Fourth in a series.
In this series, we are exploring the creation of a marketing plan for photographers . We have already covered the executive summary  and mission statement . In this installment, we discuss the importance of setting goals, and how they relate to marketing.
Much has been written about goal-setting. Almost anyone will tell you the importance of having a destination in sight before you set off. Who would pull out of their driveway for a vacation without knowing where they are going?
The same is true for our day-to-day work as photographers. Who would shoot a wedding without thinking about which images are needed for the album? Who would shoot a product without thinking about what the client needs and how the image will be used? How can you shoot an image without thinking about the final framing? Almost every action is performed with a goal in mind.
Six Types of Goals
In marketing plans, goal statements set your direction. They should not simply be “to do” lists; they should reflect long-term plans that require hard work to achieve. If your goal statement reads like a checklist, you may want to consider setting larger goals.
There are several kinds of goals. While you don’t need to have goals in every category, setting multiple, complementary objectives gives depth to your planning — much like shooting with multiple lights creates more depth and interest.
Here are six types of goals to think about:
- Financial goals. In business, this is the bottom line — so even if you think of yourself as an artist first and a businessperson second, your goal-setting should start with money matters. How much money do you need to make for your business to be successful? How soon do you need to make it? At what rate do you want to bill your services?
- Non-financial goals. In photography terms, if your financial goals are your main light, the non-financial goals should be the kicker and highlight that give your image personality. Yes, we all want to make money, but what are the parameters you set for your business? Do you want to make enough income from weddings that you can spend 20 percent of your time pursuing personal projects, or doing pro-bono work for environmental causes?
- Short-term goals. These are your most immediate concerns, so it’s OK if this part of your goal statement looks like a “to do” list. These day-to-day or week-to-week objectives serve as incremental steps toward your longer-term goals.
- Mid-range goals. These require a little more work and are achieved in multiple steps or by achieving smaller goals first. Think six months to one year.
- Long-term goals. Ah, the dreaded “career” goals. You may find the prospect of setting long-term goals for yourself intimidating, but they are critical to building a successful business that will last five years, 10 years or more. Don’t stress out too much over getting everything just right, though; as John Maynard Keynes once wrote, “In the long run, we are all dead.”
- Wild goals. After you’ve done all this serious thinking, it’s OK to have a little fun, too. Write down some of your wildest dreams. For example, maybe you’d like to open a small wedding boutique in the Midwest — with the dream of eventually becoming the photographer that A-list Hollywood celebrities call upon for their nuptials. It may never happen, but it will stretch you to think about what Hollywood photographers do and to learn from their styles — which will benefit your local clients. And who knows? Maybe it will happen. Nothing is impossible for those who dare to dream.
Work Toward Your Goals
Once you’ve set goals for your business, the trick is to remember to work toward them. That may sound obvious, but the sad fact is that too many of us write our goals down, then get caught up in our day-to-day activities and forget about them. Don’t set goals just to set them aside.
Begin thinking about how you are going to put your goals into practice. For example, if your objective is to turn photography from a hobby into your primary source income in three years, how are you going to do that? How much income per year will that require? How many assignments per year, at what fee level, will you have to earn?
It’s also smart to share your objectives with others. Sharing your goals makes you accountable for them. It can be a reality check, too; if your plan is to make a million dollars shooting sheep in the suburbs of Santa Fe next year, you’ll probably need to expand your scope. Share your goals with your family, as well as with your friends in the industry.
Finally, make sure your goals are measurable. It is not enough to say, “I want to make a lot of money.” How much do you want to make, and how soon do you want to make it? If your goals are not measurable, how will you know when you accomplish them?
Next: the SWOT analysis