by Scott Bourne
Every Monday I write a post for the SCU blog hoping I can help some of you break free of the mentality that survival is the goal. I want you to thrive, not survive. But sometimes we're our own worst enemy. Let me explain.
I'm going to use baseball analogies today so be forewarned.
Our problem is simple. We want to be Babe Ruth! He was home run king and a Hall of Fame player who is - decades after his death, still one of the most famous baseball players to ever live. But before we learn to hit home runs, we need to start with the basics. We need to know how to bunt. So today's post is short and sweet. And yes I am just going to teach you how to bunt. Home runs come later. If you are disappointed - don't be. Because Rod Carew made the Baseball Hall of Fame just like Babe Ruth did. The difference, Carew bunted his way to more than 3000 career hits and finished his career with a .328 lifetime average!
So how do we learn to bunt? We just start by making one basic assumption. We are NOT professional photographers. Oh we make and sell pictures, but we are NOT professional photographers. We are professional marketers. Well at least those of us who are getting paid well are.
You see everyone is good at something. You might be good at photography, or baking or writing or acting or lawn mowing or cooking, etc. But it only matters if we are able to sell someone else on hiring us to do that thing we are good at. And in order to be good at selling someone on the idea they should pay us for our photography, we need to listen.
Yes listening is to professional photography as bunting is to baseball. It's a fundamental. You can't be a professional anything if you cannot learn to listen. Listen to everything. Listen all the time. Listen intently. Listen with an open heart. Listen without judgment. Listen. Don't think or plan what you will say next. Actually slow down and just listen. Listen twice as much as you talk and you'll be close to the right ratio.
Listen to your vendors. They have insight you do not into your own customers because they work with photographers all over the country. They listen themselves and find out what works and will gladly pass that on to you so you can profit from it as well.
Listen to your prospects and customers. They will always tell you what they want. Sometimes not in so many words, but if you are more interested in THEIR needs, wants and desires than your own, you will hear all you need to hear in order to make a sale.
Listen to your peers and your competition. They will often (either on purpose or accidentally) give you free advice on what they are doing that does and doesn't work.
Listen to other industries. Jumping verticals is the smartest, fastest, simplest way to learn general marketing techniques simply by noticing what works in other markets.
Listening is basic. Bunting is basic. They are both fundamentals. Rod Carew proved you can bunt your way to success. Isn't it great to know that you don't have to hit home runs to be a winner? Rather than try to develop some drawn-out, sophisticated sales script, start listening. It's the best thing you can do for your business.
Then start swinging away. I'm rooting for you.
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.