Simple Marketing Strategies for Photographers

3. Tune your 6 second pitch

“People don’t buy products, they buy a better version of themselves.”

– Sean McCabe

Recently, one of my newsletter subscribers, we’ll call him Bob, wrote to me asking for advice about marketing himself as an event photographer. The first thing I did was look at Bob’s website, and especially his “About” page, which said something like:

“I have a passion for photography and love being behind the camera and getting involved with events, like weddings, birthdays, baptisms, school proms, and many other special occasions.

I also love to travel, but I feel privileged to live in Small Pond and have the forests, the mountains and Big Lake National Park only a stone’s throw away to capture the beauty of our landscape and surrounding area that my country has to offer.”

Can you spot the problems with this? If not, try putting yourself in the shoes of a potential client, who found Bob’s website via a Google search for “Small Pond wedding photographer”.

After reading Bob’s “About” page, what do you know about him?

  • He has a passion for photography. This should be a given, since that’s his job. Have you ever seen a photographer advertising that he hates his job but is doing it anyway because it puts food on his table?
  • He enjoys attending events. At this point, you may hope he doesn’t have too much fun or get too involved when photographing your event.
  • He loves to travel. This may leave you wondering if he will he be available for your event or globetrotting.
  • And finally, you know he lives in a great place, surrounded by a beautiful natural landscape that he enjoys photographing. Would he rather be out in nature photographing that beauty than at your not-so-beautiful event?

What we don’t know about Bob:

  • What can he do to create great memories of your event? I sure can’t tell.
  • Will you love being in front of his camera as much as he loves being behind it, if not more? Lord knows.
  • What sets him apart from the dozen or so other event photographers in Small Pond? Beats me!

I see so many photographers’ websites making the same, fundamental mistake: they are all about the photographer and nothing about the customer.

Don’t get me started with those photographer bios that start with: “My passion for photography was ignited at the age of 10, when my parents bought me a toy camera that I used to take photos of my schoolmates’ birthday parties.”

Who effing cares?

I’ll admit that I made this same mistake…but now I’ve cured myself.

First impressions are important and, in this fast-paced world, you have a very short amount of time to make a great first impression. You basically have only about six seconds. Don’t waste them talking about you, you, you.

When people ask what you do for a living, you should have your six second pitch ready, and it should be all about the benefits for your clients.

For example, if you ask me what I do, I’ll tell you that I am an educator who helps photography enthusiasts sharpen their skills so they can take amazing pictures.

With this, I have concisely established several things:

  • What I do: educate photographers.
  • Who my clients are: photography enthusiasts.
  • What’s in it for them: sharpening their skills and taking amazing pictures.

At this point, if my interlocutor is somehow into photography, I might have piqued their curiosity, and they might ask more questions. I have established a conversation that could lead to business in the future.

The pitch I use follows this general schema: “I help X do Y so they can Z”. This establishes who my ideal clients are (X), what I can do for them (Y), and what benefit they will get from my services (Z).

It is a schema that works very well for educators, trainers, and consultants, but you can adapt it to other types of jobs, too. If you sell products, you could structure your pitch as “I create Y so that X can Z.”

For example, “I create beautiful wedding albums so that couples have lasting memories of the most important day of their lives.”

Or, “I create beautiful framed prints of landscapes so that homeowners have great art hanging on their walls.”

You don’t have to follow a predefined schema, but it’s important that your pitch conveys these three all-important points:

  1. What you do.
  2. Whom you do it for.
  3. What’s the benefit for them.

I don’t have to tell you that number 3 is the most important of them. It must be something of value for your prospects, more than the money they pay for it.

Here’s another little secret: The thing that people value more than anything else is not a product or a service, but a better version of themselves. This is the number one reason people want to make a purchase, and the reason why fitness programs, diets, self-help books, and seminars sell so well.

So, don’t just promise your clients that you will deliver great photos to them. That is expected and assumed. Or do you think some photographers advertise themselves as delivering average photos?

Instead, promise your clients that your photos will allow them to cherish the memories of a lifetime, that they will have an heirloom to pass down to their children, that they will look their best in that memory (because event photography IS about capturing memories), or that the food they cook in their restaurants will entice patrons to come and taste it.

And most of all, never ever sell your photos on the merit of their technical quality, of how well exposed and sharp they are. Nobody, except maybe other photographers, gives a damn. It should be a foregone conclusion that you are taking focused, properly exposed photographs. As a photographer, that is part of your job.

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