There are a few times I've written in the past about things I've learned from Molly the Wonder Dog. Well, here's another lesson that's so basic, I'm just glad she never learned how to type! This is about demographics and although I've written about it before, I'm still amazed at how many photographers still don't understand their importance.From the home page of The Wedding Report
We moved a few times, before buying a home here in Sarasota. When we did this last move I remember going through my own withdrawal, being without my computer for a day or two. Meanwhile, Molly was busy checking out every corner of the new house. There wasn't one inch of the house she didn't check out. As furniture came in, especially her toy box, she began to relax and adapt to the new environment. Trust me, I promise there's a logical connection here.
Think about your market and your target audience. Do you know your market as well as Molly made sure she knew her new home? Do you know everything about your potential customers? How many of you started your business never thinking about the demographics in the area?
"Demographics", it's one of the oldest words in marketing - the dynamics of your target. How old are they? What's the split between men and women? What percent are married versus single? What's the average household income? What's the penetration of Internet active households? What's the percent of high school, college and post college education? The list goes on and on, depending on how detailed you want to be.
Just like Molly getting to know every corner of her new home - you need to know every "corner" of your market. If, for example, you're a children's photographer and you're opening up in Bay Harbor Island, Florida, where the average age is probably 80, no matter how optimistic you want to be, it's going to be an uphill climb! (Which reminds me of the definition of optimism - it's a couple in their 90s who want to live in a neighborhood with a good school system! Sorry, some times it's hard to stay focused!)
If you're a wedding photographer, but you've been advertising in Men's Health - give it up - you've got less chance of success than the couple in their 90s starting a family! A Kodak survey years ago, and the numbers haven't changed, showed women make 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer when it comes to the portrait/social category! It's all about the demographics!
Here's one more to think about as a wedding or family portrait photographer. Knowing your primary target is primarily female, what does your reception area look like? If you're male, I'm betting it's too masculine looking, missing some pastels, albums in other colors, etc. You've got to remember your target audience and create an environment that appeals to them. This includes your blog, your website and your booth at a bridal fair.
Marketing is so important in today's noisy environment - you've got to know everything about your target audience you can learn - BEFORE you spend a nickel on advertising and promotion. But relax, it's not hard to find the information you need!
1) Start with your local Chamber of Commerce to see what information they have about your area.
2) Check with the best established realtor in town. First, they have great information available. It's often a combination of census data, together with their own resources. Second, you're networking and realtors, like salon owners, tend to know everything going on in the community.
3) Go to the library and the Internet, Google - you're looking for local demographics. In fact, just Google the words "local demographics" and you'll be surprised at what comes up. You may have to refine your request, but this the data that's fun to mine for!
Here's a site that I found in just 20 seconds on Google. City-data.com. Check it out and you'll see what I mean about demographics.
4) If you're a wedding photographer check out The Wedding Report. It's well worth the information you'll pull out about weddings in your area. The data is sortable by zip codes and it goes right down to the average money being spent on everything related to the wedding. Here's another benefit - just read one report for your area and you'll also pick up ideas on who should be in your local network, partners for local promotions.
If Molly could sniff every corner of her new "market" then so can everybody else! Get to know your demographics and you've got the first "double secret" ingredient major corporations pay mega bucks to learn about!
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