De-mistifying DIY Branding in 10 Easy Steps: Part I – Identify Your Target Client

Welcome! As a photographer, working with professionals across the board, a huge part of what I do deals with branding. Photography is a huge part of branding, and plays a major part in creating a feel for your business and attracting the right sort of client.

Because I work with a lot of startup businesses and solopreneurs, I thought it would be helpful to give some tips to help guide you through the process of establishing better DIY branding.

Establishing solid branding is an integral part of every successful business. Nike would not be what it is today without it’s awesome, powerful ‘Just do it’ branding campaign and killer modern athletic imagery. Through consistency and state-of-the-art branding, Nike sends a clear message, attracting clients who want to experience a certain feel.

Have you ever walked into a Nike store? How did you feel the moment you walked in the solid glass doors? You were probably engulfed by upbeat, motivational music, in awww of the larger-than-life dramatic photographs of gorgeous, muscular athletes in motion, inspired to buy a new pair of sleek runners or a new pair of crazy performance wear that would have the imaginary power to bring out your inner athlete… If you purchased something, you probably enjoyed the feel of being an athletic champion simply by wearing their symbolic ‘swoosh’. Nike makes people feel modern, innovative, powerful, hip… all this is the power of good branding.

Chances are, if you’re just starting a new business, or working as a solopreneur, you don’t have the crazy corporate budget that Nike does for branding. More likely, unless you’ve set funding aside, you’ll settle for DIY branding until you get things off the ground. I highly recommend that you hire a professional branding company as soon as you’re able to… a good branding company will do much more than establish a good look… they’ll understand your target market and create a look that will attract them. Investing in professional branding is truly worthwhile… even essential.

Until you have the budget and a clear vision of exactly where your business is leading, here are some tips to creating your best possible DIY branding…

PART I – Identify Your Target Client

In order to brand effectively, you need to know who you are trying to attract. What is your target market. Even better… who specifically is your target client?

Once you pinpoint your target client, you can begin to observe what they like, which businesses they frequent, and observe what drives them and what they’re attracted to. This is a crucial understanding for every aspect of your business… not only your branding. It helps to steer absolutely everything you do… what you offer… how you offer it… how you innovate.

Grasping the concept of choosing a specific target client was super uncomfortable for me when I started my photography business. I didn’t like the idea of confining myself, or limiting myself to a specific demographic, and potentially losing out on business from the rest of the population. It wasn’t until someone explained the concept behind the saying:

‘If you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no one.’

More specifically, they explained… think of the most successful and popular clothing stores. They all market to a specific demographic. Imagine if Gucci started selling cheap, low-end clothing in order to cater to the population they’re currently missing out on. What would happen? Their high-end brand name would be completely compromised and they would lose their elite status and clientele.

What if Urban Outfitters began carrying conservative mature women’s clothing? Suddenly the popular clothier designed to attract the hip, youthful population would not be so cool anymore when their clients’ moms and grandmothers would begin shopping in the same location. These businesses are the hugely popular, successful establishments they are because they are particular about who they are, what they offer, and who they cater to.

I offer high end, artful photography, with boutique sessions designed for each client I work with. This is very specialized photography. What I offer is extremely different from low-end department store photography in which each session is standardized and clients all end up with similar poses, lighting and backdrops. I cannot cater to the demographic which wants department store photography. My style is entirely different and my costs of doing business are much higher. Furthermore, by offering low end photography, I’d be devaluing the boutique status I’ve established.

So… who is your target client? How do you identify them?

Specialists recommend creating a very specific vision of your target client.

Get out a pen and paper. In order to visualize the very specific client you’re reaching out to, I invite you to first think about clients/customers/followers you’ve had in the past (or imaginary clients you’d like to have in the future) that you LOVED. This is the ideal client you’d love to have lined up at your door. What do they have in common? What’s their personality? What do they believe in? What’s important to them? What’s their gender, age, income, career, values, lifestyle?

Now that you’ve identified your favorite type of client… who you’d LOVE to work with and serve each day… You can use the descriptive information about them to visualize your ideal target client. In great detail, describe everything about him/her. Answer the following:

Name:

Age:

Gender:

Occupation:

Married? Single? Divorced? Kids?

Monthly Income:

Where do they live?

What type of house do they have? Do they own/rent?

How tech-savvy are they?

Now… answer the following questions, considering how they pertain to your business/what you offer…

What are their beliefs/hopes/worries?

What do they dream about for their life?

What’s holding them back from that dream/what are they struggling with?

What makes them the happiest?

Where do they spend their time?

What are their top 5 favorite sites/shops?

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