The Biggest Assumption About Marketing – Are You Guilty?

What is the first rule of thumb when it comes to marketing your photography?

Never, ever assume anything about anything. Ever.

Because the moment you assume someone knows something, chances are you’ll get your marketing all wrong. Because its almost never true.

Here’s why.

You’ve been dreaming about being a photographer for years. You might even have a strong business, and have been photographing clients for years. But as you live and breathe photography, it becomes a part of who you are. You think in shutter speeds and aperture settings. You look at the world through an imaginary lens – all the time. And you constantly look at how you can gain new clients by the marketing materials you produce.

But your prospects and customers haven’t. They don’t work in your office. They don’t read photography magazines. And chances are they haven’t thought much about the art of photography. She has other priorities. She’s living in her own world 24 hours a day, and that world probably doesn’t involve a lot of research in photography.

Until she’s ready for your services. Then she starts her investigation. But even at that level, every prospect will have a different way of doing things. Some will spend hours researching online. Some will be happy with a flyer they’ve received in the mail.

Which means some will be better educated than others. But the problem is you don’t know which is which.

If you assume she understands more than she does, you’ll lose her attention. She’ll focus in on the technical stuff you provide, and the “mumbo-jumbo” she simply doesn’t understand. She’ll get confused and she’ll walk away.

That’s why its important to translate everything you do into plain English – leave nothing out and give your reader everything they need to fully understand who you are, what they receive, and what to expect.

Start at the beginning

Think about the process you go through to market your photography to one person. This person has never heard of you before, and knows nothing about your services. What would you tell them? What would you provide them? It may be a series of things – initial emails, a media kit sent in the mail, a phone conversation, meeting face to face. All of that is used to familiarize the potential client. The more you put into it, the more likely your prospect will become a client.

Always start at the beginning

Once you have your process down, always start at the beginning with every potential customer that comes to you.

As wedding photographers, after a few years the majority of our clients came to us as referrals. In one case we ended up photographing three sisters over a five year period. By the time the third sister called to book our services, we assumed she knew everything about us, and went right to talking about contracts. Until she started asking basic questions. That’s when we realized even though she knew our work, and had worked with us personally at her sisters weddings, this time it was different.It was all about her. She had posed for photographs before, but she didn’t know what to expect as the bride. So we stopped, slowed down, and gave her all the attention she deserved as a brand new bride. She immediately felt more comfortable, and understood everything easier because we did have a strong relationship.

Skip the details

Let me ask you a question. If you were about to head off to surgery, would you care what knife the surgeon was about to use, or what brand of gauze he preferred? Nope, not at all. Instead you care about his background, his skills, his bedside manner. You want to know him as a person, and feel some level of trust as you head down this path together.

That’s why it always surprises me when photographers spend page after page describing the details to their potential clients. They don’t care if you use Canon or Nikon. They don’t care what lens you prefer, or what software you use to create the best image possible. They want results. They need to feel they can trust you to do the job up to their satisfaction level, and will be happy with the outcome. Stories about what lenses you prefer don’t work. Stories about working with clients do.

4 thoughts on “The Biggest Assumption About Marketing – Are You Guilty?”

  1. This is a good reminder for me. It’s true that when a lot of clients come to me through referrals that somehow, I let up my guard and may not thoroughly give them the same, or all the information I give other clients.

    This reminds me to draw up my client workflow chart and stick TO it with each and every client… I’ll make that a goal to accomplish by the end of this month..


  2. Great post, I found this really useful…people buy photography very infrequently so we need to take them through the whole idea but in their language…Got It. Thanks!

  3. This article is spot on. We have found that we continue, from time to time, to be guilty of succumbing to the misleading power of assumption. In general, assumption can be as useful a tool in life, though it can also lead one to eat the wrong berry in the forest and never make it out!

    One of the best ways to ensure you don’t over-rely on assumptions is to make a list of your assumptions. In the list include everything from the completely obvious to the not-so-obvious. One by one, look at them and begin to ask yourself, what if someone doesn’t know what x,y or z, is?

    Of course, there are basic assumptions that you’ll have to make like most people know what the word “photography” means, but you can’t assume every person understands what the term “event photography” means.

    Assumptions can also lead you down the wrong path of marketing expenditure. For example, if you are a corporate event photographer, you might not know that clients are predominately searching for “business convention photographers” on the major search engines. This means you could be spending marketing dollars on a marketing plan that has low relative efficiency. This is especially true if there is little competition for that search phrase meaning that it is cheap to advertise for a search phrase where a lot of searches take place.

    Also, the point about the details is critical. It’s so hard to leave out important details about what makes your service unique, but people, especially in this day and age, have little patience to read through lengthy fluff. They’ll just as quickly move onto the next ad for the sake of saving time.

    We provide bullet points and often enable the user to click on links in those points for more detail. Sometimes they want it, and it’s a good indication of consumer interest when they do, but you have to give them the choice and make the information bite-sized and easy to chew.


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