By Skip Cohen
The title is in quotes this morning because one of my Tweet buddies, @AnnetteGunter tweeted Scott Bourne and me last night with that message. It was shown towards the end of Super Bowl and as I listened and watched I was blown away by what may well be the most powerful commercial I've ever seen.
I couldn't put it better than Annette did, but I'll add one other thought. I couldn't be any more proud to be part of this industry. The combination of images together with Paul Harvey's lines was remarkable. I know it's had over a million views, but here it is one more time.
Here's a incredible lesson in storytelling...
by Skip Cohen
A major goal in launching SCU is to help you raise the bar on your skill set, not just in your technique and understanding of photography, but in your marketing and business skills. In fact, at the upcoming March program we're going to spend some time helping you build your own publicity machine.
In order to be effective with any of your marketing ideas you've got to start by thinking about your demographics.
"Demographics" is one of those twenty dollar words too many photographers think only applies to big corporations. Sadly they ignore any thoughts about who their customers are and in the process often promote things to the wrong audience.
For example, if you’re a children’s photographer and just opened a studio in Sarasota Bay Club where the average age is probably 80, then your business is a lost cause! If you’re a wedding photographer, but you just got a great deal on an ad in Guns and Ammo magazine, you might as well join the studio in Sarasota in bankruptcy court.
It’s all about demographics, literally defined in the dictionary as: “the statistical data of a population, especially those showing average age, income, education, etc”. You might not be General Motors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t think like a major corporation when you’re developing your website, advertising, social media effort, even decorating your studio.
I’m always amazed at photographers who decide to open a business in an area simply because this is where they grew up, but never pay attention to the neighborhood, the potential client base etc.
So, this is SCU and with every new post, I'm hoping you'll pick up a few new ideas. Let’s develop some examples to consider in regards to your business about your target audience.
· What’s the age of your target audience and where are they? A children’s photographer opening up in a young hip community is going to do far better than the one opening in an older neighborhood.
· Women make 98% of the purchase decisions when it comes to professional photography, in the wedding and portrait categories. Are you reaching women?
· What’s the annual household income for your target? And, where’s your target? If you’re trying to operate a high priced portrait studio and looking for walk-in traffic, but you’re located in a depressed end of town, your goals might be miles apart from the neighborhood’s expectations.
· How educated is your target audience? I’ve repeatedly heard photographers make the mistake thinking that if they only had a more educated audience they’d be able to charge more. Well, while there is a correlation between higher education and annual household income, that doesn’t mean that your client base will simply pay more. You still need to establish value.
· Is there seasonality in your promotions? In August/September on virtually every television station we’re going to start to see ads for products that appeal to kids and Moms as back-to-school seasonality takes off. Then in October and November, we’ll be bombarded as Fisher Price, Hasbro and all the rest of the major toy manufacturers plant the seed for what little Sally wants for Christmas. Hasbro knows their demographics and they’re advertising on shows kids watch, knowing that the way to reach Mom and Dad’s wallet is to create the demand first! You have to do exactly the same!
· Your website is the equivalent of his studio - who's your target? A few years ago a male wedding photographer told me how he was blown away by the growth in his business simply because he had a female decorator come in and redo his studio. He went from the black leather couches and a studio that looked like a man-cave to pastels, fresh flowers and a decorating sense that appealed to his client base. He paid attention to a key demographic – his target audience was entirely women.
Demographics really isn’t any more than a big word for “do your homework”! Just Google the words, “Demographic Data” and you’ll be launched into hundreds of sites offering you the ability to search demographics by zipcode. Getting to know the demographics is critical to laying out your marketing plans and your parameters for virtually everything you do!
You wouldn't head off on a drive across the country without a map! Don't crank up your marketing efforts without that same kind of map - understanding your target audience. And remember, "If I can see the world through my client's eyes, then I can sell my client what my client buys!" You've got to see the world through the same eyes as your target audience!
Illustration Credit: © Svidenovic | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
by Skip Cohen
It's a really easy concept on a Sunday morning, "How fast do you respond?"
Here's a great example. I'm having a challenge with BlogTalkRadio lately. Their system crashed just as I was launching a program for the Senior Friendship Centers here in Sarasota last week. We all have something we do in our communities to give back and I wanted to help them set up their own podcast. It's my way of thanking them for all the support they've given us with their weekly support group for Alzheimer's caregivers.
Well, the first challenge was updating the logo, which they still haven't fixed and the second was with their download counter that's down. I wrote to tech support and got the infamous "that's-what-the-cable-guy-would-have-said" response, "Reporting is not working at the moment and will be fixed in the next few days."
First, of course it's not working - I knew that already. That's why I wrote. Second, we live in an instant fulfillment world and a few days is NEVER an acceptable answer. Podcasts are a product that's being "used" every day. The podcast is live, people are hopefully going on line all weekend long. We live in a global world with information being shared 24/7.
So, it's just a Sunday morning rant, but with the purpose of reminding you to not only respond quickly to emails and phone calls, but when you do respond, give people answers that are specific and concise. Don't make them come back for clarification.
"Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong."
Donald Porter, British Airways
P.S. Here's the link to the podcast - if you know anyone in a position of being a caregiver, Paula Falk will be sharing some great information on every podcast.
Photo Credit: © Prometeus | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos
As the first Dean of Portraiture for SCU, my good buddy, Matthew Jordan Smith brings a lot to the party. This is a "trifecta" this morning, with a new post, video and podcast. As he talks about in his podcast, success with any client is about relationship building. Anybody can get that first client, but the key to success is getting them to return whenever they need photographic support. It's about building top-of-mind awareness, so whenever a potential client thinks about their photographic needs, your name comes up first.
If Matthew isn't on your radar it's time! You'll find him on twitter and if you check out his gallery store, you'll find all kinds of videos to help you raise the bar on your skill set and a special private coaching opportunity only available to a handful of artists each month. Skip Cohen
This morning I woke up thinking about my up-coming photo shoot, which takes place tomorrow. The job is a fashion shoot with a new client, and I’m excited because it’s the second job with this client this month.
The ability to make a living, as a photographer requires being able to turn a first-time client into a repeat client. Your skill may get you the first job, but it takes more than just photographic talent to keep steady clients coming back. Here’s a list of the things I use to create the perfect photo shoot.
# 1 – Music
Music is first on my list of things to set the tone for the day. I spend hours making sure I have the right music playing as my clients walk into my space. My music is not the same throughout the day. I have music for the morning as I start the day, and then music specifically for the shoot. During lunch the music changes and the volume is lower. When we start to shoot again, the music volume goes up and music changes. Think about a movie and what makes you “feel” different throughout the movie. The music sets the tone for every scene of a movie, and I use music in the same manner on my photo shoots.
#2 – Food
I make sure great food is available to start the day. Great coffee, or tea, can do wonders for making people feel welcome as you start the day. I like to keep snacks around as well so people can grab something throughout the day. It’s the little things that count. A great dessert after lunch doesn’t hurt either!
# 3 – The Team
My team, (my assistants and interns) are a reflection of me, so I pay special attention to the people I allow on the set. The wrong person can destroy all your hard work, so choose your team wisely.
# 4 – The Extra Mile
To create the perfect photo shoot you must make sure your clients feel special and comfortable. They should enjoy the entire experience of the photo shoot, not just the shoot itself. I like to have flowers on set waiting for my clients with a special note that simple says, “Here’s to a great shoot”! It’s the small things that count and make your clients feel special.
# 5 – Invest In You
One of the best things I’ve done in my career to grow my photography business was hire a coach. Individual attention is a powerful tool to take you to the next level. I am proud to announce one-on-one Photography Coaching Sessions now available through Photography Help Store. The sessions are formulated to help you become a better photographer. I meet with my students five days a week, via Skype, for 30 minuets a day, so my students can be anywhere in the world. The course lasts one month, and by the end of it you will see, shoot, and edit your work in an entirely different manner. We will do research together, edit your photo’s together, you will do a photo shoot based on your new monthly goal and by the end of the month you will have a clear photographic vision and submit your work for possible publication in a magazine. The course is limited to only a two students a month so sign up early. This course will make you a better photographer and teach you to truly Dream Big!
Matthew Jordan Smith