Episode 187- Pick Me A Winner

For the freelancers and entrepreneurs out there. I want to talk to you a little bit about what I call edge marketing. And what you find so often are people that are so concerned about finding clients that they’re not really paying attention to finding the right clients. So we do a lot of things in our business right now to find the edges, to make sure that we’re only working with the right type of clients. And this is really key also when you’re building a community, because so many people are focused on the numbers and getting bigger and being more profitable in the world of building online communities that they’re not making sure that the right people come in and the wrong people stay out and nothing will divide and destroy an online community more than having the wrong people in that will eventually push the right people away.

So you have to know what your edges are, what the demographics in many different areas are of the people that you want in there. That will be the best fit for your group. But it also goes to the solopreneur freelance world. And whether it’s design or consulting or in our case what it used to be was photography. We paid attention to this and we built the business around it because most people do not spend the time early on and throughout to make sure that they’ve got their edges set because they don’t see the benefit of what will happen. And the benefit when you have your edges set is that when you bring the right people in, the raving fans, the ones that really connect with you, they’re going to tell the others just like that and they’re going to recruit the right type of clients for you in the future.

So when you’re starting out, you don’t realize how much easier it will get over time if you get this focused and disciplined in early and you stick to it. So we did that in our photography world in the way that we displayed our images. And I’ll give the example of the wedding photography world. Well, we saw very simply that most wedding photographers did not play to the edges. They play to what they thought the brides wanted to see. And they wound up doing pretty good because most brides didn’t know the difference. They just wanted a decent enough photographer to hire for their wedding. But there’s very little that’s unique about following the trends, even if they are quote unquote hip trends, trends are made to go out of style and if their hip and their trends, everybody’s going to be following them. And eventually what’s unique becomes normal.

But Elizabeth and I studied and we knew what the vision was of the clients that we wanted to work with and the work that we wanted to do. And we had to be okay putting images out there that would offend some, maybe not offend, but possibly, but scare some away. So the ones that really got our vision, we’re attracted to it. So there were select images that we would put on our website that we knew other people would be frightened to do. And I’ll give you an example. We were photographing a wedding one time. It was during the ceremony and a kid, he must’ve been about 10 years old and he was dressed nicely. He was part of the wedding mini groomsmen or something and he was bored out of his mind. So me knowing who I am and how much I can relate to how this kid was feeling when I was 10 I paid attention to him because I knew the things that he was going to do then would be different than what most people would be doing while they’re sitting there in that church.

So he’s in the front row in the first pew, his arm is leaning over the wall while the ceremony was going on. So I had a perfect angle, a clean shot of this kid as he was kind of falling asleep or leaning his head, yawning, just do it. A bunch of funny stuff that 10 year olds do. And I noticed him stick his finger up his nose and with an intensity that only a 10 year old can do, continue to really work at picking his nose. So I’m sitting there and I’m firing away while the bride and groom are up on the altar. I’m not even paying them any attention. I’m photographing this cute kid picking his nose. And then my heart dropped when I noticed that his other arm leaning over the edge and his fingers were laying in the Holy water. So in one hand he’s picking his nose in the other hand is laying in the Holy water.

And I only got a couple of images before he stopped, but I knew that I nailed that one. And I came back and we edited and I showed Elizabeth and she was like, Oh man. And I said, this has to go on display at the front of our website. And she’s always been so cool about pushing the edges. So she agreed and there were a couple of reasons for us to do so. This is what I want you to think about as you display the areas of your business that stand out. What we wanted from our clients were fun, loving, fun people we wanted to avoid with the stodgy brides or the bridezillas that had to have everything perfect. We also wanted to avoid controlling and domineering parents. If we could sit with a picture like that and other ones that we chose to display.

It was all intentional. It wasn’t just about good photographs, it was about sending a message to our potential clients about who they’re going to work with. So I’ll tell you what didn’t happen. We didn’t get emails and phone calls from brides and mother-in-laws saying they were offended by that photograph or photographs like that. Those people, if they saw the website, probably clicked away as quickly as possible and moved on to the next photographer that had pretty pictures in the park that were all posed and perfect. And that was great for us because we had repelled them away. And then we found some people that would go through the site and they would hire us and that would go great. But then we also found another group and these were the people that said the reason why we hired you, and they would specifically point out that picture was because of pictures like that because they told us they wanted a photographer that was creative, was unique and would be fun to hang out with for an entire day.

So we never had to put on our website the type of person that we didn’t want to work with. We created the work that repelled the people that we didn’t want to work with at the same time, that work attracted the people that we did want to work with. And that decision right there, that mindset helped us develop a business and a brand that was distinctly us and was unique for the right type of client and the ones that were looking for somebody like us. And this was way before we met and became friends with a guy named John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneurs on Fire. And he talked about his marketing and he was very clear, I want you to love me, or I want you to hate me, but I don’t want you to be in the middle. And if you have the guts to market yourself and brand yourself that way, you will not only stand out, but you’ll repel the wrong people and you’ll attract the right ones. And I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

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