I was just on line today with a good friend who's trying to decide which shows she can attend in 2015. She asked my advice about ShutterFest. (By the way, it's an amazing convention!) She made her choice and opted out of the other convention she was originally going to attend. I'm not questioning her decision, but I am going to challenge all of you and your process of elimination when it's based purely on cost.
I wrote about this a few years ago and it's that time of year to bring back the topic.
"When cost is number one in importance, you’ve already lost!”
Whether things are really better or we're just excited about gas being at $2.00 a gallon, most of us are in a better state of mind than we were a year or two ago. Professional photographers around the world are finding new ways to diversify, expand their skill set and develop new revenue streams. Business is better. However, I still hear the same comment in reference to so many different topics: “It’s too expensive!" "We can’t afford the change!" "We have to monitor our costs better!”
I’m not saying you shouldn’t be on top of your costs. Being a professional photographer is a business just like any other. The difference is remembering you’re an artist. There are certain tools you’ve got to have and then there are those tools you’d like to have. There’s a huge difference and so often photographers hit the panic button and become penny-wise and dollar foolish. Nothing is more important than your ongoing education!
The same applies to your marketing budget. You’ve got to advertise and promote yourself. You need to publish press releases to the local paper and community. Here and there you’ve got to make an investment in time and sometimes money. That means you might need to spend money and hire a publicist or a marketing assistant. You don’t need to completely disregard the cost, just pay attention and make sure you’re investing in the right activities.
The same applies to your role as a consumer. In the next two months you’re going to be attending the various conventions and trade shows. You might need a new lab or album company. One lab might be higher priced than another, but what’s their quality, delivery time and other services they offer? One album company might have a better line than another and be more expensive, but you’re looking to be unique. Cost shouldn’t be the issue, but what you can offer your clients. What products will make your life easier and your business more efficient?
Most important of all pay attention to every company's sense of customer service. I've written a lot about Scott Stratten's book, UnMarketing. Pay attention to companies who want to build a relationship with you and ignore those who just want to sell you something and walk away.
It’s an easy point to remember – it’s not the cost, but the impact on your business that matters. Cost is short term, but your education is an investment. Better efficiency, a stronger skill set, improved quality and expanded diversification lead to stronger revenue streams and that’s long term!
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.