→ Yep, it's groozi!

The buzz on sales, negotiating, and web optimization

Archive
Tag "ASMP"

Screen Shot 2013-03-08 at 11.35.31 AMI’ll be presenting a brand new program on selling titled, “Successful Sales Techniques for People Who Hate Selling” Thursday, at WPPI in Las Vegas on March 14th at 1:00pm. It’s a platform class in the Business/Marketing track and it’s sponsored by ASMP. I’d love to see some of you there!

Seminar description

In person, mobile, social, online—with so many sales channels and so little time, how do you do it all? Building on his contributions to The ASMP Guide to New Markets in Photography, professional photographer, sales expert and SEO guru, Blake Discher, shows you how to incorporate sure-fire sales techniques into every interaction. You will learn how to get your name out without cold calling, easily get referrals and testimonials and use online and social media effectively to build your business . With tips you can put into use immediately (while you are still at WPPI!) and real-world examples that result in success, you will be on your way to making more money in no time.

Photo Copyright Moyan Brenn. Used with permission under a Creative Commons license.

Share
No Comments

Written by People Photographer Blake J. Discher

ASMP’s hot-off-the-presses book helps photographers understand photo markets in the digital age. “The ASMP Guide to New Markets in Photography”, consists of chapters written by individuals having different areas of expertise including including Tom Kennedy, Peter Krogh, Judy Herrmann, Richard Kelly and Colleen Wainwright. My chapter discusses selling in the new economy, what follows is an excerpt:

Testimonials Are Gold

Testimonials on websites are fast becoming popular. In today’s rushed world however, merely sending an email asking for a testimonial will likely not yield positive results. Your request will likely drop to the bottom of your client’s to-do list. Because of staff cutbacks, most of our clients are doing the work of several people and might not have the time to get to your request.

Make it easy for them. Instead, write the testimonial yourself and then email it to your client with a paragraph letting them know you’ve enjoyed working with them in the past and you’ve attached a testimonial about the photography you provided for their approval. Don’t go overboard in your review of yourself, keep it humble and let them embellish if they care to.

Keep in mind that some corporations forbid vendors from trading on their name. Check any contracts or other written agreements you may have signed before posting any testimonials on your site. Don’t assume your company contact knows the corporate policy.

Share
4 Comments

Written by Detroit Corporate Photographer Blake J. Discher

I’ve just returned from the American Society of Media Photographers’ (ASMP) event at the stunningly beautiful Times Center in New York titled “Sustainable Business Models: Issues and Trends Facing Visual Artists.” I’d best describe this day-long gathering of some of the brightest minds in our business as enlightening and thought-provoking. (If you were unable to attend or did not watch it live, a complete video archive of event is available here.)

The afternoon panel discussion, “The Challenge: Sustainable and Ongoing Creator Compensation” was moderated by former ASMP President Richard Kelly and the panelists were Kevin Fitzgerald, Chief Executive, CLA; Rob Haggart, Editor, aPhotoEditor.com and former Director of Photography for Men’s Journal and Outside Magazine; Henry Oh, Principal, Transpecific Media; Stephen Mayes, CEO, VII; and Susan White, Director of Photography, Vanity Fair.

Gale Zucker, watching the live stream of the event, asked a great question of the panel: “What three steps would any of the panelists suggest working photographers do tomorrow to succeed in sustaining or growing their business?” What follows are three of the panelists’ answers. (If you can contribute to the conversation, please do so by commenting on this post.)

Read more » » »

Share
No Comments

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…

Read more » » »

Share
4 Comments

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.

Read more » » »

Share
2 Comments

Most emerging photographers consider themselves generalists if for no other reason than that they want to work and any paying job coming their way sounds like a good one. But if this is where you’re at in your career, you’ll need to at some point do two things: first, become more of a specialist and second, be willing to let go of those early, low-paying clients. In this essay I’ll talk about the low-paying clients.

Let’s imagine the owner of the muffler shop on the corner of Main Street calls you to shoot some pictures of his shop for an ad he is running in the local weekly newspaper. We’ll call him Joe. He’s only willing to pay a small fee and you’ve done all you can to show him your value, why you’re better than everyone else, and most important, you’re convinced you’ve negotiated as far as you can with him on price. You do the shoot, he’s very satisfied, and he wants you to do more work. The fact remains though, he’s a low budget client.

I’m convinced there are two ways to make more money in any service business, including photography: work more or get better clients. I’ve taken the road of working to get better clients. More sophisticated clients understand copyright, understand licensing, and are in general much easier to work with. They are used to working with professionals in every aspect of their business.

Joe on the other hand sells a muffler and his customer owns it. Forever. The very concept of copyright is possibly foreign to him. He thinks since he’s paid you to take the photograph, he owns it. Licensing? That’s at the Department of Motor Vehicles!

As you begin to gain better clients, don’t be afraid to let go of Joe… ask me how I know. What happened to me will happen to you, guaranteed. You’ll have a day booked with low-paying Joe, and that great client you’ve been after for some time now, calls you asking you to shoot that very same day.

Don’t let Joe hold you back. At some point it’s no longer worth it to work for him. Instead, use that time working on your website, your physical portfolio, your other marketing efforts, tweaking your LinkedIn profile, or making a few phone calls or sending samples to prospective clients.

To move forward, you need to let go of whatever it is that’s holding you back. Even if it’s a client. The one exception, at least for me, is the low-paying client who is a rich referral source. To this day, I have one client who, even though I’ve not raised my rates for over ten years, consistently gives me quality referrals. She knows to keep my ten-year-old pricing “our little secret” and in fact pre-sells me as “one of the more expensive photographers in town, but definitely the best!”

I’ll be presenting my sales and networking program “No More Grumbling – Get Out There” in Dallas tonight, September 22nd, and in New Orleans on Tuesday, September 27th.

Share
5 Comments

Susan Carr is the Education Director of ASMP, the American Society of Media Photographers. Her latest book, The Art and Business of Photography, has received critical praise from both photographers and scholars for its candid look at the changing photography industry. It’s quickly become required reading in many university photography curriculums and I consider it an essential read for both emerging and established photographers.

Susan spoke yesterday to a standing-room only crowd at B&H in New York and answered questions from the audience. If you want to purchase a copy for yourself, it’s available at Amazon. I have it on my Kindle and I refer to it frequently. Her publisher, Allworth Press, has graciously permitted me to publish an excerpt from the book. I’ve chosen a few paragraphs from chapter four, “Where Are the Clients?”

- – -

Chris Anderson’s controversial book Free: The Future of a Radical Price created quite a buzz in the professional photographic community when it was released in 2009. The gut reaction by many photographers was negativesurmising that Anderson was pitting free against paid to the detriment of the professional in any field. Anderson actually does a masterful job of outlining a history of how businesses have used the “free economy” to build products and services people will pay for. Anderson writes, “The way to compete with Free is to move past the abundance to find the adjacent scarcity. If software is free, sell support. If phone calls are free, sell distant labor and talent that can be reached by those free calls (the Indian outsourcing model in a nutshell). If your skills are being turned into a commodity that can be done by software (hello, travel agents, stockbrokers, and realtors), then move upstream to more complicated problems that still require the human touch. Not only can you compete with free in that instance, but the people who need these custom solutions are often the ones most willing to pay highly for them.”

Like it or not, the photographs licensed every day and, in many cases, even the service of photography are now commodities. Generic photographic subject matter will no longer produce substantial financial rewards nor will it be possible to build a career taking corporate headshots. I return to [Seth] Godin who always seems to concisely hit the nail on the head. “Your organization is based on exploiting scarcity. Create and sell something scarce and you can earn a profit. But when scarce things become common, and common things become scarce, you need to alter what you do all day.” Godin further offers that spare time, trust, and attention are things that used to be abundant and are now scarce. Remember these when formulating your business strategy; potential clients do not have extra time, have trouble giving things attention, and are skeptical as a default. Turn those challenges into assets by saving clients time, being easy to do business with and building trust through quality and professionalism.

Photographs in general are definitely not scarce. We cannot compete on price when seemingly endless images are available for free or nearly free. We cannot compete with mediocre imagery when there are loads of one-click options for obtaining mediocre photographs. Photographers must define what they can bring to the table that is rare and that brings us back to creativity. A specific vision, style, or point of view directed towards a particular passion or interest is our one true unique offering. As a photographer, you need to develop a vision in your imagery, but that same creative thinking needs to be applied to how you run your business. Make it a package, so that all components speak to the same
core message of genuine quality and value.

Share
7 Comments

Jim CavanaughIt’s time for another guest post and we’re fortunate to have an excellent article by Buffalo Architectural Photographer Jim Cavanaugh. Today’s entry is excerpted from two posts Jim made as part of a conversation regarding standing up for one’s rights when negotiating with a client. Jim is currently the President of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP).

To quote Marlon Brando in “The Godfather”, “It’s not personal, it’s business”. Business is business. The point I wanted to make was to neither just “stand up” or “roll over”. Business is rarely that black and white unless you have a super unique style and are in a high demand, low supply, business. The question is all about the gray areas. If this, then what? Or, the proverbial, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” But is it? I doubt it.

Our goal is to make money. How best to do that should be a guiding principal. Business is often about compromise. To get to win-win, there likely needs to be a bit of lose-lose. What might you have to give up to get what you need? Take it or leave it tactics have a way of backfiring and bridges burned can last a very long time. A hard line on a philosophical issue my allow you to win this battle, but lose the war.

It’s a marathon. How do you go the distance? As we look at some of the ideas being discussed, I think we sometimes need to put aside the rhetoric and think in terms of working with someone on a personal level. Building a relationship. Being as concerned about the job next year as the one today.

Is it better to “teach a client the value of our work” or show the value by being easy to work with, reliable, professional and likable? Think about what value really is to your clients. It’s not a price tag on a photograph. Value is the entire package.

I have been in business over 35 years and have never been sued or have never sued anyone. I have never been inside a courtroom except to photograph it! But I have had my fair share of disputes over the years. On only four occasions did I even have to consult an attorney and the last time was in the mid 1980′s!

My approach is not to “roll over” and give in. My approach is to find a workable solution to whatever the business problem is. By not being bound by dogma or rhetoric and realizing that this is business and not personal, I almost always find a solution. A few times I have rolled over and walked away, because my business sense told me that to take the issue farther, based on my pride, would be a losing proposition in the long run. But there have been times when I have taken a strong stand and enforced my rights and settled matters to my satisfaction. But in each of those cases, it was clear that any further relationship with that client was over.

I believe that many photographers approach negotiations with a chip on their shoulder (due to previous encounters) and are ready for confrontation. My “being easy to work with” approach is about expecting issues to arise. It is business after all and each party is looking to get the best deal. But concentrating on our areas of agreement and mutual benefit. I don’t start the conversation with, “I own the copyright and you can’t do this…..”

Stumbling blocks arise; price, usage, third parties, etc. My reply is that we can work to find a solution. Sometimes it requires changing the scope of a project. And in some cases it requires the ability to agree to disagree and walk away from the project.

My philosophy on being easy to work with is about what ASMP SB3 Presenter Colleen Wainwright says: “Be useful, be specific, be nice.” (Have a look at Colleen’s excellent blog titled Communicatrix.)

For me, it’s about looking ahead. Finding agreement. Making it easy for clients to work with me. And finding the wisdom to know when to fight and when not to.

(Portrait of Jim Cavanaugh courtesy of Boston photographer Stephen Sherman. Photograph copyright 2011 Stephen Sherman.)

Share
3 Comments