A lot of marketing advice for photographers I read on blogs or in magazines is how to advertise, mainly using online media. Marketing is much more than just advertising. I thought I could write a more wholistic guide for photographers marketing themselves, also looking at the bigger picture (purpose and strategy).

In my 4th year of marketing I’ve enjoyed going through the prescibed textbook is Strategic Marketing: Creating Competitive Advantage, which has a fanstastic framework for designing a marketing strategy based on a firm’s business strategy.

The framework in the textbook looks at four questions. Click on the links below to go to those sections and what marketing and strategic advice they give for photographers.

  1. Where are we now? (environment scan)
  2. Where do we want to be? (segmentation, targeting and positioning)
  3. How will we get there? (strategies)
  4. Did we get there? (measurement)

Some of the aspects are aimed at large factories or retailer distributors, so I discuss them only briefly. I have experienced many successes and problems in my photography business which began in 2010; I realised that the marketing theory helped me understand concepts which had seemed difficult or paradoxical. Before I get into the details, here are some of the highlights of what I learnt from the textbook framework, plus looking at academic readings and real life case studies.

Focus. Don’t try and be everything to everyone. There is a a conflict in photography between specialising and providing for a variety of jobs or genres. I was trying to narrow down my photography to what I enjoy the most and what I want to do in the long term, and felt kind of bad that I was turning down jobs. I meant more clients, experience and money is good right? But covering the focus issue in marketing helped me realise that I had to focus on my core competencies. I am now happy to say sorry I don’t do weddings, matric dances, club events, etc. I am not in the business of taking all types of assigments from people, I have decided to focus on portrait shoots.

Pricing is a strategy and says a lot about your brand positioning and value offering. The easiest way to get more sales is to cut your prices, but this can often do damage in the long term to customer loyalty and brand positioning/perception.

Textbook details: Strategic Marketing: Creating competitive advantage by West, Ford & Ibrahim. OXFORD University Press

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