An exceptional photography business. Is that something you’d like to have? A business that people feel fiercely loyal towards and that’s hard to compare to others? A business that grows steadily over time with less marketing efforts from you?
You may already have a good photography business plan in place and you know the steps you need to take to grow your business. But in today’s video I’m going to talk about the difference between a good photography business and an exceptional one, and how the latter can transform your marketing completely. And it’s the simplest thing!
I want to warn you that this video isn’t for everyone. If you prefer quick tips then you might want to skip this one. But if, like me, you love a story that gets you thinking then please do stick around. It’ll be worth it...
Prefer to read? Scroll down for the blog post...
So I recently left the accountants I’ve been with for five years and moved to a new firm.
Switching accountants isn’t like switching hair salons where you simply stop going to one and start going to another. It’s a process and when life is busy that process could easily put you off making the switch. It’s just simpler to stay put, isn’t it? Especially when there’s nothing actually wrong.
And nothing was wrong with my old accountants. They did everything they were supposed to do and they did it well. They also charged me a very reasonable monthly fee.
So why move? Why bother with the hassle of switching? And where was my loyalty to this business that had been serving me well for five years?
Well, that’s exactly the problem.
I felt no loyalty whatsoever. Zero.
I couldn’t even tell you what my old accountant looked like. I only ever heard from them when they were chasing me up for a signature or trying to sell me tax inspection insurance. I had no relationship with them at all.
Now you could say that’s great. That means they had everything in order and they didn’t need to bother me. They were efficient.
You could also say that I wasn’t a big client for them (I definitely wasn’t) so why would they bother building a relationship with me and my business?
But that’s incredibly shortsighted because I was looking for more and willing to pay more for it. I’m also the kind of client who will tell everyone and anyone about a business I love.
Let’s shift this story to the co-working space I work in.
My friend, Caroline, works at the desk next to me and there she is this day on a Skype call with her accountant. They’re chatting like old friends before Caroline gets the answers to some questions she has.
As soon as the call is over I mention to Caroline that it sounds like she has a good accountant. She openly gushes about how great they are. She’s on first name terms with everyone in the office and she tells me that nothing is too much trouble for them. Not only that but she understands her numbers in a way she never did before because they take time to involve her and educate her.
It’s clear to me that she feels like she’s a friend of this business, as well as a client. She knows that she matters to these people.
That same day I set up a meeting with Caroline’s accountant.
Now notice I’ve not said this new accountant is more skilled than my old accountant. Who am I to say if that’s the case? I know nothing about accounting.
But what I do know is how they made me feel from the moment I got in touch. I felt like I mattered to them. And surely the accountant who can do the best job for me is the one who takes the time to get to know me and my business on a much deeper level and actually cares about my success?
So let me ask you something...
Is your photography business similar to my old accountant?
As in, you’re doing a good job for any clients who come along and you’re treating them well but when the job’s done - the job’s done, right? You have enough people in your life already!
Or are you like my new accountant?
Are you making people feel like they really matter to you? Not just during the work you do for them, but before they even decide to work with you and for a long time afterwards? Can you even call some of these people your friend?
To be clear, I’m not just talking about clients.
What about other business people in your area? People you could have a great partnership with and could help you to grow? Are you taking the time to connect with them, get to know them and serve them?
It’s timeless and easy, and with it, you’ll grow steadily year on year.
You simply have to care deeply about the people you enjoy working with and show them how much they matter to you. Build a relationship with them and connect with them regularly in meaningful ways.
When you do this you’ll have a marketing team of past clients and partners who never stop recommending you and come back to work with you time and time again.
Now, of course, you need to find these people in the first place.
That’s why I’ve created a ton of content on how to make people aware of your business and get them interested.
But once you do find them, if you’re not treating that like the start of a long and beautiful relationship then you’ll forever be stuck in that heavy-going marketing phase, i.e. always trying to find new people to market to then convincing them that you’re worth hiring.
Over time, a photography business focused on relationships and connection will be able to do less and less of that heavy-going stuff because they’ve created a marketing machine that's a thousand times more powerful.
You might think that doing a good job for someone should be enough to foster fierce loyalty to your brand - but you would be wrong. Without the connection to your brand your clients will have no problem switching loyalty to a competitor who also does a good job and costs less.
I had a wedding photographer say to me that this doesn’t apply to him. He said ‘I only do weddings and people generally only get married once so what’s the point in staying connected to clients?’
He just didn’t get it and he probably never will. Because part of making this work is actually wanting to do it. Not just doing it for the potential profit - but doing it because you actually want to keep good people in your life.
And that’s the problem isn’t it? We’re all looking for a fast track to success and if something doesn’t work straight away we give up on it.
But it’s those with the patience to wait for the amazing results that come from this kind of connection who're running the best businesses.
Jerry Maguire got it so right when he decided that chasing relationships was more important than chasing profits. But as you know from the film, there’s no shortcut when you take this route. No get-rich-quick strategy or golden bullet.
It simply takes time.
Do you want to build an exceptional photography business that grows steadily over time? If so, there is nothing better to invest your time and energy into than your relationships with good people (and this is something that both extroverts and introverts can do beautifully).
I totally get that this isn’t for everyone. You might hear this and shudder and that’s ok.
But if that’s you then an exceptional photography business will never be within your reach. Because the difference between a good photography business and an exceptional one is simply this:
It’s how you make people feel before, during and after working with you.
But if this does resonate with you I’d love to invite you to check out the Togs in Business membership. We’re your kind of people.
And, I have another very helpful resource for you - if you don't already have a business plan in place, then this article is for you. It has a detailed walk-through of the nine steps you need to complete in order to create an actionable photography business plan.