Breaking Through the Noise (Bonus EP2)

In this bonus episode, my special guest, Michelle Tresemer of Foundations First Marketing, get into the art of niching down in photography. Eavesdrop as we explore the benefits of narrowing your focus to specific photography services and ideal clients. From event photography to pet portraits, learn how clarity and specificity can enhance both your work and marketing efforts. Tune in for practical tips on finding your niche, attracting ideal clients, and infusing passion into your photography business.

While this episode focuses on the photography business, its message can be applied to any industry. 

Key Takeaways

  • How niching down helps Google understand your website.
  • The importance of niching down and aligning marketing efforts with personal preferences and strengths.
  • Focus on what you sell and who you’re selling it to, ensuring clarity and specificity.


Connect with Michelle Tresemer on LinkedIn.

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Raw Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the small business sweet spot. I’m your host Barb Davids, and this show is dedicated to helping small business owners like you get more organic website traffic and also to help create and distribute content and analyzing the numbers so that we can make better informed marketing decisions. It is action oriented, direct and conversational.

And if you’ve been looking for SEO or content marketing help, please stick around to the very end where I share about the group coaching program, small business sweet spot. I’m so glad you’re here. Let’s go.

Hey there, this is an episode I did with Michelle Tresemer of foundations first marketing over on LinkedIn live. It is how to differentiate your photography business and attract more clients. And even though it’s about photography business, there are a lot of great takeaways here that you can use for your business, even if you’re not a photographer.

So I highly recommend taking a listen and seeing what Michelle has to say. And I hope you enjoy cheers. My name is Barb Davids and I’m with compass digital strategies.

I help photographers who are struggling to grow their business to the next phase so that they have more money and freedom. And today I’m talking with Michelle Trezimer, who will guide you to break through the fear of niching or niching down so you can attract more of your favorite clients. Welcome, Michelle.

And thanks so much for coming on today. Thank you. I’m really excited about this topic.

Great. All right. Why don’t we jump in with a little bit of a background of who you are, how you came into marketing, and we’ll go from there.

Awesome. I am a Gen Xer. So I’m a digital native.

I’ve been doing marketing since my space days for anybody who remembers Tom from my space. My specialty these days is as a marketing generalist, which basically means I learn all about all the different pieces of marketing. And my job is to figure out what pieces and what levers to pull.

That’s going to get you to your goal the fastest. So I know how all of the pieces work. And I got to say, my absolute favorite piece is this topic differentiation standing out from the crowd.

Oh, it’s a big one. Yeah. Awesome.

All right. Well, with that, how do we? Awesome. Go ahead and show my slides.

Oh, yep. There you go. We will dive in.

I prepped some really fun examples specifically for photographers. I do do action dog photography kind of on the side, which I’ll show some examples of. Great.

So when we talk about differentiation or niching down or niching down, I always get pushback. And it usually sounds like this, but I can take all sorts of pictures. I can do weddings.

I can do portraits. I could do an event for you. No problem.

Toddlers, piece of cake. Why would I turn down clients? Why would I turn down the money? Barb, does that sound about right? Sounds so familiar. Yeah.

Yeah. Yeah. So I’m going to walk everybody through two perspectives on this.

One is from what you sell. So the actual services, the packages that you sell, the second is who you’re selling it to. So it’s two different lenses on how to kind of niche down, therefore stand out.

So the first one is what you sell. The riches are in the niches. So long story short, I don’t think people ever ask for or say, I need a photographer.

They’re usually more specific. They say, I need a corporate event photographer. I need a product photographer.

I need someone to take our family portraits. I need a wedding. It’s not just photographer.

It’s way more specific as all of us are photographers, right? Presumably you could take any of those photos. Like I could technically, but I want to show you an example of why that’s not a great thing to do. So for this exercise, I want us all to pretend you are the local chamber of commerce and you are hosting a big community event.

Your job is on the line. You need to like knock it out of the park and you need an event photographer. So you start looking, you don’t have any referrals.

So you’re starting fresh. You come across this post. Now take a look at this.

There’s tons of pictures. I do see an event photo in there from Oktoberfest with your signs, lots of examples. They list all the different kinds of photos they can take and mentions unique personality.

That’s pretty good. And if you read this, your local portrait event, family commercial, or a pet photographer. So yes, technically they are an event photographer.

It’s pretty overwhelming. It’s not super clear on their specialty. Like, am I going to get pictures from this person? Yes.

But the whole topic that we’re talking about today is breaking through that noise. This is noisy. It’s talking about a whole lot of stuff without saying very much.

Okay, so let’s look at a different example. Now this photographer is talking specifically about event photography and opens with, now read the first line of that post. We’re excited to partner with you to capture the energy and excitement of your next community event.

I mean, you can’t get much more specific than that. And then it goes on to talk about a special social media package where you get real time videos for Instagram during the event. You get specially edited photos so that they can share them on their social networks, cropped perfectly for social.

And then the middle one, the middle sentence, this speaks to their pain point of hiring an event photographer. They don’t want to babysit the photographer or make sure they’re getting the shots that they need to get. They can just focus on being an awesome host.

Now already I’m thinking, Ooh, this sounds so much nicer. It’s so clear. This photographer is going to get me exactly what I need and make me look amazing to my boss.

And look at the photo. It’s one photo. It’s eye-catching.

It’s of an event. It’s clearly community oriented. Like it’s amazing, right? Yeah.

I would totally pick the second one way over the first one. Um, I would think that they would have more experience too. I don’t know if that’s necessarily true in all cases, but I would expect that the person would have, um, more experience, but also just maybe know some of the tips and tricks of getting that little bit of extra, or they might know something a little bit more than that first person would.

Yes, absolutely. So when we look at these side by side, you bring up some amazing points. Um, first and foremost, you, you said it without saying it.

Perception is reality. You perceived the example on the right to be more experienced. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not.

You perceived it to be, so they’re going to get more business. And then the second brilliance thing that you talked about is if you perceive them to have more experience, they are going to know if, I mean, that photographer is going to answer questions. You didn’t even know to ask at the chamber of commerce.

Like they are going to help you make sure that the event is captured beautifully. Yeah. That makes sense.

Yeah. And I will give my husband credit for that photo on the right. That was an event we did.

It looks so fun. I’m telling you. It was a good event.

I’m with that event photographer. Yeah. All right.

So this is the first piece, right? You got to be clear on what you sell. You don’t want to be all things to everybody. So be really clear on what you take photos of.

It sounds like a no brainer, but a story. I, a neighbor convinced me to do some toddler photos. Now, mind you, I do dog photography.

So running toddler, running dog, you would think, okay, they both move quickly and erratically. I could probably do this. And I did a great job.

She was very happy. But then what happened? I kept getting a bunch of calls for referrals to do more toddler photos. I do not enjoy taking toddler photos.

So it was like a waste of my time. The photos turned out great and everything, but that’s not what I want to be known for. It doesn’t light me up and no.

Yeah. All right. So Barb, can you talk for a second about how niching down with what you sell helps on that SEO front, the search engine optimization? It is very much like the perception or like the person who’s looking for you.

So if you can niche down and you’re talking about one type of photography, like the event photography, all of your content is going to be geared towards that. So it’s going to be much easier for Google to know what exactly you do for photography and how to show up on Google. So if you’re doing all of these things and like a lot of photographers, unfortunately, they put all of these things onto one page.

Google doesn’t know what the shit to do with that. Really. It doesn’t know if it should show that page or not.

So if you can niche down, it’s a lot easier for Google to know what you do and who to show it for. So if somebody types in event photographer, they can be like, Oh yeah, this is somebody who does event photography. Let’s show this page.

So it’s really helpful in terms of the context of what you do for Google, because it can see that one thing. Absolutely. And you know, for a personal example, like with the toddlers and the dogs, if I had to generate content for both of those, I would be exhausted.

Like I don’t have time to do both. What a waste. Like I would maybe get, I don’t know, one blog post out a quarter on toddlers.

And like, it’s just, it splits my energy in really not good ways. Yeah. That’s a good point though, to the energy side of it.

I mean, you only have so much time in a day. You only have so much like output that you can do or hiring. If you want to really, when you niche down, you can put more of that into the one.

So otherwise you are getting like too much, like unless you were doing like for a month, you could probably split it up. But again, it’s like, okay, when they come to your blog or you’re talking to someone about like, fun games for your dog versus games for a toddler, you’re hitting two different people. Very different.

Yeah. Yes. And I will admit, so I do dog photography with my husband and we also do event and some portrait stuff.

I split the brand very intentionally. So we have two completely separate companies technically doing business as because of this, because no one wants to hire an event photographer whose website is full of dog photos. Like no, and no one’s going to hire a dog photo person if their whole website is nothing but event pictures.

Like they don’t match at all. Yeah, that makes sense. Yes.

So let’s talk about that energy because that is really key. If you serve everyone, you serve no one. I’m sure we’ve all heard this before.

For me, it does come down to energy and marketing energy is huge. I can tell when someone’s really struggling and exhausted with their marketing, it’s usually because they are not enjoying it. I truly believe if you don’t have fun with your marketing, something is wrong.

It should be fun. Either the topic is not interesting, the medium is wrong, like it doesn’t fit you. And for me, this is the best one.

So if I am working with clients that do not light me up, it drains me so fast. I don’t have the energy to even market myself at all. It’s just, it kills me.

And I’m a rather new-ish photographer, so I’m not as thick-skinned probably. You know, so those nasty clients, man, they will just kill my energy for a month. Yeah.

All right. So let’s talk about those ideal clients and who you’re selling your service to. I want to play a game.

I love games because I think it illustrates how we use marketing. So this is Guess Who? If you have played this before, don’t ruin it for anybody else. Okay.

And I can’t take credit for this. Someone else came up with this, but it’s so brilliant. Okay.

Okay. So suppose we want this person to buy from us. We want them to book us for a photo shoot.

Male, born in 1948, raised in the UK, wealthy, famous, lives in a castle. I think we can kind of understand who this is. So I want you to picture this person in your head and think, is he going to have a driver or is he going to drive himself? Does he get custom tailored suits or does he buy off the rack? So you kind of get the sense.

And I think you probably guessed King Charles III. So this is as if I said, I want people who have dogs. But it goes further than that because Ozzy Osbourne also fits this exact demographic.

They need very different kinds of photos. Just a little bit. Yeah.

Like way different, like night and day. So this is why it’s really important to think about who do we want to work with for our photo shoots? Is it an Ozzy or is it a King Charles III? So I’m going to show you an example using my own pictures because this does get pretty nuanced. And I do want to, I have clients who will drop a thousand dollars on a dog’s birthday party.

Like nothing. They love it. They’re high-end, affluent.

They have the custom cakes, the whole nine for a dog’s birthday party. I also have Gen Z and millennials who opted to get a dog instead of have kids. It is their fur baby and it is their world, right? I have clients who have purebred show dogs where the collar has to be just so, and there’s a whole thing about it.

Their fur cannot get dirty at all. Then I have, of course, my favorite clients who have rescued mutts. No idea what the breeds are.

They’re rescues. They are just the best. Very different kinds of owners, but it’s all dog photography.

Okay. So it does get a little nuanced. All right.

So here’s an example. This is Bailey, my subject. Very, very formal birthday photo shoot.

She’s got the bandana, the presents. The balloons are actually in the shape of a six. She was groomed earlier that day, like some serious work and thought went into this photo shoot, right? Yeah.

Okay. So I could attract this kind of client if I wanted to, but then there’s this one. Look at the joy on that dog’s face.

This is the same dog. This is still Bailey. Wow.

Right. This photo shoot, she called me and it was an off the cuff, like, hey, it’s snowing. Let’s go get some dog photos.

I ran out the door and met her at a park that was walking distance and we got this amazing, amazing photo shoot. Wow. Now this one, let me walk you through.

The one on the left, this one was painful to edit. It was just an absolute slog for me to edit it. And I didn’t, I don’t like it particularly.

Like it doesn’t light me up and I don’t enjoy it. It’s very formal. The one on the right, I was giggling through this whole editing process.

And we all know editing can be a bear. So if I attract more clients, like the one on the right that light me up when I’m editing them, I can take on more clients. It shows in my work.

The client feels my excitement. Like it just feels way better. Like I want the clients who are good with eye boogies and dirt and just slobber everywhere.

Those are my people. It doesn’t feel like a job. Like it doesn’t feel like work.

Yeah, you are a hundred percent right. It really doesn’t. So let me show you a couple others.

And I’m using social media as an example, just because it’s pretty clear. Like I want more posts, like the one on the right and less of the ones on the left, because I want people to see the one on the right and say, oh my gosh, she’s the one I’m hiring her. Way more, just like the event photography, right? We want super clear what they’re going to get.

And I’m intentionally attracting that. Here’s another example, formal, it’s still outdoors, formal photo on the left, pretty artsy. This is Dahlia.

The same dog is on the right in a cow costume, same dog, same photo shoot. But I want to attract the kinds of owners who are attracted to the one on the right. Mm hmm.

Same here. Like, yes, I do take the photos like on the left, but in my experience, the clients who hire me for that kind of picture, they’re more high maintenance. They’re way involved.

I don’t like the way that they treat their dog when they’re trying to get it to pose, even though I say, please don’t try to pose your dog. Like it’s a whole different vibe. The pictures on the right.

I mean, it is just fun from start to finish. And the dog just plays. Like, it’s just fantastic.

And I see Cindy Powell’s on here. She’s an artist herself. She’s amazing.

Okay, so if you’re looking at a website, here’s my website. These are not formal photos. Oh, those are so fun.

See fun. So that is my style. So when you look at your own website, that’s a great exercise for everybody.

Go look at your social posts, your website isn’t communicating and attracting the type of client that is a perfect fit for you. And your, you know, your photography style, wedding photographers are really good example, because they all have such a unique style. But go look at your site and see if it does if that shows through.

Sometimes photographers, they just want to put all their best pictures out there. Yeah, I don’t have any toddlers on here. And I don’t have like studio shots.

There is a woman in my photographer in my area, high end, she does the most stunning portraits of dogs. I mean, blows my mind how beautiful they are. When I have when people call me and ask me to do portraits.

I say Nope, you need to call her. And when people ask her, Oh, can you get some action shots? She says Nope, you need to call Michelle. We’re both dog photographers.

different clients. Yeah, I think that’s where a lot of maybe not even just photographers, but a lot of small business folks, they forget to go look at their own website, and even to the level of desktop versus mobile. And when you see it, you get a better sense of what people are seeing and if it’s getting them where you want them to go.

So I think that’s a really good point about taking a look and seeing if it’s portraying what you want it to. It’s difficult when you do it one at a time to I usually have people I’m old school, take screenshot and print it out, print out your email signature, your business, you know, put your business card on your table, your homepage of your website, multiple social media networks, and see if everything matches. Does it feel right? And I also like to do that exercise with other competitors.

That is a great idea. Do you look different? Do you feel different than that photographer? And then everybody usually realizes, Oh, my gosh, no. It doesn’t feel different.

I don’t feel unique. This doesn’t feel like me. This is from 10 years ago.

And I haven’t updated it in years. Then you have some work to do. Yeah.

So I mean, bottom line, all these examples, I’m presenting myself in a way that is going to delight and inspire my ideal customers, my clients. And I just want to show these side by side. Again, for the event photography example on the services, you really want to narrow down the focus.

And then once you’ve narrowed down what services you provide, narrow down what kind within that service, like really niche that down. I always love that example. And I always think, okay, am I marketing to Aussie or King Charles? Which one? That’s a fantastic example.

I love that example. Yeah. And then I mean, everyone on here is a photographer, presumably, right? So why would someone hire you versus me? You know, it’s it all comes down to that.

It’s the personality and the style. So show it off and make sure it’s, you know, you. How does that feel? Hopefully, hopefully it explains a little more why we say riches are in the niches and clear examples of what it looks like.

Mm hmm. That was fantastic. I love it.

Were by far some of the best examples I have ever seen. I love it. That was great.

Oh, good. Yeah, I think that’s really helpful. I think I know when I was doing photography, I started out with everything, even though it wasn’t really everything.

I felt like it was like I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And for me, I just ended up doing a bunch of different things to figure out what I like the best. And I think it’s really interesting that you’ve niched down so far as to even inside of pet photography or dog photography into portraits versus action.

Oh, I could go deeper. I was thinking about it. I was thinking I could go by breed.

If I wanted to be known for the dachshund photographer, I could go that niche. And if anybody owns a dachshund, they’re going to call me because I’m going to be in that network. And every single dachshund breeder and owner in my immediate area is going to know I’m the person.

Yeah, I could do rescues only, which I’ve actually considered doing. They’re people are really passionate and they want those photos and they’re happy to pay. That is incredible.

That is really down. So if somebody is considering this and they’re like, yes, this is what I need to do, what might be a first step or like how or what question maybe they could ask themselves to start down that road? Oh, it’s you said it earlier, and I don’t think you knew you said it. When you’re editing your next batch of photos, take a second to check in with yourself and feel, am I having fun? Does this feel good or does this feel like a slog and I’d rather go do laundry? I’m not kidding.

Like I felt that. I know. So I mean, check in with yourself because I think, you know, deep down what you love taking photos of and what lights you up.

And if that piece lights you up, marketing it is 10 times easier because you like it. Yeah. But it’s tough.

You know, when people offer you money to do something a little outside your area of expertise, it’s kind of tough to say no, but don’t do what I did. And now people are still calling me for toddler photos. Like, no, I want to do dogs.

Yeah. And you’re fantastic at it. It’s just such great stuff.

Okay. It’s pretty fun. And I don’t have to Photoshop out snot or eye boogies.

That’s my style. It’s very real. So it’s, it’s great.

Yeah. So check in and, you know, make a list of this brings me joy. This does not.

Yeah. It’s like Marie Kondo in your business. Yeah.

That makes sense. Cool. All right.

Well, great. Thank you so much, Michelle. Let me do this.

I’m going to put your link up there. So if people want to find you, maybe you could let me or let them and whoever’s watching know, is this the best way to contact you or let us know? Yes, please reach out on LinkedIn. I’m always posting helpful marketing tips, ways to niche down all sorts of stuff.

Like I said, I’m a generalist. So you’re going to learn a lot about a lot. Yeah.

LinkedIn is where it’s at for me. All right. Great.

All right. Thanks again. And for those of you watching go connect with Michelle on LinkedIn, and I hope you learned some amazing things today.

Cheers. Thank you. Thank you for sticking around.

I hope you enjoyed the episode. If you’re looking for SEO and content marketing help consider joining the small business sweet spot. It’s a group coaching program where you can get answers to your questions about your business directly and clarity around the marketing strategies that you would like to implement in your business.

You can find all kinds of information at And if you liked the episode, please tell a friend. Cheers.

Barb Davids - SEO Consultant

Barb Davids is an SEO consultant and owner of Compass Digital Strategies. Driven by data and analytics, she works hard to get business-changing results for her clients, such as 256% more website traffic and 22% more leads. Connect with her: Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter
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