In 2017, we were stationed in Washington state with 2 kids, a baby on the way and a third failed photography business that has taken only one paid session in a year. I knew I had a problem and the problem was M-E. I had no idea how to get clients! All I knew is that I needed clients who made more money than we did and wanted photos taken. I had no idea how to find my “ideal client” or who or what they even looked like.
Now, I had paid for marketing classes and attended workshops and photographer meetups, so I wasn’t completely ignorant. I just didn’t actually understand how to figure it out. I knew I couldn’t be the only one with this problem, but I was tired of hearing long, drawn-out, super complex yet unhelpful explanations. I decided I wanted to go back to school and major in marketing so I could help other creative entrepreneurs make their business dreams come true.
Fast forward to my first marketing class. We had a pretend product to market and one of our first assignments was to figure out who to market to. “This is it!” I thought. “I’ve barely started working on my degree and now the professor is going to see how bad I suck at this and tell me to drop out!” I just knew this was going to be a hurdle I couldn’t jump. Then, I clicked on this link that was provided and a whole new world and understanding opened up to me.
You see friend, I had been told for years I needed to create this in-depth description of my perfect client, but I never had any tools to build it with. Now I had a tool that would help, a tool called ESRI. All I had ever known was that I was not my ideal client. I had no idea what someone who made more than we would wear or where they shopped or what they ate for breakfast. It was like trying to pick a favorite piece of sand on the beach: darn near impossible.
The way the ESRI Location Strategy works is you enter a zip code and it pulls up an analysis of the market segments (i.e. groups of people) in that area. The analysis shows you the average age, median income and a short description of what that group of people is like. What’s even better is it shows you the segments in greater area around that zip code.
Now, the icing on the cake is when you press “click for more details” on the description. This opens up a 4 page PDF on that segment with more in-depth detail. This was the game-changer for me! I finally had a reference point for my ideal client. Not only could I figure out their fiscal value, but now I information on what people value, how they spent their time and even the average family size.
Armed with this information I was finally able to create a full picture of an ideal client. I called them Jen & Charlie and they were 48 years old with grown kids and two Westie dogs. They had a classic, timeless style and valued quality over convenience, so I pegged them as Anthropology, ModCloth, Pottery Barn, and West Elm shoppers. Charlie still reads his newspaper every morning, while Jen watches the news and surfs Facebook before work.
Having a reference point helped give me the confidence that my dream clients were out there. I had data to choose from, match and compare instead of trying to piece random things together and hoping it all made sense. Also, being able to see where the different groups lived around my area helped me make sure I wasn’t looking for a platypus in a duck pond.
If you’ve ever had a hard time describing your dream clients, I encourage you to give ESRI a try. It’s free and a wonderful resource, especially if you’re new to an area or a little lost in the woods like I was.
Good Luck and Happy Marketing!