A competitive advantage is an advantage that a company has over its competitors in giving customers more value either through lower costs or added benefits, which increases willingness to pay.
The goal is to produce a product that is valued by all customers in such a way that it is inimitable or unattractive for new entry.
Photography Industry – Perfect Competition
The photo industry is not easy to compete in because it is, in many aspects, perfectly competitive. In a nutshell:
- Many sellers with homogenous products (i.e., identical)
- No barriers to entry or exit (e.g., you don’t have a billion dollar factory that you need to amortize)
- There is perfect information — customers have access to information on utility, prices, quality, and access
It’s very much like gas stations. Fuel is fuel. You’d probably fill up at the station that is on the same side of where you’re driving.
- You might argue that your “style” is different, but to customers, at best, you’re only marginally different by an indistinguishable degree.
- You might argue that you’re the “XYZ photographer for ABC clients.” What stops competitors from claiming the same?
Sustainable Advantage — Lululemon
As a brief tangent, let’s examine Lululemon.
Founder Chip Wilson have made some outrageous quotes, such as, “… Breast cancer also came into prominence in the 1990’s. I suggest this was due to the number of cigarette-smoking Power Women who were on the pill …”
Most recently, he blamed women of a certain physique as the cause for the yoga pants chafing, which led to a product recall.
Due to the sexist remarks, the stock dipped numerous times because of market speculation. However, it never affected the company’s sales. The reasons are because of its
- patented technology
- preemptive retail strategy
- Lululemon yoga community
You could hate the company, but where else would you get the world’s technologically best yoga attire? Nowhere. That’s an example of sustainable competitive advantages.
The aim is to create an inimitable moat that deters competition.
Photographer’s Sustainable Advantages
When I was a photographer, I dominated search results on Google (SEO). I averaged 3 inquiries per day.
My competitive advantage was the preemptive security of online space just as how Lululemon (or McD’s) preemptively secures physical space.
The result was lower marketing costs to generate comparable inquiries.
Knowing SEO is helpful if you have a high PageRank or in an area where people don’t know how to exercise this skill. Having said that, what if you’re in a competitive space where everyone knows it?
Indelible Stories is an answer these issues — to give smart photographers the channel to amplify their efforts.
In summary, it’s “Humans of New York” for couples in love.
- In the back end, it will be be fully optimized for the web
- We will promote you heavily on social media
(social engagement ✓)
- It will be something worth talking about for your clients
(word of mouth marketing ✓)
Too many times we’ve seen good stories not get published. The criteria are simple: love, passion, and adventure.
Remember that there’s no way to truly be inimitable. The best scenario is to dominate by being first in a subset of an industry, making it too unattractive for new entry.
So … collect stories. Submit soon.
P.S. Stories and testimonials make great blog posts for those who hate to write!
Is this simply a link back system. I followed the link to Nina’s blog… Not sure I truly get what this is or how it works. Sorry for being such a dunce.
Good question, Mark. It’s not Nina’s blog where the stories will be posted. I just linked to her to show who I will be working with. Sorry for the confusion.
The blog itself is http://indeliblestories.com
It’s a place to share stories of love, passion, and adventure. The criteria for publication are different than to “only have pretty photos.” A perk of publication is a link back.
While I am not in the numbers game of high volume, personally (see above article!), you have presented truly and singularly valuable advice. And it remains applicable well beyond the business of photography, of course.
For sure. I didn’t expect photographers to be in the high volume business. However, the pie is a set amount with only so many clients available. While you can leverage endogenous desires to increase price paid per session (WTP or willingness to pay), the quantity (Q) of customers remain the same.
With increased producers (i.e., photographers / competitors), the ratio of customers to producers become smaller. Therefore, in order to secure a position, one must, as simple as it my sound, have higher demand than supply (D>S). To successfully do so, one must build an inimitable moat / competitive advantage.
This is totally brilliant, Lawrence!! YOU are brilliant. I just love your mind!!! xoxo from across the ocean 🙂
Thanks, Katya! Congratulations on Zion! xo