by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and as the "slow season" comes to a close, I want to hit a topic that people don't talk about very often...your ads and your logo. Over the years, I've repeatedly seen photographers and manufacturers change their advertising because they were tired of a specific ad.
Often, a great ad gets dropped because the manufacturer was tired of looking at it. Everyone forgets how many times you have to hit a consumer before they remember your ad or product. Often there are still thousands of people out there who haven't seen the message.
While there are a lot of different opinions from various experts, this one below is representative:
...But a good general rule of thumb is that it takes up to 5 views to read it,
up to 10 views to become memorable, and up to 20 views to become a conversion.
Red Crow Marketing
Years ago, there was a professional photographer who changed her logo three times over three years because "I'm tired of it!" Meanwhile, every time she was starting to build up brand identity and a little momentum, she pulled the plug and essentially started over. All because she was tired of the logo - but her fans weren't, and neither were those who had never seen it before.
It's a great thought for those moments when you have a little downtime before ramping up for this year's spring seasonality: If you're thinking about creating a new look for branding, seriously consider how much exposure you've given your brand to date. Maybe it's time to change your approach to the market, but if you're doing it only because you're tired of it, remember you're not your target audience.
Remember too, this post is only referencing the look of your advertising and logo. Your brand includes everything consumers consider your business. You should have a consistent look and feel to not only your logo and advertising, but your website, blog, and the various pieces of social media real estate you control. With everything you do, related to your business, your goal is to build top-of-mind awareness. So, whenever somebody thinks about photography, your name is right there.
by Skip Cohen
Procrastination - we all do it, and sometimes it's even necessary just to recharge a little. Whatever the reason, it's not a skillset, and spring seasonality is right around the corner. Mother's Day, graduation, proms, and Father's Day are all coming up. Sadly, too many of you will let the opportunities slip by, and the look in your rearview mirror won't be pretty.
Consider this a Marketing Monday reminder of ideas for a bit of target marketing:
The bottom line - stop wasting time. And if you need a sounding board or a little help, you know where to find me. Make this a spring season of no regrets!
I don't regret the things I've done. I regret the things I didn't do when I had the chance!
"The professional takes that extra step - they follow up, even when they don't have to!"
by Skip Cohen
We're down to the last month of the "slow season," and if nothing else, you should be thinking about everything you can do to make 2022 one of your best years ever. While the pandemic brought an incredible level of stress and a collection of challenges for every business owner, it also created opportunities to demonstrate leadership.
I admit it's like the expression about banging your head against the wall because it feels so good when you stop, but out of the difficulties of the last couple of years came a renewed sense of family. As a result, there's a new focus on imaging and your ability to help people capture and cherish their most important memories. As I've written so many times in the past - photographers are the magicians of the world, turning intangible moments into tangible memories people can appreciate for a lifetime.
So, here's my favorite place to start when building success into the year ahead - exceed expectations! Start with a look at your entire business, not just your skill set in creating beautiful images, but how you communicate, the functionality of your website, the strength of your brand in the community, and the experience clients have when working with you. Exceeding expectations isn't a policy but a lifestyle that should be built into everything you do!
As I was thinking about 2022 and my optimism for this new year, I started thinking about the role excellent service will play for every business. Your success is about going the extra step and staying in touch with your clients, even when you don't have to. Excellent service isn't just about solving problems. It's about being proactive and creating top-of-mind-awareness with your audience - so whenever they think about photography, your name is right on top.
I shared this video a while back - it's from Shep Hyken. I'm a huge fan of Shep's and his focus on Customer Service. Shep's a Hall of Fame Speaker, NY Times Best Selling Author, and a Customer Service and Experience Expert. He walks the talk with his regular closing line of "Always be amazing."
The short version of our friendship is I shared a quote of his on Twitter. He responded; I called him, and he took the call. Since then, we've been on each other's podcasts and even caught breakfast together in St. Louis several years ago.
There are hundreds of videos on Shep TV on YouTube. Here's the link, and it's jam-packed with content to help you rebuild your business in the new year.
There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.
Intro by Skip Cohen
As I've written so many times in the past, the fun of this industry is in the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Well, meet a very new friend, Cheryl Dell'Osso. Cheryl's the Director of Content Strategy at Zenfolio and the Owner/Photographer at Portraits by Cheryl and Seniors by Cheryl in Raleigh, NC.
It's Marketing Monday, and with her permission, I'm sharing a post she shared a few months back with tips to help you sell more prints. Selling prints is an integral part of your business.
My own home is filled with prints. Friends have commented over the years that it's like a gallery. Expanding one of the points Cheryl makes in this guest post - memories were also never meant to live solely inside your computer! They deserve to be shared and always visible. The one little corner of my office in the grab-shot above is a never-ending reminder of so many beautiful memories.
And to share my most favorite quote about photographs from Jody Picoult:
“This is what I like about photographs. They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat,
everything was perfect.”
by Cheryl Dell'Osso
Photography is a form of art, and art was never meant to live solely inside a computer screen. Sure, your clients may be excited about getting that perfect profile-pic-worthy shot, but nothing truly brings a photograph to life like framed prints and canvases.
Having beautiful prints adorning their home’s walls benefits clients by serving as constant reminders of the joy they felt on the day of their shoot, but it can be equally as beneficial for the person behind the lens. Selling photo prints can lead to a huge leap in a photographer’s revenue while simultaneously showing off their skill and professionalism to potential future clients. Plus, photo prints serve as a daily reminder of you and your services, making your clients more likely to head your way for their future photo needs.
So how do you go about selling prints? The sales process should start the moment you come in contact with clients. And if your sales tactics don’t pay off right away, don’t fear. Selling prints often takes time and patience to find the best strategy that works for you. Learning to rely on e-commerce can make this process much smoother, as clients will be able to buy photo prints and related gifts directly from your website without the hassle of going back and forth about orders and pricing.
Once you have your e-commerce platform set up, here are four strategies you can use to increase your photo print sales.
Plant seeds before the shoot.
In today’s digital world, chances are most of your clients are coming to you with the expectation of receiving an online gallery of images they can then print at their local drugstore. It’s important to change this expectation the moment you start working with them.
As clients browse your portfolio, offer them examples of finished, framed photos and other products, and walk them through the benefits of having something tangible to house their memories. Show them the differences between photos that are printed on metal versus canvas so they can start to envision which products may look best in their home.
Let the quality of your work be your biggest selling factor. Consider ordering photo prints from a local drugstore that you can use for a side-by-side comparison to the products you’re offering. Once clients can physically see and feel the difference in quality, it’ll be hard for them to settle for shiny drugstore prints.
Present your work.
After the shoot, it’s important to follow up on those initial seeds you planted by helping your client picture how framed prints of their new photos can be used. Photo prints can help tell your client’s story and serve as great personalized home decor. As an added bonus, their photos also make great gifts and greeting cards!
Show your client examples of how your work has been used to liven up the space above a mantle or to create a gallery wall of memories. If you’re photographing families, show them a progression of photos that exhibit a child growing older.
Visually seeing these milestones might spark an emotional response to picture how their own child’s aging might look and think about why it’s important to capture their child at each stage of life. The bonus of this strategy is that they can easily recreate that progression by booking you for annual portraits!
On your e-commerce site, list finished products of past clients (with their permission) to show real-life examples of what other families, brides and pet owners are doing with their photo prints. You might even consider presenting a few prints from your client’s own shoot to give them something to hang onto.
Create a print selling strategy.
Once you’ve showcased the benefits of photo prints, it’s time to seal the deal. For this, you’ll need to create a selling strategy.
The best strategy for selling photo prints will differ between photographers based on their niche and specific client base, so it’s important to figure out what approach makes the most sense for your business.
For some photographers, this might mean building printed products into their overall photo packages so that ordering photo prints is the default. This can be influential for clients because they aren’t being charged extra for “add-ons” (even though the cost is being built into your session pricing).
Other photographers might offer deals and discounts for buying framed or mounted images on the day of the shoot to build clients’ excitement about seeing the finished photos. This strategy can also create a sense of urgency, which is a strong selling factor regardless of industry.
Another approach could be offering to mail a finished framed or mounted image to a client free of charge so they can see how it will look in their home. Then, add a price tag if they decide to keep it.
Whatever your selling approach, it’s important to market the convenience of your photo print service. Remind clients about their ability to order printed products by sending a follow-up email a few weeks after the delivery of their gallery. Oftentimes, people become busy and simply forget to have their photos printed. An extra nudge could be all it takes to push them over the finish line.
Find a professional printing source.
Your clients may wonder why it’s beneficial to order their photo prints directly from their photographer instead of printing them at a drugstore. Make the answer about quality and convenience.
By setting up an e-commerce platform on your site that offers multiple types of printed products, you’re creating a seamless process that allows clients to order their prints directly from their digital gallery. This saves them the hassle of having to download the photos they want printed and upload them to another site. It can also save them a trip to the drugstore, since products will be shipped directly to their door.
Convenience should also be a factor on your end, so make sure you find an e-commerce platform that’s also easy for you to use. Look for a service that offers a website builder so you can more easily integrate your store and portfolio. You’ll also want to find an e-commerce service that allows you to set your price, control your markup on products, offer coupon discounts and set gallery expiration dates to increase your early print sales.
Finally, consider partnering with a photo lab to print and deliver your products so that you can focus more on selling. It’s important to find a lab that offers the quality of photo prints you want your clients to receive. If you’re new to selling professional prints, or decide to change labs, it’s also a good idea to review your editing workflow. Uploading photos with the ideal file sizes and color space for your partner lab is key to beautiful prints.
Other factors to look for in a photo lab include fast shipping, a wide range of product offerings and daily customer service availability in case any issues arise with your client’s order. After all, you are ultimately responsible for making sure your clients’ orders meet their expectations and arrive on time.
Selling photo prints is a great way to expand your business, revenue and potentially even your client base. Finding the right sales tactics and process might take time and practice, but the payoff is far greater than the patience needed to succeed.
Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.
While most of this post is from the SCU archives and shared over three years ago - it's so relevant today.
We're halfway through the "slow season," and there are still many of you who are re-enacting the 1806 fairy tale about the shoemaker and the elves. You've turned procrastination into an art form. You're acting like the elves are going to come in while you're sleeping. There's no need for you to do anything because they'll clean up your website, your blog, start building relationships and even write up a few promotional ideas for the year ahead.
Well, the only elf around to help you is the face you see in the mirror each morning. The good news is you've still got time to reinforce the foundation of your business for 2022 before things start to pick up. But, if you're not ready then it's going to be a you-snooze-you-lose scenario.
You know how to focus your camera - now it's time to focus your business and goals for the year. In short, time to pull your head out of your...
No one blog post could ever cover everything you need to build a solid foundation for the year ahead. Every business is different, and if the seven ideas I just shared don't apply to you, take the time to be honest with yourself about what you're missing.
As I've written so many times before, you can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it! There are no "focus fairies." You've got to take the time to focus on your business for the new year - you're the only one who knows what it's going to take to exceed client expectations and make yourself habit-forming!
And, last but not least, you know where to find me if you're stuck and need some help!
About one of my favorite images: Having spent my life in the photographic industry I try to always be sensitive to copyright issues. It was over twenty years ago I first saw the photo above of the guy with his head up his butt. Three years ago when I decided it was perfect to make a point I decided it was time I researched who owned it.
There's nothing you can't find through Google and the company owning the copyright is Davidson & Company out of Atlanta. It took a little explaining to one of their staff, who started out having no idea what I was talking about. Think about it how it sounded answering the phone and hearing, "I'm trying to track down the company who owns the right to the shot of a guy with his head up his butt. Are you the Davidson & Company who owns it?"
A few minutes later I was on the phone with Ken Davidson and not only did he give me the okay to use it, but he shared a little of the backstory which adds to my appreciation for the journey so many of us have been on in this industry. The image was a conventional image, shot on film and manipulated with conventional retouching. It was created for a commercial client in the late 80's!
A BIG thanks to Ken for allowing me to use the image, which he described as one of the most ripped off shots in photography!
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday and as you build the foundation for a great year ahead, pay attention to everything under the Customer Service umbrella. Customer Service isn't just about your active clients but all your interactions with your target audience. It's about building a reputation for excellence and a brand known for exceeding expectations.
Just for a second, think about your favorite restaurant. Sure, it's great food to start, but it became a favorite because of the service, atmosphere, pricing, and quality. Of course, the same applies to places you shop, whether live or online.
Amazon is good example. We do a significant amount of shopping online through my Smile.Amazon account. Why? First, I can usually find anything we need. Second, Amazon ALWAYS delivers. At a time when USPS and FedEx have been horrible, Amazon is consistently delivering. Next, they're price competitive most of the time, and buying through their "Smile" program I'm able to direct a percentage of every sale to our favorite nonprofit.
Last but not least - their Customer Service team is pretty remarkable. I can call their 800 number, express my disappointment with an order, and have it resolved in minutes. And there are often times when I don't need to even return the defective or damaged merchandise to receive credit. THEY EXCEED EXPECTATIONS!
Here's a check-off list for your business:
Here's the bottom line, and I'm paraphrasing what I've learned from good friends Tim and Beverly Walden over the years. Working with you should be an experience. You're not selling a portrait session, or for that matter, an album, prints, or video - you're selling the fun of working with you and building trust with your audience.
Tony Corbell says it best when he talks about things he did when he first started his business, "I wasn't the best photographer in town, but I was going to make sure I was the nicest!" He's never strayed from that philosophy, although today, he really is one of the best too!
by Skip Cohen
While the pandemic may have created a paradigm shift in so many different business areas, one thing that hasn't changed is the importance of solid promotions. I'm betting there are a lot of you who have pretty much missed the Valentine's Day window, but that's okay. I look at February 14 as a fire drill when you were a kid - it's a reminder to be prepared for something much bigger.
And here it is - Spring seasonality! Easter, prom season, Mother's Day, graduation, and Father's day are the foundation for the second busiest time of year under the imaging umbrella. That means NOW is the time for you to be thinking about your promotional calendar for the Spring!
Sadly, too many of you are going to procrastinate and kick back, waiting for your ship to come in. Well, if you don't do anything, when your ship comes in, you'll be at the airport! You need to create excitement in your community through your blog, social media, and network.
Great promotions don't happen by themselves - they need excellent execution! Everything starts with your planning. For example, your blog and social media involvement can help you tease your target audience. That means whatever you're going to offer in the upcoming months, you've got so many avenues to start the education process in advanxe for your customers.
Last but not least, photography is about the relationship between you and the client. I've written volumes about relationship-building being your best marketing tool. If you aren't ready to greet each new customer with the biggest smile in person, in Skype, Facetime, or Zoom, in your voice, or your email, then don't launch the concept. You can tell when somebody isn't smiling, even over the phone.
You can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't in it!
by Skip Cohen
Okay, gang, tomorrow is February 1st, and January, the first month of what we all consider the "slow season," is over. But, as I've written so many times - it shouldn't be the slow season for you. In the last few weeks, I've shared one post after another with ideas to help you build a more substantial business for 2020.
None of this is rocket science, but if you've got the attention span of gnat and love to procrastinate, you're going to be in trouble when business naturally starts to pick up. Even in February, there's so much business potential, especially for boudoir and portrait photographers.
Speaking of potential business, here's a favorite add-on accessory from the packaging world perfect for boudoir photographers. It's from PhotoFlashDrive.com. And no, I'm not being paid anything to promote their products! I simply love the concepts they promote.
Packaging makes a huge difference. And while the Luminous Photo + Flash Box isn't something you'd do for every customer, PhotoFlashDrive offers a complete line of customizable packaging. Just trust me and take a look!
And if you spent January just kicking back to get your head and heart in the same place for 2022 - that's okay. There's time to make February the month when you pull out all the stops and set your goals, promotions, partnerships, and activities in place for the new year.
Here are five critical posts on building blocks I've shared so far, and there are more coming! Click on any of the banners to catch up with the suggestions in each post.
Here's my point for Marketing Monday - you're the only one who can decide on what path to take to build a stronger business. EVERYTHING starts with you and putting together a plan for the new year that helps you thrive, not just survive.
And if you're frustrated and a little confused - that's okay - everybody is these days! You know where to find me if I can help you think things through. Just remember...
You can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings, if your own heart isn't in it!
by Skip Cohen
I know everything is relative, but living in Florida, we all complain when it drops to a bone-chilling sixty-five degrees. Well, we're in the forties this week, and Orlando is forecasted for close to frost this weekend. But, having lived most of my life in the north, I never threw out my flannel shirts.
Okay, this might seem like a little bit of a stretch, but are you ready for those business changes when it seems like hell really is about to freeze over?
When business is great, we all ignore things we should have fixed years ago. Then, when things change, we jump to address the challenges with the urgency they should have had in the first place! There's a great quote from business writer and author Tom Peters from years ago:
If it ain't broke, don't fix it, should be, if it ain't broke you haven't looked hard enough.
So, here's a starter list for you to think about - Just like my backup flannel shirts when the temperature drops, are you ready when there's a "firedrill?"
There are eight "flannel shirts" for when the climate changes - what have I missed?
Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence
and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and I'm sticking with my usual theme of ideas to help you make 2022 one of your best years ever! The whole idea is to go beyond just surviving and help you thrive. None of these suggestions are rocket science, but they do take time and focus. They're not new for me to share either, but strong reminders of what you need to be doing NOW!
Yes, it's the traditional slow season, but not for you as a business owner. Now is the time to get all your ducks in a row, so you've got the foundation in place for a year of solid sales, and there's no better marketing tool than relationship building!
1. Before You Start Hunting New Clients... Everyone is always talking about finding new customers. Sadly too many of you forget about your existing database, as well as your phone. So many of you are sitting on mini-goldmines but ignoring the opportunity to strengthen past relationships.
Take your top 30-50 clients from the past, and starting ASAP, give them a call. You don't need to sell anything. Just call to check in on them. It's been a long stretch since the pandemic started. Everyone has been hunkered down and light on communicating with people they care about. Your goal is simply to check in on them and see how they're doing. Just do a few each day.
2. Own Your Zip Code: My good buddy Scott Bourne brought this up at a program we did together years ago. Pound the pavement and start knocking on doors in the business community. Again, you don't have to sell anything except your personality. And for those of you who are rolling your eyes and thinking it's lame to approach a realtor in town because you're a wedding/event photographer, for example, how's this for the opener? "I just wanted to introduce myself. My specialty is weddings, but I've got a solid foundation in photography. So if there's anything you ever need help with, give me a shout." Just leave your business card behind.
3. Community Involvement: You've got to be involved in your community! People like buying products and services from companies they perceive as giving back. Jay Conrad Levinson, the father of guerrilla marketing, listed community involvement as one of his top things marketers need to do. The fun aspect of this is using your blog to help promote needs in your community. With so many fund-raisers being canceled, every non-profit is looking for support. Use your blog to help promote various activities in your community and get yourself involved and known for giving back. This is so easy to support, too - just start a calendar of community events. If you do it long enough, you'll become a clearinghouse for planning dates for other organizations.
And do anything you can for those non-profits, with or without your camera. The point is to be involved and helpful. Every organization needs volunteers and support.
4. Start Your Own Online Classes: There are things you do every day as a photographer you take for granted. And if you're living in an area where there's still a lot of paranoia about Covid, start using Zoom or a facsimile and create mini-workshops for the community. Share ideas on storytelling, exposure, composition, lighting, and position yourself as the community expert. Photowalks are perfect too, since everyone can be outside.
5. Get Involved With The School System: Education these days is a mess, as teachers struggle with a combination of live and online teaching. Track down a few teachers and look for opportunities where you might be able to be a guest on career day about being a business owner and photographer. Get to know the teachers involved in the yearbook and school newsletter. Also, check with the PTA and find ways to help. Last but not least - how about donating some of the older gear you don't use anymore? There's isn't a photography teacher around who would love more gear for students to be using.
6. Be Active on Facebook: While there's a lot about FB we all hate, keeping in touch with clients through social media couldn't be easier, especially with birthdays and anniversaries when they're listed. Stay out of battles with trolls in the various forums - Remember, there are no erasers on the Internet! Pay attention to what you post as well. Have a separate page for personal stuff and use FB as a marketing tool, focusing on business and imaging-related topics.
7. Coloring Book Pages: I've shared this a few times, but it's thanks to Steven Gotz in the very early months of the pandemic. For clients with young children at home, pull some of their past portraits, remove the color, and turn them into line art. Then, send them to clients for their kids as coloring book pages - it couldn't be easier or more appreciated with some of your clients.
8. Real-Time and Zoom Lunches: I've referred to myself over the years as "the biggest lunch slut" in photography. That's because it's such a great way to get to know people and share ideas. So, set up Zoom and invite a couple of other photographers or business owners to join you and then kick back and be sociable. And if you're in an area where the Covid stats are starting to drop, pick a restaurant to meet in person. Attending IUSA last week, I cannot describe how great it was catching up to people LIVE!
9. Keep in Touch With Your Network: All of you have people who you've met over the years at various shows and conventions. Start by making a list of every product you use in your business. Then do your best to identify a key person at each vendor and keep in touch. The crew at your lab is one of your most important contacts, but don't forget other artists, your local retailer, and the sales reps for the products you use most. From email, phone calls, IMs, and text messages - stay in contact with people you care about.
This is the first time in history; EVERY business worldwide has most of the same challenges. The pandemic has had an impact on everybody. So here's an opportunity for you to be a leader in your community and demonstrate why you're everyone's best choice for the services and products you provide.
Coming together is a beginning,
staying together is progress,
and working together is success!
by Skip Cohen
I love writing posts like this on a Friday and giving you the weekend to think about my suggestions. As I've written so many times before, this might be the slow season, but NOT for you.
This is the perfect time to secure your strategy for the coming year. Now is the time to look for new ways to reach your target audience and do them in more effective and cost-efficient ways. One of the best ways is to find a few partners.
EVERY business is dealing with the same challenges of getting back on its feet. True "normalcy" with any permanence is a ways off, but that doesn't mean you have to wait for clients to be coming to your door. There are dozens of paths you can take to increase awareness, value, and stimulate sales!
I know there are some of you rolling your eyes, either because you've read some of these ideas in my posts in the past, you don't like them, or you don't want to give up control - well, times have changed. The pandemic changed everything in our lives, and while I hate quoting Hillary Clinton, although it's an old African proverb - "It takes a village!"
And for those of you who think there's nobody to partner with because your specialty is so limited, here's a list to work from, and I'm sure there are plenty I've missed because these are all in the portrait/social categories.
Stop thinking you have to do everything yourself. Business may have changed dramatically, but along with the frustrations, there are some unique opportunities for creative leadership. You don't need to jumpstart your business alone - think about the strategic alliances in your community to rebuild together!
"Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude!"
by Skip Cohen
I wandered by this billboard in my travels to and from IUSA over the last week. I didn't know a thing about the sponsor, but I liked the message, and it's so true. And I did wander to their website just now and hit a couple of uplifting videos.
But when it comes to uplifting, I'm not sure anything could be as uplifting as the IUSA convention. This isn't meant to be a long drawn-out post about attitude, But Zig Ziglar's quote above really says it all.
Nothing could demonstrate Ziglar's point better than the crowds at the show this week. Platypod had a booth, and we were busy, non-stop right up to the last minute. And most of the other exhibitors I spoke with had a nice flow of traffic as well.
In terms of the attendees, people were excited to be back out and in personal contact. Zoom meetings have been great to keep in touch, but it's not the same as being with live people. While masks came off in the restaurants, various dinners, the bar, etc., for the most part, everyone was respectful of the relevant health issues.
People were hungry to talk to the vendors, instructors, and each other. Plus, it seemed like a younger crowd than I'm used to seeing at PPA conventions, which was outstanding. It was a good mix of photographers just starting out combined with those more established, as well senior veterans.
When it came to a strong platform of education, PPA covered all the bases. The class selection was terrific, plus "Networking Avenue" on Sunday evening, gave attendees a chance to enjoy various demonstrations, and ask questions of the speakers in a more informal environment.
Last but not least, as an exhibiting vendor, because the show was smaller than past years, although PPA managed to give the show a big feel with 80-90 companies represented, attendees got time to talk to each company. It was definitely a time for network building.
The shot below was the Pixel Connection booth on the show's last day. They were mobbed every day with non-stop traffic.
So, circle the dates for 2023 in Nashville, January 22-24, at the Gaylord Opryland. And if we can get the covid issues into the rearview mirror a little more, it's going to be another outstanding show. Platypod chose its booth for next year, and by the end of the show, the 2023 trade show floor was on its way to looking pretty good!
It's Marketing Monday, and we're officially into the "slow season." But the slowness of the season is only in regards to consumer activity, NOT your business. This is the first post in a seasonal series I write every year. While some of the bullet points are repeats - the next two weeks are ideal to clean up and fine tune your business for the new year.
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, and sadly, we've slipped backward just a little. But even with a reduced need to hunker down and the less severe omicron variant, social media's power continues to grow. So your website and communication skills have never been more important than today!
That means your website, blog, Facebook presence and maintaining customer contact have never been more critical - or had more potential to create more sales/revenue. Your website and Facebook presence make up your storefront, and your blog should be the gateway via your heart to the products and services you offer.
I've shared dozens of posts about your website and blog in the past, so I'm just going to give you a limited check-off list. Read all the Fast Food Fridays I've shared if you want more detail. But this week, start cleaning up those side messes you've been procrastinating about.
We're in a "you snooze - you lose" scenario. But, there's an opportunity for you to be a leader in your community. And based on what I've been hearing from a lot of different photographers around the country, this year had the potential to be outstanding.
Most importantly, remember the renewed sense of family in this country. Now's the time to build on those relationships! We might be in the slow season, but Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and graduation are all around the corner. For example, there are few presents better suited for Grandma this year than a new family portrait.
Now is the time to start planning!
by Skip Cohen
In yesterday's Reflections post, I wrote about chasing your dreams. I appreciate the nice feedback, but it's Marketing Monday and time to take action. The good news is that this isn't rocket science. You know how to focus your camera, now it's time to focus on your business and long term, your career.
When I was a kid, there was no GPS. My Dad belonged to AAA, and before our once-a-year big vacation, he'd put in his order and get back a TripTik, a spiral-bound series of map pages showing the routing from the start of our trip to the finish. Each Page had the total mileage for that segment of the trip.
Today's travel is a whole lot different. AAA still offers the service. However, for most of us, we hit the computer, and Google combined with Trip Advisor, and Yelp gets us to our destination. Plus, we're accessing GPS in our cars and on our phones all along the way.
Well, now apply the same concept as the old TripTiks to your business for the year ahead. You know where you're starting from, but most of you haven't thought through where you want to go this year.
Sure, you want the business, with revenue and reasonable costs, to leave you a profit, but is your goal sustainable? Anybody can be a one-hit-wonder and make a few bucks, but you want every client not only coming back again but insisting their friends work with you as well.
So, just like my folks did when I was a kid - use this week to plan your "trip," at least through the first quarter of the year. Before you load up what you'll need, you first have to clean out the "trunk" of everything left from the last trip...2021.
I commented earlier about it not being rocket science...but it does take discipline. So, take time this week and just kick back and think about your dream for the year. I'm a big fan of visualization - what's your goal for 2022? Sales revenue is essential, but you also have to control your costs. So, it's not just incoming dollars, but what you're spending!
"A business without a path to profit isn't a business, it's a hobby"
And if you're stuck thinking things through, email me. I want to help you make 2022 your best year ever, but it won't happen if you don't focus on what you really want...your dream.
by Skip Cohen
Over the past year, I've shared multiple posts every week on marketing and business - virtually anything I hear about or have learned over the years that will help you even out the rough spots in your business. It's been a tough year, but the finish line is only eleven days away, and there's a clean slate for 2022.
But coming down to the wire - don't miss opportunities to set yourself up for a strong start into the new year.
People will forget what you said. They will forget what you did.
But they will never forget how you made them feel.
The key is when a customer walks away, thinking, 'Wow, I love doing business with them,
and I want to tell others about the experience."
Last but not least - this week is always a little insane wrapping up last-minute orders and client needs. But once everything is done - take the time between the holidays to simply kick back and chill. Sure, you still need to think about the business and your future, but you also need to recharge your battery!
That means you need to focus just on yourself a little. I'm not suggesting you ignore your family or friends - take the time to appreciate the road ahead!
You can't create images that tug at people's hearts if you're own heart isn't in it!
by Skip Cohen
I know the title for this post sounds trite and hokey, but I can't think of a better way to express my thoughts on the state of the industry right now. I get that I'll get criticized, but there isn't a comment anybody can make these days that makes everyone happy.
There are still many of you undecided about going to IUSA in January. The issue holding most of you back relates to information from the media about Covid, new variants, mask mandates, etc. I don't know about you, but Sheila and I don't know what to believe these days. So, we trust our doctor, have had both vaccines and our booster, and if we're going somewhere with a mask mandate, we simply put on our masks - no big deal, just a way of life today.
PPA has done an incredible job doing everything they can to help get our industry back on track. Next year is truly a healing and rebuilding year. The IUSA show, from a financial standpoint, has intentionally been designed to run at a loss. PPA has under-written part of the hotel cost for all of us; they've taken registration cost down to the minimum, and throughout the convention, they're doing everything they can to support the industry we all love dearly.
Here's my point - PPA can't do it alone! The responsibility for a great conference is shared by the hosting organization, the attendees, and the vendors! It's everyone, and that's where teamwork plays such a huge part. It's up to ALL of us to get this industry back on track, and while the host hotel is sold out, there are so many alternatives incredibly close by.
After almost two years of insanity, this is an opportunity to network, share new ideas, expand your skill set and recharge your battery to get your business and love for imaging back on track. So, if you're still on the fence...please plan on joining all of us. IUSA is already over 5000 pre-registered attendees, and this is destined to be one of those shows we're all going to look back on with pride at having been there!
See you at IUSA!
by Skip Cohen
We're down to the wire, but not too late for one more idea - building a Legacy Program for your clients and your own family! I've shared the concept a few times in posts this holiday season, but with Christmas and New Years right around the corner - it's time to hit it one more time.
Here's the concept: Look at the images in the photograph above. Now think about your own life a couple more generations from now. Those old black and whites above will be replaced with a few jump drives; images never downloaded from your phone, and a handful of Polaroids, Shutterfly prints, and maybe even albums. But who's going to be around to tell the backstories?
Building a Legacy Program is so easy - Seriously, it should be a no-brainer for all of you. Let's start with your own family. This holiday season, whenever your family is together, sit down with the more senior relatives and record the stories of their journey. You've all got cameras with video and even your phones.
Next, pull out those old albums and shoeboxes of photographs. Get the names of the people in all those shots and the events that brought them together. This doesn't have to be a major production of "Roots," just documenting the chapters of your life that brought everyone to today.
Now, take it one step further - if you've got kids in the house - assign them to be the family historians. If they're young, get the camera set up for them - and if they're older, give them some assignments. Stories like, "Sit down with Grandma and Grandpa and ask them how they met?" Anything relevant in capturing those beautiful backstories that will disappear when older members of your family pass on.
And for Clients...
Including a Legacy Program with family portraits is a perfect way to expand your business and especially goodwill. Imagine the power and pure joy of a family portrait and a recording of Grandma talking about her journey along with it. The possibilities are endless.
Every Thursday for years, I've been sharing a Throwback Thursday image as a blog post. While I've got hundreds of old photographs of my folks and grandparents - with at least 80% of them, I have no idea who's in the photograph. Plus, the only stories I can tell are about the pictures that I'm actually in, or maybe I was lucky enough to hear the backstory when I was younger.
My grandparents are long gone, my folks passed away over the last ten years, and there's nobody left in the family from their generations. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I hate that I never sat down with my Dad before he passed away to record his story.
I've written this so many times before - if we learned nothing else over the last year, ALL of us now know that life is simply too short. Unfortunately, we didn't appreciate the true meaning of freedom until the pandemic had us hunkered down. And if you lost family members through the pandemic, then you understand what I'm saying even more.
Don't let this holiday season go by without starting a program for your own family to capture legacy stories from the past. And for your clients - there's still time to get the word out today!
by Skip Cohen
This isn't a new topic for me to write about, but it's more relevant than ever TODAY!
With the world becoming a healthier place and IUSA in January, I want to plant a few seeds to get you thinking about how you can make the most of the trip! First, however, here's my big assumption - I'm hoping everyone recognizes the importance of the IUSA convention. It's not going to be a typical conference, but a celebration of the journey back to some level of normalcy! It's about helping you build a stronger skill set, networking, and getting back in touch with an industry you're an essential part of!
The bottom line? You need to be there, and PPA's done an outstanding job of reducing your costs to be a part of it, from the special hotel rate to the discounted registration of just $59 - they're out to help you make 2022 a year of not only healing your business but growing it! Anybody can survive - their goal is to help you thrive!
So, let's start planning your trip!
You've got a choice in how you want to kick off 2022 - you can either sit on the sidelines and watch the parade go by or you can be a part of it!
Hope to see you at IUSA!
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday, and today's post is as much a reminder for you as a consumer as it is for your business as a retailer and a product/service provider. So consider it a public service announcement!
Let's turn back the clock to this time last year. We were in the throws of the pandemic, and everything went upside down when it came to shipping. I remember a holiday gift we ordered for friends that took six weeks to get here through the USPS. Concerned, I wandered into my post office and was told by our local postmaster, "Sorry, nothing we can do - I've got gifts of my own I'm still waiting for!"
Then came the challenge of overseas shipments - often on their way, but with virtually no tracking information. Several times, I saw Platypod shipments look like they were still in NY when the same day, I'd get an email from the photographer overseas saying it had arrived.
So, here's the bottom line. As a consumer, shop early and ship early! Unless you're delivering locally or personally, as a business owner, encourage your clients to make their decisions now, so holiday gifts arrive on time.
Last week our fulfillment manager at Platypod sent out an email with the dates to the right for FedEx and USPS. It's up to you whether or not you believe them. Personally, I'd lean to adding a few days on, but follow the news - this is guaranteed to be a hot topic this season.
The challenge of shipping has already been in the news repeatedly. I caught this short piece in this week's copy of The Week. I know it might be hard to read, so click on it to enlarge in the SCU lightbox.
There's also a more in-depth article online at theSkimm.com about delays and price hikes through the USPS.
So, the expression, a good offense is the best defense is credited to George Washington!
“…offensive operations, often times, is the surest, if not the only means of defense.”
George Washington, 1799
The bottom line is to build a good solid offense. Don't get caught short with your clients or your personal shipments this year. Shop early, help your clients as much as possible and get their orders out ahead of whatever you'd consider the regular schedule.
It's going to be a great holiday season for photographic products, and with the renewed sense of family in this country, you've got the skillset and products to meet the needs of your target audience!
Happy soon-to-be here holidays!
by Skip Cohen
This will probably be the last post in The Road to Seasonality series. I've done my best to cover so many different things you can be doing to help make this year's holiday season one of your most successful. Sadly though, there are still too many of you caught in analysis paralysis, trying to figure out what to do next.
STOP OVERTHINKING! First, you're only one person - even if you have a staff to help support your business, it still comes down to you. Second, you're better off doing something and being only moderately successful rather than being complacent and going into the holiday season without any marketing plans. Last but not least - remember the definition of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
I wrote a post a few weeks back with a similar theme, but let's take it a step further. Here's a check-off list to work from, and it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you maintain a presence with your target audience and do something!
Here's the bottom line - the future of your business is in your hands! I'm not suggesting it's easy, but nothing in life is effortless these days. Just remember that relationship building is your strongest marketing tool. You've got to be out there and shed the chains of analysis paralysis.
It's November 1 - so what are you doing today to help secure business over the next two months?
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.