Seventh in a series.
We have been exploring the process of creating a photography marketing plan. In the final four posts of this series, we take on the “four Ps” of marketing — product, place, promotion and price — as it pertains to photographers.
Together, the four Ps are known as the “marketing mix” — the combination of tools marketers use to sell a product. The term “four Ps” has been around for 50 years, and while others have promoted variations of it (e.g., the “four Cs” and “SIVA“), the four Ps have served as a remarkably durable and useful structure for organizing a product marketing strategy.
The Four Ps
The four Ps are defined broadly as —
- Product. What is it, exactly, that you are trying to sell? How clearly have you defined it? Have you defined your product based on what’s convenient for you to sell — or based on what customers actually want to buy?
- Place. Where can people buy your product? Do they have to call you? Can they fill out a form online? Can they place an order with you through another vendor?
- Promotion. How are you getting the word out? Are you distributing press releases? Buying ads? Blogging? Have you set up a referral network?
- Price. What are you going to charge for your services? Have you taken into account your competition, your target customer and the identity you want your product to have in the marketplace?
Defining Your Product
Developing the marketing mix for your photography business starts with your product. Before worrying about the other three Ps, you must first configure your product with your target customers in mind.
“What do you mean?” you might ask. “I shoot pictures, and I expect to receive $X per hour/day/assignment for doing this, no matter what I’m shooting or who I’m shooting it for.”
That may be true, but it’s not the way customers think about your business. They think in terms of the end product they want to see online and hold in their hands when your work is done. So that’s what you need to focus on in defining your product.
For example, wedding photographers, portrait photographers and others who work directly with consumers generally find they do better by packaging their services rather than simply charging an hourly or day rate. It makes the offering more tangible to the customer — and therefore more valuable.
You might offer two packages for wedding couples. The first is a basic package that includes photography of the wedding day, a wedding album and online proofing. The second is a premium package that includes all of these things, plus a second photographer, photography at the rehearsal dinner, a slide show that can be shown during the reception, a fancier album set, and so on.
Shopping vs. Specialty Products
The three major categories of consumer goods are convenience products, shopping products, and specialty products. “Convenience products” are purchased frequently, without much thought or effort (e.g., groceries). “Shopping products” are bought less often, generally after the buyer has done some comparison shopping and research (e.g., a new TV). “Speciality products” may be purchased about as often as shopping products, but are purchased for a reason other than price (e.g., an expensive brand of champagne for a special occasion).
As a professional photographer, you will undoubtedly encounter prospective clients who view photography as a shopping product, and others who view it as a speciality product. The former market may be larger, but the latter market will generate higher margins. Which kind of product do you want your photography to be?
Part of defining product is determining the width and depth of your service offerings. The width is the number of product lines you offer, and the depth is the number of products in each line.
For example, perhaps you want to specialize in weddings and family portraits. That’s two product lines. You then decide to go with a simple “good, better, best” approach to packaging your services in each line. So you offer a total of six products.
Greater width means lower risk — but by not having a specific specialty, you dilute your talent and penetration into the market. In determining your product width and depth, you should consider the size of your market and how many photographers you are competing against.
And don’t forget to factor in what you’re passionate about. That’s key to creating a product that your clients will want to buy in the first place.
Next: marketing mix – place