Creating a website that attracts clients can be frustrating and overwhelming. Your brain peppers itself with a thousand questions: What should I title my pages? What color should the background be? Where should I put my intro video? Should I write two bio paragraphs or one?
Even though it seems like you have a thousand decisions to make, there’s really only one at stake. And once that decision is made, your direction becomes clearer on all the other fronts. The question at hand is…
Who is your target client?
If you came to me and asked: “I’m giving a speech tonight, what’s a good opening joke?” I would have to ask in return – “Who is your audience?”
Comedy is about wooing and delighting your audience, and coincidentally – so is marketing. You need to know your audience – whether you want to make them laugh or buy.
So before you sit down to design or overhaul a website, you might want to go CIA on this and create a profile of your target client.
What is a target client profile?
A target client profile is a juicy, detailed description of the lifestyle, problems, needs, and desires of the person you most want to work with.
Too many of us neglect to dig deep into the minds and hearts of our ideal clients. We stop at superficial characteristics like: “Mom / earns enough to have disposable income / has kids / has a nice house / wants to decorate that house with photography.”
All that does is describe why we want to work with them. It says nothing about why they might want to work with us.
To understand why they might want to work with us, we have to look at who they are as people. Most importantly, we need to look at their needs.
Because great marketing is always about needs.
We ultimately spend money to fulfill needs. Maybe they’re straightforward needs, like the need to eat or have a roof over your head. But even splurges and unplanned purchases fulfill needs. The need to feel important. The need to relax. The need to feel independent. The need to feel beautiful. The need to feel secure. The need to entertain kids so you can have peace and quiet for a few hours.
These aren’t “needs” in the sense that they’re essential to life, but essential to how someone wants to live their life. They’re emotional motivations for action. And people will spend money to fulfill those ‘needs.’
If we understand and explicitly acknowledge what the needs of our target clients are, we can use our websites to communicate better with potential clients. We can show them how we’re not going to just provide photos, but we can fulfill those intangible needs, too. The latter is far more persuasive.
Spend some time studying your target client and look closely at his/her needs.
There are lots of ways to research your target client. If you’re a newborn photographer, you might decide that your target client is a mom who already has a few kids, and who works part time from home. Spend some time with people who meet that description. You might get a group of expecting moms together at a coffee shop, buy a round of hot chocolate, and talk about their life and experiences. You might read relevant online message boards and Facebook groups to see what people’s common concerns are (truly, these places are a gold mine of information – people say all kinds of uncensored things on the web that they would never admit in conversation). Or you might call up all your friends who are expecting and have a chat.
What are their problems? What does their day-to-day life look like? What frustrates them? How, when, and why do they browse the web? Look for common themes, and write them down.
This information gives you strong clues about designing a website that will get them excited to hire you.
Maybe you’ll find out that your target client is frustrated because she never has a quiet moment to herself. She’s distracted by a cute toddler clinging to her leg while she’s trying to surf the web on her iPhone. How can your website address her need for quick info? Maybe you can skip the lengthy paragraphs and create a cheeky “Everything You Need To Know About Happy Photography In 60 Seconds or Less” video. That way she gets the most important info while also meeting her need to tend to her other kids.
Maybe over your coffee shop chat, you find out she is worried about hiring a newborn photographer because she didn’t do it for her other children, and wants to be sure they don’t feel unfairly excluded. Website solution? Write up “5 Ways To Include Your Other Children In Your Newborn Shoot.” Make sure she sees that there’s no reason to feel guilty, and that you can create beautiful images not just of the newborn, but make it a special family event as well.
When you understand people’s needs and real-life emotions, creating compelling web content becomes much less of a frustrating guessing game.
Hesitation Alert: Some people don’t want to write up an ‘official’ profile of a target client. They’re afraid they are going to leave someone out and lose out on clientele.
Sure, you want to make sure you’re not narrowing down so much that no one actually fits your target client profile. But addressing real-life needs of one small group will always attract a broader audience than you think.
Say you interviewed women who already have children, but don’t want to exclude first-time moms. But if you created the 60-second video as a way to help the mom whose toddler is about to dump Kool-Aid all over the floor, guess what – that 60 second video is also going to appeal to a first-time mom who is juggling a full-time job with trying to get ready for the baby to come.
And that web page about involving other children in a newborn shoot? It might give that new mom all kinds of ideas for hiring you in the future, for including her niece in the special shoot, or even just for excitedly recommending you to a woman she knows who already has children.
The ideas you come up with may result from specific needs you identified when looking at a specific group, but they are usually applicable to more than one life situation.
So before you sit down to work on your website, spend some time getting to know the people you most want to be using it. You’ll have an easier time deciding how to present yourself online, and then book more clients who are thrilled to see that you’ve tailored your web presence just for them.
How to Build An Absolutely Irresistible Website
Want step-by-step help in creating a target client profile that covers what you most need to know, and step-by-step help applying it to your website? You’ll love How To Build An Absolutely Irresistible Photography Website.
This workshop in e-book form will teach you how to build a photography website that markets for you and brings in the clients you most want to work with.
And because we all love bonuses:
A special guest chapter from Kristen Kalp walks you through how to write juicy web copy that gets people to take action.
And wildly successful photographers Sue Bryce and Spencer Lum reveal their secrets for bringing in clients online.
This must have 87-page ebook has the quality and depth of a full-blown workshop. Jenika’s strategy for capturing clients online is a necessary first step for any photography website.” – Zach Prez