5 Keys To Finding Clients In The Future

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 5…

Future gold key

Doesn’t the marketplace seem a little overwhelming right now? Everywhere you look, there is an ad for something. You get hundreds of emails a day. Your newsfeeds rotate constantly with new content. Retailers are doing anything they can to bring in a buck or two – several stores in our area are open 24 hours a day right through Christmas Eve.

At some point it all becomes a bit too much … and you simply shut down.

But that doesn’t mean customers still aren’t out there. That doesn’t mean there aren’t people that want and need what you do.

They may have shut down as well. They may be so overwhelmed by all that is happening around them, they simply need another way to notice you.

And that’s where we have to be innovators. It’s not business as usual. To market the way you always have will get you nowhere in the coming years. The only way to survive – to thrive – will be to take a new approach.

Key #1: It’s Time To Be The Un-Photographer

At one point in time, cola was all the rage. People loved the bubbly drink, dark in color, sweet in taste. Then something new came along – the un-cola. It brought you a bubbly drink with a twist. The color changed. The taste changed. And it was refreshing in its own right. It took something old and put a new twist to it. You can’t photograph like photographers did twenty years ago. The marketplace wants something new – something different. And yet very few are offering the twist. The one’s that create the twist – the un-photographers – will move ahead in this new industry.

Key #2: Think Of The Internet As A Horizontal Marketplace

How many marketing tools do you need to survive? One? Five? Fifty? There is no right answer. Yet for most of us, it is well beyond one – very few could operate with just a business card. Different people “see” things in different ways. Which is why you need to be in different places, off line and on. A simple website won’t reach out to the new customers of tomorrow. Likewise, just a Facebook page will do little to reach customers that are rarely on Facebook. It requires a variety of tools – a horizontal reach through many different tools. Your blog, a Facebook account, reviews on Yelp, a YouTube channel – all reach out in different ways. And provide you with a wide plane of potential. [Read more…]

You Mean I Can’t Use An Image From Google Images?

A friend called in a panic last week.

“I just received a notice from a lawyer stating I used an image of their clients on my website. It was copyrighted, therefore I owe $750 and must take the image of my site. If I don’t pay, they will continue pressing charges. Is this for real? I found it on Google Images, can’t I use those images?”

Yep, the world of photography is in chaos at the moment.

So we explained copyright laws and how the only images you can use online are images created by you, or images falling under creative commons or royalty free images.

Still the conversation persisted.

“So there’s a difference? If I look through Google Images, how do I know if I can use it or not?”

“You can’t use Google Images. Google indexes all images placed on every site in existence. Some are copyrighted, some aren’t. But you can’t use them. You can purchase images from a royalty free site like iStockPhoto.com. Or you can create the images yourself.”

Yep, for good or bad, the Internet and Google have changed everything. With a goal of indexing virtually everything in existence – from photographs to books and public domain information – Google now has become the average person’s best friend.

If you have a question, Google it.

If you have a problem, Google it.

If you need an image, Google it. [Read more…]

Photography Is Still An Experience

When you see an average picture, it simply stares back at you showing you an object, a person or a thing. It does little for you because you don’t become emotionally attached to it. Its just a representation of something at some point in time.

That unfortunately is how most photography exists. The average person whips out their iPhone and snaps a photo of the person they are with smiling at the camera. There may be something in the background, but for the most part its just another smiling picture amongst the many they’ve already posted to their Facebook page.

But if you come across an exceptional photograph, it does more than show you a person or object. It does something to you. It touches your heart. It makes you say wow. It gives you a reason to stare at it just a bit longer. It makes you feel like you are there, participating in whatever action is taking place.

And that is a rare art form. That truly is what separates a great professional photographer from everyone else.

If you look back over the life of photography, things are always changing. And you can find a true professional at every stage. One who took what photography had and pushed it to its limits.

While cameras and photography as a whole didn’t change much over a 100 year period, the onset of digital has sped up that process. And of course in some ways made the whole industry fall flat on its face. When everyone is a photographer, how can you separate what’s good from what is average? That’s the problem we are facing right now.

The general population is inundated with photographs – they are everywhere. So if someone jumps into the “professional” category, yet still takes average images, they soon lose a sense of what’s good and what’s great.

Which means now more than ever, separation is the key to survival. You have to look so different, be completely surprising in your presentation that the average person stops and stares and says wow.

Its never been about the picture or the subject matter. Its always been about the experience. And that experience can be spread across the entire time frame you are together with a client; from the creation of the image, to the way the final image is portrayed.

Because photography is changing, its important to keep up with the trends to find out how you can reach beyond what the average photographer is doing, and give yourself an edge setting up the “wow” experience. Its also important to see what people are investing in and what big companies think is going to be the next best thing in the world of photography. And according to billionaire investor Mark Cuban, that may be with a company called Condition One.

Condition One is an interesting new concept that combines still images, video and the iPad to give users the ability to look beyond any scene they are currently viewing.

Have you ever seen a photograph where you wish you could turn it just slightly to see what’s beyond the four sides of the image? Now you can.

It gives you the impression of being there. It allows you to be a part of the scene. It allows you to experience not only what you’re viewing, but also gives you the option of seeing beyond the scene. Its completely interactive and gives you a unique experience – the wow factor.

What are the possibilities? That still remains to be seen.

But like with any technology, the key here is to let it open up the possibilities and give you a reason to stretch and be different than your competition.

We already know photography is changing.

We know people don’t want the typical wall photographs like they used to.

We know they like technology, the ability to share things and the ability to carry things around on their iPhones and iPads.

We know video will be more important than ever in the future – its already built into many of today’s professional “still” cameras.

Will this give some truly inventive photographer an edge to succeed?

3 Trends You Should Be Using In Your Own Sales Techniques

Its no secret that people are less accepting of more traditional types of sales methods and marketing. How many people truly use a yellow pages anymore, or trust an ad they see in a newspaper? The percentages are dwindling rapidly.

But one thing will always remain true.

People hate being sold to. But they love to buy.

Because they hate being sold to, its more important than ever to use current marketing methods that will give your potential customers exactly what they want; without feeling like they’ve been speaking with a used car salesperson.

Attract in great numbers, then focus on filtering

When you’re in business for yourself, its easy to fall into the trap of wanting to “book” every person you talk with. Yet that isn’t reality. If you book every person you talk with, you’re actually doing things wrong. You’re prices are definitely way too low. And you probably haven’t defined your product enough to make it exclusive so that you attract a certain kind of clientele.

Yet through all of your marketing methods, it is good to drive a large amount of traffic to your business, then selectively choose the ones that are right for you. Its called funneling your prospects.

Dig Deeper: The Photographers Marketing Funnel

Funneling can actually work in two ways.

First, through all of your marketing, you can drive customers into a marketing pattern in which they learn more about you. It may be through a marketing campaign in which you mail out postcards regularly, or online as a part of a drip campaign with email marketing. Only a select few will really like what you do, calling you to book a session.

Second, once you have customers in your business as a paying client, you can funnel them to other areas of your business. A business portrait client can turn into a baby portrait client, and from there a family portrait client. You simply move them from one part of your business to another by keeping them in the know of what you do.

In either case, its all about focus. Bring people in; then focus on how to convert them into clients. Again and again. [Read more…]

5 Questions You Should Be Asking About The Future Of Photography

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. [Read more…]