Thursday, February 24, 2011

Business Day Thursday: Sales/Marketing/Business Building Highlights From WPPI

Good Morning Everybody,

Whew - 5 days of running the WPPI marathon, LaDawn and I are calling it a wrap.  I can hardly count up how many programs we saw, but it was a lot.  And, we still missed a few we wanted to see. Between trade show and programs, we figured we walked about 15 miles over those 5 days. I was wearing our pedometer so I have a pretty good idea about the distance ;~)

Lumapix dinnerWe relaxed with our good friends from LumaPix last night for dinner at Maggiano's on the Strip.  Pictured left to right is Dean, a friend of  LumaPix; LaDawn and I; Mike, the company's CEO; Michael, lead programmer and co-owner;and Victor, one of LumaPix Programmers.  We had a good time, but were happy to hit the room knowing we have a simple day or two before heading back home.

I’m postponing my regular BDT post today because I thought it was important to share with you a few of the top business/marketing/sales tips I heard from the WPPI Convention.  So many of the programs were not only about photography and lighting but about how to be successful in your business. 

It's interesting to me that these programs are what I would call "under attended.". I don't quite understand why. It seems to me that would be one of the TOP priorities from anyone wanting to build a better business. Anyway, enough of my "soapboxing" - let me give you a few of the business building tips from the convention.

It All About The Customer Experience

So many instructors' were emphasizing this - not just providing outstanding customer service, but rather the customer experience.  It's key to building your business.  That experience includes your studio hospitality, the shooting experience, the simplicity of the sales presentation, to final delivery and product presentation.  You need to make your client feel important.  Because they ARE!

Jim GarnerJim Garner stressed the need to shoot empathetically touching the lives with not just your photography but your with conversation as well. And the selling experience needs to be from a center of trust, not the hard sell.  That experience must extend to the delivery of the product too.  Remember to don't trip at the finish line. 

Fast To The Web Is Important

I think this advice is critical to being a successful photographer in today’s market.  Back in the day, we sent our film off to the lab, got it back a few weeks letter, edited the images, placed them in a proof book, and gave the client a call about 4 weeks after the wedding.  4 weeks was no big deal - the clients expected to wait, but not anymore.

Kevin Jairaj postThey know digital is instant gratification for you the photographer and they want a taste of that instant gratification as well.  You've got to get your images to the web fast - not all of them but a nice sampling of them.  I think it's important to have them hit your blog and your Facebook page.  Check out how Kevin Jairaj posts a nice review of his wedding images right here.  I like how Kevin even included montages and comments on each image.  You’ve got to keep the clients excited or better said the buzz buzzing!

You want to be loved by your clients, not just needed by your clients. Touch their lives personally and they will touch yours. As we heard over and over being loved let's you charge more.

Outsource Everything

I can't tell you how many times I heard this from the platform.  So many presenters were stressing this business solution simply for the sole reason of getting their lives back from postproduction quicksand.  That outsourcing includes editing, color correcting and image enhancement to designing the wedding albums.

ProImageEditorsOne vendor mentioned that is doing image editing and color correcting is  Several vendors were offering complete album design, but my favorite outsourcing solution would be the new Zookie Book concept being shown by my buddies at Zookbinders.

Know How Much Money You're Really Making

Syl CicottaSyl Cincota got to the brass tacks right away.  He said it straight - your cost of goods should be around 15%.  That means that if you are selling a wedding album for $600, to remain profitable, it should only be costing you $100 total cost in prints and album.  He also sells 4x6's, 5x7's, and 8x10's at the same price.  His best analogy is this;  clothes, jeans, from any major store, Gap, cost the same regardless if you purchase a size 2 or a size, 8 or a size 12. This concept certainly makes sense to me.  I loved this piece of advice too, "Never operate from a position of desperation.  You will always price your product too cheap and that will surely lead to a death spiral for your business.”

Social Marking Is Key

This came up over and over from nearly every presentation.  It's all about the blog, Facebook, and Twitter.  If you don't want to play the social media game, you'll be sitting on the bench.  Kirk Voclain showed a cool text marketing tool.  It's called  Here is the link to what they offer.

We saw a cool app in the trade show called ProPhotoApp that can really juice not just sales but your studio's profile in your community.  Check it out right here.

The Linked PhotographerAnd lastly, Lindsay Adler who I mentioned in yesterday's post had two books for sale.  One was entitled, "The Linked Photographer".  Not all of us our social media geniuses and need all the help we can get.  Count me as one of those people.  That's why I can't wait for my copy of Lindsay's book to arrive.  If you find yourself in that same boat, you can pick up Lindsay's book at Amazon or pick up a signed copy right here.  Oh, by the way, Lindsay has agreed to do a webcast for us too - way cool!

Still/Video Fusion Is Hot

Yes, it's hotter than ever for the successful photographers presenting at the show.  It seems everyone was using Animoto with video clips tossed into their presentations.  Jeff Medford and Ross Harkrove  really proved the strength and impact of HDSLR at an event.  They gave a great program jammed packed with information on the subject.

Bob Davis Pic

I loved how Bob and Dawn Davis incorporated video into their high school senior and family shoots.  She would direct her client, under the guise of checking the lights, to fluff her hair, look off in the distance, look back at the camera, giggle, spin, etc.  Even though the client thought she was helping with the lighting Dawn was capturing snippets of video to work into her final image presentation.  Her clients were totally surprised by the unexpected and loved the experience and presentation.

One For The Road – Make Silent Auctions Work For You

I'm asked to participate in Charity Silent Auctions all the time.  We generally turn our give away into a nice sale and the charity raises some money for their cause.  Too many times though, the cost of my donation goes for much less than it's really worth.  Why? Because to the auctioneer, my donation is just another free giveaway in the pile to be auctioned.

Lori Nordsrom LogoHow do you get around the Charity diminishing the value of your $500 gift contribution?  Lori Nordstrom had a great idea.  When participating in a silent auction, be sure you create an opportunity to photograph the auctioneer and/or the special guest appearing for the charity. 

Then be sure those framed images are on display prominently at the auction event. The auctioneer had a personal experience with you and the donation you were making.  With this very pro-active approach, you guarantee yourself and your studio high profile notice at the event.  I loved the idea!


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  Hope you enjoy the posts – not into reading today, then at least hit the links above for some very cool photography ;~)

We are planning to catch up with Jerry Ghionis and his wife Melissa later today for something big happenings down the road - stay tuned. After these last 5 non-stop days, LaDawn and I are looking forward to a little R&R.  Check back tomorrow .

Have a great one everybody,  David


  1. Love this blog post! Thanks so much for the latest business info on marketing. :-)

  2. Thanks for the update, David, and I agree that photographers are still not focusing on the business aspects of their business as much as they probably should, which is a shame.

    Wish I could have made it to Vegas this year, but perhaps next time!