Who is Your Ideal Client?
This was the hardest question for us to answer. Whenever I would go to marketing seminars, they would say, "Okay, just go find your ideal client "and tell them what you do." I was like, "Well, who's my, I want somebody "that invests in photography; who is that?" (laughs) It took me a while to realize that nobody can tell me who my ideal client is. What I started doing is looking at the clients that I really enjoyed working with. I had to start to define who that ideal client was for me, and it took time to realize that. It's kind of trial and error. You think you're on the right track, and you'll get the wrong type of client that doesn't value what you do, and then you realize what's not your ideal client, and that helps you define what is your ideal client. For us, our ideal client is artsy. They appreciate fine art. They go to museums; they sometimes are collectors. That's first and foremost. They value photography as an art. Just because someone is an art collector doesn't mean that...
they consider photography to be art, so you have to be sure that you're clear on that front as well. They're very well educated. Almost all of our clients have graduate degrees. We've just learned that over the years. They are very successful. Oftentimes, both parents work. The bride and the groom client, they're both executives. They both have MBAs or some other kind of graduate degree. They both are in leadership roles in their business, so they oversee other employees. They're used to running the show, kinda high powered jobs. They are healthy. They are climbers and runners and bikers and kayakers; that's about 3/4 of Colorado anyway, but (laughs) that tends to be who we attract. They're active; they're out all the time, doing things in nature. Typically, people that are active in the gym are different than our clients. Our clients are active in the environment. That's a key distinction. They're outdoorsy; they camp. They don't mind getting dirty. They don't mind it if its cold and rainy outside. We do sessions rain or shine most of the time. It's taken a long time for us to figure out who this is. While I said successful, that doesn't necessarily equate to wealthy. There's a difference there. Our clients value time away from work as well. While wealth is always an advantage in the sales room, it's not critical. Some of our best clients have very low incomes, and they really have to stretch to be able to invest with us. They value it; we give them a means; and they figure out a way to make it happen. When I first started trying to answer this question, wealthy was at the top of the list. Anybody that has extra money surely will buy our photography, and that's not necessarily true. We learned that the hard way. As you go through your business, think about the people that you have really enjoyed working with, or the people that you think you will enjoy working with. What are they like? What do they like to do? How do they spend their time? Where do they spend their money? Our clients often have ski passes up into the mountains, which is a thousand-dollar-per-person investment every year, and ski equipment on top of that. Skiers are a great target market. They have expendable money, they're outdoorsy; they're active; they're healthy; they fit the profile. If I can build a relationship with somewhere where skiers hang out, I can capture that client. That's one option. Climbers, anybody that climbs big mountains, spends $600 on a pair of boots, that's my client, on hiking boots, not dress boots. That's my client; that's the person I want in the door. If I can go into a high end mountaineering store, where people with families come, and I can connect with those clients, those are the people that I wanna interact with. If I can connect with a family that spends more time at REI than they do at the mall, that's my client. Knowing that has really changed with who we build relationships with. Think about that, where does your client spend their time? Where does your ideal client spend their money? Then, you can start to define who your ideal partner is to build a relationship.