Almost a year ago, I took a marketing class as part of my program, and the subject of "differentiation" came up. Back then, of course, I only thought of it as a vocabulary word, but now I am able to think of the possible ways to apply this concept of "differentiation" to modeling.
So, you're probably thinking..."what the heck is differentiation and why am I speaking about it on a fashion/lifestyle blog?" Differentiation is "the process of making a product/service different from other similar products/services to ensure a greater chance that your target market will choose you over your competitors".
As a model, there are millions of other girls competing with you for the very few modeling jobs that are available. If you are a freelance model, it is even harder, because you have to do your own marketing and networking.
The key question is: how do you differentiate yourself as a model from the millions of other models who want the same thing as you? The answer to that is: "it depends".
Depends on what? Your strengths (look & talent) and the target market. Differentiation helps you position yourself in the market.
As a model, you are the product and the service. So, why YOU?
Here are some ways that you can differentiate yourself as a model:
1. You have a skill that can help you model better. For example, you have extensive years of dance, acting, and gymnastics experience that can help you pose for photos better. There are many photographers and clients who are looking for models that can pull of certain concepts which require such skills/experience, so if you can do that-then you've got something that sets you apart from your competitors.
2. You have access to networks of key people. This is important because when you are suggesting someone to hire you and you know several other talented people that can help the potential "client" execute their vision, they are more likely to choose you.
3. You perform the best in a certain modeling niche. If you are a great glamour model-stick to that. If you can do crazy contortionist poses-do that, and market yourself that way. Pick a few modeling genres that you are most suited for, and build a great portfolio which will prove to your potential clients why they should choose you and why they should rely on you. For example, Mosh, I believe, has done wonderful in this area.
4. Your "rates" are lower and you only compete on price. Some lower budget clients and many new photographers cannot afford to hire very experienced and published models who are represented by agencies and who have amazing talent, so you can certainly try to offer something in between the "TF model" and the "Top Notch Expensive Model" and get paid that way.
5. You can also do make-up, hair, or wardrobe styling, you're a clothing designer, or you're simply full of creative ideas. Some photographers like it when a model can come up with and execute a great concept for which she did all the work, and all the photographer had to do was take the photo. So, if those are the photographers who are within your target market, and you have those kinds of creative skills/abilities, then yes, you should definitely play that up! Your marketing messages would give potential clients the signal that you can do what a whole team can do, and that really does set you apart.
Ultimately, the key to differentiation is finding something you are best at, understanding the degree of demand for it, being unique in your value proposition, and sending those messages out to your target market.
So, how do you differentiate yourself?