by Skip Cohen
At every convention there are always things that surprise me and this recent WPPI was no exception. At the top of the list this year were the number of attendees who didn’t seem to understand the real benefit of getting to know the various vendors and their products. They ran through the trade show like kids on a field trip, looking quickly at the exhibiting vendors and rarely engaging. Many acted as if they were more interested in getting through the aisles than really understanding the benefits of each company’s line-up of products and services.
If you’re in this group, here’s one example of what you missed…
There were some outstanding album companies presenting at the show. For us, Venice Album was my favorite with some upscale designs, textures and printing techniques that gave everybody a presentation to set them apart from the competition. And that’s the point that seemed to be so often missed.
You’ve got to find products that separate yourself from other photographers as well as all the Uncle Harry’s of the world. You need a presentation that matches the quality of the images you’re delivering to your client and at the same time allows you to match up with the various tastes of every client.
No two clients are alike and this is where you have the potential to be as clairvoyant as a great medium. You need to listen to your clients and ask questions that clarify their needs, You need to observe the way they’re dressed, the style of purse a woman might be carrying, her shoes – everything that gives you the ability to understand more about who she is and what her tastes might be.
We bumped into our good buddy, Michele Celentano, who was signing her new book in the Venice booth and nobody spends more time working to understand a client’s taste more than Michele. As one of the country’s leading family portrait photographers, she’s as much an interior designer as she is a photographer.
Michele not only sets the tone for the portrait session, but helps her clients decide on the style of the frame and the size of the print along with where the final image will hang. She goes one step further and whenever possible even delivers the finished print, framed and ready to display with hammer and picture hook in hand.
She does the same with her albums, always looking for a final presentation that’s more than just a book of images. She wants each presentation to be an addition to the decorative touches in each client’s home. If you’re doing it right, none of you are delivering just an album, but a family heirloom designed to be displayed with pride, not put away on a shelf.
At one point on the first day I wanted to install speed bumps in the aisles just to slow people down. At every booth, whether albums, frames, bags or software I wanted people to just think about the needs of their business, not just run by on a quest to cover the whole show in the first day. At any convention it's not about seeing who's exhibiting but getting to know each company.
I’ve written a dozen or so posts in the last few years with suggestions on how to work a trade show and I realized this week the most important reminder I’ve missed…slow down!
Photo Credit: © Adifor | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images
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