is it about US or THEM?

I enjoy hearing from all my Photographers Friends through emails, comments and messages on Facebook, Twitter and the Jeff Smith Books Blog.  I like to share my experiences and insights from the my books, articles, as well as the people I meet and learn from myself.  As business people, we need to realize that it’s not about us, it’s about them (our clients and potential clients).  So often we make our business decisions based upon our tastes and preferences, without considering we are not our clients.  First of all if you are man, there is a 75% likelihood that whatever you decide will be wrong or not as effective as it could be.  That sounds shocking, but you have to consider that at least 75% of the decision makers that determine whether to come to your studio are not are women.  So once again, it doesn’t matter if you as a man like a pink mailer, it’s what your target market will like that matters.

This gets really important when your target market is not only the opposite sex, but a completely different age group.  We deal with high school seniors, this means my wife’s opinion could be as far off as mine, since there is such an age difference between my wife and a high school senior (although you couldn’t tell it by looking at her!).  But both of us could relate better to the parents of the senior than the senior themselves.

To overcome this shortsightedness as a business person you must have what marketers call focus groups.  In our case we don’t just go to high school seniors, we go to the high school seniors who have been our past clients, who made the buying decision to come to our studio.  We do the same thing when designing things for the parents of our seniors, but we always ask pasts clients, not just people in the correct age group or gender.  Never ask a friend or family member for their opinions.  Most often the people who care about you will tell you what you want to hear (rather than the truth) or if they are immediate family they could be too hard on a good idea.

Even if a photographer is the same gender and age as their predominate buyers they should always ask the opinions of past clients, because your specific target market may not travel in the same circles as you. You might be a younger mother of smaller children, marketing to other younger mothers of smaller children, but you might not live in the same side of town, drive the same type of cars  or do business with the same companies.  When I started my studio, I couldn’t  afford to buy my own portraits at the price I charged, once again making my opinion less than ideal for attracting the best clients.  While it is your business, it has to be designed for your client and while it is your photography it has to be taken to please the predominate buyer.

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on January 25, 2010.

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