It's Marketing Monday, and as we fed the koi in this pond outside our hotel, it got me thinking about the challenges in business and separating yourself from the competition.
Let's set the stage first - there are a few hundred koi in this pond with two vending machines for fish food. It's a quarter for a small handful of food and just dropping a couple of nuggets in the water creates a frenzy. It's a kick to watch, but the fight above was all over a half dozen tiny nuggets of food. All of the koi were competing for the same tidbit, and in the end, almost all of them went hungry, at least until the next person came along.
Now think about your market. You're competing for business with all the other photographers in the area as well as a few "Uncle Harrys." How are you going to make yourself look different? What are you going to do to build a reputation based on exceptional service, an incredible experience and exceeding customer expectations? How are you going to stand out from the crowd?
I have a print at home of the image on the right. It's matted, framed and hangs over our fireplace. There were only a few koi in the pond at the Emperor's Palace in Tokyo when I was there many years ago. The population was smaller, but it gave me a chance to watch them and appreciate the differences and the beauty of each fish.
The finished image was all thanks to a friend that turned a grab shot into a piece of art combining her skill set and NIK software many years ago.
But, here's my point - So many of you are competing with every photographer in your area for the same target audience. Unless you make yourself stand out, you're just another photographer, not an artist.
My buddy Terry Clark wrote a guest post a few years back, and he's responsible for one of my favorite quotes:
“The best thing to do to survive and thrive is find what everyone else isn’t doing and do that thing.”
Think about every aspect of your business - what can you do to make yourself different and have a reputation that stands out from the crowd? And in terms of the analogy with the koi, every fish in the shot up top is beautiful, but put them all together and they're just a bunch of fish!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.