- Make people mine for data on your website. This is so easy to avoid, but evidently a lot of photographers think their client base is still playing Dungeons and Dragons. They bury their most important information under a sea of testimonials, accolades and miscellaneous pages. People eventually just get tired of searching and eventually go elsewhere.
- Don't give people a phone number to contact you. It's the let's-make-people-contact-me-my-way scheme. Seriously, don't you feel great when you contact a company and can actually talk to a live body? Your website and your business is no different. And the same goes for business cards that send people to your website instead of your phone. If they're serious they want to talk to you, not write an email. I understand if you're working out of your home and don't want to give people an address, but give them a phone number! There's no such thing as giving your audience too much contact information.
- Put up images that look just like Uncle Harry's! Here's one that's so easy to fix, but there are some photographers who think Uncle Harry is the competition. Up go images in the galleries that are as good as Uncle Harry's! WRONG - they need to be better than Uncle Harry's and really demonstrate why you're a professional photographer! Look at your website as if you were the client. Based on the quality of your images, would you hire you?
- Not returning phone calls and emails makes you look really busy and in high demand! Who started this one? Seriously, there are people on this planet who think that building your business is all about looking busier than you really are and one ingredient is to play hard-to-get! That might have worked to get a date in high school, but success in business today is about a fast response. It's about great customer service and it all starts with your client's perception you really care about their business. A quick response shows you care and they're important.
- Confuse your audience! This one is all about showing every image you've ever captured. Hey, who knows, that potential bride might just have an auto parts business on the side and be really interested in your table-top product work, especially the series you did on spark plugs, tools and 10W40! Keep your specialties separate and don't give people too much to look at that isn't relevant. For example, wedding and family portraiture go well together, but throw in your images of the Grand Canyon and you'll lose them every time.
I cannot tell a lie, sarcasm is definitely one of my strong suits and tomorrow I've got five more ways you can help your competitors! And, let's not forget the bright side of this - giving up business means you'll have more time to just sit back and relax. After all, you had enough business already anyway, right?
Business is tough enough in a great economy let alone dealing with the challenges everyone faces today. Putting all the sarcasm aside, it just takes time, patience and lots of work. There are no shortcuts! Work is labor-intensive - that's why it's called work! But knowing there's a quote for everything, I went searching...
"If hard work is the key to success, most people would rather pick the lock." Claude McDonald
Illustration Credit: © Antonio Gravante - Fotolia.com