Sometimes, statistics can be scary. If you were to look for success rates for new photography companies, you will find that most of them fail within the first two years. I do not share this information to dissuade you from starting your photography business, but rather to emphasize the importance of putting together a plan (or reviewing your existing plan) before starting your business. What the statistics can not show is how many of these companies have failed despite having a business plan or a quality product. My hypothesis, the majority.
In this article, the first of a three-part series, I'm going to share with you an extract of our complete corporate training system. We will discuss three steps out of ten to start a successful photo business.
1. Select A Focus
When you listen to the words, "select a focus", I know that many of you who are just starting in photography will probably react in the same way we did it, with anxiety and hesitation.
Like all of you, we did not want to pigeon ourselves into a single genre. We felt we would lose customers and opportunities. We were also confident that they were good enough to compete on more genres of photography. Below are some examples of our work in different genres of photography.
In short, we were wrong in many ways. That feeling was leading us exactly along the road of greater resistance.
It is important to realize that when selecting a focus, you do not just focus on the type of photography. Selecting a focus defines who you want to compete with and in which market you are going to do marketing. When you start a new business, your time is extremely limited, especially if you plan to do this part-time. In addition to everything you need to do when you start a business, trying to market your product in multiple kinds of photography is almost impossible.
In addition to this, you have to compete with the quality work of other photographers who are already 100% committed to certain genres. It is a demanding task, not only on the marketing and administrative side, but also on the artistic side, to produce quality work that matches or exceeds the work of your competitors, especially when all the time of your competitor approaches a specific genre. even sub-genre of photography. For example, wedding photographers who focus exclusively on the film compared to more dramatic images, as shown below.
This example shows that even within a niche or gender, we can compete within a particular sub-genre. Competing in more genres is equivalent to trying to start a business that opens its doors by competing on several fronts.
To illustrate, imagine a startup trying to compete with Amazon. Amazon was born as an online bookstore. Their initial goal was simple, to sell books. Today, Amazon does much more. They are competing with Netflix. They have their own data services with Amazon Web Services, which is now a major component of their business. Besides all this, I'm a retailer that sells almost everything. Amazon has hands in so many areas. If you tried to compete with Amazon during the early stages of your business, in which part of the world would you start?
Returning to photography. There are too many genres to deal with all at once. Choose a particular genre: marriages, families, high school seniors and so on.
Choosing to take more genres means choosing to compete with each 100% concentrated competitor inside each niche. At the same time, you are choosing to try to market each of the target markets of that kind.
Instead, start an activity, get that wheel turning successfully so that it turns by itself and generates a healthy profit, and then turn another one. It is much easier to maintain momentum then start it. Focus all your efforts on one kind to gain momentum before moving on to another.
2. Research on the market
Once we have selected our goal, we must research the market. It is here that knowing our attention is fundamental because we want to look for a single and unique market. It is a time-consuming process to do not only research, but also to implement the creation of all marketing resources.
Restricting the concentration also narrows the list of competitors. It all starts with searching for keywords in your genre (for example wedding photography). We want to see who is competing within our attention and area. The easiest way to do it right is to have a well-defined focus on ours.
Skip to Google or any online search and type your gender and position as shown in the image below.
Remember, if we are trying to compare more genres / markets, research alone becomes a much more daunting task.
3. Identify direct competitors
From our search results, we will identify and create a list of our direct competitors. These are people who operate in our kind and offer a product similar to ours. Now, I understand that we all think that our product has no substitutes. However, think about this exercise from your customers' point of view. While your style may vary slightly for your customers, your wedding photography is probably similar to that of your competitors.
There are many people in our price range or in the reference market that offer a product with a level of quality that is difficult to differentiate for consumers; this is what I mean by this.
As consumers and non-professional drivers, most of us can differentiate the difference between a Honda and a BMW. This is a simple element of differentiation and we generally do not compare these two machines. We do not look at a Honda deal and compare it to a BMW 5 Series and say "Hey, the price is $ 20,000 different". We know that comparison does not make much sense. Most of us can understand that level of differentiation because it is a significant differentiation. But we may have more difficulty distinguishing between Mercedes and BMW. For example, the equivalent Mercedes competing with the BMW 5 Series will have comparable and comfortable luxury features. Without personal bias, the typical consumer would not be able to say a significant difference between these two cars. In this way, BMW is a direct competitor to Mercedes and an indirect competitor to Honda. A Honda deal will not satisfy someone's need to own a luxury car.
Think of your photographic product in the same way. When a customer can not substantially differentiate your work from someone else's, the only thing left to compare is the price. When the price difference is significant on a product that is substantially perceived as similar, consumers will always choose the cheaper option.
Likewise, if you are a brilliant and airy art film photographer, it is safe to assume that customers can differentiate your work from another photographer who shoots dark and dramatic portraits. In other words, the dramatic images of a photographer do not meet a client's needs for bright / airy film images. Even if you are both of the same kind of photography, you are indirect competitors. However, another photographer of your kind offering a substantially similar product would be your direct competitor, which we will discuss later.
We will conclude the first part here. While we're here, if you'd like to sign up for a free account, we'll provide you with a couple of take-away items that we've included in the Complete Workshop series on the SLR Lounge. Sign up and follow to get those downloadable, which includes a S.W.O.T. analysis.
If you liked this article, leave a comment below. We would like to hear any other thoughts you have.
Otherwise, be sure to join us next week for the second part of this article.