Photo by Gary and Courtney

One of the biggest buzz phrases in photographers’ conversations about “branding” is the concept of your “Ideal Client.”

We are repeatedly told to identify our ideal client. As a concept, this seems to makes sense. And it’s an easy thing to say!

But how exactly do you do it?

So let’s cut the crap and figure out why exactly your ideal client matters and how exactly to identify them.

Identifying your ideal client matters for two reasons:

1) Your ideal client will help you reach your goals. Without the right client, you’ll never reach your goal of making X amount of money a year, or doing more destination weddings, being published on _______ blog or in ______ magazine, or even going full-time as a photographer. If a client isn’t going to help you get closer to your goals (whatever they may be), then they are not your ideal client.

2) Your ideal client will help you serve them well and help you love your life! When you’re working with the right kind of clients, it’s natural to serve them well. When they’re passionate about working with you, it becomes less about work and more about play and collaboration. Working with clients who you enjoy interacting with and photographing feeds your creativity and energizes you. Working with clients who you don’t enjoy working with will burn you out. That’s the opposite of why you decided to work for yourself in the first place! Don’t do it. Just don’t.

Here’s how to identify your ideal client in three simple steps:

  1. Identify about 5 goals you’d like to accomplish. Tip – start with realistic, but big-picture goals. Here are a few examples: Go full-time within 18 months. Photograph only children within 12 months. Raise my prices to $____ within two years.
  2. Identify the types of clients who energize you. The easiest way to do this is to consider which past clients you enjoyed and write down which traits of those clients made working with them fun! These could be personality traits, characteristics of your interactions with them, or interesting things about them.
  3. Now, close your eyes (seriously…do it!) and picture the bride/couple/family/ that you would love to work with and would help you achieve your goals. Imagine meeting this person. Describe them in detail using questions like:
  • What does she/he look like?
  • What are they wearing?
  • Where do they vacation?
  • What music do they listen to?
  • What TV shows do they love?
  • How old are they?
  • Where do they work?
  • What do they enjoy doing during their time off?
  • What magazines do they read?
  • What do they care about passionately?

Got it? Great! THAT’S your ideal client.

Now take that imaginary person and create a business and a brand that they find irresistible. Make a statement that they can fall passionately in love with and you’ll be a no-brainer choice for them. If you don’t, they cannot fall in love with you and if they are not in love with you they will not pay a premium for you. Avoid being considered just another commodity that they can get cheaper elsewhere!

Creative Collaboration is Key

I realize that last paragraph – the part about creating a business and brand that your ideal client finds irresistible – is an easy thing to say and a nearly impossible thing to do on your own. And that’s why God made designers! Seriously, it’s why collaboration is so important in the creative community. You’re going to have to entrust the visual identity of your brand to someone who can bridge that gap – the gap between your core message that relates only to your ideal client and the way your brand looks. It’s not a designer’s job to brand you; you are in charge of your own brand.

Design is all about solving communication problems. A skilled designer will beautifully craft a look and feel that matches your core message…you just gotta first dial in your core message! These are the things that relate ONLY to your ideal client. Then, you’ve got seriously own it!

A great brand is polarizing. It will attract like-minded people and repel those who aren’t a good fit. The look and feel (the design) is key, and your core message is the cornerstone of your brand.

Written by Gary & Courtney Christenson

Gary and Courtney Christenson

Gary and Courtney are destination wedding photographers and founders of B!G DEAL BRANDING. Their passion for photography and background in market research and design have been the perfect storm for bringing branding solutions to the photography community. They lead branding TH!NK TANKS for photographers with their team at B!G DEAL and work one-on-one with clients to build stronger, more sustainable brands.

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