Why you need to know what you (and only you) sell as a photographer
As a photographer and entrepreneur, do you spend time regularly studying marketing? If you do (and I recommend you do) you will certainly come across the term “USP” which stands for Unique Selling Proposition. Do your eyes glaze over when faced with such terms? Hopefully not because when it comes to your marketing and branding of your business your USP is probably the most important thing to have a handle on.
It’s important to clearly understand the importance of USP to your business and more importantly to potential clients. Your Unique Selling Proposition identifies what makes you stand apart from your competitors in your field. It’s what you stand for, and what you’ll be known for.
Looking at some example unique selling propositions
Let’s look at some companies that we can all identify with and look at their Unique Selling Proposition. This will help us come up with one of our own.
Photographers need to understand and communicate their unique selling proposition.
Toms Shoes – One for One
I first heard about Toms shoes from my daughter and she was so excited to buy a pair because she told me for every pair of shoes you buy from Toms, they will provide a pair of shoes to a child who needs shoes. They perform this service in over 60 countries.So not only can you buy a pair of cool looking comfortable shoes, you can make a difference. That’s a pretty cool USP. Toms says, “we’re in business to change lives”
Buckley’s Cough medicine
Buckley's broke new ground by admitting that their medicine tasted terrible but worked. It was novel for a company to have that level of honesty with prospective customers regarding a negative aspect of the product. Here’s what you’ll read on the Buckley’s website:
When it comes to being sick, there are two kinds of people in this world. Those who want comfort, and those who want to get better. We make medicine for the second kind.
They know life is too good to miss hiding under the covers. When they're sick, they want to feel like themselves again more than they want to feel sorry for themselves. It's why they'd rather take the fast way, than the easy way.This is who buys our medicine. And we never forget it. Because it's clarifying. It means that we just have to make what works, and not apologize for how. And it means we don't have to be distracted with salesmanship. That's for snake oil. Build a better mousetrap, they say, and the world will beat a path to your door.
That's the way it's been for our medicine. Which is why we're so confident when we say, “Let the people who love you give you comfort. We're here to make you better.
Buckley's knows exactly what they do well, who they are and the kind of customer they want.
Fedex dominated the courier market when they focused all their efforts on overnight delivery of parcels. Before Fedex was willing to actually guarantee they could get a parcel across the country and delivered to an address overnight. So when Fedex achieved that goal they had a winning USP. They created the famous tagline to go with it, “When it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.”
A Photographer's USP
Define your USP by figuring out what makes you different and what makes you stand out.
As a photographer, what are some of the ways you really stand out? What do you offer that is unique? Many find this a very difficult question to answer, but if you're trying to be all things to all people you don’t become known for anything.
Some possible USP’s for photography could be:
- Same day proofing- we show your portraits right after the session and you place your order the same day
- Free prints with every order
- No session fee ever
- We’re the Black and White Specialists
- Every print sold is mounted
- No appointments necessary, Open 7 days a week
- Wall portraits only
Not all USPs’ will be attractive to everyone, so it’s important to understand what your audience wants and fill that need with a special way of doing it.
It’s important to understand what your audience wants and fill that need with a special way of doing it.
One way to refine your USP is to ask the people who have called on your services to explain why they chose you. Ask what factors influenced their decision. If you can connect with a number of clients and ask these questions it’s very likely that your unique selling point will emerge.
For many sole proprietors, the USP will be you, the owner. People come to do business with you because of you. They heard good things about you, they trust you and even like you. Add to that equation an excellent service or product and a successful business is born.
What to do next
First, Identify what makes you different from other photographers and write it down. Create a statement similar to the example from Buckley’s that clearly explains your difference.
Second, If you have trouble with this and have been in business a while, ask your customers. Do a poll with five or six of your best clients and ask them why they do business with you. Ask them to identify a few key things about your business that they feel makes you stand out to them from other photographers. If you see some overlap in the answers from all of them you will have your USP.
Third, Get that USP out there!! Make sure to let the world know what your USP is. It should be in all your marketing and in every point of contact with the public. Don’t let them guess what it is, but reinforce why you are the best choice. Use your USP often in your regular social marketing. You may not get a flurry of work in the door all at once but you can build a clear message in the minds of prospects so that when they do need a photographer you will be the clear choice.