Staying Ahead of the Competition
"Know your competition, but don't copy it."
by Skip Cohen
It's Friday, and I always hit on a topic you might find time over the weekend to think about. Here's a perfect project for a weekend during the "slow season;" Do you know your competitors?
I'm a big fan of Guy Kawasaki, and that quote got me thinking about how I see so many of you competing. I've written about the topic several times, but like lighting, there are multiple ways to discuss the same subject. The challenge these days is to make yourself stand out from the other artists in your community. You can only make yourself different if you know what you're being compared to!
So many photographers need to take the time to 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 essential to understand what they sell so that you can position your skill set and products in the strongest possible way?
You need to know what your competitors do best and where their weak spots are, allowing you 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'll be fully booked and 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 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. Also, 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.
Jay Leno made the comment below many years ago...
"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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