1. Business

Before You Start to Market: Part One

By Ann K. Monteith, CPP, M.Photog.Cr., ABI, API

Laying the Groundwork for a Successful Brand
How many times have you been told that the key to building a successful business is consistent and compelling marketing? I’ve said it and written it thousands of times. As important as marketing is, there are some vital first steps that must be taken to assure that consumers will respond positively to your marketing and the brand that it represents. Here’s how to get started:

Focus Your Business Concept
What is the style of photography and the photographic products you intend to sell?
What consumer groups within what locale(s) will be interested in your products?
How do you intend to spread the word to these consumers?
How many clients do you intend to serve each year?
How will you assure that each client has a positive experience with your business?
Can you describe in one sentence what your business is all about?

These questions might sound simple enough, but they require the kind of focus and insight that is necessary if your marketing is to succeed. Your business concept should be instantly understood by consumers, so keep it simple. Don’t try to be all things to all people: Today’s consumers are looking for experts or specialists in specific fields. While most businesses will have to offer more than one market segment (family, children, seniors, weddings, etc.), don’t spread yourself too thin. Consider marketing each segment independently, so that you don’t confuse your marketing message.

Understand Your Target Market
Once you have decided what type of clients are likely to benefit from your business concept, learn all you can about the characteristics of “ideal clients” within each market you wish to attract . For example, if you are targeting upscale parents of young children for a family and children’s portraiture business, the mother is likely to be your ideal client, so you’ll want to know the answer to these questions about her life and behavior:

  • Where does she live?
  • Does she work outside the home?
  • What are her favorite personal activities?
  • Where does she shop?
  • What professionals, such as the obstetrician and pediatrician, does she use?
  • What does her husband do?
  • Where do her children go to school?
  • What are her favorite family activities?
  • Does she belong to community organizations?
  • Is she active in her church, synagogue or other religious institution?
  • How would you describe her personal style?
  • What does she value in terms of emotional, physical, social, and material needs and wants?

The more of these characteristics you can identify, the more clues you will have to begin structuring marketing strategies to attract her to your business. The more you know about your ideal client, the easier it will be to put yourself in her position; that way you can recognize what types of products and services she expects and what marketing strategies are likely to connect with her. The more you can see through her eyes, the easier it is to assure that your business concept is relevant to her life and that your marketing strategies and materials will succeed.

This article will conclude in two weeks by focusing on establishing your place in the market.

Read more in Part Two.

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