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The Two Most Common Mistakes About the Ideal Client

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We hope that you’ve enjoyed our blog series with The Youngrens so far – if you have missed the first two posts in the series, you can access them here:

Part 1: The 5 Steps to Discovering your Ideal Client

Part 2: ROH: The Secret to Truly Effective Marketing

Today we’re excited to present the third blog post in the series: The Two Most Common Mistakes About the Ideal Client. In this post, The Youngrens cover a couple of the myths photographers may hear when looking for their ideal client. Enjoy the post and think of ways you can change the way about you think about your ideal client from their tips!

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Creating an effective profile of your ideal clients is not an easy task, my friends, but it’s an important one. Knowing who you’re trying to attract to your photography business becomes the foundation of your decision-making process as a business owner, so if you’ve ever felt like your marketing plan is less of a ‘strategy’  and more like wadding up wet paper towels and throwing them against a wall to see what sticks, then I’m here to help. I’ve helped a lot of wedding and portrait photographers build profiles of their dream clients over the years, and the more I teach and research the topic of the ideal client, the more I learn about the common myths and mistakes of this complicated subject – mistakes that I have definitely been guilty of making over the years.

Here are the two most common mistakes that I see photographers making when they begin the process of discovering their ideal client.

Mistake #1: My Ideal Client is ME

I think that a lot of us are guilty of this – at least, I know I am. It’s not a stretch to assume that the couples that I love working with the most are a lot like me. I start to believe that they think like me, act like me, and buy like me. It makes sense to cross-check a decision based on my own personal preferences, asking myself “what would I want to hear if I were getting married?” or “what do I think about this particular photo?”

After all, I am a big part of my brand and one would assume that what I like, my ideal clients will like, too.

Infusing your own personality into your ideal client profile is definitely important. In fact, I begin the ideal client discovery process by having you first profile yourself – outlining your likes, interests, habits, and values – because you need to have a good understanding of yourself as an artist in order to figure out who you enjoy working with the most. But profiling yourself is only the first step. We spend much more time studying your favorite past and current clients in order to build a profile that is grounded in reality and based on value statements.

The problem with basing your ideal client completely on yourself is that you run the risk of building a limited profile based on your own preferences instead of your ideal clients’ underlying values.

Related: What are the 3 Steps to Properly Market Your Business this Year?

For example, you may think to yourself that you enjoy backpacking in the outdoors, so then you assume that your ideal client will be an outdoorsy couple that will have a rustic outdoor wedding. I’ve found that this is a terribly misguided way to think about your ideal client, because it focuses on your habits instead of their values. Just because you love the outdoors, doesn’t mean that your ideal clients are going to have outdoor weddings. In fact, there is little correlation between the two.

What you need to think about instead is why you enjoy backpacking in the outdoors. Is it the thrill of adventure? The quietness of solitude? The spiritual connection with nature? These are vastly different value statements and completely different clients will connect with each one for different reasons.

If you understand why you love backpacking in the outdoors, then you can identify when a potential client shares those same values but expresses them in different ways than you do. For example, if you love the outdoors because of the quietness of solitude, then you can connect with clients that love to read, cook, or work out alone for the very same reasons. Very different habits, exact same values.

When you have a clear profile of your ideal client outside of yourself, you can ask instead, “what would my ideal client want to hear about getting married?” and “what would my ideal client think of this photo for Instagram?”

Those questions will have much more powerful – and effective – answers.

Mistake #2: My Ideal Client is EVERYONE

As a wedding and portrait photographer, you have relatively few clients every year which means that you need to be extremely specific with your ideal client profile, and I’m not going to lie –  that’s a scary proposition. It means that your ideal client profile will say ‘no’ to a lot of potential business, and say ‘yes’ to a very specific client type.

What I see photographers do (usually out of fear) is they create a ‘safe’ profile that will be a catch-all for every type of possible client that could walk through their door. In the end, this is not helpful or wise. As the co-founder of HarpoonRyan Battles, puts it, “How many failed companies have ‘everybody’ as their target audience? When you target everyone, you attract no-one.”

This is what a Catch-All-Profile sounds like: “My ideal client is a fun couple of marrying age that appreciates good quality photography, desires to have beautiful photos of their wedding, and has the income to pay for my services.”

This doesn’t give me a picture of a real person. At all. It is way too general. This profile says ‘yes’ to everyone, and attracts no one.

I like the analogy that the folks over at Entrepreneur.com use: “Your target customers are those who are most likely to buy from you. Resist the temptation to be too general in the hopes of getting a larger slice of the market. That’s like firing 10 bullets in random directions instead of aiming just one dead center of the mark–expensive and dangerous.”

Instead, think of your ideal client profile as a bullseye, and your job as a marketer is to come as close as possible to that bullseye. You won’t nail it every single time, but by being strategic with your marketing and aiming towards a specific goal, you will begin to attract an ideal client type that will bring fulfillment and revenue to your business.

Related: If you’re not blogging on a consistent basis, you’re missing out on clients!

Do you think that you may have fallen into these traps with your ideal client profile? Don’t worry, you haven’t wasted your time, but you do need to do more work to generate a clear picture of your dream clients. Check out the other posts in this series to learn more about discovering your ideal client and building an effective profile, and make sure to sign up for our newsletter over at The Youngrens. We’re releasing our Discover Your Ideal Client Video Course soon, and it will walk you through the in-depth step-by-step process of creating your specific ideal client profile. Newsletter subscribers will be the first to be notified – you don’t want to miss it!

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At any point of the year, it is crucial for you to understand who your ideal client is and how you can book them in your wedding photography business. Since you utilize necessary outsourcing options, such as ShootDotEdit, to take care of your post wedding photography needs, you have more time to search for clients that will help your business grow! Learn more about marketing for your business with our Guide to Content Marketing for Wedding Photographers!

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