April 2010 Posts

You Need to be a Salesperson First

Even in these stressful economic times, your business will be more successful if you are willing to recognize one fact: you need to be a salesperson first, and a photographer second. Many photographers take great photographs, but far fewer excel at sales. When I speak to audiences about negotiating, I’m always quick to point out that sales skills are what help you to demonstrate to the client why they should hire you instead of your competitor.

Know your prospect:

One of the first things I do when a potential new client calls is to take a very quick look at their website during the early stages of the call. I’m looking for details that will help me to determine how they use photography, how sophisticated their use of design is, and the overall “look” of their brand. I’m learning as much as I can in those seconds about the company for two reasons: first, so that I can talk about the site and show them that I have an awareness of and interest in their company. Second, it gives me a sense of how much value they place in their “image” in the marketplace. The more value they place in their image, the more they might appreciate the value I can bring to the photography they’re after.

Sell your value, not your product:

By value, I mean the things I do that differentiate me from my competition. You’ve heard it many times, sell the benefits, not the product. Your product is photography, but what you need to share with the client are the benefits she will get in working with you. Do you work quickly? Then talk about how non-disruptive to the client’s facility you are during the shoot. Do you bring along a monitor? Then talk about how she’ll be able to see the shots as you take them and can be assured your getting what she wants.

For the client, photo shoots are stressful. You’re reassuring her that you are the correct person for the job; that she can have complete confidence in your ability to pull off a successful shoot.

Remember, if you focus the conversation on price, the price will likely fall. If instead you focus the conversation on value, specifically the value you bring to the project, you’ll help the client justify in her mind why she should hire you for the shoot — even though your price may not be the lowest. Marketing guru Seth Godin says it best, “You need to increase your value. If people don’t want to pay, it’s because you’re not delivering enough value for the money you’re charging. You’re not selling a commodity unless you want to.”

This post first appeared on the American Society of Media Photographers’ (ASMP) “Strictly Business” blog. Photo by Sunfrog1 on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons License.

Inexpensive Marketing: Ask For Referrals

One of the best and least expensive ways to grow your business is through referrals. But for a variety of reasons, most people are reluctant to ask for them. Maybe it’s fear of hearing “no”. Maybe they think happy clients will just spread the word about “their favorite photographer” without any prompting from you. But we’ve all heard that time-tested axiom that states an unhappy customer will tell ten people about lousy service, and a happy one will share with perhaps one other person about the great service they’ve received.

After every shoot, once the images are delivered and the client is happy, I’ll always ask the question, “Hey Brian, I appreciate the opportunity to work with you on this project, the shots look great, and I was wondering if their was anyone else you knew that might use this type of photography?” This is the best time to ask, everyone has a good feeling about the recently completed project. The names Brian gives you are incredibly valuable leads. In a sense, John has “vouched” for you and your product. Referrals carry immediate credibility.

The next thing I do is call those people John referred and say something like, “Hi Cheryl, I’m a photographer here in Detroit and I just finished a project with your friend Brian Jones. It turned out great and he suggested I introduce myself and my photography to you.” If you repeatedly get Cheryl’s voice-mail, don’t worry, you can leave that message and follow with an email with some samples of your work and a repeat of that introduction, being sure to mention the referrer, her friend Brian.

Then, be sure to update the people that give you referrals. It’s one more legitimate reason to make contact with an existing client, and people like to know you appreciated their help. Something like, “Hi Brian, I just wanted to thank you again for referring Cheryl to me and give you an update about how that worked out.” This sort of “reaching out” to your existing clients will help to keep you “front of mind” and they might even send you more business just because you’re keeping in touch.

Good luck!

This post first appeared on the American Society of Media Photographers’ (ASMP) “Strictly Business” blog.

The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

Note to the blogging Gods: I know you’re never supposed to go off-topic in a blog. And I know this has nothing to do with negotiating or sales or web-type stuff, I just wanted to pass this along because Easter is the time when people butcher eggs by overcooking them. And I hate overcooked eggs. Read on…

Around Easter about five years ago, I mentioned in my old blog that I hated the greenish surface on the yolks of hard boiled eggs. Someone responded with what turned out to be the perfect method for hard-boiling an egg that would result in a bright yellow yolk. It turns out that the greenish “stuff” is simply a result of overcooking the egg.

So, because it’s almost Easter, and because two people emailed me for the cooking instructions, here is that recipe. But hold on a second… since this blog is supposed to be about negotiating and SEO, here is the obligatory negotiating “hook”. Note, there is no SEO hook whatsoever. By presenting eggs with terrific looking yolks, you’ll likely be more successful in your ambien buy negotiations with your six-year old in getting them to “eat an egg because it’s good for you.” Ask me how I know!

OK, on to how to cook the perfect hard-boiled egg:

1. Place eggs in a saucepan with enough COLD tap water to cover completely by 1 inch. Bring to a ROLLING boil over HIGH heat. Once the water is brought to a rolling boil, PROMPTLY reduce heat to a lower medium boil and cook an additional 10 minutes for a hard-boiled egg. (For a soft boiled egg reduce the time by a few minutes.)

2. Remove from heat and IMMEDIATELY place eggs under ice cold water or in a bowl of ICED water to chill promptly to help yolks stay bright yellow. Chill for a few minutes in the cold water until the egg is completely cooled. This is an extremely important step which prevents the unsightly greenish ring from forming on the surface of the yolk over time. If the egg is not chilled immediately after cooking, an unsightly dark greenish ring will eventually appear on the outside of the yolk.

Happy Easter everyone!