How To Start a Pet Photography Business 02: Decide What You Will Sell
Last time on “How to Start a Pet Photography Business,” we explored the differences between photographing outside or in a studio to help you choose which one best fits your photographic style and vision of your business. Of course, you could go the route of a blended situation where you own or rent a studio but also venture outside in the great outdoors for photo sessions. Assuming you are still on board to start your pet photography business, let’s focus on this week’s topic which is about what products you will offer to your new clients!
That’s correct – it’s time to discuss how you can make smart decisions on your product offerings and services!
Deciding what products you will offer is a big decision you’ll make. After all, what you offer will attract the right customers that turn into raving fans! You will have a following that is passionate about your work and tells all their friends and family about you. They will discover that you offer something unique that customers cannot find anywhere else.
In other words, coming up with your products should be pretty simple and easy because it should be based on what you love to do and why you went into this business. When you are completely in love with your products and services, then your desire and commitment will permeate through everything you do.
Let’s get started, but first, let’s think of a second about WHY setting yourself apart from other pet photographers is important.
Your Unique Selling Proposition
Have you ever heard of a unique selling proposition(USP)? It’s a marketing theory that was created in 1961 by Rosser Reeves, a transformational marketing executive. In this book, “Reality in Advertising,” Reeves explained that ads should always focus on a company’s USP – the single quality or reason that makes your product different or better than your competitor’s. Reeves put this principle into practice in all of his advertisements, including one of the most well-know slogans he ever created – “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand” for M&M’s.
The goal is to not have your USP appeal to everyone. That defeats the purpose of the USP. It should only appeal to your target customer: the person who values high-end photography or artwork or low prices and fast service. At it essence, your USP describes who you are and what you stand for. It’s the one marketing piece that separates you from every other pet photographer out there.
How to Create a USP for Your Pet Photography Business
The Unique Selling Proposition is one of the key components to the success of your pet photography business. You’ll be working with the USP and tweaking it quite a lot for the first few months, but for now let’s come up with an idea with a plan that starts you on the right path. It’s time to pull out your favorite notebook and let the brainstorming begin!
1. Make a List of Every Product You Want To Sell
Let’s start by listing all items you could possibly sell. I mean everything! Dog Treats with pictures printed on them? Anyone? Now some of you may already have an idea of exactly what to sell but many others might be starting at point A. Regardless of what stage you are in, please write down a list.
Some photographers sell only prints and/or digital images. Others might be talented artists that paint hand-painted frames customized to the image within the frame. You can experiment with different mediums and find out what sells to your target customers. Some photographers focus on photo books, t-shirts, hats, mugs and the like. It’s completely your choice.
Now, let’s examine what you wrote down in your notebook. What products appeal to you most? What will be your signature product? Keep in mind that you will be making or ordering these products a lot and you want to keep them simple. A 50 image collage is pretty cool but how long would that take to edit and design in Photoshop? Do you have the skills to create some of these products at the highest quality? Ensure that you choose products that you can complete in a timely manner and enjoy creating.
Next, review the products on your list and look how you can simplify. People like choices but not too many choices.
There is a famous jam study (famous, at least, among those who research choice), that is often used to bolster this point. Sheena Iyengar, a professor of business at Columbia University and the author of “The Art of Choosing,” (Twelve) to be published next month, conducted the study in 1995.
In a California gourmet market, Professor Iyengar and her research assistants set up a booth of samples of Wilkin & Sons jams. Every few hours, they switched from offering a selection of 24 jams to a group of six jams. On average, customers tasted two jams, regardless of the size of the assortment, and each one received a coupon good for $1 off one Wilkin & Sons jam.
Here’s the interesting part. Sixty percent of customers were drawn to the large assortment, while only 40 percent stopped by the small one. But 30 percent of the people who had sampled from the small assortment decided to buy jam, while only 3 percent of those confronted with the two dozen jams purchased a jar.
That study “raised the hypothesis that the presence of choice might be appealing as a theory,” Professor Iyengar said last year, “but in reality, people might find more and more choice to actually be debilitating.”
So taking into consideration conducted by Professor Iyengar, fewer choices are better for your customers. Don’t be the Greek restaurant of pet photography. Choose 3-5 products that fit your target market to a tee. It’s okay if you don’t know exactly the “perfect” ones right now. We are just getting started. We have to start somewhere.
When you are done simplifying your product list, you now have a short list of products and please always remember to keep your USP in mind!
3. Consider the Availability
Now you have simplified your list of products, it’s time to start thinking about the availability and logistics of these products. To determine whether or not a product is possible, consider the questions below:
- Can you create this product or do you need a vendor to create it?
- Is the vendor national or international?
- Do you need any special tools? Paint brushes? Re-claimed wood frames?
- What software do you need to create the product?
- What photography equipment do you need to create the product? Special lenses?
- What is the average cost of these products?
Always keeping in mind that fewer products are easier to manage, create and promote. When your products are a focused few core items, then you can target your time and passion on producing the best product possible in the market.
Time to Make it Happen
Good Job! Whew! Now you have come up with a few fantastic products for your pet photography business, you’re ready to move on to Lesson 3: What Equipment Will You Need. We will walk through the necessary equipment to get you started and other fun purchases that put icing on the cake.
Coming up next: In the third chapter of “How to Start a Pet Photography Business”, we will discuss what equipment you need to get started. In the meantime, please visit our Facebook page and tell us what questions you have and how to connect to other pet photographers. See you next week!
About the Author
Barkroom is the #1 online community for current and aspiring pet photographers. Check out some sweet puppy noses or join a conversation about pricing. with us. Chat with Barkroom on Facebook and ask questions or share a favorite image of your favorite kitten!