by Skip Cohen
Many of you are going to feel it's too late for this idea to have an impact on sales this holiday season. Well, hear me out - because it's NOT!
Here's the background - going back to my Polaroid days, when the Spectra was introduced, the buzz words were continuity marketing. The Spectra was the first Polaroid to be introduced with a full line of accessories. And, just like the gear you own today, each piece of equipment you've added over the years has enhanced your loyalty and feelings about the brand you chose.
Well, here's an idea to build continuity marketing into your business - an 8x10 print box. It's over twenty years since Bambi Cantrell started the concept of an Image Box, then an Art Leather product. She'd use it to enhance a wedding album by taking blank mattes with her and having select members of the bride and groom's families and friends write something on them. She'd add the photographs later, making the collection of photographs incredibly special.
The idea hasn't lost its effectiveness and today has even more potential. Here are a couple of examples: First, I went to make an appointment for the annual shots for our two pups. My vet didn't have any appointments until January. "Because of the pandemic, everybody's getting new pets, and we're booked solid!"
Remember, the hierarchy of why people hire a professional photographer - brides, babies, and pets are the top three, and with so many weddings being postponed, I'm betting pets might be in the number one spot! Puppies and kittens grow up and, right from the beginning, are a vital part of their family. Perfect for filling a print box.
Second, what's the one thing that Grandma misses most this holiday season? HER FAMILY! The pandemic has kept everyone apart for almost nine months! Putting together a print box of images, both old and new, makes this one of those gifts that becomes a treasure. Looking through your list of past clients and new ones, a print box becomes a truly unique gift this holiday season.
Here are more ideas about adding a print box to your product line with blank mattes included in the box:
Here's my point to today's Marketing Monday post - the pandemic has created opportunities for so many of you to be leaders in your marketing. This is a holiday season where we're all looking back as well as to the future. Those memories you're capturing for clients now and from the past are more valuable than ever before!
Note: The images above are thanks to Queensberry: The Queensberry Matted Print Boxes are designed to be different. As well as the range of print options, you have over 40 cover materials to choose from. It's simple to customize the mats with the easy to use software, to suit each photograph and create unique designs. Queensberry will deliver to your studio for free, or direct to your clients with our free drop-shipping service!
For more information, just click on any of the images above.
by Skip Cohen
I've written so many posts lately that start out the same - the pandemic has changed so much in our lives...
Here's something the pandemic has changed for the better - it's given you time, the one element in your life you've NEVER had enough of. And if you're not taking full advantage of the time to clean up some essential elements of your business, then it's a you-snooze-you-lose scenario.
Almost three years ago, I started the Fast Food Friday series: Ideas to help you build a better business and all served each week at the SCU Diner. Well, It's time to bring a few of them back and tie them to the importance of reaching an even bigger target audience today!
I'm convinced photographic gifts will top the list of great ideas this holiday season, which means more potential traffic to your website. Your galleries should be your first tab, but once you've hooked a visitor on the quality of your work, then comes the second tab, your "About" page.
Yesterday I shared a post about the importance of a better headshot with your "About" page. While a handful of photographers missed my point, nothing beats an environmental portrait of you as an artist to help reinforce your brand. But your headshot is only one of the key ingredients - the other part is what you write about yourself.
Today your Internet presence is the equivalent of a bricks and mortar business just a few years ago. And because of the pandemic, it's even stronger than a physical location! Your website is your storefront and it's essential to make each visit a memorable experience.
Creating a Better About Page on Your Website
When I shared this idea a few years back, a photographer argued with me because he and his wife had put together a humorous bio that clearly showed their personalities, and how much fun they'd be to work with. It was outstanding, and I was wrong. But being funny is an art form. If you've got the writing skill to be creative, funny and still make your point about your love for the craft, then create that kind of bio. However, if you're concerned about your message, then go with the basics above.
One more idea for you to think about, and you've got the time: Thanks to technology, ALL of you have the ability to create a high impact marketing video combining still images, video, and great music for your about page. Nobody can tell your story as well as you, and it's another way to get the message to "Mom."
This year will go down in history as the most difficult for any small-business owner, especially photographers. But I'm hearing stories from artists all over the country of business picking up a little, new ideas for services and products and even an increase in small events.
Hunkering down is about your health, NOT your business!
by Skip Cohen
I was saving this topic for "Fast Food Friday" tomorrow, but it's too good not to share today. And in all honesty, ideas to help you raise the bar on your marketing should be happening EVERY day, not just on Fridays.
Earlier this week, Kay Eskridge shared her headshot and these comments:
Years ago my Mom gave me the ultimate compliment ... she said I am good at what I do because I use my heart before I see with my eyes. I KNOW!! Way to go Mom!
I also think that the older I get I also use my soul somewhere in the mix... I guess that's why I'm always smiling when I'm behind the camera. Thx Howard...this is one of my favs!
Here's why this is so important - so many of you have terrible or irrelevant headshots on your websites and social media pages. From bad selfies to portraits that suggest you handed one of your kids the camera and even stunning portraits of you staring down the lens barrel - very few of them show your love for the craft, or at the very least, you in action...as a PHOTOGRAPHER and ARTIST.
My suggestion has always been a side shot of you with a camera in your hands and in the background just beyond the depth of field, your subject. Use your headshot to convey a great message of what you do for a living. Even great portraits don't demonstrate what you do for a living.
This image of Kay's might not have her subject in view, but what a kick for a client to see how much she loves the craft. And personally, I love the fact that it's black and white - pushing the point of diversity in her creativity a little more.
Now, think about your bio page - your target audience doesn't care what awards you've won, what gear you shoot with, or even how long you studied to be a photographer. They want to know WHY you love being a photographer, and for "Mom," she's looking to see if you can be trusted to capture images of her family the way she sees them. It doesn't matter how many awards you've gotten in print competition through WPPI or PPA - most of you clients don't know what those associations are!
So, stop writing long boring bios about your awards, how many cameras you own, or how you got started in this business - cut to the chase and talk about your love for photography and helping clients capture great memories. Then, back it all up with a headshot like Kay's, and you can even add an image of two of you working with a client!
(Also on the list to include is a self-promotional video about you - but we'll save that for another post.)
And to Howard Rosenberg who captured Kay - nicely done! You definitely caught her love for the craft and that signature Eskridge smile. What a kick!
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and I'm definitely not in my usual mode of being off the topic of photography.
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives and not for the better. But it's also created some unique leadership opportunities in creativity and support to your clients and community. I know it's been an ugly year for virtually every business, but I also know there are ideas out there to help you get back on track and jumpstart your business.
ClickCon Nation kicks off today with an all-star cast, but more important than the educators/speakers is the timing and the topics. For example, I'm doing a program at 10:15 CST called "My Business Has Disappeared, Now What?" In one hour, I'm going to pack in 2-3 hours of material - one after another of things photographers can be doing RIGHT NOW to capture the seasonality in business.
And check out the company I'm with below.
The program is FREE - all you have to do is download the ClickCon Nation app, and you're in. I know this doesn't apply to everybody, but there are too many of you who have been crying the blues over the decline in business and not doing anything about it.
Remember that line of "God helps those who help themselves?" Well, regardless of what you believe spiritually, there's so much help in this industry. But you've got to make the first move - open your mind and join us!
Wishing everybody a day filled with ideas and opportunities to be a leader in creativity and business. The year isn't over yet. As I've written so many times in the last nine months - hunkering down is about your health - NOT about your business.
by Skip Cohen
For over a year, I shared a series of business and marketing tips called "Fast Food Friday." The concept started as short, easy to implement ideas, and grew into some great building blocks for success as a photographer and small business owner.
Well, as much as the pandemic has changed so many things in our lives, the key ingredients to building brand awareness haven't changed. You still need to get your name out there, and even more important, we're into fourth-quarter seasonality, and people still need help capturing and sharing their memories!
Remember why I started this series - to give you ideas to build a stronger business, no matter what the challenges were! Most of you are right-brain creative types with too little focus on growing your business. Many of you don't think of yourselves as small business owners. Even if you're working for another studio, imaging is a career choice that lends itself to freelance assignments, and you're ALWAYS building your brand.
With or without Covid - it's not who YOU know, but WHO knows you! Here's a list to help you keep your name out there in the spotlight. Your goal is top-of-mind awareness so anytime somebody is thinking about photography, your name comes up first.
Too many of you think there's nothing you can do to build your brand until the pandemic is history. It's not going away tomorrow, but the new norm doesn't need to leave you helpless. Relationship building is your most vital marketing tool - so, set up a time every week to be building your foundation of awareness - beyond your skill set.
Tony Corbell, one of the most recognized photographers in the industry, once told a story about when he first got started. "I might not have been the best photographer in town, but I was determined to be the nicest!" Tony's never strayed from that practice!
And where's Tony today? Because travel for all of us is limited, he's online and spending just as much time teaching and supporting his audience as he always has - but in cyberspace!
“Don’t think outside the box – think like there is no box!”
by Skip Cohen
In all my years in this industry, I've never seen a more difficult time for photographers to maintain a business. At the same time, I've never seen/heard so many remarkable stories about artists taking a leadership role in their communities. These are business owners, fighting to rebuild what the pandemic has taken away.
This Sunday, five of us share ideas and ways to expand your skill set and work to get things started on the way back. But we can't help if you're not there with us!
My program, "My Business Has Disappeared! Now What?" is about opportunities to rebuild your business and stand out from your competition. This program changes and grows every week, as I hear more great ideas to share from artists around the world who simply refuse to give up! I'll be sharing dozens of ideas to help you rebuild and jumpstart your business. I've got one hour to fill your head with new ideas, and even a few old ones. So, it'll be fast-paced right from the start.
Click on the banner above to connect to the complete schedule of events. Then to attend for FREE, just download the 𝐂𝐥𝐢𝐜𝐤𝐂𝐨𝐧 𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐀𝐩𝐩 from your app store, log in and create your password.
Don't let complacency get the best of you! Join us on Sunday to recharge your battery and get your business back on track for a strong fourth quarter in 2020!
by Skip Cohen
When my buddy Rick Friedman shared the image above on the Platypod blog last week, it got me thinking about the changing seasons in business, not just the beauty of foliage in New England. The pandemic has changed so much in our lives, but it didn't stop Mother Nature's seasonality any more than it's going to halt the seasonality in business over the upcoming holidays.
In fact, with everyone being restricted with physical distancing and health concerns, I'm convinced photography will play a more significant role than in previous years with consumers this holiday season. Think about it: Is there a more perfect gift for grandma this year than a portrait or video of her family? And for holiday cards for your clients and your business, what could be better than to share one of your images and a message reminding people you're still around?
Every week for over a year, I ran a series called Fast Food Friday. Each weekly topic was a reminder about a different aspect of marketing for photographers.
There is so much you should be doing RIGHT NOW. Make sure the seasonality of the holidays doesn't slip by because of your frustrations and complacency that's become typical during the pandemic. As I've written numerous times, hunkering down is about your health, NOT about your business!
Welcome back to the SCU Diner and Fast Food Friday!
1. Holiday Cards: There are still too many of you who miss the opportunity to send out a holiday card featuring your photography. There's still time!
There are two different audiences to consider. First is your personal card to friends, clients, and associates. This is one of the easiest marketing opportunities in business - one of your photographs on the front, a message from you on the inside and on the back, your logo and contact information.
Second is holiday cards for your clients. The pandemic has dramatically limited personal contact. That makes this year an especially popular year for photography. And helping to make it more affordable, Marathon has their annual BOGO program going on right now. But nothing happens if you don't plant the seeds of ideas with your audience.
2. Gifts for Key Vendors and Clients: Think about who's helped you the most over the past year. Now is the time to recognize that wedding planner, florist, etc. who sent you some great referrals. It doesn't matter if the event was postponed or even cancelled. A simple basket of goodies or bottle of wine to acknowledge your appreciation might be just the thing to say "Thanks!" Again, the pandemic has limited so many areas of interaction, but it's not going to last forever.
3. Is it time for your own marketing video? January kicks off a new year, and with it should be some new ways to reach more clients. I'm a big fan of marketing videos that show a photographer's work with images and short video clips put to music and shared on your website along with your about page. In between the holidays is a great time to put it together.
4. New Products for Your Audience: All it takes is a call to your lab and one question, "What's new?" The pandemic hasn't slowed down technology, and I've repeatedly written about Bay Photo's Performance EXT Metal Prints for outdoor display. Also, just because products like canvas prints are old to us doesn't mean a beautiful canvas print isn't going to be cherished by a client. Then there's everything else your lab can do today with new materials, and your target audience knows very little about what's available!
5. Partnerships: Every business is dealing with the same challenges, but a photographer teaming up with a florist and an excellent restaurant doing carry-out, means your cost to promote your business is reduced to a third of what it would be if you flew solo. Another great thing about partnerships is how each partner becomes an ambassador for the other companies involved. Look for ways to share the cost of delivering a message and, at the same time, cross-promote products within the partnership.
6. Content for Your Blog: Use the current downtime to build content. And make that content about gift ideas using photography this holiday season. Plus, this is a great time to build your stash. Everything you share doesn't have to be in relative real-time.
If you're not posting at least twice a week on your blog, then shut it down! It's not doing enough to help you build a consistent awareness with your readership. Build a stash of posts you can use for content over the months ahead - short 200-300 word posts that help your readers become better photographers, for example.
7. Community Involvement: Community events are limited, but they exist, and here's another opportunity for you to be involved. You're looking for your community to be good to you...well, you've got to be good to your community. Look for ways to help spread the word for events in your community. Everyone needs all the help they can get, and your blog is just the vehicle to provide additional support.
The year may be quickly coming to a close, but you still have time for a positive impact on your business in the home stretch! This is not going to be a year where thousands of people camp out overnight at Walmart waiting for the doors to open. There's an opportunity for a strong finish to the year and more revenue for your business, but getting the word out is all up to you.
You snooze, you lose!
by Skip Cohen
Too many artists think they deserve support simply because they use a company's products or services. They don't think through relationship-building or their own communication skills, and often act as if they just need to hit the sponsorship button on their computer.
This is a very different episode of "Mind Your Own Business" because we're sharing ideas about sponsorship and relationship building, two topics Glen Clark and I have been focused on for years in this industry.
Here's a little of the backstory on the topic: Glen's background, going back to when we first met in the early 90s, has always had him in the role of the guy photographers chase down for sponsorship, especially when it comes to teaching and speaking engagements related to the companies he worked for.
My background is very similar, but with added exposure as the hosting event for speakers and educators during the seven years, I was president of RF Publishing and WPPI. The bottom line is that we've got years of experience understanding what it takes to make a sponsor happy and feel the investment in a photographer is worth it.
Where so many of you fail is not thinking through what it is you want to accomplish, as well as what it is you have to sell. It's not just about using a vendor's products but developing a reputation for integrity, creativity, and quality. For example, just because you scored a 100 in print competition doesn't mean you have the ability to teach and hold the attention of your audience on behalf of another company.
Plus, every sponsor will always ask you the same question: "How is sponsoring you going to help me sell more of my products?"
Over the years between the two of us, I'm betting Glen and I have sponsored hundreds of photographers and projects but turned down hundreds more! Every aspect of success in business plays into a company's decision to support an artist; it's about your style, professionalism, speaking ability, experience, topics, brand awareness, creativity, and skill set.
In this recent podcast, besides talking about Glen's extensive career in the industry, Glen, Chamira, and I spent a lot of time talking about the ingredients that companies look for when considering investing in an artist or project.
Follow Glen on Instagram, and he's always sharing images and content on his Facebook page. As always, we couldn't do this series without the support of Photofocus.com. Remember, we're just one podcast series in their lineup. Visit Photofocus.com and check out not only some terrific podcasts, but a stream of never-ending content to help you become a better artist and business owner!
Click on any image above to listen to the podcast.
by Skip Cohen
"Mind Your Own Business" is all about introducing you to the diversity of some of the most respected artists and educators in professional imaging. Since starting the series over six years ago, each guest has shared insight into their journey with continuous support to help photographers raise the bar on their skill set and develop a stronger brand and successful business.
My good pal Shiv Verma is in the MYOB spotlight and joined Chamira Young and me for a conversation about his career, projects for downtime, staying optimistic, and the future of imaging. Shiv's an artist, educator, writer, and a good friend to so many photographers in the industry.
Although we've known each other for many years, we started to get quality time together thanks to his role as a LUMIX Ambassador. (Note: All of Shiv's images we pulled for this post from were all captured with LUMIX cameras.) Later, I got to know him even better though Platypod. He's been a vital contributor to so many different ideas and new products over the years, including the upcoming Platyball.
Two of my favorite conventions before the pandemic were IUSA and WPPI. Working with Shiv in the booth, and then getting time together over dinner at the end of each day gave us a chance to cover a lot of ground with so many different topics and interests.
Check out more of Shiv's work with a visit to his Instagram page, his website, and past SCU blog posts.
Part of the fun of following Shiv is the diversity of his work - from critters and night skies to a model at a conference and fine art, you'll never be disappointed in what he's sharing or where he's traveling!
As always - thanks go to the Photofocus Team for their support of this podcast. Check out their content; whether it's new product info, "how-to" posts, or educational information to help you become a better artist, they never slow down in the quality of what they share.
Click on any image to view in the SCU Light Box
Images copyright Shiv Verma. All rights reserved.
Click on any image above to listen to the podcast.
by Skip Cohen
The "Mind Your Own Business" podcast is all about sharing ideas, developing a solid skill set, and running a successful business in imaging. Although our opening and closing questions are always the same about how the guest got started in this business along with advice to photographers just starting, everything else is unscripted and unrehearsed. Each photographer has shared an incredible level of information about their journey to date.
Nicole Begley joined us on this recent podcast, and she continued the pattern of sharing great insight and information about pet photography. I met Nicole for the first time three years ago when she taught a pet photography workshop here in the Sarasota area. Her passion for the craft, together with being an educator and working hard to help artists expand their skill set, is remarkable to observe live, first hand.
The hierarchy of why people hire a professional photographer, based on a Kodak survey years back, goes brides, babies, and pets. I don't believe that's changed at all in over twenty years since the information was released. That means there's an incredible opportunity for photographers to diversify and include pets in your repertoire. And the ranking has moved a lot, because of so many weddings being cancelled or postponed.
While the official surveys don't all agree, the rough estimate is that 80% of American households have a dog or cat. That boils down to approximately 80 million dogs and 60 million cats. And if you want to argue with me about those numbers, you're missing the point. We love our pets. Through the pandemic of the last almost nine months, dog and cat owners have repeatedly talked about the family's furry members evolving into emotional support animals!
Now take it all one step further, pet owners love photographs of there dogs and cats, which is why they're ranked at the top of the Kodak survey I referenced earlier. Nicole Begley is all about helping artists raise the bar on their skill set when it comes to photographing pets, especially dogs. Check out her "Hair of the Dog Academy," and visit her website to view more of her incredible work!
As always, a BIG thanks to the team at Photofocus.com for their support in hosting the "Mind Your Own Business" podcast. Check out all of their podcasts - you'll never be disappointed in the guests appearing on the various shows.
Click on any image above to link to this great podcast!
by Skip Cohen
We're in the middle of a pandemic, and with so much downtime, I'm trying to understand how I missed several posts of the "Mind Your Own Business." Over the last six years, we've shared a new podcast every month, thanks to my co-host Chamira Young and the team at Photofocus.com.
So, I'm playing catch up on podcasts, but this isn't like the expiration date on a carton of milk! Kay Eskridge joined us on this past podcast, and her insight into the industry's challenges was remarkable. She shared so many great ideas, and knowing Kay for as many years as I have, it was a fun conversation.
Kay is all about relationship building. In fact, you can see it in her images - relaxed smiles, comfortable poses, and subjects who enjoy working with Kay and trust her to exceed their expectations. From the Boardroom to maternity, kids, families, couples, seniors, and pets - it wasn't easy for me to pick out my favorites. Click on any image below, and you'll link to Kay's website, and you'll see what I mean. She shares an incredible body of work. Every image demonstrates her commitment to her clients as well as the craft. She's one of the most diverse artists in the industry, and I'm not sure there's anything Kay can't photograph!
I've written it so many times before: The best part of this industry is all about the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Kay and I have worked together on different projects and have been friends for easily twenty years, and it's true what they say about time - it flies when you're having a good time!
A big thanks to Photofocus for their support in making "Mind Your Own Business," a podcast that needs to be on your radar!
by Skip Cohen
If there was ever a promotion with perfect timing on a necessity this holiday season, it's Marathon's BOGO on holiday cards that just launched!
Here's why this is more important for your business than ever before:
For the last eight months, everyone's world has been at a virtual standstill. You've been hunkered down, business disappeared, and has just recently started to pick up, and keeping in touch with clients for many of you has been limited. That makes this holiday season especially crucial for revenue, as well as for your clients. Everyone is dealing with the same challenges, regardless of what their business might be.
You've got an opportunity to meet the needs of your clients NOW. And while it might seem early to think about it, the timing is actually just right.
Here's your chance to start planting the seeds of ideas for holiday cards, and the importance of staying in touch with family and friends. It's a great product to offer your clients, but don't forget your own needs for your business.
If ever there was a holiday season where photography can play a significant role, 2020 is the year. And with Marathon's BOGO, you're cutting your cost in half and helping to increase the revenue stream.
Just click on the banner for more information. Don't miss the opportunity to help your customers connect with family and friends over this year's holiday season.
by Skip Cohen
The pandemic has changed just about everything in business today, especially in imaging. But it's also opened up some new revenue streams, thanks to technology (Bay Photo), and new products.
I just recently hung the two 30x30 Performance EXT Metal prints outside on the back of the house. The other print had been out in the bright sun and rain for three years, and while it might have shown fading under the microscope, to the naked eye, it was still stunning. (Note: It's been recently replaced. It survived everything but the power wash guy who not only knocked it off the wall, but later rolled over it with his equipment.) The two additional prints, captured by Jonny Yoshinaga with a drone when he and Suzette Allen were here last year, are special reminders of a great friendship.
Performance EXT Metal is specially engineered for extended life in the elements! Perfect for use as outdoor art, photography, signage, and display, Performance EXT Metal will last 2-3 years in direct sunlight without noticeable fading.
Think about your client base and how many people would appreciate prints outside their home. Everyone is hunkered down with limited travel but maximum time at home - looking at the same walls! Now take the concept of photographs outdoors one step further - how many restaurants have outdoor seating, but nothing on display?
There's an entirely new revenue stream waiting to be tapped into. In each of your communities, you've got subjects to feature in photographs, whether it's scenes around the community, the restaurant's favorite dishes, or the staff - the list goes on and on. And, we're entering the seasonality of the fourth quarter. The need for creativity in gift-giving this year is going to be at an all time high.
by Skip Cohen
In doing website reviews recently, I stumbled on a common occurrence with too many photographers: When they described their products/services, what they wrote could put a rock to sleep!
I'm convinced the problem goes back years with too many of them cutting English class on the day they talked about adjectives and creative writing!
For example, you're not selling a wedding album, but the first family heirloom of a new family. A wedding album isn't full of pages, but memories of intangible moments to be cherished for a lifetime. And for those of you who just rolled your eyes thinking, that's a little over the top - think about the products you buy and ads/commercials you've watched.
When it comes to pricing on various services, once again, most descriptions are like a can of soda that's been left open all night...they've got color, flavor but no fizz! Add words to describe your packages that tell people more than good, better, and best.
Years ago, I had a section in my marketing program about better descriptions. While it's a little dated in content, it still makes a point about wedding coverage.
In the first section, I wanted to hit the assurance that the photographer worked quickly. One of the top "urban myths" with brides at the time was missing part of the wedding because they were tied up with the photographer. Every bride seemed to know someone it happened to, even though I'm betting it was rare.
And the close of "deluxe first edition prints" were just the proofs. While most photographers today don't do proofs, there are a few who have kept them in the lineup. Again, it's about creating value, and today could just as easily be a "stunning custom-designed web page."
I get that you didn't sign up to be a writer, but if you don't make your own business sound exciting, nobody else will! Two suggestions to help: Use grammarly.com to raise the bar on the quality of what you write and to get more into improving your writing skills; and wandering through cyberspace, I found this article on the wordstream.com site.
You've got to put your heart into your business, as well as everything you write about. You can't create images that tug at people's heartstrings if your own heart isn't totally committed! And the same goes for describing everything you sell.
"Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader - not the fact that it is raining,
but the feeling of being rained upon."
Backstory on The Rocks of Oceanside: Right after WPPI last February, Charles and Jennifer Maring headed to southern California for a mini-vacation. Never without a LUMIX camera, they hit the coastline. Shooting with a LUMIX GH5 and Leica 45mm f1.2 macro lens, he captured some of my most favorite images. Here's the link to their website, 'Together in Style." Meanwhile, while photos are beautiful, rocks aren't your target audience! You still need those adjectives to spice up your services, products, and about page.
by Skip Cohen
While parts of this post are out of the SCU archives from many years back, with the challenges created by the pandemic, it's even more relevant today!
There must be a hundred quotes we've all read related to determination. Most of them talk about falling down and how quickly you get back up or some facsimile. The more you read the more trite they become. For whatever reason, this one really hit me hard:
"How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win."
Let's call "losing" what we're all feeling with today's challenges and everything outside our control. Although I'm hearing some excellent stories about things coming back, business pretty much disappeared for the last few months.
All of us went into the new year with the usual optimism, anticipating a year of growth for the business, new friendships, and opportunities to expand our networks. WPPI in February was the last live conference any of us would attend for a long time. Like deer caught in your headlights, we simply didn't know what to do!
Here's the critical issue - it's entirely appropriate to be frustrated over everything that's happened. It's been a constant emotional energy drain, but what's wrong is giving up. It's mid-September, and we're about to go into the seasonality of the fourth quarter. You don't have time to be gun shy in today's environment.
Here's are some ideas to start thinking about:
Last but not least, do what you need to feed your own heart and soul. Take this weekend and be a slug, if that's what you need. Build up a little energy to tackle a more positive attitude. Pick up the phone and call a good buddy. Get involved in your favorite forum on Facebook with other photographers. Look for partnerships to promote multiple products, like a photographer and florist working together this holiday season.
I'm not suggesting it's going to be easy, and this isn't about me being one of the industry cheerleaders. Business will come back, and as long as it might take, people are still in need of your help in capturing memories and sharing them!
Good things come to those who believe.
Better things come to those who are patient,
and the best things come to those who don't give up.
by Skip Cohen
Not to suggest my usual throwbacks aren't qualified, but there's a difference when you're turning back the clock in your life versus 150 years ago!
This print is from some time around 1870. It's my wife's great grandparents. Sheila's grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee, and I shared her portrait in a blog post several years ago. What's interesting about this image is what was printed on the back:
"Milton Baker & Indian wife - Martha Tredway father."
The Indian wife's name was Kitty Gentry, and Martha Tredway was her daughter and Sheila's grandmother. Whoever wrote on the back of the print chose not to even mention Kitty's name! But there's more to the backstory. In later years, there was a fight between family members over how to spell "Tredway" or "Treadway." As the story goes, "Supposedly Grandma Martha has no headstone because the family couldn't agree on spelling their last name. But I'm guessing it was because they were too cheap!"
The print we have is about two inches square and was probably copied from the original, but technology is a kick. The scan came out exceptionally good with a minor tweak for sharpness in Luminar.
I've always been a fan of Throwback Thursday, but these days, looking at old photographs has become even more important to me because of the pandemic. Old photos underscore the importance of telling stories and being able to appreciate that occasional look in your rearview mirror.
It also hits hard on the responsibility you have to your clients to never compromise on an image's quality. Think about your work today and how it's going to be shared years after you're gone, or for that matter, the subject you photographed is gone. For example, Tim and Beverly Walden don't just create stunning portraits, but family heirlooms that right from the beginning are meant to be so outstanding that they're handed down from generation to generation.
Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it.
It's what a customer gets out of it.
Take the time today and wander through your old photographs. Then share them on your blog. They're the perfect marketing tool to remind your audience that it's time for a new family portrait! Just because they're hunkered down, doesn't mean the kids have stopped growing!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
by Skip Cohen
I shared the bottom half of this post two years ago before any of us had ever used the word "pandemic."
SARCASM ALERT: This post is dedicated to those who seem to make a hobby out of losing clients and then blame the trend on everything and everybody except the face in the mirror, here's an updated list.
Wandering through the Internet several years ago I came across Desk.com and a list of "Five Annoying Customer Quotes" written by Allyson Stone. Today the site is called Salesforce.com and it's loaded with a lot of good content. Reading her five quotes, I wanted to put them into perspective for the business of photography.
Here's the thing about excellent Customer Service - it's about your attitude. It's not a department that's part of a large corporation. It's meant to be the foundation of everything you believe in business and about your customers. Excellent Customer Service is about making yourself habit-forming and exceeding customer expectations. Every client needs to feel like they're your most important customer.
We're still very much dealing with the challenges of the pandemic, but so is your target audience. Want to make some great in-roads in building your brand? Remember...
"Your customer doesn't care how much you know until they know how much you care!"
Now's the time to show how much you care!
by Skip Cohen
One of my readers recently asked me to make a video or write a post about the challenges of building a photography business. Her husband doesn't understand so many of the things she does that don't directly bring in revenue:
I would absolutely love to have something that I can sit down and watch with my husband, that will help explain to him what is really involved in building a photography business...So, perhaps you will consider putting together something aimed at the significant others that those of us in the industry are in love with, and don't want to strangle."
Over the years, I've heard a lot of comments mostly from husbands or wives that they can't get their spouses to understand what it takes to build a business as a photographer; equipment purchases when revenue is limited; experimenting with different techniques and the list goes on and on. And the same questions come up often from parents of photography students who proclaim, "Oh my God, my kid wants to be an artist!"
So, I'm going to take a shot at the request, and you guys can tell me how I did.
Here's the bottom line: Being a great photographer is about passion, but not just for the artistic side of pre and post-processing, but people. There are no compromises when it comes to the responsibility to each client, and the goal is always to exceed expectations. It takes years to learn all the skills, and it's never-ending.
Having spent my entire career in the photographic industry, there's no other field like imaging. Except for modern medicine, no career field has given the world more! Think about what a newspaper or wedding album would look like if it weren't for photographers. Every day they capture memories and turn them into tangible moments for their clients, but there's one last ingredient ideal for great artists...support.
Whether it's from your spouse, parents, or partner - support helps build confidence, and confidence is one of the key ingredients in building a business!
by Skip Cohen
One of the best things about this industry is the diversity of the friendships that have all come out of our mutual love for the craft. From photographers to vendors, just calling it a diverse group would be a dramatic understatement.
Brian Campbell and I first met at WPPI 2009, my last show in my role as president of Rangefinder Publishing and WPPI. He's the president of PhotoFlashDrive, and their products are outstanding. (And I want to clarify my position on his company too - they do not pay me, and they're not an SCU partner.) They just have GREAT products to help you exceed client expectations.
Right now they've got a monster outlet sale going on and here's why you need to take a look.
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, especially in the business of imaging. More than ever before, your presentations to clients are in the spotlight. And PhotoFlashDrive manufactures hundreds of products to help you raise the bar on whatever you're delivering as a photographer.
From flash drives to wine and print boxes to branding material and everything in between, Brian has spent his life listening to what photographers need most. Don't take my word for it - take a look for yourself. You have a unique opportunity to deliver your products in a way that dramatically elevates the quality and perceived value!
Click on any image in this post to check out how PhotoFlashDrive can help you elevate your image and your brand!
Intro by Skip Cohen
Sadly, that image above is the equivalent of the attention too many photographers put into the final packaging of the products they deliver to their clients. Okay, maybe it's a little extreme, but it hopefully will help make my point!
It's Marketing Monday, although EVERY day in your business should be about marketing. And, while the pandemic has changed many things in our lives, the need to continue to market yourself has never slowed down.
Yesterday I did a run to "Total Wine" - we were low on two pandemic survival necessities, tequila, and vodka! (Actually, neither of us are big drinkers, but we were out of both.) I was blown away by the packaging of one of our favorites, Milagro.
The color combination of black and silver suggests high perceived value with both men and women. Black and gold, also repeatedly score high in packaging tests. The package itself, along with the bottle design, is eye-catching and contemporary. And the story about Milagro is printed on both sides of the box.
That got me thinking about professional packaging in photography, which I've written a lot about over the years. Even though business for most of you is down, the importance of your final presentation hasn't diminished. It's probably more important and noticeable than ever before.
Whether you're giving a client access to images online or physically delivering an album or prints - don't underestimate the value of professional packaging!
A few years back, I found the post below in Marathon's blog archives, and the timing couldn't be better to share it again. We're coming up to the fourth quarter, which will still represent the busiest time in seasonality for photography...even with the pandemic.
As you start to send out orders for the 2020 holiday season, remember the impact professional packaging can have on each shipment's perceived value. And don't think of packaging as just for your hard products, but the artwork involved in online deliveries as well.
Every order is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your professionalism. Use professional packaging and elevate the perceived quality of your products. If you don't send them out with an elevated level of respect, nobody else will do it for you!
How important is the packaging in which you deliver portraits and other photographic products to your clients? When you consider the majority of photographic purchases are either initiated or entirely controlled by women clients, then the answer is clear: Packaging plays a huge role in enhancing your studio’s brand! Smart marketers know that women are influenced by packaging that pays attention to these key elements:
Research shows that color palette preferences of women are decidedly different from those of men, and the psychology of color—how it influences moods and feelings—is something that every marketer should take into consideration when developing key branding pieces such as business cards, websites, brochures, marketing cards, and packaging.
Women are known to be attracted to packaging that has appealing physical profiles, such as shape and size. These two elements are sometimes key to the functionality of the packaging, which has a definite impact on women consumers; women typically are concerned about how products can be safely and easily transported.
Who doesn’t like to unwrap a package? Women certainly do, so when packaging has pleasingly interactive qualities, such as luxurious ribbon, artfully designed bellybands, deluxe tissue, and eye-catching stickers, each item adds a layer of anticipation to the process of receiving the photographic product.
The fact that attention to detail is important to women, the addition of decorative bag tags, bellybands, ribbons, and even charms, elevates product value in the mind of sophisticated consumers.
Whenever a transaction results in an emotionally satisfying experience for the client, he or she becomes more likely to return for additional sessions and to refer clients to your business. Personalized packaging, such as the addition of a session image used as a bellyband closure or to adorn a shopping bag, is just the kind of gesture that creates a positive emotion which adds significantly to the success of the client’s experience with you.
Artfully coordinated packaging materials support the kind of positive image building that defines and adds meaning to your business brand. Extending your innate creativity to creating packaging that attracts you ideal consumer is well worth your time.
As the holidays approach, there’s no better season to create imaginative packaging. By advertising that “all gift portraits include custom gift wrapping,” you’ll be adding value to your product, and you’ll be all set to conclude future sessions with style!
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.