by Skip Cohen
A major goal in launching SCU is to help you raise the bar on your skill set, not just in your technique and understanding of photography, but in your marketing and business skills. In fact, at the upcoming March program we're going to spend some time helping you build your own publicity machine.
In order to be effective with any of your marketing ideas you've got to start by thinking about your demographics.
"Demographics" is one of those twenty dollar words too many photographers think only applies to big corporations. Sadly they ignore any thoughts about who their customers are and in the process often promote things to the wrong audience.
For example, if you’re a children’s photographer and just opened a studio in Sarasota Bay Club where the average age is probably 80, then your business is a lost cause! If you’re a wedding photographer, but you just got a great deal on an ad in Guns and Ammo magazine, you might as well join the studio in Sarasota in bankruptcy court.
It’s all about demographics, literally defined in the dictionary as: “the statistical data of a population, especially those showing average age, income, education, etc”. You might not be General Motors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t think like a major corporation when you’re developing your website, advertising, social media effort, even decorating your studio.
I’m always amazed at photographers who decide to open a business in an area simply because this is where they grew up, but never pay attention to the neighborhood, the potential client base etc.
So, this is SCU and with every new post, I'm hoping you'll pick up a few new ideas. Let’s develop some examples to consider in regards to your business about your target audience.
· What’s the age of your target audience and where are they? A children’s photographer opening up in a young hip community is going to do far better than the one opening in an older neighborhood.
· Women make 98% of the purchase decisions when it comes to professional photography, in the wedding and portrait categories. Are you reaching women?
· What’s the annual household income for your target? And, where’s your target? If you’re trying to operate a high priced portrait studio and looking for walk-in traffic, but you’re located in a depressed end of town, your goals might be miles apart from the neighborhood’s expectations.
· How educated is your target audience? I’ve repeatedly heard photographers make the mistake thinking that if they only had a more educated audience they’d be able to charge more. Well, while there is a correlation between higher education and annual household income, that doesn’t mean that your client base will simply pay more. You still need to establish value.
· Is there seasonality in your promotions? In August/September on virtually every television station we’re going to start to see ads for products that appeal to kids and Moms as back-to-school seasonality takes off. Then in October and November, we’ll be bombarded as Fisher Price, Hasbro and all the rest of the major toy manufacturers plant the seed for what little Sally wants for Christmas. Hasbro knows their demographics and they’re advertising on shows kids watch, knowing that the way to reach Mom and Dad’s wallet is to create the demand first! You have to do exactly the same!
· Your website is the equivalent of his studio - who's your target? A few years ago a male wedding photographer told me how he was blown away by the growth in his business simply because he had a female decorator come in and redo his studio. He went from the black leather couches and a studio that looked like a man-cave to pastels, fresh flowers and a decorating sense that appealed to his client base. He paid attention to a key demographic – his target audience was entirely women.
Demographics really isn’t any more than a big word for “do your homework”! Just Google the words, “Demographic Data” and you’ll be launched into hundreds of sites offering you the ability to search demographics by zipcode. Getting to know the demographics is critical to laying out your marketing plans and your parameters for virtually everything you do!
You wouldn't head off on a drive across the country without a map! Don't crank up your marketing efforts without that same kind of map - understanding your target audience. And remember, "If I can see the world through my client's eyes, then I can sell my client what my client buys!" You've got to see the world through the same eyes as your target audience!
Illustration Credit: © Svidenovic | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
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.