Second in a series.
Although the executive summary is the first section of your photography marketing plan, you could make an argument that it’s the last part you should write. The executive summary answers the basic questions about your photography business; if you haven’t given these a lot of thought, staring at a blank piece of paper (or a mercilessly blinking cursor) can be a little overwhelming.
So if you want to move on to the other parts of your marketing plan and come back to the summary, that’s fine. But your best bet is to write something down and then revisit it from time to time as you draft the rest of your plan.
The Five Ws
To start your summary, let’s look at the kind of questions this section should answer. We can organize these in terms of the Five Ws (and one H):
- Who. Who makes up your business; it is a team or just you? What skills, traits, training, or experience do you have that are going to convince someone to hire you? What makes you special?
- What. What does your company do? What makes it different from the thousands of other photography businesses in your geographic area? What do you like to shoot? Do you have a specialty?
- When. When are you available? When do you do your work? When did you start in this business?
- Where. Where do you do business — on site, in a studio or both? Where can clients meet you? Where can your work be found — a neighborhood gallery, a Web site?
- How. How do you do things? How do you serve your clients? How do you package and sell your work? How can you be contacted?
- Why. Why did you get into this business? Why would a client choose you over someone else? Why do you do things the way you do?
Sample Executive Summary
Once you’ve thought about these questions, you’re in a position to take your first stab at an executive summary. Here’s a brief sample summary that might spur you along:
John and Jane Doe Photography provides award-winning documentary wedding photography for couples in the Chicago area. This marketing plan sets out our company’s goals, target markets, competitive hurdles, and specific plans for growing our business and sustaining that growth over the long term.
John and Jane Doe are uniquely suited to serve the growing market for photojournalistic wedding photography, having both served as staff photographers for metropolitan newspapers in Illinois and elsewhere. As a couple that has been married for 12 years, they cherish the memories of their own wedding day and are passionate about using their talents to share this joy with others.
Do you see all we’ve learned about John and Jane Doe Photography in two paragraphs? We know who they are, what they do, why they’re good at it, and what motivates them.
Rhyme and Reason
Why is this exercise important? Ultimately, everything you put out to promote yourself should be an extension of your executive summary, and answer one or more of the Five Ws questions.
If it doesn’t, there is no reason for you to bother.
You use Twitter and Facebook — great. But if all you post about is what you eat for dinner, why should a client care? Yes, it puts a human face on your business and there is something to be said for that. But it doesn’t set you apart.
You have a blog — great. But if all you do is post images, you’re not capitalizing on the opportunity to explain who you are and what you’re about professionally. Use your blog to answer client questions, for example, underscoring your areas of expertise and commitment to service.
Answer the Five Ws of your business in everything you do.
Next: the mission statement