calendar as an appointment with yourself, and take it as seriously as an appointment with your client. Take time at the beginning of each month and book appointments with yourself for a few hours once a week. You could even take it a step further and, at the beginning of each year, reserve vacation time on your calendar.
We tend to wear the term “busy” as a badge of honor, but it should not be that way. Being busy all the time will wear you down, and your business. Instead, give yourself permission to take time off and rejuvenate.
Putting on your CEO hat: Stepping back from your business and looking at the big picture is crucial. It allows you to analyze your mistakes, and also the things you’re doing really well. It’s lets you make plans for the future., and allows you to recognize when you need to change the direction of your business. Let’s face it: if you don’t step in CEO mode for your business, you will get caught in the frustrating “hamster wheel” of making the same mistakes over and over again, and therefore getting stuck in the same place with no advancement.
I’ve been there. It sucked. Panic attacks literally started happening (which, interestingly enough, Heidi mentioned was fairly common), so if you’re having panic attaches, know that you’re not alone, and it doesn’t always have to be that way.