Marketing that will change your business | Chapter One

“We are taking time off awaiting baby Gray, but have put together our favorite Tips and Tricks from the last two years for us all to review!”

Tuesday Tips REVISITED…As promised we are going to start taking some of our Tuesday Tips and Tricks posts and talk about something FAR more important than the technical aspects of photography, the evil B word (Business)! Most photographers got into photography because they LOVE photography, not the business side! Isn’t that why you started? Most of us hate the 9-5 grind mentality (even though we end up working more than most people with a day job) and we want to be free from all the things that we don’t love doing. Unfortunately, as most of us have found out, if you don’t have a solid business underneath your amazing art, then you are doomed to be broke and frustrated with this thing called full-time photography and even worse, 9 out of 10 of us will end up going out of business within 10 years.* Not cool!

So, what is the remedy? The solution to this problem is to fall in love with running a great business as much as you do with your art and shooting. The two don’t have to be that much different, because if you want your clients to have an amazing experience when they finally see the photos you created for them (which all of us do), then why not have every aspect of your business do that? We can make our entire business a great experience for our clients and it can be fun and creative and a great challenge that you just might really enjoy! So, today is titled “Chapter One” because it is the first in a series of posts that we will be doing on marketing.

For those of you who are the artist type – hang in there! This is good, we promise!

The Websters definition of marketing is: ” the commercial processes involved in promoting and selling and distributing a product or service.”

That is very true, but a better way to think about marketing is: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” We love that! An exchange of offerings that have value for clients! That is what we all want to do, isn’t it? Create value and show the value to our clients in what we do day in and day out. So, with that awesome definition in hand, let’s begin.

There is an absolute right and an absolute wrong way to market your business to perspective clients. Many people don’t want to believe that statement is true, but it is. There are laws to marketing just like there are laws of physics and laws of nature (which are all God’s law by the way). So why would we think that there are no laws of marketing? There are, and violation of them will result in you being very unhappy with the results you get.

Law 1 – The Law of Leadership. Most photographers that we have met over the years all come to a similar conclusion about photography and business. That if you have the best photos, you will get business. So, we spend all of our time, money and energy working on our craft trying to be the best, original, most creative photographer on the wedding photography planet, only to see jobs go to the guy that we know stinks! “But, look at his color, his composition,” we say! “Why would you choose him over me?!” Because of the Law of Leadership states “it is better to be first, then to be best.” What this law of marketing means, is that consumers don’t care if you are better, then only care about who they know, or who gets into their mind first. If that is not you, then it does not matter how good your “product” is. They won’t buy it.

Let’s demonstrate this law by asking two questions:

1. What is the name of the first person to fly the Atlantic Ocean?

Answer: Charles Lindbergh. That one was easy!

2. Who was the second? Not that easy now is it?

The second person to fly the Atlantic was Bert Hinkler…

Yup, we had never heard his name either.

The interesting thing about Bert is that when he flew over the Atlantic, he did it faster, consumed less fuel and did it “better” than Lindbergh. But guess what? No one knows who he is or what happened to him since! He was second into people’s minds, so no one remembered him.

So, it is not nearly enough to have “better” photos than the next guy. That won’t get you jobs day in and day out. Can you book a few jobs based on how “good” you are? Maybe. But you can’t sustain it long term without having this first law in effect. If you can be known to your prospects and get into their minds first, then you can win the marketing game. People will stick with what they have.

The biggest thing to remember when thinking about how we are going to market our photography business, is that marketing is NOT a battle of products, but a battle of perception. If the client perceives that your business is better, than it is better in their minds. So, what if you ARE second in the clients mind? Are you doomed like Bert Hinkler? No! If you are not first in your category, then all you need to do is create a new category (law 2!). There are many other laws and we will be covering some of them in future posts! These laws have changed the way we do business day in and day out and guess what? We had our best year ever in 2010 in every way. From financial to personal. These laws work, so stay tuned for more to come!

*Stats from the E-Myth by Michael Gerber

All material for these posts is from Jack Trout & Al Ries book, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

  • Brent Deitrich

    Great post!

  • Jaemi Suh

    Thank You for all these great posts! I can’t wait until
    every tuesday to read your Tips and Tricks! Keep up the amazing

  • Mark

    Great post! “Perception IS reality!” (it’s a saying I have used for years in my day job – but it’s not a concept many people grasp right away, if at all)

  • Nora

    I love love love your Tuesday tips. You guys are amazing for sharing all of this valuable information, especially for photographers who are starting out. :D

    This post reminds me of an audio book I listened to recently by Napoleon Hill called the Laws of Success.

    <3 Nora.

  • MelissaFoscardo

    Fantastic post! I’m looking forward to the series. Thanks so much!

  • http://mattandmegphoto,com Matt & Meg Britton

    We are reading The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing right now and it’s amazing. You were right though, we should have bought the same night you told us…so good! Have a great trip guys. Jack says, “Hi Zach and Dody” We’re working on the “J’s” :)

  • Janet Kwan

    Hey Zach/Jody, this is just what I need! I am so looking forward to the rest of the series! Thanks guys!

  • Alison

    I have gotten so much from Emyth, just gave a copy to a friend yesterday who has decided to start a cafe! Told her it was an absolute must. Thanks, and look forward to more!

  • TJ McDowell

    I bought both of these books over the holiday, and they’re on my to read list. It sounds like similar principles to Positioning – The Battle For Your Mind. In fact, it looks like the author is the same, so that’s probably why the content is similar.

    As far as winning a spot in the mind, being first, is for sure the preference. Like you were saying though, it’s not the only way to win. I think the point is that by being marginally better than the first, you won’t be noticed. But look at the example of Yahoo vs Google. Yahoo was first (there were search engines before, but Yahoo was arguable the first big winner). Then Google came along, and based on a significant difference, won the top spot in consumers’ minds.

    I’m probably jumping one lesson ahead, right? Either way, I’m interested to hear your take on the search engine example.

    BTW – are you guys at Imaging now? We didn’t go this year, but I know that quite a few big names are going to be speaking over the next week.

  • Bill Raab

    Another photog had left a comment on a related post on my site which brought me here. I agree. Any photog spending 100% of their marketing time perfecting their imagery is shooting themselves in the foot. There is so much more to the business than the images.

  • ardean

    “But, look at his color, his composition,” we say! “Why would you choose him over me?!” – something I have thought SO many times, while comparing myself to other new photographers – and finally realizing I can’t compare.

  • Alex Nelson

    Can you guys provide any concrete tips on improving our perception to potential clients?

    • Jody Gray

      @Alex – Ideally, we don’t just want to PERCEIVE to be awesome to our potential clients, we actually want to be awesome. We want the perception they have of our business to be the reality, but, you ask a good question. I think where photographers most send off the wrong perception to their clients is through their branding. Sketchy, do-it-yourself branding is where most photographers misrepresent their businesses. The #1 investment into your business should be branding with a kick-booty professional. We recommend Allison May :)