ISSUE #3 - "How To Make Your Photography Business Work ON YOUR TERMS - And Have It Bringing In BIG MONEY Each And Every Month!"
By Charles J. Lewis, M. Photog., Cr.
You probably would like to be making more money, on fewer hours, with your photography. Right? I know that you didn't go into photography only for the money. Neither did I. I went into it because I loved it. But it wasn't long before I realized that if I didn't start making some really good money fast, I'd be out of business. Plus, I was working way too many hours, and not seeing anywhere near as much of my wife and children as I wanted to.
Over the years, I have discovered what I call the "15 Key Result Areas" to success in photography. I thought you'd like to hear about them, and begin using them to further your success, too.
"Key Result Areas" or KRA's are those few areas of your business where little changes produce huge results . If you put the majority of your efforts into these areas, you will surely prosper beyond your wildest dreams!
Let's take a look at these 15 KRA's and make a few, brief, but very powerful suggestions.
KRA #1: WHAT IS IT THAT YOU WANT ANYWAY?
Yes, this is where you start. You see, before you can really do anything to improve, you first want to decide exactly where it is that you want to go. You're going to have to have some specific goals and objectives.
Now, I know what you are thinking here. "Come on, Chuck, just get to the point. Tell me how to make more money with my photography."
Well, you know what? I am! What do you want to accomplish with your photography? What do you want out of all of this?
You may or may not be aware that I do a lot of one-on-one consulting and coaching with some of my most serious and driven students. One of the first things I do with each of my Consulting/Coaching clients is to have them write the following sentence on their bathroom mirror where they will see it every morning and every evening:
"My Studio Exists To Supply Me and My Family With The Life-style I Demand."
That's the ONLY reason your studio exists! It does NOT exist to supply your clients with nice portraits or wedding photography! It does NOT exist so you can do a better job than any other photographer in town! It ONLY exists to give you the LIFE-STYLE you demand. That's it!
So what's the "Life-style" that you want out of this? The answer to this key question is the beginning of everything.
Let's Play Football, But It's Just For Fun, So Let's Not Have Any Goal Lines or Goal Posts!
Here's an example of how important this is. What if you decided to get together with some friends each weekend, and play some friendly football. But because you are all good friends, you decide not to set up any goal lines or anything, because you're just playing for fun.
How long do you think you guys would play? And how many weekends would you keep getting together to pay? Not long, right?
If you don't have any goals, you don't get anywhere near where you could have!
So set some goals. I suggest you break your life down into seven major areas, and set specific goals, with deadlines, for each area.
Realize this: Only 1 out of every 100 photographers who read this, will actually do this! 1 out of 100! Are you the one? How bad do you want what you say that you want!? Badly enough to take the time and set some specific goals and objectives?
You see, it's hard to stay motivated if you don't know exactly why you're working so hard.
And you can't just say, "To make more Money!" That's only a small part of this! You need goals to determine your LIFE-STYLE - how many hours a week do you want to work? How many vacations do you want to take each year? To where? What other things do you want to have the free time and energy to pursue? Exactly how much money do you honestly need to live this LIFE-STYLE that you're setting up?
You get the idea. I am absolutely convinced that you can achieve what you are dreaming of. You just have to first and foremost set down in writing exactly what it is you want. Then go after it with a passion.
KRA #2: LOOK, DRESS, ACT AND SOUND "SUCCESSFUL"
I know it doesn't sound very exciting, but it's vitally important. You see, there's a very important saying, that I learned the HARD WAY, and it goes like this:
"Nothing Succeeds Like Success!"
What this means is that you have to look, sound and act successful, even if you are not as successful as you'd like to be! And you know what happens? You become successful! This is exactly what Cheri and I did when we had nothing. We did everything we could to make the studio look like we were incredibly successful, even though we weren't. The stuff we did had to be cheap (because we had no money, and I'm "Cheap Chuck.")
Here's a few examples:
KRA #3: WHAT ARE YOUR "UNIQUE FACTORS"
Why should someone come to you, rather than all the other photographers in your area? What's the benefit to them? What's really special and unique about you, that truly, honestly separates you from all the other photographers?
This is critically important to your success! And you know what? Fully 99% of all the photographers in the country have NO ANSWER to these above questions! They never really thought about it!
But it's not really our fault. No one ever taught us that it was important! The only way I learned this (besides the huge help and advice I received from people like Donald Jack) was to go outside the photo industry, and study with 56 of the leading business geniuses in the world - geniuses who were NOT PHOTOGRAPHERS! That's where I got many of my techniques and ideas.
So why should someone work with you? Right now, while it's fresh in your mind, get out a paper, and begin writing down the reasons. Now, this isn't particularly easy, but it is paramount to your success! People want to know this.
You see, there's this ENORMOUS LAW in the business world that goes like this: "If people can't see a clear, beneficial reason for working with you rather than with anyone else, then the only deciding factor will be PRICE - and you are dead! There's always someone who will do it for less money than you!
So what you need here is the truth. Not a sales presentation, put the real, honest truth. Why You? Make a list of 10 Unique Factors for your Portraits, and 10 for your Weddings.
I would suggest that you first one be your guarantee. Something like this: "One of the things that separates our studio from everyone else in the area is our 100% money back, "YOU WILL BE THRILLED" guarantee." We absolutely guarantee that if you aren't thrilled - not just satisfied - but thrilled - that we will give you all your money back. Period. No hassles. No hard feelings either."
If you want some other ideas for unique factors, see Step #3 on our Portrait and Wedding Telecharts.
Please do not underestimate the importance of this. I know we aren't talking about lenses and films, but trust me on this, this is far more important!
KRA #4: CLEAN UP YOUR LANGUAGE FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE!
Use the right words, or don't talk at all. And I'm not talking about taking the swear words out of your vocabulary, although that's a great place to start! No, I'm talking about the "photography words" you use. This is far more important that you can imagine! How you refer to your craft and your product immediately transmits to the prospect or client what you honestly feel is the value of what you do. Don't underestimate how important this is!
Start using the proven "Mega-Profits Words" that are guaranteed to improve your profits! Yes, the words you use make all the difference!
Bad Word Good Word
Shot.......... Portrait or Photograph
Picture....... Portrait or Photograph
Sell.......... Help you become happily in volved ...
Sale Pitch.... Presentation
Now, I know what you're thinking: "Give me a break, Chuck, you honestly expect me to believe that by changing these words, I can increase my profits!?" That's right, I do.
You see, you weren't in my studio when I and my staff began using these "corrected words" in all our conversations! So you didn't see the HUGE improvements in the way our clients looked at what we do. They began having a much higher value on our photography, and they (the clients) even began using these new "Mega-Profits Words!"
KRA #5: THE SECRETS OF PRICING FOR PROFITS! (NO, I'M NOT GOING TO TELL YOU TO DOUBLE THEM!)
This is one of the areas that really drives us photographers NUTS, right? Are we charging too little or too much? Do we raise prices or lower them? Do we set our prices just a little lower than all of our competitors so we get lots of business?
This subject is so HUGE that we could spend hours just on this. But's let's be brief, concise, and cover the really BIG KEY POINTS!
1. Price determines everything. Think about this. If you charge a low amount for your work, then your client does not respect you. She doesn't listen to you. She won't take your advice. She's late for her appointments..... etc. This dramatically affects your work, as with no cooperation, how great can your images really be?
2. The Price/Value Relationship. This says that the more you charge, the better you are. People automatically make this giant leap of faith. If you're expensive (whatever "expensive" is to them) then you must be good. Use this law in your studio ! It's powerful. Don't try to be the cheapest - it will just lose you money and drive you nuts.
3. It's not the price, it's how you present it. This means that the actual numbers you charge aren't really important at all. People watch you and follow your lead. If you can look them in the eye, with confidence and enthusiasm, then they "know" you are worth what you charge.
On the other hand, though, if you're looking at the floor, speaking quietly and timidly, and sweating, then they "know" you're prices are too high.
So it's NOT your actual prices that make all the difference, it's how you present them . (There's a lot more to this than just what I said here - more on this when we get to the KRA of Selling.)
Raise your prices twice a year, 10%-20% each time no matter what! This is so important! An important part of my "System" is to put everything about your business on "Auto Pilot" that we humanly can. Certainly one part of this is your price increases. So all you do is set this rule - and abide by it for the rest of your career: Every January 1st, while you're watching the Rose Bowl Parade, you're raising your prices somewhere between 10% and 20%. Then every July 4th, while you're watching the fireworks, you're raising your prices another 10% to 20%. That's all there is to it. Do this, forever, and watch how your profits grow, without your losing hardly any clients at all!
4. If 2/3rds of your clients are not complaining about the price, your prices are too low. I learned this one by studying a completely different industry! Wow! Did this ever open my eyes! I was always trying to keep my prices as low as possible, in fear that "someone" would complain about them. I just couldn't handle such rejection!
Well, have I ever changed! Now, that I understand this "2/3rds Law" I am not at all afraid of someone complaining. In fact, I expect it! It's the only "gage" I have as to whether my prices are anywhere as high as they should be!
5. Don't have a printed price list that you hand out or mail to prospective clients. This is hard for many of my "students" and members to understand. Why, they wonder, don't we want to have a printed price list to hand out or mail?
Well, let me tell you. (Again, I didn't learn this from a photographer! Most photographers don't know this!) You see, your price list exists for one and only one reason. Do you know what that reason is? It's to HELP YOU SELL BETTER! That's it! That's the ONLY reason it exists! It does NOT exist so people can take it home and compare your prices to your competitors prices! It does NOT exist so you can mail it out to people who call and ask you to! It ONLY exists to help you sell better!
So you have one, nicely printed price list, on parchment paper, and placed in a nice leather book. This is your "studio copy" price list. It's obvious that people don't take this home with them.
No, this is not being "dishonest" or "shift" or any other bad word you can think of! This is being "SMART!"
6. Always have a "Whopper." A "whopper" is something that is so big, so expensive, so crazy, that "no one in their right mind would ever invest in it." That's the definition of a "whopper."
You MUST have a "whopper" for every product line you have. For portraiture, it's a 40x50 or 50x70 portrait. For weddings, it's your $7,000 or $10,000 package that includes everything - the works! (See my Special Report and Price Lists to see exactly how I do this!)
7. Start with your best and work your way down. Always on your price list, and also when you are talking with a prospect, start with your finest and work your way down. Never, ever start with your least expensive and try to work your way up! There's many psychological reasons for this, but just trust me here, and do it this way!
8. Have more than one product line. Always have at least two or three product lines for your portraiture. Have your finest line maybe be a beautiful water color effect on canvas. The your middle line maybe be more traditional style presentation on canvas. Then your lower line be not on canvas, but on masonite or mount board. You get the idea. Then always start with your best, as I mentioned above.
9. Have packages, as well as a-la-carte. If you work up your prices correctly, you literally can double your sales over night - for no work! That's what I did! I studied merchandising like crazy. I learned all the "tricks" and "psychological principles" involved. Then I took the "plunge" and changed my senior price lists to reflect all these powerful principles I learned! Wow! Overnight my sales doubled - and NO, I did not raise my prices - I only re-merchandised them in a smarter way! Now, copy my price lists - just copy them - put your numbers in, but copy the EXACT way I merchandise them. And your sales will double, too!
10. For Weddings - never book two weddings at the same price! For weddings, I decided to make it a game. I decided that every single time I booked a wedding and got the deposit, I would automatically raise ALL WEDDING PACKAGES at least 5%! What's a lousy 5%? It's sales tax, that's all! No one will even notice a 5% price increase, including me. I won't have any more trouble presenting the prices for my next prospect, because the prices are only a tiny bit higher than the last one. Wow! After a couple of years of doing that, my wedding prices were even higher than I could believe! Try it! It's fun.
KRA #6: MAGIC MARKETING THAT ATTRACTS CLIENTS LIKE A MAGNET ATTRACTS PAPER CLIPS! Who cares how good you are, if nobody knows you exist??!!
This is one of the most hated words in our profession (along with the word "selling!") Marketing and advertising is just so frustrating, isn't it? I mean, it costs money, it takes time, and it seems to rarely work. That's how I used to feel, too. But NOT ANYMORE!
Now, you already know what I'm going to say here, right? The single, most powerful , effective, and results-oriented marketing you can do is FREE EXHIBITS of your work in every location where your target market goes!
That's right. There is NOTHING - not direct mail, not television, not radio, not anything - that can beat exhibits of your work. Why?
1. Every exhibit of your work carries with it the IMPLIED ENDORSEMENT of the location where your exhibit is located.
2. It's the single most artistic way to present your work.
3. Exhibits allow people to closely examine and scrutinize your work, with no "salesperson" or other distraction.
4. Exhibits allow you to present your work the way it should be presented - in adequate sizes that truly show off your wonderful style.
5. You have complete control over exactly how each image looks - unlike a brochure or some other advertisement where you are totally at the mercy of the lithographer, etc. Here, you can fully art work and enhance your images, have them beautifully lacquered and framed so each one looks its very best.
Those are the 5 major advantages that exhibits have. So, how do you get free exhibits?
1. The first and most obvious answer is this: You ASK FOR THEM! I know this is rather obvious, but believe me, I work with many photographers with my Coaching and Consulting Program, and this is one of the hardest things to get through to my students! You have to get out of your studio and go ask for the exhibits!
2. Talk only in terms of how the owner of the establishment can benefit by your displaying your work in his or her place. What's in it for him or her? Forget about just asking like it's a favor - it's NOT A FAVOR! The owner MUST benefit for this to work.
3. Tell the owner how you change your exhibits every month or so, and that you always call each client who's portrait is in the exhibit, and tell them about it. So what does each client do?? ?? ?? They go to that restaurant or that hair salon, or that movie theater -- and they don't go alone - they go with friends - because they are proud of it. This is great for the restaurant's business!
4. Each client tells every friend they have about how their portrait is proudly displayed at the XYZ Restaurant. They're proud of it, and they tell everyone. So this means that the name of the restaurant is on the lips of literally hundreds of local people - and it's all FREE to the owner of the restaurant! You can't beat that!
That, briefly, is the first and most effective way I have been able to get over a dozen exhibits up all over my community. Now you go out and do this! I know you don't want to. I know you are afraid of rejection. But if you don't do this, you are losing literally hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars of profits for you and your family!
(If you don't already own my latest 6 tape learning system, "Photography's Number 1 Best Kept Marketing Secret, And How To Easily Use It!" then I highly recommend you get it NOW! It answers all the questions I know you have in your head right now , which I do not have time or space to go into here.)
Next Issue We Will continue With The Following KRA"s:
KRA #7: TELEPHONE SECRETS OF A CRAZED CAMERA MAN WITH A MISSION!
KRA #8: "CHEAP CHUCKS" STUDIO DESIGN POINTERS FOR BOO-KOO PROFITS!
KRA #9: THE DESIGN CONSULTATION - MEET 'EM, GREET 'EM, AND TREAT 'EM RIGHT!
KRA #10: THE SESSION - HOW TO AVOID THE THREE HUGE MISTAKES 99% OF ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS MAKE DURING THE SESSION!
KRA #11: THE SALE - OR HOW TO DOUBLE YOUR PROFITS WITHOUT WEARING OUT YOUR SHUTTER FINGER!
KRA #12: THE FINE ART OF MERCHANDISING AS APPLIED TO A RIGHT BRAINED ARTISTIC PHOTOGRAPHER LIKE YOU AND ME.
KRA #13: PR FOLLOW-UP - "DIALING FOR DOLLARS!"
KRA #14: KEEP SCORE, OR YOU LOSE BIG TIME!
KRA #15: THE MAJOR "SECRET" TO FAME, FORTUNE AND SUCCESS IN PHOTOGRAPHY LIES HIDDEN WITHIN THIS KRA!
Keep up the great work! Enjoy every day of your life! Remember, any day above ground is a great day! Go For It, and I'll talk to you next issue!
Start taking action on this stuff! And Always "Go For It!" I'll talk with you again in the next e-course episode.
Charles J. Lewis