When I first started my wedding photography business, I thought identifying my ideal customer would be easy. I defined my ideal client as a "bride". I quickly found out that are so many different variables that I needed to consider when determining who my ideal client actually was. I believe every photographer has an ideal client out there specifically for them and all you need to do is figure out who they are. Once you do that, it's going to make attracting your ideal client a lot easier because you will speak to your ideal client within your marketing materials and your photography blog posts.
1) What type of person would you like to have as an ideal client?
Often your ideal photography client is going to someone who is similar to yourself or someone that shares the same values as you do. Think about the people that you enjoy being around. It's probably your friends, right? And why? Because most likely you have something in common with them. I noticed early in my wedding photography business that the majority of my brides who met with me and signed up had some things in common with me. For example, I'm five foot one, and I started noticing that many of the brides who signed up with me were also short. I kind of think is because they may feel more comfortable around me. I also noticed that a lot of my brides were simple, relaxed and easygoing, which is very similar to my personality. So I began featuring images in my portfolio of brides that reflected a relaxed, easy going personality. I also featured images from weddings that were more relaxed as opposed to weddings that were extremely formal.
Another question to ask yourself when determining who your ideal client is this:
2) Who is NOT your ideal photography client?
Think about what type of people or personalities would you not want to work with?
3) Who are your favorite customers that you just love working with?
In order to get to know your ideal customer better, you need to ask a few questions about them. This is often referred to as creating a client avatar. You can even give them a fictitious name if it helps you. The questions we're going to look at fall into two different categories, demographics and psychographics.
Demographics are defined as statistical data relating to the population and particular groups within it. Psychographics are defined as the study of personality, values, opinions, attitudes, interests, and lifestyles. I'm going to go over a few examples in each category.
Gender: What gender is your ideal client?
Age: How old is your ideal client? Try to narrow it down to a span of 10 years.
Income: What is the average income of your ideal client? Don’t let income fool you. For example, maybe you are a high-end boutique photographer and maybe you think your ideal customer must have a high level of income. You might be right, but this may not always be the case. You might have someone whose income isn't as high as you'd expect for your ideal customer to have, but they place a high value on professional photography and are willing to spend more money for it than someone who has a higher average household income. While the person with the higher income level might not value photography as much and might go with someone who is less expensive.
Education: What is the highest level of education that your ideal client has completed. Maybe it’s high school, college or graduate school. Or perhaps they are even current students. For my photography business, my ideal client was someone who was getting ready to graduate from college with plans on entering grad school. A lot of times they were entering law school.
Job: For my photography business, it was important for me to know my potential bride's job title, so I decided to include this on my questionnaire. I've found that you can learn a lot about your client’s personality based on their career or job. For example, if you have an attorney as a client, chances are that they're going to examine your contract extremely close and they might even ask you to make some minor changes to it. If you have the social worker as a client, they will probably be a lot more laid back and easygoing. If you have an accountant as a client, they're going to be very detail oriented and want a lot of detailed photos.
Psychographics refer to the things that are not so concrete, such as your client's likes, dislikes, their values, their hopes and their dreams. What stresses them out, and what keeps them up at night? What are their pain points? Think about what problem do they have that you are going to solve for them?
You want to learn all that you can about your ideal client. One exercise that I recommend doing is to take three to five of your favorite customers who you love working with. Make notes of the things that they may have in common with each other. You might even check out their social media profiles to give you more insight into who your ideal customer is.
Once you have all the information about your ideal client you're going to take it and apply it to your marketing and your portfolio including your about page, your welcome guides, and you're going to just build everything in your business around the information you know about your ideal customer. You're also going to address your ideal client within your photography blog posts. So that whenever they come in contact with your business you will be speaking exactly to them ultimately making it easier to book them.
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