"Know your competition, but don't copy it."
That quote from Guy got me thinking about the way I see so many of you competing. While I've written about the topic several times, it seems, just like in lighting, there are multiple ways to talk about the same subject. Then, I went looking for an image to tie in with this post to make the point and the five photographers above just cracked me up...especially the woman holding the 4x5...LOL. However, it makes the point about the way some of you chase the business, trying to be everywhere your competitors are, instead of working to better define your own space.
So many photographers fail to take the time to really get to know their competition, especially when they first get started. For example, if you were opening a new studio, wouldn’t you want to know how many other photographers there were in the area? Wouldn’t it be important to know what they sell, so that you could position your own skill set and products in the strongest possible way?
You need to know what your competitors do best and where their weak spots are, giving you the ability to reinforce your own skill set, products and services. And, when you market yourself stay away from negative selling – all you need to do is focus on your strengths, which you’re already hopefully working to make stronger than your competition.
To take it one step further, it’s important to know your competitors, because at some point you’re going to be fully booked and you’ll have to turn down a possible client. By knowing your competitors and identifying those photographers whose quality and integrity you hold in high regard, you now have an interesting ally, as well as a competitor. Instead of saying, “Sorry, I’m booked” you can say, “Sorry I’m booked, but I have an associate whose work you’ll love who might be available!”
Don’t be afraid to refer a client to another photographer. Cross-promoting each other is a terrific way to build your business. In fact, don’t be afraid to share the cost of marketing with another photographer. Working together you can provide twice the stimulus to your market at half the cost.
I love this quote from Jay Leno a few years back:
"Bill Maher and I are on against each other, and we're friends. He can do my show any time he wants, and I've done Politically Incorrect several times. There's no reason to think competition has to be adversarial."
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