Putting all your eggs in one basket, as we know, is to risk losing everything at one time. For me, this maxim applies to two aspects of my business.
First, if you have a niche market, it is good to develop a second niche, and even a third one. Kodak saw the writing on the wall years ago and diversified beyond making film products only. If they hadn’t, they would no longer be around.
Building Multiple Niche Markets
I have core interests that guide my photography. I love sports, and this is where I first started in photography. In college, shooting sports was exciting. I didn’t outgrow this interest, but I have since added others.
My Christian faith has always been what drives my passion. I have worked for my denomination covering missions around the world and continue to do so today. I really enjoy photography projects that challenge my heart the way my faith does.
I also love technology. This challenges my mind. I love to figure how things work and how to fix things. This has driven my interest in research and technology photography through the years.
All three of these loves have a place within higher education. This is why I have helped many schools, colleges and universities with their recruiting and public relations photography.
I’ve experienced peaks and valleys with each of my interests over time. By diversifying — and yet still being niche-driven — I have been able to spread my eggs across several baskets to smooth my professional journey.
Diversifying Marketing Efforts
The second area where I have divided up my eggs is in the marketing of my services. I focus a lot on networking; this gets me involved in my communities. By joining a photography association, I learn from others and plug into friends who occasionally get overbooked and refer work to me.
I joined the Atlanta Press Club because I meet many individuals at their social events and meetings that I would not meet anywhere else. I have been able to meet people who not only might hire me, but have become good friends.
I’ve also gone to the library to create lists of decision-makers in my markets to add to my database. My database now comprises 3,500+ names, all categorized. I have categories for family, clients, prospects, broken into almost every imaginable group I can think of. I have phone numbers, mailing addresses and e-mails. Each of these is a different way to make contact. I call them, I send postcards and I send out an electronic newsletter in addition to individual e-mails.
When someone writes me back to unsubscribe to my newsletter, I don’t delete their name — I add them to my “no newsletter” category. They still get postcards and occasional phone calls.
I recently signed up for a new cell plan that lets me make unlimited phone calls as long as I am using the Wi-Fi feature of the phone. This lets me make lots of calls. I am learning how to have meaningful short conversations with many people. They are meaningful because I really do care about each person. (If you don’t feel genuinely interested in people, you have to be one incredible actor to pull this off — which I am not.)
One of my gifts, which I have learned to use more and more, is my memory. For some reason, once I learn something I usually don’t forget it. This has helped me in ways I am now only beginning to realize. When I meet someone I haven’t talked to in a long time, I can often remember the last conversation I had with them. So I tend to ask how they are doing and how something we talked about last time is going.
I know many people who make calls for business, and they often need to write down something about the conversation as a reminder for when they call the next time. I started to do this, and just by writing it down I was able to commit it to memory, so when I met the contact in a grocery store, I could bring up something substantive from the last time we talked.
When you think you have done all you know how to do in a particular niche in your field, try to apply those principles to a new niche. And when you are trying to find a new client or maintain your current ones, be persistent and use many different approaches.
After all, what’s the biggest room in the world? Room for improvement.
[tags]photography advice, photography business [/tags]