Who are you?
Not as a human being, but as a photographer, designer, or image distributor. Who are you as a businessperson? What exactly do you do? What do you bring to the table that someone might buy? What are you not so good at? What would you rather not do?
It is rather astonishing that few small business people ask –– and answer –– these extremely important questions.
How, after all, can a potential customer know who you are if you don’t know yourself? How does this customer know when to call you for an estimate?
So here is a suggestion.
Sit down right now and write a short sentence or two describing what you do (or really want to do) for your customers.
(It is possible to be different things to different clients. If you have more than one area of expertise, such as editorial portraits and commercial food photography, you may need two statements. But remember: it usually is not okay to be more than one thing to the same customer unless you have known and worked with that person for a long time. So, for our purposes, let’s just work on one statement.)
A Clear, Concise Statement
Keep the statement simple and strong. If it is long, start cutting. Here are some good and poor examples:
Wrong: I am a generalist who likes to photograph children, but I can also handle some basic still life assignments and I do pretty well on location. My lighting skills are excellent. I am good at enticing interesting expressions from models. Dogs love me, though I don’t know why.
Correct: I am a generalist with particularly good people skills. Lighting and model direction are my passions.
Wrong: I am a designer who works on editorial projects for magazines. I also create print advertising. I am getting into Web site development. I know some html and I’m going to school nights to get up to speed on Flash and MySQL.
Correct: As a designer, I handle editorial and commercial print assignments.
So, what do you do with your clear and concise statement?
You go back and look at your portfolio, your leave-behind pieces, your mailers, your Web site and everything you say, write or do when contacting a client or potential client.
Eliminate everything that does not support your statement. This probably will leave some holes. Filling the holes is a priority. Align everything with your statement.
When you finish, you will have a better understanding of yourself and your business. So will your clients, which means they will know exactly when to call you.
And they will be comfortable calling you because your clear message gives them confidence in you.
[tags]photography business, photography advice[/tags]