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Telling customers where to go…

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Emphasising what photo work you don’t do

The business advantages of telling people no

Why having a clear idea of what you do and what you don’t do can help differentiate your photo business.


What won’t you do?

Every so often I get calls enquiring about wedding photography.

This is, on the face of it, pretty easy to deal with, since at Northlight, we’re commercial photographers and don’t do work with the general public.

But hang on a minute, this is someone who has taken the trouble to call.

I must put aside those unkind thoughts wondering just how clueless they could be to look at our site, and then call about weddings?

bridal pearl necklace

We may not photograph weddings, but we can point you to people who do, and also specialist bridal jewellery

If they are relatively local I’ll happily recommend a local wedding photographer I know.

I want the caller to go away feeling that the call wasn’t wasted. Apart from having helped someone, I’ve always taken the view that you never know who they might tell. It’s not always that common, so people remember polite helpful service.

What about the potential client that phones up about some product photography?

Here I have to be more careful, since it’s something we do cover.

After looking at our equipment/studio space (and my own interests/motivations), we cover three areas of product photography:

For larger items in a studio, I’ll pass on the details of a specialist product photography company – with enough studio space to photograph cars. I’m also likely to pass on particularly large quantities of shots, since having a lorry load of products in boxes turn up is fine, -if- you have somewhere to store, open and re-pack them.

industrial product photography

Industrial product photography – too big for the studio

Once again, I’ll try and be helpful to the caller – find out what they want, see if it’s something we can do.

I’d rather be seen as a helpful specialist, prepared to say that we can’t directly help, than either a terse “No, we don’t do that” or the rather too quick “Sure, we can do that “

Will take any photos for money/food

Some photographers seem to do just about anything.

You look at their web sites and whilst it’s mostly weddings and social photography, there will be a small ‘Commercial’ section.

I look at this and can’t help thinking that it smacks of desperation – it says that they don’t do enough commercial work to have a clear section of their site devoted to it (or, as I’d prefer in this instance, a different site altogether)

It’s not too far from saying : “We need work – anything will do” – it tends not to work.

Note – you may well be desperate for work, just don’t advertise it!

Differentiation – why you are different

I’ve written before on how you need to differentiate your photography business. That concentrated on meeting client needs (solving problems) and showing how what you do means you are not just ‘another pro photographer’.

Here, I’m suggesting looking for the gaps in your service, and how through relationships with other photographers and a genuinely helpful attitude, they can be a positive aspect of your marketing.

Of course, when looking at the gaps, you may find another speciality you want to cover – something you’ve not yet emphasised in any marketing.

This is a process that you should regularly revisit in the light of changing market conditions and the ongoing development of your skills and business.

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