Making use of your business advantage.
In my 5 Big mistakes made by aspiring pro photographers, I list number one as ‘Passion does not make a business’ and point out the common mistake in thinking “I love doing this – people will pay me”.
It’s true that you need to consider much more if you want to run a business, but let’s go back and see how that passion can be directly used as part of your marketing.
First of all, it probably helps you get up in the mornings, but it also risks clouding your judgement when making potentially uncomfortable business choices. I love landscape photography, but after quite a bit of study of the (UK) market, I decided there isn’t enough money in it for the kind of business I wanted to run.
I’m looking to make my business stand out and differentiate it from some of the many other good and competent pro photographers out there.
One area that all too many small businesses overlook is their passion for the work – there is a strong inclination to remove the person from the ‘brand’.
As a commercial photographer, I work through a company: Northlight Images. Big companies’ finance departments are much happier dealing with other corporate entities, particularly since Northlight is a limited company and is VAT registered (UK ‘sales tax’).
This has positive business benefits, such as when we buy £5000 of equipment and get over £800 in tax back.
There is a downside in that if I work with the public (weddings/portraits etc.) I’d have to add 20% tax onto my prices …one more reason I don’t do weddings etc.
Corporate clients reclaim the tax we charge them.
OK, there are sound reasons for a corporate brand, but people buy from other people – there is a strong emotional aspect to any purchasing decision. Often the logical justification is added later – we often choose to remember just these ‘real’ reasons.
This came up when I recently got some new business cards.
I’ve got what are called ‘Promocards’ – almost a little brochure. They work very well when you cover a variety of business services and have some strong imagery to go with them.
One way to add a face to your marketing is just that – be a real person, show your expertise and enthusiasm when you get a chance.
Indeed it was our supplier for the cards who convinced me that I really ought to have a picture of myself on the card – I often give out the cards at business networking events, where I may have some of our big prints with me.
Hopefully the combination of my interest and passion for photography, some impressive commercial imagery and the picture of me will remind people of what I do, and how I’m not just another ‘Will do anything’ photographer.
It seems to work for me, but you’ll have to work out your own approach, one that genuinely suits you as an individual and a business.
Of course, you’ll still have to make sure that your marketing pitch answers some of those key ‘What’s in it for me’ questions for clients. Remember to emphasise benefits, not features, but keep the human face…
This post is one of our series of articles covering different aspects of the business side of photography
Note: our Promocards designed and supplied by Red21 in the UK.