Not long ago, I was having a conversation with a friend about a photographer he knew that was in the middle of shooting a Sikh wedding.
I’ve never been to a Sikh wedding, but it sounded like it lasts several days and ends up resulting in 6000-10000 photos. Quite a celebration, apparently.
I suggested that if one really studied a “specialty” ceremony like this and took the time to study the details of the beliefs of this (or any other religion) and learned more about these things than anyone else in their large community, this photographer would really standout and as a result, dominate that business.
The end result could be to become the #1 expert in photographing Sikh weddings in that area, perhaps nationwide. The same would likely happen to a photographer who studied any specialty area.
I suggested to my friend that standing out in this field would allow this photographer to focus solely on either this specific market or in weddings of what I’ll (impolitely) call “specialty religions”.
My friend disagreed and said “Standing out is the new normal.”, in effect saying that everyone stands out in the photography business and that standing out is no big deal these days.
Maybe he’s right, but I haven’t seen that yet. Years back, I didn’t see it in the photography business either. Most certainly I saw *some* who did this – and that’s exactly what happened to them. The rest just “did OK”.
And that’s the difference. There is always room – in any market, to do what others won’t do, to learn what others wont learn and to provide service that others can’t or won’t provide.
As I remarked to him, “even in a room full of billionaires, the 80/15/5 rule holds true.” – meaning that in a room with 100 billionaires, 80 of them are just your average billionaire (whatever that is), 15 of them are high-achievers (within that group) and 5 of them can kick the crud out of the other 95 at anything laid before them.
Yet they’d all be billionaires.
I’ve seen this situation again and again. It’s held true for photographers, welders, timber framers, people who write business columns – and many others.
In other words, even in a room full of highly-successful people, 5% of them could kick the crap out of the others in business, tennis, mountain climbing or whatever they attempted.
Rarely is it raw intellect, physical strength, or their social or financial position at birth – though at times there are people born to the “right parents” who get more than what some would call their share of the breaks.
99% of the rest stand out for other reasons.
Desire. Curiosity. Taking the time and trouble to look at their customers and ask themselves “What do they need that they aren’t asking for…yet?”
That thing they aren’t yet asking for might be something that isn’t yet invented, but it might simply be something you’ve “stolen” from another market.
Look at drive up windows. Taken from one market, used in another. Delivery – same thing.
But let’s look at the things that you can do for customers who aren’t yet asking for the things you’re seeing in your market’s future.
Henry Ford, for example, is often quoted as saying something along the lines of “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have told me to give them a faster horse.”
A faster horse, in Henry’s case, was a Ford automobile. Sorry, I can’t tell you what your market’s faster horse might be because there are too many of you.
Others stand out because, like Ford, they saw the future better than others – or at least a little earlier than others.
How much time do you spend looking at what you sell and do for clients and how you can move that two, five or ten years ahead?
Anyone can wait for something to happen in their market. You should be considering what you can make happen in your market.
How much time do you spend considering the problems facing your clients that they haven’t recognized yet?
Who in your market is figuring out what your clients don’t even realize they need? Be that business.
Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a business, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s site or contact him via email at mriffey at flatheadbeacon.com.
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