As a photography business owner, identifying your ideal client is one of your foremost prerequisites. And you might already know that this is no mean feat! From marketing your products well so that you attract your target clientele to ensuring that you and your clients are on the same page when it comes to deliverables and creative vision, it requires you to look into multiple business aspects and juggle many hats. Furthermore, when you discover your ideal clients and begin to shape your business around your favorite couples, your business transforms from a day-to-day job into a fulfilling artistic endeavor. Therefore, to help you learn more about how to find your ideal client and make the process slightly simpler for you, we’ve shared a few easy tips that you can implement while you’re trying to grow your business and fulfill your career goals.
5 STEPS TO FINDING YOUR IDEAL CLIENT
Are you tired of shooting weddings that aren’t your style? Or working with clients that you don’t enjoy? There’s hardly anything more difficult than feeling dragged down by your business or dreading your shoots because you don’t connect with your clients or they don’t connect with you. It’s hard feeling unknown, unappreciated, or simply disconnected from your clientele and your art. We strongly believe that every photographer has a unique client type that is perfectly suited for them. Your target audience, your perfect bride, the right clientele. All different ways to talk about the same thing, which is your ideal client. In fact, we believe it’s critical to running a sustainable business that you enjoy your work. When you work with your ideal clients, the job becomes incredibly fulfilling. It reminds you of why you chose this profession in the first place - your art and your freedom. The good news is that anyone can do this. And the even better news is that you are so unique, your ideal client profile is completely different from the ideal client profiles of any other photographer. So here are 5 solid steps that will help you learn how to find your ideal client and be ahead of the game!
1. WRITE DOWN YOUR FAVORITE PAST CLIENTS
Write down 3 to 5 of your absolute favorite past clients. If you have more than five, write them down too - the more, the better! (If you are just getting started and don’t have past clients to work with, write down friends, family, or acquaintances that you would LOVE to photograph if you got the chance.)
Related Read: How To Get More Wedding Photography Clients
2. WERE THEY…?
Now let’s try out a technique to help you identify your ideal client! Next to each one of those favorite clients, write down the letters P, C, and/or R next to each client based on the criteria below (you may write down one of the letters next to a favorite client, or you may write all three letters next to a certain name):
- (P) = Were they Profitable? Did they pay you what you asked? We don’t mean “did they pay you the most” - just note if they paid you your asking price, no questions asked.
- (C) = Did you Connect? Did you connect with them personally and/or creatively? Did their wedding inspire you as an artist? Did you feel alive working with them?
- (R) = Do they Refer you? Have they talked about you to their friends OR are they part of an ideal network to which you would like to market?
3. FOCUS ON YOUR IDEAL PAST CLIENTS
Look at your past clients that have two or more letters next to their name. These are the ones that are truly ideal, and you should focus your energies on them when fleshing out your target market. This is a key step to include in your process of how to find your ideal client. The next step is to ask yourself a number of questions about these past clients, and a fuzzy picture will begin to develop of your ideal client: What was it that you liked in particular about these clients? Their style? Their values? Their personalities? Write down as much as you can about what you loved about them, and circle commonalities if they appear. This process is valuable to help you learn how to identify your ideal client.
4. DREAM ABOUT YOUR FUTURE IDEAL CLIENT
Set aside your past favorite clients for a moment, because the next step is to dream about your ideal client. This is where you get to infuse your wants and desires into your target market. What characteristics, styles, or values do you want your ideal client to have that maybe your current clients haven’t demonstrated? Write them down underneath your past favorite clients as a new dream client.
5. KEEP REFINING
The last step is to hang this piece of paper next to your desk for you to reference, modify, develop, and refine the way you attract more clients. The more you work at this profile, the more valuable and beneficial it will become in helping you with finding the right fit for your business. There is a lot more you need to do in order to develop an in-depth ideal client profile, but this is a great first step in the process!
LEARN ABOUT YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
A lot of photographers have a fluid idea of a non-existent, amorphous client they sort of know who they maybe want to work with. But it’s vital to have an exact target. Not only because it helps them find you, but because it helps you find them. If you’re shooting a bow and arrow, and you don’t know where the target is, chances are you’re not going to hit the target. But if you know where the target is, it suddenly becomes so much easier to hit the bull’s eye. That’s exactly what happens when you hone in on who your ideal client is. Many wedding photographers say, “I know who my ideal client is; they’re a fun couple between 20 and 35 who do not have time to plan their wedding and can afford to pay my prices.”
At face value, it appears this photographer has defined and identified their ideal target market and client. It covers the basic attributes. They’re fun, they fit within the desired age range, they don’t have time so that’s the problem they’re looking to solve, and they’re willing to pay your prices because they value what you do.
1. PEOPLE AREN’T DEMOGRAPHICS
There’s an enormous problem with that, though. People aren’t demographics. There are a lot of different types of people who fall into that “between 20 and 35 years old, don't have time, can afford to pay my prices” group. So, is your 30-year-old a Walmart shopper or would she never be caught dead there? Is your 30-year-old covered in tattoos and loves artistic, creative things, or is she the total opposite?
2. EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT
As you can see, there are a lot of different types of people in any given demographic. Every person wants, values, and cares about different things. But, when you go into investigator mode and look for marketing intel, you can find the patterns that connect your ideal photography clients. From there, you can use what you learn in your marketing and attract more and more of these people to you. Here are 6 ways to get valuable marketing intel on your ideal clients.
A. LOOK AT YOUR REVIEWS
An ideal client-business relationship is a two-way collaboration. When you’re honing in on your ideal client, consider looking at what the couples you loved working with most said about you in their reviews. Why? Because one of the qualities you’d want in a client is that they would rave about the service you offered. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or your own website, start going through all of your reviews on social media to see what they have in common. You will get a clear vision of what you are doing good and what could be worked upon.
Related Read: Understanding A Client Referral: Creating True Believers
B. A QUICK REFLECTION
When you look back at your reviews, think about who the people were that wrote them. What are they like as people? What did you talk about aside from the service you provided? What do they have in common? If you’ve just started out, you might be tempted to basically go in for anyone who books you. But as you proceed in your career path and reflect back, you might start appreciating the fact that learning how to identify your ideal clients could be a game-changer in your line of work - or any profession for that matter. After all, you don’t want to come out of an assignment where you didn’t feel connected to the couple. Let’s just say that booking the wrong client could be something like throwing your net hoping to catch anything, without realizing how futile or ineffective the effort could be.
C. ANALYZE BRANDS IDEAL CLIENTS LOVE
Study the sites your dream client loves to see what’s popular, what they’re writing about, and how they’re marketing. If you know your ideal bride buys 90% of her clothing from Nordstrom, although that’s not directly related to weddings, we’re looking at her as a whole person, so it most certainly matters. Visit the Nordstrom site and observe how they are talking about the products that they’re selling. What makes them so appealing? What language are they using? Suddenly, by playing investigator, you can pull from these other areas of their lives to use your analytical techniques to help you learn how to find your ideal client. So the next time you’re stuck with what strategy to adopt to zero in on your ideal client, you will know where to look for inspiration on the tone and messaging of your clients. If you don’t know what brands your clients love, ask them.
Quick Tip: You can also refer to your Audience Insights in the Facebook Ads Manager to see what other pages your fans like.
D. INTERVIEW YOUR BEST CLIENTS
It may sound scary, but by asking your best clients questions and listening, you can uncover marketing gold that will help you in your goal of identifying your ideal client.
If you are unsure about what questions to ask, here’s a list of questions you could ask during the interview. And when you’re at it, remember that interviewing is about listening and digging for more information. So, be prepared to do a lot more listening than you are talking.
QUESTIONS TO ASK
- We all geek out on something, what do you geek out about?
- How would your best friend or your partner describe you? (This is an especially good one because it requires people to step outside their normal frame of reference for themselves.)
- How did you find me?
- Where did you look for your wedding vendors?
- What made you choose to work with me instead of another X?
Marketing is based on psychology. These questions will give you insight into how this person makes decisions and why they do what they do. Understanding that is going to show you what you need to do to learn how to identify your ideal client and attract them to your photography business. Your future clients will feel like you’re a mind reader, except you don’t have to read minds to do it!
E. KNOW CONSUMER WANTS
Consumers, particularly millennials, want more and more niche products that have unique stories and creative uses. We want craft coffees, craft beers, craft cupcakes, and craft food. We want meaningful products that make our world better or that serve meaningful purposes. Understand the pulse of your potential client base and offer them what they want - or better still, identify what they might want even before they can put a finger on it.
F. IDENTIFY YOUR CLIENT’S SPENDING HABITS
One more step that you could add to your journey of learning how to find your ideal client is to understand their spending habits. Let’s say a couple has a variety of photographers and styles to choose from when their budget is above $1,500. They have the ability to pick a photographer based on style and personality, and not just based on price. If they have less than $1,500 to spend on wedding photography, then their choice has to be motivated almost exclusively by price versus style or personality, since there are much fewer photographers in that price range. With that in mind, if you charge more than $1,500 for your wedding photography services, then your clients could be considered rich. It may not feel like it all of the time… but they are. They are making their photography decision based on style, values, and personality as well as price.
So how does this relate to the ideal photography client conversation? One of the most common questions photographers have in mind is “How am I supposed to relate to my clients if my ideal clients are usually richer than I am?” The answer to that question is to redefine what you mean by the word “rich”. What you need to focus on instead of wealth is what kinds of spending habits your ideal clients have. In short, you don’t have to be rich in order to serve high-end, wealthy clientele, but you DO need to understand why they spend their money the way they do. You need to understand their VALUES.
Related Read: How To Price Your Wedding Photography Packages
FIND YOUR MATCH
Remember that we’re talking about YOUR ideal client, not THE ideal client. These clients are ideal because you want to be around them, which means that you probably share similar interests and values. You should be able to easily get along with them, and fitting in shouldn’t be hard work. Which brings us to one last point. If you’re finding that you need to act like something you’re not in order to attract or be around your ideal clients, then you’re not going after your true dream client. You’re going after a type of client that someone else has probably told you to go after. You need to rethink your ideal client profile and figure out who YOU truly love and enjoy working with. When you discover how to find your ideal client, you set yourself up to book more people who can help you grow your business. What else do you do to attract and book more wedding clients? Let us know in the comments section below!
Further Read: Managing Client Expectations: Wedding Photography TipsHere at ShootDotEdit, we love to provide useful tips and tricks to help you grow your wedding photography business. And to free up your time so that you focus on more important business matters, our professional photo editing services take editing off your plate. To learn more about how we can help, check out our pricing plans.