There are a lot of answers to this question but the simple answer is that Spring Smith Studios has me :) Maybe that sounds a little silly but I have a unique, creative vision and a personality to match and those are vital parts of my business. Anyone can package their work in a beautiful box, have a pretty blog or website, or offer Couture Books but no other studio has me. I am that unique part of my studio that makes Spring Smith Studios different, and hopefully that's the aspect of my business that my clients fall in love with. Of course I want them to love Couture Books, my little studio and the style of my black and white signature images but if they only love those things and not my sense of humor and my ability to talk for hours on end about nothing we might not be the perfect match. I want everything I do as a part of my business to be a reflection of myself. For example, there are a few charities that are very near and dear to my heart and I have always wished that I had more money to donate to these organizations in need. My solution- every wedding I book now gets to pick one of these charities to donate a portion of their wedding contract price too. (Read more about this here). I have spent so many hours trying to brain storm and think up ways to share who I really am with all of you, so that anyone out there who thinks "I love this girl and could talk to her for hours" will hopefully remember that when looking for a wedding or lifestyle photographer. My ultimate goal is to have all of my clients turn into friends that I keep in touch with over the years following their wedding or portrait session. Hopefully they are people that when they come back to Mt. Washington Valley for an anniversary will stop in to my studio for a big hug and a cupcake!
When I started my business I wasn't sure how to find these couples. How do you find couples that you have something in common with? How do you find couples that you want to be friends with? How do you find couples that you are so excited about their wedding you keep track of their facebook countdown just waiting to spend that special day with? Well, I've been pretty lucky and have found a lot of these clients through my local community. Some of my clients have been old summer camp friends or old high school friends but many are people I've never met before they walk through my door for a consultation. How did those couples find me? Mainly through past clients, other photographer referrals, vendor relationships and some found me through blog features.
Having a community of vendors (including other photographers) has been such a huge resource for my business. I've established some great relationships with local venues, local vendors (The White Mt. Cupcakery is across the hall from my studio and they have become some of my best friends). I'm so honored to have other photographers in this area as well as down in the Boston area who send referrals my way for dates they are already booked. All of these things have lead to exponential growth in my business. Now that these couples have my name and website my next step is to filter anyone who isn't a good fit for me. I try to make it as clear as I can that I value the relationship with my clients and that that piece of the puzzle is as important as their desire for my photography skills. Having that connection is key to capturing the kind of images that they see and hopefully want from their wedding day. I don't take every wedding that comes my way- and I make it clear from the very first communication that I want couples to know that I am going to be sure we are a good fit before anyone signs a contract. Telling a client that if you are not a good fit and that you are not interested it scary. You are turning away money and who knows if you can book that date with someone else. But trust me, coming from someone who has booked that couple because it was a pay check, it's worth it to turn them down ahead of time then spend hours and hours trying to make them happy when you knew from the very beginning that you were not ever going to be able to make them happy. It will be an uphill battle the whole way and it will drain you mentally and physically more then that money can make up for.
Finding a way to stand out from the crowd and creating your brand is hard. There are so many studios out there with a cute logo, a fun pattern background to their blog and a more affordable price then you can offer. How do you set yourself apart, how do you get people to look past that and see the value? I'm not sure I've figured that part out yet to be honest. I'm working on it but I still struggle with the "is my blog too generic, are my colors not bold enough, is my website personal enough or too personal"? All I know is that the first time I got an email with a bride telling me that she loved my about me section and felt like I must be her best friend from college twin, I was so excited! Unfortunately ,I was already booked for her date but knowing that someone connected with what I wrote filled me with so much joy!
So my plan is to keep doing what I'm doing. Tweaking things here and there and hopefully little by little I'll create the kind of brand or lovemark that people will connect with and will be so excited to share with others.
If you want more info- use that Amazon gift card you got in your stocking and check out Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands by Kevin Roberts. This book is chalk full of great info about creating loyalty beyond reason.