RULE #3 For A Successful Photography Business
by: Charles J. Lewis
In my last Quick Tip I talked about Photo Success Rule #2 which is "People will only
do what they believe is already being done."
And I gave you several specific examples of how you can use this Rule to
improve your profits and cash flow in your photography business right now.
Now, let's talk about Photo Success Rule #3, which is amazing powerful,
fast, and almost totally free to implement! Do this and you'll make a LOT of money - while your competitors and complaining and dropping like flies in this Recession!
Rule #3 says, "As hard as it is to believe, people always
judge a book by it's cover. So plan and control your "cover" very carefully - especially in this economy."
You see, the reason everyone says "Don't judge a book by it's cover" is
that everyone does exactly that. It's human nature and human psychology to do so.
What this means is that you have to look, dress, act and sound
successful, BEFORE you can actually become successful! So even if you aren't as successful as you want to be right now, by taking advantage of the secrets we will discuss here, you will become successful more quickly.
This is exactly what my wife, Cheri and I did when we were first getting
going with our studio, and had nothing. Even though we were broke, we did everything we could to make the studio look like we were incredibly successful. And what we did had to be either free, or really inexpensive
(because we had almost no money.)
Everything I talk about with you is based on PROVEN laws of human
psychology. Do NOT underestimate how important this is to your success and happiness! You see, people are watching you and judging you by how you look, speak, act, and dress. That's how people form their
opinions of you.
And people want to work with and be associated with people who are
successful. Most successful people with money do not want to be associated with those who are not successful themselves.
Therefore, by carefully paying attention to the items we are going to talk
about here, you will be able to "leap-frog" years ahead of where you are now - and do it very quickly!
You must look successful to become successful.
Now, we need to be really careful here. I am NOT saying to go out and
buy a new car if money is tight. I am NOT saying to buy designer clothing. I am NOT saying to buy expensive furniture, etc. for your studio.
What I am saying is this: In order to be successful, you FIRST must look
AS IF you are already successful. It makes a HUGE difference.
So how do you do that, if you are watching your money really carefully?
**First, you make your studio look really nice - not with expensive
furniture or wall coverings - that's not nearly as important as you might think - but just make it look nice.
By "nice" I mean only show wall portraits. Don't show any smaller images
than a 24x30. No 5x7's, no 8x10's, no 11x14's, no 16x20's, no 20x24's. Smallest image you display in your studio is a 24x30. And everything is
framed. You sell what you show, so show framed wall portraits.
**And keep your studio really clean and attractive. No equipment
anywhere that a client can see. No photographs laying around anywhere. No photographs sitting on the floor, leaning up against the wall. No "computer work stations" anywhere where a client can see them.
**In my opinion, it's very smart to make your studio look like a home -
NOT like a gallery. When Cheri and I first started out, we were completely broke. We had moved the studio out of our home, and into an office building. We had no money, and the only furniture we had was in our
home. So we took the furniture out of our home, and put it in the studio, so the studio would look like a home setting. This worked like magic!
**Also, be sure you have lots of "warm fuzzies" in your studio - by that I
mean flower arrangements, decorator trees, and other "design" items that will help your studio look warm and friendly and like a home.
**Next, keep your car really clean. It doesn't need to be the newest
model, etc. - just keep it really clean - inside and out. Never use it for storage.
**Next, pay careful attention to the landscaping around your studio. Be
sure it looks great. Again, you don't need to put a lot of money into it. Just be sure it's well kept.
**Next, be sure you have nice cases to hold your equipment. Again, not
necessarily expensive, top of the line cases - just cases that aren't all beat up looking. And be sure your logo is on them very professionally. And be sure you place your cases where people can see them when you
are on location, such as at a wedding.
By making sure you "look" successful, you will attract other
successful people, who will invest in your services, and help you become more and more successful.
Dress as if you are successful already, and then you will become successful.
One of the things I discovered as I was building my successful studio, was
that you want to dress for your target market, not for the market you are serving at the moment.
When I first started out, my prices were really low, (because I didn't know
any better,) and I was tending to work with the lower middle class. Nothing wrong with that, I just wanted higher average sales and profits, so I decided to go after the upper middle class and even the upper class sometimes.
So I had to dress like that "Target Market" I wanted to serve,
even though at that moment, I wasn't working with many of them.
Therefore, I dressed better. I couldn't afford expensive designer clothing,
but I could select clothing that helped me look my best. Clothing that helped me build and maintain a professional, successful image.
This is way more important than most photographers realize. You see,
you and I deal in a visual profession. You are advising your clients on exactly what to wear, to look their best in their portrait. (By the way, that's
the "Dominant Buying Motive" for most portraiture and wedding photography - to look good in the photographs! More on that in an upcoming article.)
There are two areas concerning clothing we need to talk about here.
First, how you dress when you meet a prospect or client for the first time.
Then, secondly, how you dress when you are in a photography session, actually creating the images.
Let's begin with how you dress when you meet a prospect or client for the
first time. (This also applies, by the way, to how you dress during the sales process of presenting your photographs to your clients.)
Now, I know you want to dress comfortably. But I'm sorry, you need to
dress more professionally. Even in these more casual times, this still means for men - dress shirt and tie. Nice slacks and well polished shoes.
(Never tennis shoes!) Better yet, a conservative suit or sports coat and slacks. And be sure your belt matches your well shined shoes. That FIRST IMPRESSION must be top notch. You must be perfectly, and
(I usually will remove my coat after we have talked for a few moments.
Then, if it's warm, I'll loosen my tie. And sometimes I will unbutton my long sleeved shirt, and roll the sleeves up a little.)
But then, when that client leaves, and it's time to meet the next client, I will
put everything back together again, so I look perfect when I meet the next client for the first time. This is how important this is.
For women, again, dress very professionally, and conservatively. Pay
attention to everything. From the shoes all the way up to your hair style. Everything must be professional, and conservative. No skirts that are too
short. No really loud, extravagant outfits. No blouses that are too tight, or necklines that are too low. Remember, people are coming to you for
advice on how to look their best. Stay away from fads - dress in a classic style.
Just remember, portrait and wedding photographers should
dress as professionally as news anchors or attorneys. News anchors dress up to date, but nothing wild or crazy.
And never, ever chew gum. That belongs on the play ground in grammar school, never in the office environment.
You get the idea.
And remember, again, PLEASE, dress very conservatively. I do a great
amount of one-on-one consulting with photographers all over the world, via telephone conference calls. And you know what? Even in New York or LA, most people who invest substantial amounts of money in portrait
and wedding photography tend to be more conservative. Not always, but most of the time. So dress that way yourself. People tend to like people who dress like they do. And people buy from people they like.
Remember, dress for the "Target Market" you want to work with.
Now, let's talk about how you dress when you are actually doing
photography. This can be less formal. But still, unless you are getting down on the ground on your hands and knees, you must dress nicely. No
jeans. No t-shirts. Wear nice slacks, shoes, and a nice shirt. But you can give up the tie (unless you are doing a corporate executive session on location - then I will still wear a suit and tie, etc.)
If you are getting down on the ground, outdoors, like for a child's session,
then you can get away with jeans, and a nice shirt. But be sure the jeans are in perfect condition, and clean, etc.
And, remember, people see you everywhere - not just in the studio, so it's important to look really good all the time.
Remember, how you dress tells the public what you think of yourself. And
these pointers apply no matter where your studio is located. The more professionally you dress, the more successful you will become.
In my next Quick Tip, I will continue with two other major secrets to
becoming and staying extremely successful with your photography business in these challenging times.
All the best,