Think you can run your photography business the way you always have? Think again.
Every day I talk with business owners, and one of the most difficult concepts to get across to people is how to adjust your business for the coming years. Marketing has changed. Business has changed. And if you don’t move to a new course of direction, you soon will find yourself out of business.
Here within the photography industry, there are 5 questions you can start asking yourself today that will help you build a strong and successful road into the future.
1.What external, disruptive forces will affect your road to success in the future?
It’s easy to look back at the old days, and wish for times gone by. What’s much harder is looking into the future and predicting how to reach out and change to match a new generation of clientele.
Look at what is changing in the world today. Online commerce has been changing rapidly over the past few years. So much so that businesses that expect to do business the old way, and stand between their internal business operations and how potential customers want to buy are failing. The clear winners today are businesses that engage their prospects, and work to build positive images in the online world. Customers today will express their opinions one way or another. If you are there to engage, help and offer advice along the way, you’ll come out the clear winner.
2. How are you building a business that will bring in clients easily in the future?
There will always be a need for driving new customers into your business. Yet how that is done is changing.
If you need a lawn care service, do you pick from the dozens of postcards that come into your mailbox in the spring? Or do you look at your neighbor’s lawn, and inquire who keeps it in such good shape? The power of word of mouth has never been stronger, especially now that we can head online, do a simple search, and read a variety of comments about any service we choose. And the power of care and customer service is pushing successful businesses to the top much quicker.
Instead of worrying about how to bring in customers, concentrate on how to engage your customers once you have them. How can you communicate with them throughout the sales process? How can you keep them happy after the sale is completed? How can you create a brand that will be instantly recommended whenever the need arises? The more your current customers talk about you, the more your business will grow in the years to come.
3. Are we putting all of our efforts into what is most important?
I met with a new client earlier this week to finalize a sale on for a monthly strategy package for his business. I’ve known him for over two years now, and have met with him twice before about helping him create a social strategy. Both times in the past, money was tight, so he chose a different path. The first time he ignored it and did nothing. The second time he hired someone cheaper and less experienced. He’s now paying the price as this “cheaper” person ended up doing things that have hurt his online presence and actually got him banned from one of the social networks.
He has now made it a priority to hire someone that can help him move forward in a positive way, and put his trust in taking action that will help his future business.
What are you doing to learn and utilize the knowledge and skills of others? Do you trust other business owners to take care of your taxes, help you market your business, and teach you the ins and outs of social networking? Or are you plodding along, hoping you’ll fit it all in to your daily schedule?
4. Why don’t more of your current prospects book you?
How many of your current prospects – the people you meet with, talk with on the phone, or contact by email – do you convert on a regular basis? Why aren’t you booking more of the one’s you connect with?
The easiest way to find out why people don’t book you is to ask them. Then use the answers to make changes in your business.
“The price is too high” doesn’t mean you should change your prices, it means you are marketing your current packages to the wrong clientele.
“We’re not ready to make a decision yet” doesn’t mean they are putting you off, it may mean that you didn’t talk to the decision maker, and that person is holding out for something else.
Use this information to make changes in both the way you market your business, and in the way you approach your current clientele.
5. Eliminate the dead weight.
The longer you are in business, the harder it becomes to eliminate the things you truly love about your business. Yet these may be the things that are holding you back from being even more successful.
It may be your process. Are you still using film, and haven’t converted to digital?
It may be an employee. Do they help you bring in new customers, or sit around playing Farmville waiting for the phone to ring?
The easiest way to gain perspective on your business process is to step away for a while. Book a conference in a different state or country. See how other photographers are doing things, where they are finding success, and how you can incorporate new things into your process.
Then make the cut. It’s okay to let go of things, even if you have attachment to them. Business is business. And if its holding you back from success, its time to let it go.