Of all the people to give you an analogy about running, trust me you would think I would be the last. Because, quite simply put: I. hate. running. Absolutely hate it. Loathe it to be more precise. In fact, about the only thing that I hate worse than running is happy runners. I mean honestly, what are they smiling about?
But. I digress.
Because I am about to lay a running analogy on you. Smack down style. And I think it’s something we all (myself very much included) need to hear.
Flash back three and a half years ago to when Justin & I were first deciding to go full time with this business. Law firm offers were turned down, student loans were deferred, and security was, metaphorically speaking, kicked to the curb. Justin quit working full time for another photographer and together we decided to leap… and the net would appear. And approximately three seconds after making said leap, we looked at each other and said, “Great. So now we’re wedding photographers. What are we supposed to do? What’s everyone else doing?”
Here’s a really good tip for your business and for life. If ever you find yourself asking 1) What am I supposed to do? 2) What’s everyone else doing? you are probably already on the wrong path. We certainly were.
For the first full year and a half of our business, we spent all of our time looking left and looking right. Hey, Photographer X to the left of us includes the disc….maybe *we* should include the disc too. Photographer Y to the right of us just started offering this album company….maybe *we* should offer that album too. And to be honest with you, all of that looking left and looking right just left us standing still.
Because here’s the thing, in the Ironman Marathon that is your life….if you spend all of your time and your energy looking left and looking right, you will never spend any time moving forward. And you run the very real risk of getting tripped up along the way.
Kevin Roberts in the book, Lovemarks: The Future Beyond Brands, tells us that the major difference between a Lovemark and a Brand is this. Brands conform. They compromise. They race to the middle. They have no idea who they are, or what they stand for, so they shed everything that made them unique in the first place. Everything that made them, them. And they ask themselves, What am I supposed to do? What is everyone else doing? They look left. They look right. And they run the very real risk of getting tripped up along the way. Or at the very least, of never moving forward. And in doing so, most brands fade into nothing more than what Kevin Roberts calls “blands.”
Lovemarks on the other hand say, “Hey, this is me. This is who I am. Love me or hate me. Take me or leave me. But I am who I am. And the people who love me, will love me without question. Will love me without fail. And they will go out and they will do the hard work to build this business with me. Because I run my own race. And I race against no one else but me.”
In doing so, Lovemarks lead the way. And they set the pace for everyone else.
So here are our three best tips for being a Lovemark, running your own race, and moving yourself & your business… forward.
1) Figure out who you are.
There is no way that you will ever get clients who love you for you, if you have no idea who that is. Figure out what you stand for, what you love, what makes you, You. What do you love to shoot, love to be known for, what kind of clients make your heart happy. Ask yourself the hard questions. Then stick to the real answers.
2) Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing.
If your clients are in love with you, it will never matter to them what someone else is doing. So you should stop worrying about it too. Let someone else raise or lower their prices, include or not include the disc, host a workshop, get featured in a magazine. Be happy for them. Congratulate them. And then get right back to running your own race. Keep your eyes straight ahead to the life you’re running towards, and use every last bit of your energy for that.
3) Take care of the ones that brought ya.
When you are on the last leg of your race and are most exhausted, it will be those Lovemark clients who carry you through. Be grateful for them. Take extra good care of them. Sink all of that energy that you are now not wasting looking left and looking right back into them. And trust me they will carry you so much farther, so much faster than you ever thought possible.
Written by Mary Marantz of Justin and Mary Photography
Justin & Mary are internationally traveled destination photographers, who call New England home. Justin is a 2003 graduate of the highly-acclaimed Rochester Institute of Technology, and Mary is a 2006 graduate of the Yale Law School.
Justin & Mary have been traveling around the nation on their Spread the Love Workshop Tour teaching photographers and other business professionals about marketing, branding, building relationships, business 101, financial health, balancing life & business, creating systems that stick, and so much more.