How to Transition Your Brand and Offering
September 24, 2018
By Mike Allebach
Mike Allebach has made a name for himself as the go-to photographer for couples who want to do things differently. In business for 12 years, Mike has created a niche for himself within the wedding industry photographing rock and roll couples, offbeat brides, and people who have little interest in a traditional wedding. Recently he found that he wanted to expand what he offers and transition his brand from exclusively wedding photography to photographing families, headshots, and couples boudoir.
“A few years ago a photographer came to me and asked if I would want to share a studio space and I took him up on it. I thought it might be a good place to meet with clients but then I started really using the space to photograph people and I found that I loved it.” Mike says. “Gradually clients started coming to me to ask if I would do couple’s boudoir. After that happened a few times I realized this could be a thing.”
Mike now uses his studio space to offer not only boudoir but also headshots for personal branding and photography for families, many of whom were once his wedding couples. When asked how he made this transition he is practical with his advice.
“I started talking. I talk more about my new offerings and less about weddings. I also started putting this new work in front of people on my website and in my marketing,” Mike explains. “One of the scariest things I did recently was change the categories on my website so that it doesn’t say weddings anymore. You have to go deeper into the menu to find it and after 12 years that was a big step. I just keep talking and showing that this is what I do now. This is what I offer.”
Mike experienced an element of both flow and fear when making this transition. Wedding photography had been his niche and sustenance for so long that branching out to new offerings took patience, creativity, strategy and perseverance.
“It’s a slow and thoughtful process. Each offering takes time to really get off the ground and you can’t really focus on more than three things at a time. Patience is key but it’s worth it when you love the work.”
In order for Mike to grow his new brand he has utilized relationships within his community to get the word out. He tries to do one event a month whether it’s hosting a party at his studio or doing a local event in the neighborhood. He is always forging relationships with other small business owners where he can meet people and show them what he does.
“You’ve got to be creative with your marketing. You have to figure out a way to stand out. We all need those things that separate us from the competition and it takes a different form for everyone. If you can find that little advantage over your competition it can really propel your business forward.”
Mike also suggests that anyone thinking of making a transition or creating a niche really take the time to declare their values.
“If you don’t know what your values are it’s going to be really hard to find your niche. Your values attract your clients. For example, one of my personal values is to be accepting of people who might not find acceptance elsewhere. Once you know what your values are and are not afraid to stand up for what you believe in, you can incorporate that into your business and the clients who resonate with your values will find you.”
When asked if Mike will ever give up wedding photography completely he says that he won’t. He doesn’t believe that in order to go into a new direction you have to entirely give up what has been good for so long. He’ll do a few weddings a year while enjoying the creative opportunity these new offerings have brought to his business.
“I’m happy to get up in the morning and go to work,” Mike says. “The patience has definitely paid off.”
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All photos © Allebach Photography