A Daughter, A Dress Rehearsal, And A Photographer’s Drama

photography marketing dramaMy eleven year old daughter Charlotte came home from school crying.

This is pretty rare for her. She loves school, is pretty happy go lucky, and has many friends. But one of her female school mates was teasing her. A boy in class seems to have a little crush on Charlotte, and her friend was a little jealous, and she was giving Charlotte a bit of a hard time, in front of her other friends. Charlotte was embarrassed. She told me and her Mom “that boy is just a friend!” My wife and I listened to her, and tried to soothe her hurt feelings (she said she felt betrayed by her friend).

You Gotta Have A Plan. Be Prepared!

After letting my daughter express her feelings, my wife took over. As a nurse, my wife has a lot of preplanning and preparation in her line of work. That way, when a crisis happens, she and her medical team can spring into action because they know what to do. Likewise, in my portrait photography business, I have policies and ways of doing business that allow me to be on “auto-control” – I know what to do in almost every situation. (Even when people make fun of me!)

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Now, at this point my wife told me to go clean the gutters, as she and my daughter had a little work to do. She knew that if I was giving suggestions at this point (“….well. back in my day…”) that my daughter Charlotte’s eyes would roll so far back in her head so quickly that smoke would come out. That’s the nature of a Dad and Daughter’s relationship some times at her tender age of eleven years. I understand. So, as a good Dad, I pretended to clean the gutters and instead, listened from the other room. What I heard made me proud.

Back To (Acting) School

My wife sat Charlotte down and said “let’s roleplay. I’ll be YOU, and you be your jealous friend. Be mean, throw it all at me. Hurt my feelings, with anything you can think of.” My daughter giggled a little. THIS was going to be fun! They went through the various scenarios, and with each taunt and tease, my wife calmly told Charlotte what to say.  Then they reversed roles and my wife was the “teasing class mate” and Charlotte began fending off the comments. It became fun for her, as she adapted the answers and comebacks to her personality. It was designed not to be mean or hurtful, but simply how to deal with and diffuse the situation.

F1.8 @ 1/400th, ISO 12,000

Did I get your attention back? Good! I mean, this IS supposed to be about photography and marketing and how to run a successful photography business, right?

Well, hear me out. 

This is all about the roleplaying and preparation we need as photography business owners to be successful. For example, answering the telephone is always a challenge to a new employee. So I get out my TeleCharts, which I use to answer the telephone. (You DO have Telecharts right?) So I roleplay with my employee, no matter how many years they have worked for me. We take turns being caller and studio owner. We give each other a “hard time” so that we may learn to deal with all objections, questions and scenarios that might come up on the telephone. It prepares us to answer the phone confidently, and not get flustered or upset.

You Like Me, You Really Like Me!

Now, it’s been many years since my school days and the little red haired girl flirted with me. (Ok, I was Charlie Brown, and the little red haired girl never flirted with me.)  But my point is that I now get my artistic and job satisfaction by helping people become happily involved with wall portraits of their family and loved ones. But this won’t happen by accident. If I want people being thrilled, and investing in adequate sized wall prints, I need to rehearse and know my plan. Roleplaying is how I do it.

Soup to Nuts. And Wall Portraits.

I roleplay every aspect of my studio that requires prospect and client interaction.  I roleplay getting exhibits at local hair salons, restaurants and other businesses where my target market shops. I roleplay answering the telephone. I roleplay my client consultation. I roleplay the projection appointment where we present the images to our client for the first time. I even roleplay what I do at the order pickup. After a while, the roleplaying became part of my daily life, so I simply know what to do and say. But I STILL roleplay with my office manager so she and I stay sharp and ready for anything. That way, from beginning to end, soup to nuts, my prospects and clients receive the same experience.

No More Drama, Mamma.

Back to my story – - –  the next day, my daughter came home from school, this time with a big smile on her face. Her roleplaying had worked – she not only diffused the situation with her jealous friend, she had enhanced the friendship. She “got” her friend now, and treated her with empathy. No more teasing, no more “drama”, as she called it.  She even said some of her friends asked her to sit with them at lunch so she could help solve one of their problems. This showed her that roleplaying is not only helpful, it’s teachable and repeatable!

Tom, You’re Going Up In The World Soon!

Remember, find mentors or teachers who have proven and teachable roleplaying protocol, and put it to use. Rehearse, practice and set up a time every week to keep your skills honed to a fine point. It will make your photography successful and make your life easier! Now, seeing that my wife has read my blog draft, she knows I didn’t clean the gutters while she was talking to my daughter about roleplaying. The ladder is already set up, I gotta run!

-Thomas Morelli


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