Thursday, December 22, 2011

Business Day Thursday: Maybe it's Time To Chose Your Customers Instead of Them Choosing You

Good Morning Everybody,

I have to tell you, a few unexpected personal commitments have me really “underwater” time-wise this week.  I’ve been putting in 16-18 hour days just to keep up, hence the crazy posting schedule. I’m just swamped and it doesn’t let up till Monday.

Don’t worry, nothing bad is going on – we’re all fine, but my time is not my own for the next few days.  That said let me leave you with one of my favorite posts from a while back.  You be be crazy busy to, but if you get a chance to read it, I think you’ll enjoy it.  Here we go.

Maybe it's Time To Chose Your Customers Instead of Them Choosing You

Shopping!Sounds like strange advice doesn't it?  But you know, in this day and age, it something we should all consider.  So many people  are looking for the cheapest deal available.  Too many photographers are out there accommodating too many of those clients.

Where does all this lead?  I remember clearly the words of advice I was offered when I attended my first meeting of our local Tri-State Professional Photographers Association back in 1979.  I was definitely the new kid on the block and was looking for any kind of business advice I could get.

Some Of The Best Business Advice I Ever Received!

I walked into that meeting with my legs wobbling with nervousness as I walked in to meet all the "Big Gun" Cincinnati photographers.  Fortunately for me, one of the first photographers I bumped into was Craig Elbe, a big boisterous, dare I say opinionated, character of a guy who gave me the best piece of advice for my budding business.

Craig sees me come into the meeting and as I pass him, he calls out to me saying, "Hey buddy, you're new here aren't you?  What kind of photographer are you?  Don't tell me you're another wedding photographer, we got too many of them in his town already."

Well, those remarks were NOT setting me at ease at all at my first professional photographers meeting.  He then went on to give me the best advice I have ever received when it comes to business building - and, it is still as fresh in my mind now as it was when Craig said it to me.

He comes close to me and starts poking his finger into my chest saying, "Let me tell you this, kid.  If you do a cheap wedding, they'll recommend their cheap friends. Shoot expensive weddings and they'll recommend their rich friends."  You know I took that advice to heart and started to do just that.

My Second Best Piece Of Business Advice

In fact in my business lectures, my second business lesson to all the attendees is this.  “Get to know the people doing business with the people YOU want to business with and work on creating authentic relationships with them.”  Uhmmm... authentic business relationships - sounds like the subject of another blog post down the road.  Anyway, I took Craig's advice years ago and it has served me well.

Craig Elbe has long since passed away, but when he was alive, I counted him as one of my friends in the Cincinnati photographic community.  Consider Craig's advice as you grow your own business too.

More Good Advice

Along those same lines, I found this related article over at Seth Godin's site entitled, "Choose Your Customers, Choose Your Future." [link] He basically says the same thing. Here is a quick excerpt from his very brief post:

"Sell to angry cheapskates and your business will reflect that. On the other hand, when you find great customers, they will eagerly co-create with you. They will engage and invent and spread the word."  Sounds to me like he's paraphrased Craig Elbe's words 30 years later.

Give it some thought - you business may just take a turn to a brand new, unexpected, brighter future.


Hey gang, that's it for me today, I’ve got another 14 hour day today and need to get moving right away. Don’t let the holiday rush get you down.  Give someone a hug if you think they can use it.  Keep smiling and hum a Christmas tune or two – stay happy ;~)

Have a great day and I’ll hope to see you again tomorrow.

- David

1 comment:

  1. David, that is epochal advice. I remember your saying that in our Master Class and I've taken it to heart. The call I got for a wedding back then turned out to be for a low-priced location assignment. She didn't want to meet my price so I didn't take it. Weddings didn't come my way so instead I shifted to fine art landscapes and portraiture, which honestly I enjoy more.

    It's been slower finding those customers but it's building steadily and nicely (thank the Lord) and it's much more gratifying. So far I've photographed state legislators, a federal judge and successful CEOs. Plus did a blow-out landscape art show at a prestigious gallery who's since asked to represent our work ongoing.

    The one key, key thing it's important to stress to your audience regarding your advice and that is being left out is -- your work has to be really good. Otherwise your target audience (rich people) are not going to hire you or buy from you. There certainly are people here and there who are born into the right families or have the right connections and can succeed without much talent. But for the most part, reaching affluent buyers requires genuine talent because those people have lots of options, and most photographers or other artists who target that audience are really skilled.

    I'm sure it's easy for people like you, who have phenomenal skill, to take that part for granted :) But not everyone is there. Certainly not yet. Those who aren't there yet should know they might not reach the top buyers but they can and should target the best buyers their skills will permit, and strive to better their skills to go as high as they can during their photography careers.