What do the top photographers, pop stars, movie stars and footballers have in common?
Think about it.
Who’s your favourite band or singer?
Perhaps rather embarrassingly, mine used to be Madonna 20 years ago.
Well, part of it was hormones I guess! But a big part of it was HER STORY.
She didn’t just sing (rather averagely) and go home.
She stood for something. Not generally, for straight blokes, but hey – I’m in touch with my feminine side!
Maybe you can’t stand her (I get that!), but bear with me anyway.
Here’s what she stood for…
- She stood for women’s rights, even if many women didn’t like her approach!
- She stood for ‘if you work hard enough you can achieve anything’.
- She stood for ‘it doesn’t matter where you came from – you can overcome anything’.
- She stood for ‘don’t be beige – make a statement’.
- She stood for ‘be yourself’.
- She stood for gay rights.
- She stood for freedom of choice and expression.
Her persona had a story.
It’s the same with X-factor.
The successful people generally have a story that people connect with.
The X-factor producers do their damndest to crowbar in a story, even when there isn’t one.
‘Oh my budgie died 3 years ago and I haven’t got over it – plus I have an in-growing toenail’.
They do it because they know it works.
One of my friends hates football and once pointed out that the football lovers amongst us rarely talk about the actual football. We talk about how much we hate or love a particular player or manager.
Again, it’s about following a story.
We take sides based on who we relate to, or not.
Do you see where this going?
In our podcast I’ve been trying to help Mari create a brand.
Her brand seems to be about…
…living a clean, healthy and full life.
…putting family at the centre of everything
…keeping organised even though life can feel overwhelming
…subtly being an inspiration to other mothers by juggling her 3 children, husband and photography career.
These are not Mari’s words – it’s just how I see her, rightly or wrongly.
If that was my first impression then others will probably think the same – particularly if she emphasises those messages in her marketing.
Mari knows far more about children than I ever will since she’s worked in the children’s health sector, an obviously has 3 of her own.
If she can also weave that expertise into her branding then it would give her an edge I could never replicate.
You might be thinking “But Dan, there’s nothing special about me! I’m just a normal person with a normal pleasant personality and no special skills”.
Mari probably thought the same thing.
I certainly did.
Let’s look at me and my strengths for a second.
I can make people of all ages feel relaxed, because I’m a ‘no worries’ kinda guy. I’m also a bit goofy and that let’s people’s guard down because I’m not all serious and intense.
I’m also a people pleaser and will always try to be as helpful as possible – often to my own detriment.
I’m a good writer because I was a marketing copywriter in my old career.
I’ve always been an outdoorsy person. I love walking in the wilderness with our dog Bobby, so I know all the most beautiful areas nearby. But I’m also too ADHD to be a wildlife photographer as I can’t sit still!
So you can see my strengths aren’t particularly groundbreaking.
But from that little list I’ve become…
…The World’s Most Helpful Photographer who’s doing a random act of kindness for someone from (or with heritage from) every country on earth.
It also helped me understand I didn’t want to be a studio photographer working within the same 4 walls every day. I wanted to do my photography in the countryside.
My goofiness helped me understand that I needed to find other quirky people as clients. Not hyper-sophisticated people who take things seriously.
It’s now my responsibility to make it brutally clear to people what I stand for (and what I don’t stand for).
For example, I’ve had my second shooter video me doing wedding group photographs (but I need to do more of it)
I’ve not had myself videoed photographing a family yet.
It would demonstrate my ability to connect with children and their parents.
When people understand what you stand for then they’ll want to choose you.
I stand for fun and quirkiness.
Most photographers say their sessions are ‘fun’ but they don’t do anything to back it up, or prove it.
I’m trying to.
I also stand for selling family wall portraits and wedding albums.
Again, I need to drive that home harder in my marketing through showing more photographs of products and wall portraits on display in people’s homes.
So what are you good at?
What do you enjoy?
Write down a list – even if it contains things you don’t think are relevant. I’d love to see your answers either in the comments below, or privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll do my best to help you formulate a business model based on your answers.
Branding is so important. If you don’t know what you stand for then your clients won’t either.
If you’re struggling to get email enquiries to answer your emails, or get any enquiries at all then branding could be the problem.
What do you stand for?
Why should someone care about hiring you?
Can you prove it?
How can you prove it?