One of the best things you can do for yourself as a business owner is focus on clients who are going to appreciate you.
Clients who are going to walk away amazed by the experience they just had with your brand.
These are high end clients and they'll make every part of your business more profitable and more meaningful.
Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - and Your Client
Have you heard of Maslow's hierarchy of needs?
It's a famous psychological tool that describes peoples' motivations and... well, needs.
The hierarchy starts at the bottom, with the most basic needs being required in order to move up and meet higher needs.
The red and orange zones at the bottom are basic needs. These are the very basic things we need to stay alive and to properly function in society.
The center of the hierarchy is love and belonging.
Higher up, we have the green and blue zones. The green zone is esteem. Things like having recognition, status, and freedom. Finally, at the very top of the pyramid is self-actualization. This is the desire to become the most that a person can be.
When we offer cheap prices and discounts we are typically attracting people in the red and orange zone. They may want images for an event or occasion by the arent in a stage of life to invest a lot of money into photography.
The high paying clients we're looking for are in the green and blue zone.
These people have all their basic needs met.
They have healthy, loving relationships and their choices they make now are about their self esteem and status. They are no longer looking for cheap. They are looking for things that will elevate their esteem and recognition.
Sales and discounts aren't going to jive well with those motivations.
So, how do you attract clients who are in the green and blue zones? This is where the Impact Method comes in.
The Impact Method
The Impact Method is a three-step process for building a successful brand that provides memorable experiences for the right clients.
Step 1: Build a Meaningful Brand.
What is a brand?
At its simplest, a brand is what people think of when they think of you.
What feelings come to mind? What do people expect? What do they remember?
You could be forgiven for thinking that "branding" is cold and corporate, but it doesn't have to be that way. In the modern age, you have the opportunity to create a brand that is incredibly personal to you.
Think beyond the numbers and logistics of business. Think about you. What matters to YOU, as a human?
What impact do you want to make through your business?
Grab a pen and paper to brainstorm the things you value most.
This is an important step as it guides everything else you'll do. This applies to everything - from how you market yourself to the products you offer.
Following through on this brand will also help you build those strong, long-lasting relationships with your clients. It's how you get free advertising when they tell all their friends about you.
Here's my example:
My WHY Mission is to empower girls. I want them to feel empowered to go after whatever has meaning for them in their life. I want them to be able to be bold, be confident, and see that they have the same potential in themselves as the women they look up to.
This informs the images I use, which focus on bold, magazine-quality photographs. I want them to see their inner model.
This extends beyond the business into things like partnering with the One Love Foundation, helping girls recognize the signs of abuse and empower them to seek help.
This is my NorthStar, and your brand should be yours, as well.
Step 2: Craft a Brand-Focused Service
Now, bring that vision to life.
You have the power to have an impact on your clients. You have the power to bring them something truly amazing and meaningful.
Don't just focus on the product. Don't just focus on services.
Craft an experience.
This will seperate you from the crowd. This is how people choose YOU over all the competition that's out there.
This experience should arise out of your brand. It should sprout from your WHY Mission.
For example, if your WHY Mission is to promote body positivity, you could try including a stylist session as part of your experience. Hire a stylist to work with you and your client to find them clothes that work with their body type.
Help them feel amazing.
This is not the time to copy what you see other photographers doing. Step into the limelight and be a leader.
Create something truly unique your clients will remember forever.
Here's my example:
When clients come into my studio, they get the full model experience.
It's not just a photo shoot. We have a wardrobe session. We have a make-up session. We have a hair stylist session. The works.
From start to finish, my clients are given the superstar model treatment.
What can you do for your clients that will change the way they feel about themselves?
Step 3: Offering Products That Reinforce Your Brand
The products you offer should be a physical reminder of the experience your clients had. It's the memento they get to take home with them.
Don't just think of the products that are out there - think of the products that reinforce your brand. Pull out that pen and paper again and tap into your inner innovator.
Here's a fun fact: wall portraits can boost a kid's confidence up to 37%.
Seems like it should be straightforward, right? If you take a great photo, your client will feel great.
Here's the thing.
The same thing doesn't happen when their only interaction with that photo is through social media. In fact, this can lower their self-esteem.
In other words, giving them a digital copy of a beautiful picture isn't enough.
The question I asked myself was this: does an all-inclusive service with only digital files reinforce my brand? No, not really.
Make sure your products come from the heart of your WHY Mission.
The good news is that this is a huge area of opportunity for photographers. Don't be afraid to get creative.
It can be scary to go off script. It can be scary to forge a new path that isn't being done. But, this is exactly what you should do. Lean into the unconventional.
Be the most YOU... you can be.
Here's my example:
My best selling product is a 24x36 mega mat print. Why? Because it gives my girls the experience of being their own poster girl.
The rest is a portfolio set of their photographs. Again, this reinforces the model experience.
It's all about the finished, printed image.
I include the digital files, of course, but it's not the focus. I don't want to perpetuate the comparison train you get with social media.
I want them to feel like they are a million bucks.
So, if you want to stand out from the crowd, make an impact, AND attract high paying clients...
Lean into the building a brand that taps into your clients self-actualization needs
A brand that helps their self-esteem, recognition, and their desire to be all they can be.