You can't appeal to a target audience if you don't know who you're targeting. While you may have a general idea of whom your customer is, it is imperative that you really understand what drives him or her. Once you know who you're talking to, then you will know how to talk to them.
Your target audience can be whittled down to one or two specific people. These are the people you will consider when creating any content or collateral to promote your photography business. In theory, these are generalizations of the ideal customer.
Instead of working with a vague, open-ended demographic, you can now focus on the wants and needs of the potential person walking through your studio door, reading your content, or asking for recommendations. Once you really know this person, you can learn what will hook them and bring them directly to you.
If you don't currently have clients, you'll need to do some research. Find out who is looking for photographers in your area and why. Once you do, see if you can meet with them and ask them a few questions. Also, as we know, the internet is a vast wonderland of information. Do some social listening on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. You can search key terms and hashtags to find out who's looking for photography.
If you do currently have clients, you've got a leg up. Assess the clients you currently have and see if there's a common thread. Are they the same gender, the same age, have the same size family? As you look closely, you'll start to notice what your clients have in common.
More importantly, you can decipher the qualities that an ideal client has rather than the less than ideal client. Although it's not the warm and fuzzy feeling you get from that perfect client, it can be important to identify a negative buyer persona. You can make this up as you go, but generally you're going to want to avoid the client that is looking for a cheap fix. Look for the client that wants beautiful images that are produced by a professional.
We have created a buyer persona template just for you. After a few simple questions, you'll be able to identify the best potential clients. Once you do that, you'll be able to offer solutions to their perceived problem (i.e. in need of photography).
Now that you know who to market to, you can start using the marketing tools that are free to you. As a PPA member, you have access to a variety of advertising templates. See The Difference® is a consumer-focused campaign that can be used to help promote you and/or your studio. The resources provided to you are easily customizable and really drive home the idea that hiring a professional is the only way to go.
To learn more about becoming a member, visit PPA.com.
Editor's Note: This blog was originally published in December 2016. It has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.