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Negotiating

New York PhotographerA huge thank you to New York Photographer Michelle Kawka for this guest blog post:

Often times, I will get a price request for my photography services via email. Generally, the inquiry looks something like this:

I need a photographer for X photo or video project or event and it is on X day and time. Are you available? How much do you charge? Please email me back with your price.

To which my email response is generally along the lines of:

Thank you very much for contacting me regarding your photo and/or video needs. How did you hear about me ?

Before I give you a price, it is best if we have a brief phone conversation so that I might ask you a few questions and better understand your needs.

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Marketing Sales  BlogFirst, my research, with apologies to “Harper’s Index”. I collected business cards for door-prize drawings last week at my WPPI Platform Class, “Sales for People Who Hate Selling Selling” in Las Vegas.

Number of cards collected: 144

Cards having no email address: 17

Cards having no email address and no phone number, only web URL: 1

When visiting URL on card above, number of phone numbers on site: 0 (really!)

Cards written on a piece of scrap paper: 10

Number of cards with both email address and phone number: 101

Cards having no contact name: 1

Now for some advice, in no order of importance.

1. Hire a designer. We’re photographers, not designers. If you think Times is a wise choice of font, or Arial, or Courier, or Verdana, you’re mistaken.

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Detroit People PhotographersYou receive a phone call from a prospective client asking you to “bid” on an upcoming photography project she has. It’s an opportunity to forge a new relationship with a new client and you really want the job. Here are a couple of guidelines that have served me well, resulting in me being selected as the successful “bidder”:

1. Never, ever, give a “ballpark figure” for the project; you’ll surely overlook something if you provide an estimate on the spot. It’s just impossible to quickly throw together a figure while under the pressure of “I want an estimate now.” Instead, gather information by asking open-ended questions and let your caller know you’ll get back to her quickly with the estimate.

2. Always ask your counterpart in the negotiation what her budget for the project is. In most cases, they’ll tell you they haven’t set one. That’s fine, just gather more information – perhaps share some insight about how you would handle the project and offer some suggestions to help her out. Then a bit further along in the conversation, share the following: “I have to say Mary, your project is exactly the type of shoot we do all the time and I’d love to work with you on it. Tell me, where do I need to be on this project?”

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Zig Ziglar passed from this world today after a short bout with pneumonia. He made a huge impact on me in my early sales and networking training. I bought cassette tapes, audio CD’s, and VHS videotapes and worked hard to absorb everything he threw at me. His style was approachable, his name memorable, and his wisdom unmatched. He is the one person I can credit with making me feel comfortable in front of audiences as I speak on the same topics to industry trade groups. I admonish my audiences: “Buy and put to use anything you can get your hands on by Zig.”

Thanks for everything Mr. Ziglar, you’ve helped me along the way many times.

Here are a few of his pearls of wisdom:

“Where you start is not nearly as important as where you finish.”

“I Honestly believe I have felt your feelings. I HAVE WALKED IN YOUR SHOES. You may have made some mistakes and you may not be where you want to be, but that has NOTHING to do with your future.”

“You don’t have to be great to start but you have to START to be great.”

“What you GET by achieving your goals is not near as important as what you BECOME by achieving your goals.”

“You were Designed for accomplishment , engineered for success and endowed with the seeds of greatness.”

“When you THROW DIRT at people, you’re not doing a thing but LOSING GROUND.”

“You are the only one who can use your ability. It’s an awesome responsibility.”

Have any Zig Ziglar thoughts?

.

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This post is an excerpt from my book, “Stop Your Grumbling. Get Out There! (The essential guide to networking to improve your bottom line.)” If you want to get your hands on a copy, it’s available from Amazon in paper or Kindle editions.

If you quit, you’ve failed… so don’t quit!

You remember Mr. Potato Head? The toy was almost dead after its market debut. In the beginning, the toy was given away for free, as a prize in cereal boxes. But it required a real potato – not included, as you might suspect. The toy didn’t gain traction when they introduced just the parts to the marketplace, some think because it required a real potato. Instead of giving up (quitting!), the manufacturer decided to include a plastic body in the kit, Hasbro took over, and the rest is history. If you have kids, you know how important Mr. And Mrs. Potato Head were in rescuing Woody from the toy collector in Toy Story!

Failure is a necessary component of success. I started my sales career selling franchises for American Speedy Printing, a Michigan quick-print franchise. Any professional salesperson knows that sales is nothing more than a numbers game. Most say that out of 20 sales presentations you make, you’ll successfully close, or sell, just one prospect.

Each franchise I sold garnered me a $3,000 commission. I was talking to one of the more successful salesman there and explained I was very frustrated that I was hearing “no” again and again and hadn’t received commission money for some time. He told me I was thinking about sales entirely wrong. Instead of just regarding the close as a success, I had to think of each “no” as a success.

I must have looked puzzled, he went on to explain: the commission is $3,000 and statistically, you know you need to make 20 calls to sell one. And then he changed how I thought about hearing “no.” He said that every time he makes a call, he makes $150, or 1/20th of $3,000! Amazing. It’s just a different way of wrapping your head around failure. Each failure gets you closer to a success, so each failure is indeed worth something!

When you fail, learn from it, figure out what went wrong in your presentation. Perhaps you need to better demonstrate your value to your prospective clients. Perhaps you need to send samples specific to the job they’re calling about. Something in your presentation needs to be tweaked.

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I was speaking with New York Portrait Photographer Michelle Kawka recently and she shared a recent experience with regard to knowing how to price a recent wedding job she photographed.

During her initial consultation with the couple, Michelle sensed that price would be an issue for the couple. She decided a good approach would be to discount her usual price for “photography and an album” a bit, and trust her ability to sell the couple additional albums, prints, and other tangibles when the couple came to her studio to review the photographs. (Just a side note, Michelle is a Sandler Training “graduate” and exudes confidence in just about everything she does.)

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Copyright 2012 Blake J. Discher

In an effort to hone my motion skills, I enter contests from time to time and have put together a great crew for producing films or shorts that (I’m proud to say) have received awards. The most recent effort was a one minute “commercial” for TechDeck, those miniature skateboards kids (including my eight-year old son) play with.

Another contest is the 48-Hour Film Project, which I’ll be heading up a team in mid-July here in Detroit. Our warm up was a local community college’s 48-Hour challenge this past winter where our team took one of the three prizes offered.

Today, a good friend asked if I’d be interested in taking part in a contest run by the folks at a company called Zooppa (twitter @crowdcreativity hashtag #zooppa). From their website, www.zoopa.com:

What is Zooppa?
Zooppa is the place where you can make your own ads for famous brands. Brands provide a creative brief for each competition, and award prizes for the best ads. At Zooppa you can make money, meet other creatives, grow your portfolio, and have your work seen by millions. Whether you’re film maker, an animator or a graphic designer, Zooppa is the place for you.

Actually, Zooppa might NOT be the place for us, read on…

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On one of the professional forums I read daily, there is a conversation about the lousy state of the industry, how clients are hiring based only on price, how protecting one’s intellectual property rights has cost clients, how competitors are charging less and giving more, and blah, blah, blah. It’s the usual bitching and moaning that happens in any economic downturn when photographers: 1) are selling a product that a buyer can obtain elsewhere for less; or 2) are inadequately conveying their value-add to their clients; or 3) have clients that don’t care about the additional “value” the photographer adds to a project.

Michael Albany, a Philadelphia photographer specializing in architecture and portrait photography offered up some valuable insight that I think can help to inspire other photographers. He wrote:

I totally understand the fact that the old grey mare ain’t what she used to be and that our industry is A) in a total state of flux, and B) that the market is becoming saturated with too many Uncle Bobs but I have to say that I am so tired of hearing people whine about it. So you want to charge less or leave ASMP because they don’t [fit] your agenda, bye. Have a nice day.

I joined ASMP to learn and to grow and guess what, I am. Is it the end all to be all? Nope. Is my photography business where I want it to be? Well if you don’t know my name then no, it’s not. Is it growing? Yes.

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