Documentary photographer and photo book connoisseur Dan Milnor spoke with…
This is the second blog post from a new series to help you create a business plan in 2014 using our guide The 2014 Photo Business Plan Workbook. Download it here.
Step #2: Determine Your Audience & Addressable Market
Judging by the number of photographers who solicit opinions about their websites from other photographers, we can say with certainty that there is something askew in the way that many photographers think about their current and potential customers. While it might be convenient to ask a photographer buddy, it’s not particularly useful in trying to understand what your intended audience thinks. The inability to articulate your intended audience is a clear indication that you have an incomplete view of your business.
Once you’ve determined your intended audience, also consider the size of that intended audience (a.k.a. the addressable market). Is it large enough to sustain your business given what you know about the frequency of sales within that market? For example, if you specialize in corporate portraits of lawyers, do a quick back-of-the- napkin calculation to determine the number of law firms, the frequency with which they need portraits, the rate at which you gain (and lose) them as clients, and the price per portrait. Be as conservative as possible—if you did 50 things last year, it’s unlikely you’ll do 150 this year.
Get into the habit of estimating, and then hone those skills with the actual numbers. The more clarity you can bring to the planning process, the more accurate your forecasts will be.
An incomplete understanding of your potential customers and the size of that base can lead you to disastrous results. When you can define your audience, you can better understand their needs and hone your marketing message and products.
Example: If you specialize in underwater stock photography, your audience isn’t men’s lifestyle magazine photo editors. More likely it’s a very specific set of textbook publishers and travel companies specializing in underwater adven- ture. Because textbooks require a high degree of specific- ity and accuracy, you will need to provide the scientific names to satisfy the needs of your audience.
Take the steps to build a better business in 2014: Download the guide and get a checklist of “to-do’s” to complete Step 2, along with additional resources that will help you determine your market.