Intro by Skip Cohen
Mark Weber and I have been friends for a whole lot of years. As one of Marathon's most versatile senior managers, he's also a photographer, educator, and writer. He brings so much to the party whenever there's a challenge. He recently shared the post below on Marathon's blog, and it's packed with great ideas.
Being in "lockdown" at home is about your health and safety. It does NOT mean step away from your business, customer service, developing your skillset, or marketing. I love the ideas Mark shared this week and decided to share some of them here and the rest are a click away on the Marathon blog.
Marathon has built its reputation on support for professional photographers. And today, even under the challenges of the pandemic, they're not slowing down on being there to help!
Don't forget, if you're a senior photographer, their BOGO program on grad cards is going on right now. This is an especially tough year for the class of 2020 - more than likely there won't be any big graduations or parties to celebrate. That means the senior portraits you captured a few months ago are even more important to share!
by Mark Weber
With the unprecedented social distancing we are practicing right now we have an excellent opportunity to catch up on the things that have been delayed or neglected in our business for too long. From your equipment maintenance to your marketing, you have some extra time to do things you’ve been needing to do.
So here’s a top 21 list of ideas you can do prepare your business to hit the ground running when things start returning to normal, and they will return to normal. Don’t let your competition get a jump start on you!
#1 Website – How old is your website? When was the last time you updated the images on your site? Does your about me page read all about you or what you can do for them? (hint: they don’t care you got your first camera at age 7) Do you have a blog page that has a huge gap since the last time you posted? Do you have last year’s seniors, families, old ads still showing? Now is the time to update all of those! Need a new website?
#2. Studio Sample Prints – Now is a great time to replace some of those prints on the wall. You know the ones that are going on over a year old? Yeah, those need to be sold to the family of that subject in the image. Offer the image to them at a 50% discount and you can use those funds towards new samples. Consider testing some of your lab’s different paper samples. Today many labs have fine art papers to give you an alternative product that the consumer can’t get at Walmart or Cosco.
#3. Studio Sample Albums – Albums are one of the most profitable products you can offer in your studio. Chris Fritchie of McKenna, TX photographs with an album in mind with every session he does. Especially his storytelling Santa albums.
His philosophy is that you can always sell a wall portrait from a session shot with an album story in mind but you can’t always sell an album from a wall portrait session. Now is a great time to think of a creative story theme to promote later in the year like Chris’s Santa theme. Chances are you probably know someone even now who is not ultra paranoid and would be willing to model to help you create a new sample. You could build your set and have it all ready for later in the year.
#4. Sample Brochure – Show you are an expert or specialize in something. Use this in your PR Kit with follow-ups to meetings you’ve had or connections you want to make. You can insert gift cards or coupons for additional incentives.
#5. Family Portraits – Family portraits are going to be even more meaningful after this experience. Now is a good time to start planning your fall family campaign. Direct mail is still effective and thanks to Every Door Direct Mail things are more affordable than ever. Use this time to craft your message, put together your content, your offer and decide where you want to target. Learn more at USPS here – https://www.usps.com/business/every-door-direct-mail.htm
#6. Photography Technique – Now is the time to experiment with a new lighting and camera technique. It might be the use of constant lighting or making your own light diffusion source or a large reflector? Experiment with creating shadows on the wall with your background light as an interesting touch on an old background. Go scout new on-location backgrounds, etc. You can also get some great free education online and experts like Joel Grimes offer tremendous photography education. Check him out here at – https://www.joelgrimes.com
#7. Photoshop Techniques – Regardless if you are a newbie or experienced, there’s always something to learn or try. Maybe it’s a Photoshop action or a new texture to blend or an unusual graphic look you want to try. It’s a great time to work thru these ideas. There are some great free Youtube tutorials but if you want someone who takes it to the next level is Woody Walters. You can find more information on Woody’s education here: https://woodywaltersdigitalphotocandy.com
#8. Workflow – Have you struggled with creating a workflow to manage your image files? Determining the right procedure that saves you time is important. Perhaps a new batch action in Photoshop is in order? Do you use Lightroom? Or maybe you have it but haven’t learned to use it? There’s a lot you can learn in a short time! Here’s a link to learn more – https://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop-
#9. Camera room improvements – Sometimes your camera room just needs a little reorganizing or remodeling. It’s amazing how a little change can spark your creativity. Get some hangers up on the wall to get those chairs off the floor. Get a background rail hooked up to get all those muslins off the floor for faster use and fewer wrinkles. Get some cubby boxes or drawers installed for better organization.
#10. Studio Facility – Take some candid of your facility starting with the outside of your location and all areas your customer sees. Does it look neat, tidy and professional? Or are there obvious things that need to be cleaned up, repainted or reorganized? Chipped walls or chairs that are starting to look a little too worn can affect your customer’s perception of you. Wires that need to be bundled and hidden will help minimize the look of over technology. Be critical of what you see because your customer is.
#11. Deep Clean – From this point forward cleanliness is going to be a common conversation and message to customers. What will do and promote that going forward?
#12. Stay in Contact – Contact your customers on a regular basis. Email blasts and newsletters are more apt to be seen and read now more than ever. Interview other vendors and post that to your blog page to add variety and interest to attract potential new customers thanks to that new connection. Consider a printed newsletter as direct mail provides maximum exposure. And you only need to send it to your client base so it’s affordable to do.
For nine more great ideas click on the thumbnail below.
by Skip Cohen
This is an incredibly difficult time for all of us, especially photographers. Sadly, I'm hearing people who are sheltering in place with EVERYTHING, including their business and client relationships. Now is the time that social media can play it's most significant role ever in helping you maintain your presence and brand awareness.
As I've written so many times before - your website is about what you sell, but your blog is about what's in your heart. So...USE YOUR BLOG to maintain contact with your clients. We're all in this together, and you've got a unique opportunity to be more helpful than at any time in the past.
The other day during the conversation with the f64 Lunch Bunch I mentioned sharing ideas on blog content. So, here's a starting list of topics, and I'll keep adding to it in the days ahead.
This list is hardly all-inclusive, but it should give you a starting point to use some of this downtime to build content for the pipeline. When you've got a dozen posts ready to go...then start posting at least twice a week.
We'll get through this mess, and business and life will come back to some level of normalcy. In the meantime, you can be a leader in your community, and it's really simple - just be helpful!
by Skip Cohen
This is going to be a strange year for members of the class of 2020. With graduation typically just 7-10 weeks away, there's a good chance very little will be happening in terms of significant events wrapping up their high school education.
That means those of you who are senior photographers have a huge responsibility to help the class of 2020 enhance the celebration as much as possible. While this post is an infomercial for Marathon's BOGO program on grad cards, it's got a much higher purpose - to help build your brand for future grads and, at the same time, help parents find other ways to celebrate and share their pride.
I'm a big fan of grad cards and how they can be used to celebrate, spread the news and, despite the current pandemic, recognize the accomplishments of today's seniors. It all starts with your grad card sales kits, giving you everything you need to help this year's class and their parents design a unique announcement.
The design options are infinite, with 50 different basic designs, five foil options, color combinations, paper choices, and the list goes on and on. And, to help you through the process, Marathon's staff is there to help. They're open and in production.
At a time when everyone is looking for ways to maintain some level of normalcy in business, grad cards represent one of the best tools you have to help families celebrate and appreciate images you captured and created before Covid-19 changed their lives.
Think back to the pride you had in the quality of the senior portraits you captured initially. Now it's time to put them to the very best use and create more ways to share the memories!
Click on any image in this post to link to Marathon's Grad Card promotion, and don't forget BOGO pricing helps your profitability, giving you more flexibility in what you offer your clients.
by Skip Cohen
Over the last few weeks, I've repeatedly thought about writing today's post. I've avoided the topic because I honestly didn't want to contribute to what we're all dealing with already. Sheila and I fast forward past the news that adds nothing to our lives. It used to be anything political; now it's the stories about the virus. We've got World News down to a 7-minute watch!
The truth is, the world has gone mad. I'm not suggesting that Covid-19 isn't serious. Still, as I watched dozens of people at Costco loading their cars with cases of water, toilet paper, and paper towels I couldn't help but wonder what's going through their minds as they attack their fears with the same concern as a class 5 hurricane!
While I'd love to share my frustration with the media, politicians, and those at the forefront of the pandemic - my concern in this post is focused strictly on the business of photography.
Yesterday I got a call from my good buddy Jared Burns. He's in Seattle, essentially at "Ground Zero" for the US and the virus. The business has dried up - weddings and events are gone, and even family portraiture is a challenge. Fear has taken over the country and Jared's in the front row.
Well, he had a brilliant idea - getting a group of photographers together for a panel discussion of what to do through the pain of this horrible down-time. The seasonality of the business of photography has moved, and it's global - there isn't a place on the planet that isn't feeling the pain.
I've known Jared going back to one of my early "Skip's Summer School" programs, and I've watched him grow as an artist and a business-owner - right into going full-time into photography. And besides having respect for his skills as a photographer, manager, Dad, and husband - his approach is always the same: he's always searching for better solutions.
So, think about what we do know at the moment about the business:
I don't have a lot of answers, although there are some obvious things every photographer could be doing now:
Jared and a bunch of us are going to meet online on Wednesday night at 7:00 pm EST to talk about the challenges in photography. I can't catch Jared right now because of the time difference, but I'll share the link for anyone who wants to join us right here later this today. If you've got an interest, just type, "Count me in" in the comment section below so we know who's got an interest in joining us.
Just to wrap up this post, Sheila, has this quote framed and on a wall of our home where I see it every day. I can't think of a better thought to close with. You've got to have faith in things changing for the better...
is being sure of what you hope for
and certain of what you do not see.*
by Skip Cohen
I wanted to share this relatively recent video because quite simply, at a time when we're on overload with hard-selling tactics, noise and chaos in the world, I found it soothing. I loved the way Tamron told the story of their three new primes for Sony mirrorless cameras while walking aside Ken Hubbard in Norway. We're all part of a profession where a "picture's worth a thousand words," and watching this video was a great way for me to start my day.
Whether you shoot with Sony gear or not, pay attention to the simplicity of the story. It redefines soft-sell and combines it with technology, music, and minimal text - without one line of speaking.
Think about how you might tell your story. Success is in the way you present the beauty of what you do, your ability to be the best, exceed client expectations, and make yourself habit-forming. You could do it all in a 2-3 minute video showing stunning images, interacting with your subjects, and demonstrating a dedication to quality.
Technology never slows down, and Tamron's ability to manufacture some of the finest glass in the world keeps growing.
Tamron just launched their "Spring Into Focus" savings promotion yesterday. There are nine lenses featured with great savings on all of them. Just click on the banner below and then visit your Tamron dealer.
by Skip Cohen
As I started to write this post today, I was going to stage it as a "Marketing Monday." The truth is, while "Marketing Monday" has a nice ring - every day of the week should involve some level of marketing, whether it's short or long term!
I've written a lot about partnerships over the years, especially shared costs in mailings and cross-promotion. The first quarter of the year is quickly coming to a close, and you'll soon be into spring seasonality. That makes the time RIGHT NOW, perfect to build some new relationships.
Whether it's sharing the cost of a mailing or cross-promoting each other's products or merely developing referrals - partnerships help you reduce your costs and expand your reach.
This isn't meant to be a long post - I'm just hoping to plant a few seeds of ideas. I've written about all of this many times in the past, but there's no such thing as reminding you too often to stop thinking you have to do everything alone!
Looking for partners?
The list isn't meant to be all-inclusive, but it should hopefully give you some ideas for building relationships to help make 2020 your best year yet!
Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress,
and working together is success!
by Skip Cohen
It's Marketing Monday and a topic that's on my mind every time somebody forgets how to behave in a public forum. While I hate to use a word like "behave," which we usually use as a reference for how our kids and puppies act, it seems to fit a lot of adults lately.
The topic is all about trolls, but the challenge isn't always their behavior, but how we interpret it. As an administrator on Facebook Wedding Photographers, we regularly get reports from members who report a particular comment. However, when I've gone to read some of them, outside of being obnoxious, there's nothing troll-like in what's been posted. Disagreeing with someone doesn't make the author a troll or deserve they be thrown out of the "family."
The written word is the toughest to interpret, especially when English isn't everybody's primary language in a forum of over 36,000 people. Plus, you don't have the benefit of hearing the tone in somebody's voice, seeing their facial expression, and making eye-contact. That leaves whatever's been written to interpretation. Often the author is labeled a troll when the issue is about poor communication.
But then there are the real trolls, people who hide behind the anonymity of their computer screens and take shots at everything they can find. If you take them on in a public forum, not only will you lose, but getting a rise out of you is precisely what they're after. You let them win simply by reacting.
Here a few things to remember the next time you decide to take on an actual troll:
Some of you might be asking how in the world did I segue to trolls when it's Marketing Monday. Well, time is your most valuable commodity, and there's never enough of it. In the same way, you've learned the benefits of getting good images right out of the can, and to avoid wasting valuable time in post-processing, fighting battles with trolls is the same.
Don't waste time you should be using to build your brand. For most of you, YOU are your brand. Don't let a troll occupy your time fighting issues that don't matter. And when a troll criticizes your photographs in a public forum, remember that line from my old buddy Dean Collins. I've used it dozens of times here in the blog...
Beauty is in the eyes of the checkbook holder!
by Skip Cohen
Everyone knows what a rip tide is, but just in case you're so far from the ocean you missed the experience, here's Google's definition:
A strong current caused by tidal flow in confined areas such as inlets and presenting a hazard to swimmers and boaters.
That's in the ocean, but if you're a wedding or portrait photographer, I'm betting at some point you've been caught in one with your blog and clients. Here's the scenario - you couldn't think of a topic for a post and started sharing images from engagement sessions or portrait sittings. One photograph led to another, and before you knew it, you had a full-blown popularity contest going. Now you can't break the cycle because clients might be hurt if their images aren't good enough to make the cut and be featured on your blog or website.
In an effort to build content, you've done nothing more than extend your galleries to another location. Let's talk about breaking the cycle and getting out of the rip tide.
But rip tide marketing doesn't just happen in your galleries - it happens too often with many promotions. Sure, a great promotion drives traffic the first couple of times, but doing the same thing over and again creates a concept that sooner or later collapses. You've got to mix up what you're promoting.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.
November 13, 2019
It's not always easy to break the cycle, but there are some great resources to help you:
I know it can seem risky making changes in your business, but this is why I'm always reminding you to go to every convention, conference, and workshop you can attend. It's at events like this, you can share your ideas and frustrations with other attendees. When a good conference is over you're headed home full of new ideas and friends to add to your network.
Speaking of conventions- sorry this is a mini-infomercial for an event I so believe in - there are three days left to take advantage of the 50% promotion form for ClickCon in Chicago. I shared a post a couple of days ago about it, and it's going to be amazing! Click on the banner below for more information.
by Skip Cohen
One of the biggest challenges these days is figuring out where to spend your time and money to get the most out of education. There are a lot of great programs to choose from, but there's nothing like ClickCon. Last year was their first show in Chicago, and it was an overwhelming success as 1300+ people joined in a quest to raise the bar on their skillset.
Here's the backstory on today's post.
I'm helping the ClickCon team with some of their programming, and I'm not sure I could be more excited about the show. However, in the last few weeks, I've been incredibly busy and just missed this exclusive offer. So, first thing today, I called Sherry Hagerman and requested an extension until midnight on Friday of this week, giving me a chance to help get the word out to my readers.
Here are just a couple of things that make ClickCon such a great show:
I can't deny for a second I get especially excited about any conference when I'm a speaker, but I'm doing three unique programs this year, starting with the first-day kick-off. I'm going to be doing a full brain dump on everything you need to do over the event to get the most out of the conference, maximize use of your time, build your business and get plenty of bang for your buck!
And it all starts with taking advantage of the 1/2 off promotion going on until midnight Friday, February 21! You snooze you lose - hope you can join us.
What a kick! See you in Chicago.
With just eleven days left in the year, this is one of those Fast Food Friday posts to remind you of things you might have missed along the way in building your business and wrapping up the year. Most of you are right-brain creative types with a focus on your images and clients, rather than running your business.
That's the reason I started this series in the first place - to remind you of little things you could do to establish a stronger presence. Most of the entrees in the SCU Diner have all been quick, easy ideas to raise the bar on how you're perceived in the community, along with tips to make your business more successful.
This morning is simply the equivalent of a buffet or a big salad bar!
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!
Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell!
Over the last few years, I've written this at least a dozen times - Your website is about what you sell, but your blog is about what's in your heart. It's the fundamental difference between these two pieces of "real estate," and done right, your website and blog should work together.
The stories you tell start with your about page and talking about why you love being a photographer. For most of you, "Mom" is your target audience, and she doesn't care about what gear you work with, what awards you've won, or how you got started. She wants to know if she can trust you to capture the kinds of images she wants. She wants to see if you love being an artist or you're just in it for the business.
Next up is the importance of the products/services you sell. Your blog can position the importance of capturing memories, while your website can share ideas on how to preserve and present them. For example, a wedding album isn't a book of pictures - it's the first family heirloom of a new family. As my buddy, Denis Reggie, used to say, and I'm paraphrasing a little, "The flowers will die, the food's been eaten, the gown will never be worn again, but the album is priceless and will last forever."
Talk about the importance of prints. Share ideas on displaying images. Consider an idea like Justin and Mary Marantz do when they "Shoot for the silver frame." It's that one spectacular image that becomes the signature memory maker of the wedding. While every artist does their best to capture nothing but great photos, there's always one that's a show-stopper.
And, if you're having trouble getting clients to understand the importance of printed images, Michele Celentano has made it easy for you. She's permitted you to plagiarize her "I Believe" statement. Here's the link to the first time I shared it on the SCU blog.
Ironically, photographers are the world's greatest storytellers, yet when it comes to selling their services, so many do an underwhelming job of telling their own story!
by Skip Cohen
Regardless of what holiday you celebrate in December, there are some great gift ideas this year for the photographer in your life...or just for yourself.
I won't deny for a second the products/services below are all from SCU partners, but they're here because they believe in education, and helping you build a stronger business. So, as somebody who believes in truth in advertising, these companies live up to their reputation for quality and support for the industry. And I've worked with many of them for a considerable part of my career.
So, whether you're stuck for gift ideas or not, here are some of my favorite show-stoppers for this holiday season:
Platypod - The Perfect Gift
While Platypod is relatively new to SCU, it's a product line and company that's grown near and dear to me. They're more than just an SCU partner, I'm personally active in the company helping them with their marketing, but I also love their product line. I'm having fun with it myself. Nothing is going to break the bank when it comes to the cost, and best of all is the new perspective Platypod will add to your creativity.
From an instant macro/closeup setup like we've shared in posts from Shiv Verma, Don Komarechka, and Larry Becker to simply using the Litra Torch 2.0 lights behind my laptop for better lighting on video podcasts and chats, there's been no shortage of creativity. I love the diversity. And, for travel and hiking, the Ultra with the Benro ball head is perfect.
Wander over to the Platypod website and check out the full product line and while supplies last, this year's holiday specials.
PhotoTexting - Helping to Grow Your Business
Senior photography isn't for every artist, but diversity is! Everyone is looking for ways to grow their business, and PhotoTexting recently launched its new Senior Rep Program. They've made it easy to get started and then build brand awareness based on your best marketing tool - relationship building with seniors and their parents.
As a gift idea, it's a classic and another no-brainer. PhotoTexting is standing behind their products with a great promotional getting started offer - the price of a cup of coffee! Plus, there are dozens of videos to take you through each step of the process.
If you're a portrait artist, growing your senior business can be an incredible experience, not to mention pushing your creativity to the max. Gone are the days of boring headshots! A senior session today is about capturing the personality of the subject and establishing the first step in a new relationship. Done right, that senior will be coming back for other events. Seniors become brides and grooms; brides and grooms start families, and the opportunities go on and on.
Marathon Press - From Marketing to Bella Art Prints
As the industry's leader in support for photographers printed needs, Marathon's grown to be the "new sheriff in town" when it comes to stunning print quality and albums with their Bella line. Going back to when I first came into the professional side of the industry, they were best known for all their support in printed business material - from business cards to brochures to direct mail pieces.
TODAY - it's everything from marketing support with the benefits of MAP, to bulk order holiday cards for your clients; family marketing campaigns, stationery, beautiful prints and albums, and the list goes on and on. They're an amazing company. They never slow down helping photographers with the tools they need to grow their business, and at the same time, create products with incredible consumer appeal. Their BOGO program is going on right now on holiday cards for your own use, or as a finished product for your clients.
Click the banner below and start doing a little shopping to help grow your business.
LUMIX - "Changing Photography"
Four years ago, I started shooting mirrorless with Panasonic's LUMIX line. Yes, they're an SCU partner, but remember my background - twelve years as president of Hasselblad USA. While I don't make a living a professional photographer, I know more than I let on. And it takes a lot to impress me. LUMIX totally recharged my love for having a camera in my hands.
But it's not just how easy Panasonic has made expanding my creativity and helping me grow - it's the durability and features built into every camera. It's the low-light ability it gives me to capture tack sharp images and control the variables in every scene.
Don't take my word for it - wander into your LUMIX retailer and check out the line for yourself. Look at everything - I currently shoot with the G9 with the 14-140mm lens and love it. And if you're looking for full-frame, check out the new S series!
Tamron - Expanding the Creative Tools in Your Camera Bag
Over the years, Tamron has grown to become one of the most respected manufacturers in the world in optics and great glass! Over and again, their lenses have won awards, but of greater significance are the outstanding artists who we've featured in SCU blog posts and podcasts. Again and again, we've shared stunning images captured thanks to Tamron products.
Tamron has an outstanding savings program going on right now, and it's a click away to check out. Then, wander into your Tamron retailer for your own test drive! You'll never be disappointed in the quality Tamron's brought to the industry or the diversity of the lens selection you have to choose from.
ClickCon - Expanding Every Artist's Skill Set
Last year ClickCon launched it's first show in Chicago. It was an overwhelming success with one innovative educational idea after another. With a busy trade show and jam-packed educational platform, close to 1500 photographers took part in establishing this incredible boutique conference as a venue to help artists grow their skill set in capture, post-processing, business and marketing.
There's a special early bird registration going on right now. It's a unique gift for the photographer in your life, or again, just a present you need to give yourself. Plus, it's in August and gives you a chance to recharge your battery before the seasonality of the year kicks in.
by Skip Cohen
A few years back, Bryan Caporicci sent me a copy of Scott Stratten's book, Unmarketing with its subtitle,
"Stop marketing and start engaging!"
It's one of my favorite business books, and deserves a place on every business owner's bookshelf. Nothing beats your most powerful tool to build your brand, and succeed in business than relationship building!
If you've had an interest in growing your business into senior photography or your already a veteran in senior portraits and you want to build a stronger presence, it's time to check out PhotoTexting. Prime season to reach seniors is RIGHT now. And, there's little that beats a strong senior rep program because it's about relationship building with both the students and their parents — making it easier than ever is PhotoTexting, with dozens of short videos to take you through each step of the way. Combined with their programs, and customer support, for the price of a cup of coffee you can get started. It's a no-brainer.
Technology keeps changing. How we communicate changes every day. Consumer trends are a nonstop moving target. From cyberspace to mobile technology, your reach as a business owner matches the power that only magazines and newspapers had just a few years ago. But the one consistent component for success in business that's never changed, and is stronger than ever today, is the importance of relationship building.
In the same way, I've talked in past posts about artists today having the most creative tools in the history of photography - you've also got the most marketing tools! It's worth two minutes of your time to watch the video below and then visit PhotoTexting.com and check out all the benefits of their Senior Rep Program.
Think about the new year that's fast approaching. Here's an opportunity to expand and grow with a solid goal to make 2020 your best year in business yet!
by Skip Cohen
For the price of a cup of coffee, PhotoTexting is giving professional photographers the opportunity to get their senior rep program started and take full advantage of mobile technology to keep it going.
Now's the time to be building your program for the class of 2021. November and December are critical months to create a senior rep program. That means you've still got time to launch a successful expansion of your business.
So, If you've been thinking about getting started working with seniors, let's get you out of "analysis paralysis." It's so easy to take that first step, and then continue with the building blocks for success PhotoTexting is providing.
Here's the best part of PhotoTexting's new program - they're there for you EVERY step of the way, starting with a timeline to help you stay on track.
And, PhotoTexting has some of the very best customer support in the industry. But don't take my word for it. click on the banner below and check out the new program for yourself!
by Skip Cohen
For over a year and a half, I've shared a Fast Food Friday tip, almost every week. In fact, there are seventy-five different articles; each one focused on a specific aspect of your business. Most of them are short, but they hit on topics ranging from marketing to expanding your skillset and even a few on how to keep your sanity as a small-business owner. Well, it's time to raise the bar a little, and here's a great place to start, diversity, and growing your business.
I'm in contact with dozens of photographers every day. While many of them are new to the business, lately, there's a trend of more seasoned artists trying to figure out how to mix up their game and go in a different direction. It's the Darwin theory of survival of the fittest.
You can use the survival of the fittest to refer to a situation in which only the strongest people or things continue to live or be successful, while the others die or fail. (From Google and Wikipedia)
Here's the first new installment in this Fast Food Friday series - growing your business outside your core specialty.
Stepping Into the Senior Market
Over the last decade, the senior market has become one of the fastest and most diverse specialties in professional photography. Done right; each session is based on relationship building, being fun to work with, and fine-tuning your listening skills. Remember, these are young adults, and as an artist, you'll often be the first professional photographer they've ever worked with. Your relationship should become an investment in future business with them as well as their parents.
But the challenge becomes where to start. Remember, this is the first in a multi-part series, and we're going to start at the very beginning of the marketing process.
Before you roll your eyes about my endorsement of an SCU partner, if you've followed me for even the shortest amount of time, then you know I don't endorse any company who doesn't have something to offer you when it comes to growing your business.
Chamira Young and I have worked with the PhotoTexting.com team since last February. I love what they're doing to help photographers raise the bar on how they communicate, react, and respond to their audience.
With the senior market, we're talking about an audience with demographics that scream "early adopters." Seniors are mobile and text-focused all day long. Knowing the usage rate for teens is high, I had some fun on Google searching to see what the stats suggest:
More than half of teens (54%) say they spend too much time on their cellphones, and 41% say they overdo it on social media. According to Common Sense Media, teens spend an average of nine hours a day online...
Now, take that information and think about your younger clients - teens, as well as their parents. There's a lot of useful data for a starting point on growing your business and taking full advantage of mobile solutions.
Don't be thrown by the video below being called a "webinar." It's under four minutes and perfect to watch while enjoying that morning cup of coffee.
This is the first installment in a new series about growing your business. And while we're starting next week and be more focused on marketing to Seniors, the video above applies to so many different aspects of your business! Communication technology is not going to slow down, and mobile technology especially is here to stay - embrace it the right way, and you're going to have the tools not only grow your business but close sales faster, expand your reach and increase revenue!
In keeping with the Fast Food Friday theme, we're going to take it one step at a time. Next Friday, we'll hit getting started in marketing to Seniors, and we'll keep building from there!
by Skip Cohen
As a photographer and an artist, there are two different types of holiday cards.
First, there are holiday cards you produce for your clients. They're both a product and a service. You've got the files from previous events and family sessions with your clients, and the ability to create something special. The idea of a holiday card moves to a service because you can help them put together a custom card - unique just for them. And, you've got the skillset to suggest which images will look best.
Second, are the holiday cards you send out to clients and influencers in the community, featuring one of your images. No professional photographer should ever send out a store-bought holiday card! Use your own photography for holiday cards, thank-you notes, and your stationery.
It's one of the easiest marketing tools at your fingertips, and all it takes is a little time to bring it all together. A great image on the front, a message wishing people a healthy holiday season and on the back your logo, email address, and phone number. Just like a Hallmark card, but instead, it's your name on the back.
Marathon Press has everything you need to create cards for both your needs and your clients. With choices of size, paper, colors, and style they've created an almost unlimited combination of components to make your card or your client's unique.
I've written this a lot over the years - a holiday card is one of your very best marketing tools! Don't let the 2019 holiday season pass you by. There's not much time left and the team at Marathon is there to give you the help you need!
Click on any of the banners in today's post to link to Marathon's Holiday Card products!
My apologies for the quality of the image above, but it's Throwback Thursday. The photo is from the 90s, and was a 62KB file. I've tried to clean it up as best I can. It will never win an award for quality, but the booth certainly will!
Bambi Cantrell and I wrote three books together about wedding photography. The image above was her booth at bridal fairs at the time, which she talked about in one of the books. When so many photographers did the minimum with the usual skirted table and a bunch of albums, Bambi was always making a statement.
What's remarkable is how little effort the whole booth took to create. The panels in the back are just painted hollow wood doors with a little added molding and spotters. The floor they set up in advance on plywood sheets, and the rest is just accessories to be inviting.
Bambi was also one of the first photographers to use image boxes for shows like this. While she had albums to show as well, using the image box allowed more than one person to look at her work and not "hog" an album. Plus, it made a point to the audience about other ways to share images from the wedding. She had those big framed prints on display, albums and the image box - all giving the bride more ideas on things to do with the photographs from the wedding.
But here's the point - if you're going to exhibit at ANY show for ANYTHING - make your booth a statement. Go the extra step. I still see companies doing the same thing at trade shows today, and it's always the same. A static display with a staff member or two who are "underwhelming."
Are you looking to make your work stand out and make a great first impression? Don't settle for doing what everyone else is doing!
"It's never crowded along the extra mile!
by Skip Cohen
It's not only Marketing Monday, but as Walmart, Amazon, and even Canon launched their holiday specials last week, gift-shopping and holiday urgency has started earlier than usual. Why? Because retailers figured out there are six less actual shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. *Poof* The world has gone mad with a rush to get great deals!
Well, the good news is - with the rush to start shopping early, that means more time for you to have an impact on your target audience. And, being Marketing Monday, here's a list of things to think about to help make your presence more recognized and be a leader in service through the seasonality of the fourth quarter crunch.
There's a saying I heard years ago that's been modified numerous times by writers over the years. I still like this one:
If you do what you've always done, you'll never get more than you ever got!
Skip's Holiday Resource Center
I didn't want to turn the post above into an infomercial, but SCU has some outstanding partners and friends.
All of them focused on helping you through the holiday season!
Their links are below:
It's Marketing Monday and the perfect time to talk about seniors. Having been in the industry my entire adult life, or at least the time I was supposed to act like an adult, I've seen so many changes in photography. One of the biggest is with high school seniors.
Today's senior sittings, if they're done right, should be part of a full experience. It's not just about a good headshot for the yearbook, family, and friends, but getting to know the subject. It's about listening more than talking and then capturing their personality and interests in a series of photographs and even short video clips.
Being a senior photographer is about establishing great relationships. Right at the top of the list of building blocks is how you communicate. Seniors live in a texting world. They're on their phones constantly.
While this is going to look like an infomercial, it's not without a huge benefit. PhotoTexting.com has built an entire platform to help you communicate faster, and expand your reach into the senior market more effectively. And, their Senior Rep Program is just one solution to helping you grow your business.
Besides building a business in the senior market, there's a reason that's significantly more long term - a strong relationship has the potential for future business. Remember, for most seniors; this is the first relationship they've had with a professional photographer. It's a time for you to build trust with both the senior and their family. Seniors have siblings; seniors grow up and become brides and grooms, and seniors start their own families. You want to be part of that cycle.
One other aspect of this program I appreciate - it gives you a better way to connect with Mom and Dad! Watch the short video below and then click on the banner to visit PhotoTexting.com and check out the 20+ solutions to help you thrive!
by Skip Cohen
Well, it finally happened. I ran out of things to write about and missed the last few Fridays. However, I'm back. Thanks to many of you, I'm loaded with more ideas to help you create a stronger business model and thrive, not just survive!
Remember, I started this series in much the same way a farmer plants his crops...they're seeds of ideas to help you be more effective. It's your choice to nurture the ideas and let them grow into something bigger. So many of you are right-brain creative types, and you're often so involved in the process of capturing and creating the ultimate image, you miss the operational side of the business.
As I've written before, what good is creating the greatest images of your life if nobody knows who you are?
With the seasonality of the fourth quarter about to go into full swing, I was thinking about your websites and blogs. So many of you have them because you were told they were what you needed, but there's no personality showing in either venue.
Too much Internet real estate is just plain flat. I've been on too many websites that are like a can of soda left open overnight. It's got color, flavor but no bubbles - no fizz!
Is Your Website an Experience or Could it Put a Rock to Sleep?
Remember the old ban deodorant commercial? The tagline was, "You never get a second chance to make a first expression. Never let them see you sweat!"
I've been doing a lot of website reviews lately, and so many of you are missing an opportunity to make a great first expression. A visit to your website needs to be a great experience. Just like shopping at Macy's vs. Nordstroms - you've got a choice to make in the experience you give visitors to your website!
Here are some ideas, most of them easy fixes and things you can do NOW before business hits the holiday peak!
While somebody will challenge me on this, you can't be in business today without a website. I also feel a blog is essential. Why? Because your site is about what you sell, and your blog is about what's in your heart. Both work together, much like advertising and publicity. Together a great website and blog can open doors, build trust, and help establish your reputation as a professional photographer.
But just like discussions on Facebook forums about what photographers wear when shooting a wedding, you've got to dress the part. You've got to dress for success! These days, your website is the equivalent of a bricks and mortar store - make a visit, starting with your audience walking through the front door, that's memorable and a fun place to "shop."
Photo Credits: © bnenin , © dima_sidelnikov
We've postponed the f64 Lunch Bunch for a few weeks. There's so much going on in everybody's lives right now in terms of help and education. However, we're all still here to help and just an email away.
And if you missed the May 6 lunch with Bobbi Lane and Tony Corbell - it's pretty amazing. The video is just a click away.
ClickCon 2020 Circle the Dates!!
The pandemic may have moved the dates for 2020 to August 10-13, 2021, but that's NOT slowing Team ClickCon down. Stay tuned for new programs online with ClickCon Nation! It all starts on August 11th.
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.