So I’ve just come back from a sumptuous cheese feast with some clients (hi guys!), where I really couldn’t mesh better with a couple. These people get me and I’m pretty sure I get them. And I thought maybe it was time to muse a bit on “personality-based marketing” and how it’s so great not just for my business but for me as a regular old person who sometimes feels brash or awkward or unappreciated.
I’ll start in high school. I went to a really big high school in the (way way far out) suburbs of San Francisco. There were 700 people in my graduating class and something like 4,000 in the school – it was ginormous. But I always felt sorta alone. I had a few close friends but I wasn’t invited to the parties where all the cool kids were getting drunk and hooking up and all that. I didn’t have a boyfriend until senior year (and only then because I didn’t have anyone to take me to prom – he was my prom date before he was my boyfriend). I just didn’t feel that anyone understood, much less appreciated, my particular brand of weird. It makes sense to me now, but at the time it was obviously pretty disturbing. I more or less hated high school.
And in college, things got better. There were more nerds and being smart was actually seen as a good thing. It was easier to find my people. Though there were still a lot of folks around who I didn’t jive with, it was relatively easy to find someone who got my sense of humor, appreciated my honesty, didn’t care that I don’t own a stick of makeup.
In the real world here, it’s sort of back to high school. The world is full of people who don’t get me and who I don’t really get along with that great. I don’t have social issues or anything (I don’t think so!), it’s just that the world isn’t full of best friends. Lots of nice people, I just don’t click with most folks. I have to hunt them out.
And that’s where “personality-based marketing” comes in. Like about a million other wedding photographers out there, I have been heavily influenced by Jasmine Star, who does the photo thing and all but really excels at the business side. (Yeah, don’t even bother, she costs like $15k or something.) Jasmine Star is all about attracting the right clients and repelling the wrong clients. So, for instance, because we’re talking weddings here, a lot of people might be tempted to use really generic romantic language like this: “On your special day, I will capture the beautiful emotions between you and your partner as you commit to each other forever.” Barf! Here’s how I would say it: “I’ll photograph the shit out of whatever happens on your wedding day.”
Plenty of people – tons of people, are going to read that sentence and click right off my website. I said shit, I was irreverent about the “most important day of their lives”, etc. But some tiny portion of people looking for a wedding photographer are going to read that and think “yeah, that’s exactly what I want my wedding photographer to do.” And right there, in that teeny fraction of people looking for a wedding photographer, I find my couples. And it’s how “personality-based marketing” (that is, marketing on which I make a point of telling people who and how I am, rather than trying to appeal to the masses) draws in the incredibly awesome people who hire me.
Because here’s how it goes. I’ve got this website. And I talk a lot of shit up in here. And that turns off tons of people and they go away because they hate me. But a handful of people actually dig me. And then they write me. And then I meet them and they give me money and I photograph their wedding. Because there are only so many weekends in a year and only so many weddings I can photograph without losing it physically and mentally, I don’t need thousands of clients – just a couple dozen or so each year. Therefore I don’t have to attract the masses – I can appeal to the sliver of people that are going to think I’m funny (y’all think I’m funny, right?). And all my clients are AWESOME because of this process. Which brings me to my very last point, after a very long post.
What does this have to do with high school? Well, in high school I was miserable because I felt alone. Having a business based on my own personality (and, you know, some photos and stuff) draws in people who are like me or at the very least think I’m pretty ok. This means that almost every single person that writes me is going to be the kind of person I would want as a friend. I really can’t emphasize how validating this is, personally. I put myself out there on the web, and people write me almost daily to tell me they like my vibe and want to meet me. It’s given me so much confidence about who I am.
So in sum, I want to publicly thank all my amazing, kick-ass couples. You know who I am and you still want to hang out with me on your freakin’ wedding day. That’s pretty great.