How do real estate and architectural photographers get more clients when you're in a busy market with a lot of other photographers?
This is a big issue for a lot of photographers, and it can be really hard to stand out and even get noticed, so let's work on a plan for what you can do to make a real difference in your business.
How do real estate and architectural photographers stand out and get clients in a saturated market? There are a lot of photographers out there now, and sometimes it seems like there are too many, so what do you do?
I think the first healthy step in this is to question whether your chosen field of photography really is too saturated in your market. And you know what I’d say? It’s not too saturated, unless you only copy everyone else. If you copy them then it’s saturated, but there are always gaps and you just need to find those gaps.
I think the key to this is to focus on the solutions instead of getting obsessed about the obstacles. So I’d look for a way around problems like a saturated market, and be optimistic that you can find a way forward because otherwise you lose all of your energy, and I think you get there by looking for the gaps in the market. And in this situation I think you want to look at three things:
One is to look at your service, which is what you deliver to your clients.
Two is your story, which is all about who you are.
And three is your brand, which is the personality and the position you take in the market. So if we’ve got these three overlapping circles, then the gap in the market is the unique combination that is found where all three of these elements meet together. Does that make sense?
Let's get into it in a bit more detail.
OK, so we start with identifying any service delivery gaps. If you’re going to differentiate yourself in a busy market then finding something you can do that others are not doing is a really great place to start. But in order to get that right you need to know your audience and know what they need.
Now there might be two questions to answer here: The first question is, what do they know they want? And the second question is, what do they not know they want, but you know will solve a particular problem for them? I think you want to ask both of those questions, because the unique service in your market could be something that your potential clients aren’t yet even aware of. So there may be some great opportunities there, though you’ll need to be able to convince your dream prospects that they need it. If agents know they need photos then it’s easy to say, hey, I can do your photos! But if they don’t know why they need some other service or widget you offer, then that’s a tougher message to sell so your marketing is going to need to be really on point.
Just a quick word of warning here – don’t assume that the gap in your market is the quality of the photography, or the fact that you have a drone or can do video, and in addition to that, don’t assume that the quality of your photography is your only opportunity to differentiate yourself. Now there may be gaps in the services being offered, and there may be gaps in quality and that’s great, but you’ll want to spend time thoroughly researching your market so you know what’s going on, and don’t just assume that gaps are there, at least not obvious gaps
The second part of this process is to get clear on your story and how that connects with your photography and the services you deliver. So when thinking about your story we’re thinking about you, because you are the one thing in your business that no other photographer can copy.
So what’s your background? Why did you get started in this field of photography? What are you really good at? That’s your story, and that’s going to be the thing that clearly differentiates you from the other photographers in your area.
So for example, if you’re a single parent who had a passion for photography while you were in high school, and now you’re trying to run a business as a single parent then you can bring that in to your business, and that’s going to really connect with other single parents out there. Or maybe you have a background in sport, or music, or theatre, or teaching, or engineering then maybe you bring that into your business. That’s all part of your story, and it influences how you work and how you serve so it is an important part of your business.
So to find your story you might want to write down who you are and what makes you you, then write down your strengths and also what you’re passionate about, and just see what jumps out at you as something that fits into your photography and that offers that unique element and point of connection. Maybe it’s your background, or your experience, or the way you communicate or some hobby or activity that you’re really passionate about. Whatever it is, I know there is something unique about you that can work in your business.
Ok, so you want to find your story, but then you need to share it so that people know about your story and they associate that with you. So for example, what are the things in your story that help you as a photographer or as a business owner, or as a member of the community? And how can you share that through social media, your website, your office presentations, everywhere?
Think about what you can do to share your story, and videos are a great way to do this, because it’s through video that people see the real you. They don’t see the real you when they look at your photos of kitchens and when they look at your drone photos because they probably look just like other photos of kitchens and drone shots by other photographers. But video content that features you is not something that any other photographer can do so that could be something that is your special sauce that will help you stand out in a saturated photography market.
Now the third thing you might want to do is to define your brand, and you’ll want to develop a personality for your brand that aligns with you and your story. In other words, make sure your business is consistent with who you are, and allow your brand to set you apart because it will be uniquely you and no other business in your market can replicate your combination of your service, your story and your brand.
So to bring all this together, this is how you stand out in a crowded market: you need to identify your unique service, your unique story and your unique brand, look at where those 3 things meet, and make that a part of what you say and do online or offline when communicating or meeting with your clients and prospects. That’s how you stand out in a busy market, because your combination of those 3 elements is going to be the only one of its kind in your industry, and that’s what makes you special.