How to find them and capitalize on them
Oh boy.... this one's gonna be controversial. But I'm ok with that, because I'm not sure anyone got anywhere without being a little controversial from time to time.
Let's talk about the truth real quick. The truth is, unless you are able to communicate to your potential clients (notice I said potential clients... not the ones who have already booked you), what makes you different from the hundreds of other photographers in your area, guess what... they will always hire the lowest priced photographer. :::insert shock and anger here::: Think about it. If you are looking at two wedding gowns online and they both look the same to you, but one is less expensive than the other, which gown are you going to purchase? The same is true for our potential clients when it comes down to it and it's up to YOU to educate them differently. If I don't know that the wedding gown at X store is silk vs the other is polyester, I'm going to be dodging flames on my wedding day.
So here comes the super controversial information...
I want you to go and check out your competition online. Go to their websites and social media accounts and just browse their information. How long are their sessions? How many outfits can their seniors wear? Do they offer professional hair and makeup?
***DO NOT, BY ANY MEANS, pose as a potential client and inquire with them for more information. That is a really gross move and I don't condone it. I'm talking about just checking out their brand presence online - the info that is already out there for the entire public world to see. THAT is the info I want you to be taking note of.
I know, I know... this is the EXACT opposite of what you've heard from other industry educators who have taught to not even look at your competitors and to just do your own thing. Well... I disagree. I think that knowing what makes you different from local competitors is a GOOD thing - as long as you keep emotion out of it. Everyone's just trying to put food on their table and we're all doing it differently. It's your job to market to potential clients and knowing what makes you different from them is NEVER wrong.
Now.... what the heck are you supposed to do with this information?
CAPITALIZE ON IT.
Find out what makes YOU different from your local competition and start educating your clients that you offer x, y, z services. For example, most of the photographers in my area offer only 90 minute sessions. At this point in my sessions, we're just getting warmed up. I offer two and a half to three hour sessions at my most popular session options. This is the information I want my potential clients to know. Most of my local competitors don't offer professional airbrush makeup and hair styling in house. I do. So I also market the fact that you simply show up the day of your session, and we'll handle the rest. No need to book someone for makeup and hair that you've never worked with before, or no having to chance it on your own face for the big day. We'll take care of it with an experienced artist.
If you aren't educating your potential clients on what makes you different, they will most likely choose a less expensive counterpart. It's the truth. I cannot tell you how many photographers have come to me and asked me why they aren't busy when a local photographer, who isn't that great, is. I always ask them, "Well... what makes you different from X Studio?" They always answer, "I don't know.... I don't know why everyone goes to them. I just know that I produce better work!" Well guess what, most people cannot see the difference in style and skill that we can. We've been trained to see the differences, not the general public (as confirmed by our teens' usage of IG filters on every single freaking thing). So it is up to YOU to show and tell them why they should hire you over X Studio. It's your JOB... and if you haven't been doing this, you've been sitting down on the job... being complacent. It sucks, but it's true. And YOU KNOW IT, don't you?
So, take some time this week to do a little recon and check out what makes you different and start marketing it and DON'T STOP. Add this info to your monthly rotation of social media posts. Add this info to your senior inquiry magazine. Add this info to your IG highlights. Make it easily accessible so that they can know why they want to hire you instead of someone else and before you know it, your inquiries will be up and your bookings will be solid because your potential clients will know WHY they want to hire you over a local competitor.