If you, me, and everyone else reading this post were jammed into a room at a networking event, I can almost guarantee you that 75% of the crowd’s introduction would go sorta like this…
“Hi! I’m so and so. I’m a photographer, and I shoot enter subject here.“
It’s when there’s hundreds of us all saying the same thing that the problem becomes grossly apparent. This is what we do, yes. But it’s no different than anyone else in this business and it’s not even a good way to articulate what we do.
After all, we’re not machines. We don’t produce the same results or experience. And, we don’t produce the same solution to the same problem.
With about 170,000 people reporting their career as “photographer” according to the US Census Bureau, how do you differentiate?
It’s really, really hard to figure out what you do differently than the pack. Businesses (not just photo businesses) struggle with this, sometimes for years before figuring it out. I’m about to give you a few huge shortcuts to help you figure it out much, much quicker.
How to figure out what you truly do in a flash.
If you and I were sitting down for coffee, it would be easier to walk you through this exercise. But since we’re not together, you’re going to have to trust me, and (warning!) you’re going to have to talk to yourself a bit.
If you don’t like talking to yourself or find that ineffective, find a supportive partner to practice with.
Before we begin, there are 3 rules:
RULE #1: You are not allowed to use the words “photography” or “photographer” as we do this exercise.
RULE #2: Keep going and don’t let yourself stop because you feel silly, stupid or like you’re not getting anywhere. The answer is there waiting to be discovered.
RULE #3: Be honest.
Okay, now we’re ready. Let’s do this.
STEP 1: Ask yourself the question, “what do I do?” and state the first answer that comes to mind (remember, you’re not allowed to use “photographer” or “photography”)
STEP 2: Ask yourself, “but what do you really do?” three times, each time stating an answer and challenging yourself to answer the same question again with a different answer each time.
STEP 3: Make sure your third and last statement polarizes your target audience a bit. If you feel like you may be trying to be everything to everyone, repeat step two again. Why? Because trying to be everything to everyone makes you special in nothing. And I know you’ve got some special awesomeness going on that the world ought to know about.
If you’ve gone through the above steps once, twice or if you’ve rinsed and repeated 100 times (go you!) you’re much closer to what you really do in your business.
Since we’re not having coffee, how do I know if my answer to “what do you do?” is right or wrong?
First, there is no right or wrong. Don’t you hate that? But I’ll give you a couple of hints and measures to tell if you’re close or not.
You are close to perfection, if:
- You believe it will engage someone emotionally and cause him or her to respond with “Really? Tell me more!”
- You have a hard time thinking of many photographers who can say the same thing (or who will have the guts to say the same thing).
- You’ve tested it out on a few people and it seems to raise some eyebrows or gain interest.
Free feedback from me!
I’m going to be monitoring the comments below, so please don’t be shy. Post your answer to the question, “What do you do?” and I’ll let you know my thoughts. Plus, you’ll get to see others and someone else’s idea might spark one of yours, too.
I love to reading your comments and look forward to giving you some more helpful hints in my comments back!