I recently wrote a post 13 Ways To Make Sure 2013 Doesn’t Suck For Your Photography Business. I’ve been doing a lot internal planning with my own business for 2013, and I used that post as a trigger for all of you to start thinking about what you want the New Year to bring into your own lives. In order to stick with that theme, I’ve decided to run a “13 Days Of Photography” feature throughout December to help provide you with a ton of ideas and tips on things you can do for your own business starting on January 1st. Here is 9…

Want to know the biggest problem in the photography industry today?

Everybody is the same.

Yep, grab a cup of coffee and surf the web for a while. You’ll quickly find site after site built on a similar platform, or using a similar template, and the only thing that changes is the colors and the customers in the images. It all quickly blends together.

Of course you don’t need Internet access to see it. Head to your local wedding guide. Or pick up a high school newspaper advertising to seniors. You’ll see ad after ad looking suspiciously the same – only the names change, yet everything else could almost be a carbon copy.

What the photography industry needs now is massive disruption – something to make customers’ heads spin and make them really take notice of who you are.

Those photographers are out there. They are changing the landscape of photography as we know it. The only question is will you be one of those photographers? Or will you be one of the many left to blend in to the landscape?

1. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Apple. Whether you love them or hate them, you have to admit they have a good thing going. If you are PC, you have hundreds if not thousands of choices. Everyone builds their own PC with slightly different variations. You can get a tablet – you have many different choices. You can get a laptop – again, pick from a huge array of options. But when you choose Apple, your choices are simple. They usually come in threes and your choices are easy to understand. Want an iPad?  You can have an iPad mini, an iPad 2, or an iPad Retina. Once you make your selection, the choices are even easier. Wi-fi or wi-fi with cellular? 16GB, 32GB, or 64 GB? And your order is complete. Easy to choose. Easy to operate. What you expect is what you get.

Now look at your own options. Are you PC or Apple? Simplification can be your easiest way to attract more clients.

2. Reduce complexity

What does it take to do business with you? Do you have a lot of forms to fill out, meetings to attend, and choices to make? How can you create something that requires less time and less to think about? People are busy. Photography is supposed to be a fun experience, not make lives more stressful. Look at your process from an outside perspective. The easier you can make it, the more customers you will attract.

3. Change from the inside out

In many cases, your lack of efficiency isn’t something that targets the customer, its within your own production area. What can you do to become more efficient, giving you more time to spend with the customer? Research apps and find things that make your job easier. Find software packages that combine billing and accounting and production. Work to improve your processes from the inside out.

4. Make your products smart

In this ever-changing world of technology, what makes us more efficient is having things done for us. Think about it for a moment. Don’t you hate buying a new toy, only to discover you don’t have the right batteries to operate it? You have to stop everything and run to the store to complete the project – 30 minutes of time you may not have had. The same holds true with your photography. What if every image came fully framed and ready to hang? What if they came with a hanging kit – hammer, nails and level included? What if you personally went to a client’s home and hung the image for them? Now that’s smart thinking.

5. Make your company talk

Head back to those websites and look at what everyone else is doing. Do you notice it? Most photographers simply talk at their customers without giving them what they truly want and need. Let your company do the talking instead. Change your website and add all kinds of things that speak directly to your customers. There are many different types of customers out there – some are numbers people, some are feelings people, etc. If you don’t use different types of technology to attract all different kinds of people, you are leaving sales behind. Find new innovative ways of connecting with prospects and customers, and do it to create raving fans.

6. Be completely transparent

Do you hide your business from others? Or are you completely up front with everything you do? When you make mistakes, do you admit it and correct it? The more visible you are within your business, the more you share everything with your customers, the more they will appreciate who you are.

7. Personalize what you do to build loyalty

If customers can’t see a difference – it’s just a picture – they base everything on price. Customer service is where it’s at. Just look at what major companies are doing today. Home depot is now advertising their online customer tracker that allows you to instantly see all of your previous purchase. That way you know what paint you bought for your living room, and how much garland you bought to decorate your home. Why wouldn’t you go back – it’s easy to shop there? The same applies to your photography business. How can you store their preferences and be there when they need you? How can you act without them thinking? How can you save them time, money or effort? The easier you can make the process, the easier it will be to remain a faithful customer.

8. Do something they gotta have

When things are limited, you have to jump to be one of the ones to have access to it. It’s a standard form of marketing because it works. Instead of holding a sale or offering different types of sessions, make it limited. If only a few have access to it – and its something great that everyone is talking about – you’ll have a lot more people jumping at the chance to be included.

9. Focus on your image

This isn’t about making money. This isn’t about what time you can have off to do the things you want to do. Your customers don’t care when you want to go on vacation. They don’t understand that you have multiple clients, multiple tasks and a whole bunch of things on your mind every day. They care about one thing and one thing only – themselves. How does you image make them feel like they are the only person in the world? How can you give them unlimited time when you are with them and make them feel like a million bucks? If you can put them on top of the world, you will have a customer for life.

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