7 Things You Gotta Have For A Successful New Year

1. How sincere are your messages?

When you send out an email, post on Facebook, or send out a tweet on Twitter, what is your ultimate goal? If its to sell, you have it all wrong. So many people today take the old way of thinking – “sell, sell, sell” – and try and incorporate it into new technology. It doesn’t work, nor will it ever work. When I see the message come through, “Hi you don’t know me but I have a great product…” its straight to the delete button. Messages need to be from the heart, offer value, and convince a person you are the right one for the job. People know how to find you and will make the sale when they are ready.

2. How is your customer service?

When was the last time you flew? Traveling used to be fun. Now its an incredible pain; something you only want to experience if you really have to. You can find your deal and buy your plane ticket months in advance. Yet you know your costs are anything but over. If your bag is a millimeter too big or an ounce overweight, you’ll be slapped with a fee. And don’t expect it to change any time soon – the only thing you can be guaranteed with is more fees. But is that really the way you want to be treated? Do you really want to give your money to someone you really don’t like? Or do you want to hand over your money to a friend? Someone who understands you and is willing to give you 110 percent all the time? This will continue to be the year of incredible customer service – only businesses dedicated to it will survive.

3. Does everyone want your products?

There’s a Starbucks in our area that does an unbelievable amount of business. It’s a free standing coffee shop with a drive thru. I have never driven by that place without seeing a minimum of a half dozen cars waiting in line – at all hours of the day. And if you go into it its one of the largest in the area, with tables, sofas and chairs spread out by two fireplaces. A little closer to my home was a local coffee shop that recently went out of business. The coffee was okay and they had few options for snacks and other beverages if you weren’t in the mood for coffee. To tell the truth, the only reason I frequented it is because you could always find a table. The difference is in the quality. If your products are average, there is no incentive to make the purchase. But if you make someone say “WOW” you’re on your way to success. [Read more…]

Top Business Books For Photographers To Read Going Into 2012

Every year I read dozens of books. And while I read a variety of different genres, business books tend to be one of the largest. As I was looking back over some of the books I’ve read this year, I decided to put together a small list of books that are perfect for finishing up 2011 with and getting ready to build a strong, successful business in 2012.

How To Market to People Not Like You
By Kelly McDonald
While most marketing gurus argue that you should develop a niched market and target them exclusively, this book will show you how to step outside that box and concentrate on core values rather than demographics. By looking at core values, you can find similar marketplaces in a variety of different places. If increasing your client base in 2012 is a top priority, this may be the book to help you think in different ways.

Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions
By Guy Kawasaki
I love how Kawasaki writes – story like format that is easy and fun to read. This is a quick read that will help you think of your business and your customers in new ways. Enchantment is the art of influence and persuasion, and how it transforms the relationships all around you. Understand how to change your goals through the use of enchantment and you will quickly get into the hearts and minds of people that could be your biggest fans.

Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed Down World
By Lisa Bloom
While not technically a business book, this book is filled with information on why women are at the top of their game in education and career options, yet still struggle to get past the “looks” obsession. (Plus its a great read for the daughters in your life as well.) With today’s focus on celebrity media, plastic surgery and reality TV, the only way to move forward from here is to Think.

The Thank You Economy
By Gary Vaynerchuk
If you’ve noticed a change in the way people market their products and in the way they  buy, you’re not alone. Today’s world is controlled by a new set of communication rules. If you don’t understand the way people now make decisions, you’ll never succeed at business. This book is a great way to help you start out 2012 in a new way. While it won’t give you a detailed plan for using social media, it will provide a blueprint to why its the only way to succeed in the future.

The Personal MBA
By Josh Kaufman
This book starts with business fundamentals and works forward from there. With a unique look at concepts and skills, its an easy way to pick up the facts you need to succeed and put them into place immediately. It’s a book filled with complex principles written in an easy to read format. Perfect for the person that doesn’t have an MBA, yet really wants to succeed in business.

Evil Plans
By Hugh MacLeod
At first glance this may seem like a strange book to include in my Top Business Books list. It’s a book filled with cartoons. Yet look at its meaning and the message it delivers. This book is a manifesto on creativity, how to find it, and what to do with it to find success within your own small business. It’s a great book to pick up read one or two on a daily basis and really think about how to apply it to your own business model.

Real Time Marketing and PR
By David Meerman Scott
I’ve recommended his previous book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR before; in this follow up you’ll learn more practical steps to take your business into the future using online marketing strategies to your advantage. I love this book as it is filled with real world examples. Pick it up, open it up to any page, and you’ll learn something new you can directly apply to your business today.

If you’re looking at expanding your knowledge of operating a photography business, there are many options out there. While most are geared towards starting a business or becoming better at picture taking, here are a few that can help you understand and build a strong photography studio within the next few months.

The Photographers Blogging Book
30 Ways in 30 Days
Become a Top Wedding Photographer
What Do I Name My Photography Business?