Intro by Skip Cohen
This past August there was a special educational kick-off event by invitation only in Omaha. Sheila and I desperately wanted to be there but had another commitment in Ohio that interfered. So, we did the next best thing - with help from Billy Clark, Gary Box and Lori Nordstrom, hosts and educators at the event, we raffled them off to the applicant with the best write-up describing why he/she should get our invitations.
The winner was Allison Russell from South Dakota. Her studio in Mitchell is often booked 3-6 months in advance specializing in family and children fine art portraiture, and edgy sports team portraits. She's a huge fan of continuing education to improve her business.
After the event Allison sent me the guest post below, which should have been shared back in September. She called me to let me know it was on its way, just as "Irma" forced us into a mandatory evacuation. Her email was lost in the chaos of the week that followed. Well, great writing doesn't have an expiration date. While it might seem a little out of place in November, it's the perfect time for us to plant the seed for a terrific educational program in the new year ahead!
There are no announcements yet for the 2018 plans, but if you follow Gary Box and his "Inside the Box Group" on Facebook you'll be in the loop for everything that comes along. And, in the process you'll pick up some great educational content from Gary, posted in the group each day.
Guest post by Allison Russell
The live classical music trickled over the warm August air as I parked my vehicle at the Omaha Country Club, home to the US Open years ago.
As I walked up to the sprawling brick building, I saw the line of couples in evening gowns and suits waiting to enter the evening festivities. Greeting every single person as they walked in were Bill, Teresa and Billy Clark, of the incredibly successful Arnold Clark Photography.
The evening event started with cocktails and networking with some of the most positive minded, successful people in our industry. From the social hour we moved to a beautifully decorated, deliciously catered meal, and then a live band and dancing. This was my introduction to the Clark Box Mastermind Elite Event and I thought I'd have some fun pulling together the three key reasons why it created so much impact on me and my business.
1. Successful, positive people mingling and SHARING. The future of any business isn't found in lamenting the way things used to be. Success is found in innovating, learning, and being positive. Educational events are just as much about networking as fine-tuning your business and technique skills. By surrounding yourself with folks who work hard and are successful, you pick up ideas you can put to use in your own business.
The photographers who attended this event were leaders in our industry. It was refreshing to talk to them about how excited they were about the future. One of my favorite concepts was one that Sal Cincotta mentioned, which is Blue Ocean Marketing - putting yourself in an uncontested market space, so that you have NO competition. Then, create your niche and run with it!
2. Bright ideas work, but not without implementation. At every activity/program during the event new ideas continued to imerge. I was excited to incorporate these ideas into my business model. The photographers at this workshop shared ideas that have made them stand out in their markets. As Richard Sturdevant mentioned, he has reinvented himself multiple times through the years, to evolve with the changing industry and client needs, while still creating work that is personally fulfilling.
3. Create loyalty to your brand by providing an incredible customer service experience. I couldn’t help but start taking notes about ideas to keep my business fresh. Not only were there business ideas, but the way this workshop was hosted was one of the best customer service experiences I have had. It was well organized, well executed, and made us feel like we were a very special group.
From the dinner event opening night, to the catered meals during our education day, to the happy hour and appetizers at the end of the day, we were pampered from start to finish. The example set by Bill and Teresa Clark for customer service and business practice is one that any business would be honored to emulate.
And as Teri Fode put it,
“Brands need to be human, emotional, and authentic. And past clients need to hear and keep hearing from you, because they are your best bet for future business."
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.