Thursday, October 09, 2008

Business Day Thursday: Wait For The Business To Come To You Or Make The Business Come To You - A 5 Step Strategy To Success

Good Morning Everybody,

"The world is not the same as we once new it, or stronger still - the world we once knew no longer exists!"

That was one of the mantras espoused at the business seminar I attended yesterday for 4 hours. It really got me thinking. I've been teaching how to run a successful business for over 25 years and it is time for me examine my conscience too about the world I knew and the world we are doing business in today. Is it the same? The quick answer is HECK NO!!!

More gloom and doom..... We just returned from our KPPA seminar in Louisville this past weekend. I heard it again - "I did 35 weddings last year, this year I'm doing 12 and next year I only have a couple of weddings booked." "Did you hear (a comment made about another prominent photog in the area) that______ is driving a limo three days a week because his business has dropped off so much?" These stories are shocking to me when I hear how many photogs businesses have made such a drastic change in such a short time and are down so much.
As I said, it got me thinking. How many referrals have I gotten from my vendor buddies recently. The reality was NONE. OK, where is the problem here? Time to rethink. Have I gone out and contacted with them recently? My answer would have to be "No." Am I just waiting for the business to come to me, I would have to answer, "Yes." It's worked perfectly for me all these years, so why make a change? Because "The world we once knew no longer exists!" That is true particularly for the photographers who have had their studios for any number of years. Sadly, these are the studios experiencing the most severe decline in business.

I came back from that business seminar, sat my team leaders down for two hours and discussed new strategies for my studio. Here is what we came up with. We first acknowledged that the world has indeed changed and we were going to do something about it. We were not going to wait for the business to come to us - we were going to put into place procedures that make the business come to us.

Here is our new 5-step strategy to success:

1. Visit everyone of our vendor buddies and pick their brains about the current wedding market - knowledge is power and this knowledge will help us keep our ear to the ground as to trends in the market.

2. We are no longer just giving sample albums and images to our vendor friends. Hey, we love them, but I want something in return for these hundreds of dollars of complimentary wedding samples. We are asking them for a referral commitment for placing beautiful wedding images in their shops featuring their product and services. The referrals don't have to book, but they do have to be solid referrals.

3. We plan to contact each vendor on a monthly basis just to touch base, see what they need from us to build their success, and make it easy for them to give us those referrals. Hey, they are busy too and our success is not their top priority. But here is the reality - all of us working together is important to all of our success! I'm calling it pro-active cross-pollination.

4. Evaluate the possibility of saying "Thank You" for booked referrals with some kind of "bonus" to our vendor friends.

5. Evaluate our plan on a monthly basis, consider the results, and correct where necessary. Why, because the world is changing that quickly.

I mentioned, In my post, "Where Has All The Business Gone - Part 2" how my friends the Walden's and the Smith's were seeing substantial increases in sales this year. But they also said that they were working harder (at marketing) than ever before. That ties to what our speaker said yesterday; "There is only one type of successful company these days. It's the companies that are marketing maniacs and only they will survive!"

Big or small folks, that's the reality and that's what we need to do. We need to change the rules of engagement and do the most we can do to get the word out about our own businesses. That includes a great web site, blogging, a little Facebook action, possible mailings, interacting with our vendors, following up with our customers, checking in with our competition, and constantly evaluating the data and market trends so that we can respond swiftly and successfully.

End of sales rant #34

p.s. Yesterday's link to "How Many Pixels Does It Take To Make A Face" is fixed. Sorry for the inconvenience. -David

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