Does Your Boudoir Business Have A Moat?

Castle with moat

Does your boudoir business have a moat? 

I’m not talking about a physical moat, like the kind found around a castle that prevents invaders from storming it and pillaging everything in sight. No, I’m talking about a brand moat, the kind that prevents other boudoir photographers from storming in and pillaging all your clients and future clients. 

The concept is the same, but one is a lot less bloody… well, metaphorically speaking. You see, without a moat your business is vulnerable to attack and may be the reason why you’re not making any money while the boudoir photographer down the street is raking in all the dough. 

Have I got your attention now? Good, because this is an important concept and one that could turn your business around.

If your boudoir business doesn’t have a moat then there’s nothing about it that makes it special or unique and that means it’s a commodity… but more on that concept later.

What Investing In Stocks Taught Me About Running A Boudoir Business

I have several interests outside my boudoir business and one of them is investing. I like to research companies and buy stock and have my money work for me passively. There are many factors to look for when shopping around for a good business to buy (i.e. buy their stock) that I won’t get into here, except for one… and that is the concept of having a moat. 

digital stock exchange board

What Does Having A Moat Mean For A Business?

Having a moat in business terms means there is something proprietary about that business, something unique, that no other business like it has that compels or forces people to buy from them and not from their competitors.

Hence, they have a moat, a barrier that prevents competition from stealing their business.

Moats Come In Several Different Forms

There are only a few different kinds of moats a business can have that make it special or unique which separates it from the competition.

They are:

A brand moat (Disney, Apple, Coke, Pepsi, Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret)

A secret moat (the formula for Coke or technology such as micro-chip manufacturing)

A monopoly moat (you’re the only one in your area offering your unique service, like a utility company or a newspaper)

A price moat (Wal-Mart, Costco, The Dollar Store, their moats are their low prices)

Let’s go over each of these moats and see how they relate to owning a boudoir business because if you don’t have a moat then your boudoir business is a commodity. But like I said earlier, more on that later.

A Brand Moat

There are certain photographers, both boudoir and commercial, whose work I know before I ever check the credit. These photographers have a look, a feel, or a style that is all their own. Whether it’s the lighting, composition, mood, or combinations of all three, I know who shot the image just by looking at it — instantly

That’s a brand moat… or at least a stylistic brand moat. There are other types of brand moats which we’ll cover as well, but that’s probably the biggest and most recognizable one. It’s also the easiest for your potential client to see because it’s right there on your website and social media.

It’s visible and instantly identifiable.

Now, your average boudoir customer may not be aware of or even know what you’re doing to achieve that style but it doesn’t matter. They’re not professional photographers, all they know is that they like what they see and they want it.

In fact, they want it so bad that you’re the only one who can provide it to them so they must go to you to get it. 

That’s a moat. 

Now, you are no longer a commodity competing on price with your competition. In fact, there is no competition because nobody else is offering what you offer. 

The stronger and more identifiable your style is, the bigger your moat, or in other words, the harder it is for your “competition” to compete with you.

This is why it’s so important for you to develop a style, and I say “develop” because it can take years to find your unique groove. I know because that’s how long it took me… and it’s still evolving and changing to this day.

(To read more on this I encourage you to check out my article, How To Find Your Style As A Boudoir Photographer”.)

Okay, back to our topic. 

Another Type Of Brand Moat

Another type of boudoir brand moat could be your customer service and the way you interact with your clients, your unique personality. The “experience” itself could be so amazing and impactful that women flock to shoot with you… even though you may not have the most unique photography style out there. 

This is harder to see though but there are ways to promote this with video testimonials, written testimonials, and through word of mouth.

A Monopoly Moat

It is possible that you could be the only gig in town so if a woman wanted a boudoir shoot she would have to go to you to avoid traveling hundreds of miles to shoot with someone else. It would be incredibly inconvenient and cost prohibitive for her. 

The only problem with this is you never now when another photographer might set up shop and start competing with you… and there goes your moat.

This kind of moat is the least reliable because you can’t control it.

The Price Moat

The price moat is when you’re competing on being the lowest priced photographer in your area. You’re competing on price.

This is not where you want to be because you’ll be competing with people who will shoot for free or next to nothing. 

Another disadvantage of operating on a price moat is that in order to make any money you have to do a lot of volume. You need a lot of bookings and unless you have incredible word-of-mouth working for you, that means a lot of advertising. So, any money you do make goes into marketing and it becomes a vicious cycle that is unsustainable because you’re not making a large enough profit. 

Plus, you’ll burn out quickly. 

Photography won’t be enjoyable any more because you’ve become like a machine just churning out widgets and I’m assuming you got into this because you were drawn to the art form, you like helping women, or both. 

A Winning Formula

There is a clear blueprint for creating a moat with your boudoir business and that is to develop a unique style that women want along with an incredible experience when getting it.

You see, you can have more than one moat in your business. Take Coca-Cola for example, they have a strong brand moat (people want to buy Coke and not just some generic cola) and also a secret moat, which is their formula.

Bottle of Coke

Coke’s been around for a loooong time and they have two very strong moats.

Virgin once tried to breach Coke’s moat with Virgin Cola remember? No? Yeah, not too many people do because Virgin Cola died a quick death drowning in Coke’s moat. That’s the power of having a strong moat or two. 

Don’t Let Your Boudoir Business Become A Commodity

If your boudoir business doesn’t offer something that is unique in some way that you can market then there’s nothing that separates it from other boudoir businesses in your area. Now you have to compete on price and that’s not where you want to be. 

A Commodity Example

almonds

Almonds are a commodity. An almond from one farm is pretty much like an almond from any other farm, hence, almonds are a commodity so they compete on price. 

If I’m buying almonds in bulk I want the cheapest price to make the most profit so all I have to do is look for the farm offering the lowest price.

How A Commodity Becomes A Brand

Starbucks took a commodity, coffee, and gave it a moat — two moats, in fact. Before Starbucks, coffee was just coffee and it cost pretty much the same wherever you went. 

But by making the “experience” of buying coffee enjoyable and reliable along with having unique formulations of lattes, cappuccinos, and such (although not secretive) you now have “Starbucks coffee” that people will pay a premium for. 

Starbucks cafe

Starbucks does not compete on price because they have two strong moats — a brand moat and an experience moat. How many people like to hang out at Starbucks? Based on their profits, a lot. 

For coffee drinkers shopping solely on price… they don’t go to Starbucks. 

How To Develop Your Own Style Moat

If you want to develop your own unique style you first have to ask yourself, “What do I like?” What is it that you like stylistically that you want to cultivate and incorporate into your photography? 

What are the aesthetics of art, fashion, composition that you are drawn to? 

This is where you need to be to start developing a style. 

Move towards what you’re drawn to. 

Frank Gehry building in black and white

This can take some time to investigate and explore. It takes looking at art, architecture, fashion, dance, culture, genres, really anything that inspires you or moves you emotionally.

You’ll know when you come across something because it will compel you to stop and observe it. It will demand your attention. 

Take note of what it is that’s drawing you in and try to incorporate that into your photography. 

As you move closer and closer to what resonates with you, and you develop a style that reflects that, you’ll also attract those very same clients that it resonates with as well. They’ll be drawn to you because of how you shoot… your style… your moat. 

Related Articles

“How To Find Your Style As A Boudoir Photographer”

“Shoot Boudoir In A Voyeuristic Style For Added Interest”

If you found this article helpful please forward it to someone else it may also benefit.

Thanks for your time!

Charles Mitri

Founder / Lounge Boudoir

Bella Mitri Boudoir

Charles Mitri

Charles Mitri is an award-winning boudoir photographer and also founder and writer of LoungeBoudoir.com, an educational blog and resource website for boudoir photographers worldwide. He lives in Yorktown, Virginia.

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