The announcement was expected, but still shook me a bit. Blockbuster, once the largest video store in the world, is closing the remaining 300 Dish Network-owned stores. That leaves 50 small, mom and pop private franchises and I have no doubt, they will be next.
The Blockbuster business model was fungible. The customers found new/better/faster/more affordable ways to enjoy a similar product. Blockbuster tried to change with the times but was simply too slow. Now they are gone.
I remember having a discussion about this three years ago in Las Vegas with one of the Blockbuster managers. I asked him how long he thought the store could hold out. He bragged their location was one of the most profitable in the chain and that nothing could ever take the place of his store. Umm not so much.
What does all this have to do with the photography business?
Many of you are holding on (with clenched fists) to old business models that no longer serve the needs of your customers. If you aren’t considering digital products - if you aren’t considering offering images in an electronic format, etc., you will absolutely face the very real possibility that your customers will find the products they want somewhere else.
The bias against digital products used to be based in controlling Copyright. But frankly more than 15 years ago I started experimenting with offering my clients a perpetual electronic license to use my images in digital form. Now if you’re hearing the phrase “shoot and burn” photographer in your head you are only partially right. The “shoot and burn” concept is usually looked down upon because it is assumed that the payment is very low for these electronic rights. And that is simply not necessarily true. When I started offering digital products 15 years ago, I simply took my average print sale and multiplied times 10. The result was my licensing fee. My customers loved it. I made lots more money, and I was ahead of the curve.
You need to be considering something LIKE this (It doesn’t have to be exactly like this) because sooner or later, you could be standing next to the store manager from Blockbuster - in the unemployment line under a big fat sign that says - “DISINTERMEDIATED!”
P.S. Guy Kawasaki once told me a great story about this. He said that if a photographer’s business model didn’t match his BUYING model he’d go somewhere else. He wants electronic rights. I know for sure he found someone who could offer that to him. Ignore this at your own peril.
Illustration Credit: © 777DIGIT - Fotolia.com
Note: Thanks to some terrific feedback from several readers on the original image I chose to support this post being a little over the top....so, it was easily changed. Skip