Business

New podcast – MUSEA Episode #63

Hey everyone.  So I guess I’ve been away long enough that some of you have missed me.  So thanks to those who have reached out.  I’ll provide a post detailing exactly what has been going on, why I’ve been silent for 5 months, and what to expect from AMTF soon.  The short story is that I’ve become a little disillusioned (read : Pissed) with the photography education industry and decided to put 100% of my effort into running my own business.  The upside is that I’ve learned a few new things that I’ll be sharing soon.  Here are some nuggets to whet your appetite for what I’ll be posting about soon:

  • Why I no longer believe that the photography market is over-saturated
  • How to satisfy the photographer’s need for recognition
  • Why our time-honored pricing strategies disappoint our clients
  • The real story about how the Speaking/Convention industry works behind the curtain

I’ve got a lot to say, and I think I’m finally ready to say it.  I’ve also made a bunch of changes to what was previously known as the SEXY BUSINESS Workshop.  For now, the in-person Workshop is retired though I’m still offering the same (actually a significantly improved) process one-on-one over Skype/Google+.  I’ll also be putting a bunch of this information out as products in book and video format.  You can expect another post about this soon, but again in the interest of getting you all excited here is what is planning for the pipeline:

  • SEXY BUSINESS – a guide to branding and positioning a photography business
  • The SEXY BUSINESS Plan – how to master the accounting side of your business and ensure personal satisfaction
  • The VALUE of PRICE – a complete philosophical dissection of what your price and pricing structure can do for you and how it can influence who hires you and how much the pay.  Also, I’ll be debunking the time-honored, often-promoted pricing strategies that photographers employ and show why they consistently work against us.  Expect a series of new and immediately employable pricing models.
  • High-end vs. High-dollar – Exploration of the difference between making a lot of money and working with people who have a lot of money.  The different tactics that make each model work and how to decide which works best for you and align the rest of your business to achieve it.

Those are the products that I’m currently in the middle of finishing up.  But that’s the future.  Today I just want to express a little gratitude for those who have kept AMTF in the back of their mind and hoped that it would return soon.  I’m ready to get back on the horse and I have some new things to share.  Chief among those new things is a podcast that I recorded with Michael Howard of MUSEA.  Michael and I have been friends for a while and we’ve spoken a few times in the past ( AMTF Episode 2).  I think this turned out really great, and it sort of encapsulates what has been on my mind lately so I’m very grateful for Michael for having me on.  If you like this episode please let Michael and I know and we might make this a more regular thing.

MUSEA PODCAST EPISODE #63 w/ TODD REICHMAN

Thanks again, and let me know what you’ve been missing and what you’d like to see going forward for …a Man to Fish…

- Todd Reichman

Question – how to network with wedding planners

I know you’ve had some huge success networking with wedding planners. We’re starting to invest more time networking with planners and we have some upcoming sitdowns/introductory meetings scheduled with planners that we have not necessarily worked with before. Do you have any tips other than developing a friendly relationship and understanding each side’s value propositions? One obstacle I’m hoping to overcome is that I’m assuming the planner already has a few photographers that she recommends (i.e. she shares an office space with a photographer). Establishing ourselves as a perfect fit for niche clients is the idea, but I’m just wondering if you’ve had any specific techniques that have worked well in the past.

- Jaime + Lincoln Bartlett

To be honest it is really difficult to recommend anything other than understanding each side’s value proposition.  Understanding what they do and what they want helps you connect them with people who want the same thing, and when they know what you want and what you are best at providing they can refer you appropriately.  I’ve found that it is always best to ask questions and really show an interest in them more than you pitch yourself.

If the planner takes a meeting then they don’t have all the resources that they need.  People come and go, relationships ebb and there is always room another specific, perfect solution to a given problem.  Also, sometimes it really helps to be a new option, if for nothing else than to spice things up and try something different – so use that to your advantage.  You really want to occupy a space in the planner’s head that triggers your name when that situation presents itself so be very specific about how you know when you are right for a given client.  Don’t claim to be perfect for everyone – that’s a recipe for no referrals.  When you’re thinking about how to communicate what and who you are perfect for do so in terms that the planner understands.  They don’t know much about photography, but they do deal with budgets and pickiness and indecisiveness and things like that.  So communicating your administrative style and getting into a little armchair-client-psychology will help you better speak the planner’s language.  Don’t talk all about photo technique or your work – it probably all looks the same to them.

Other than that being likable is a benefit.  You don’t have to be real-life friends (business-friends is good enough) but being the kind of person that other people want to see do well is a huge plus.  So be kind and be purposefully helpful.  Don’t fake it, just be a person – they’re just people after all.

It really isn’t super-complicated, most people are far more afraid of professional networking than is reasonable.  Networking with other vendors is the most direct action you can take to drive wedding business in particular – so head outside of your comfort zone and think about who you can connect with today.

- trr

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Hourly Coverage vs. “Unlimited” II

Lots of activity on this week’s “Hourly Coverage vs. Unlimited” post earlier in the week.  Check out this comment from Jolie:

Todd,

I appreciate the notion of pricing being formed around the what “makes me and what I do for you unique” factors and that those factors play a significant role in a couple’s choice of photographer. I get what you’re trying to say about not breaking out the calculator and using dollars per hour as the basis of one’s price structure. But after thinking about the article, I wonder how you arrived at a place where the amount of time devoted to a client before, during and after their photographed event isn’t factored into some part of your price? Or is it to some degree, and I’ve misunderstood you?

You stated you charge the same for a slightly smaller wedding. What about weddings that are significantly larger or smaller in scale and hours than your “average”–still the same final price too? Perhaps you’ve positioned your business to serve a specific market and served it long enough to know the coverage range, allowing you to set a price package(s) that makes the hours spent irrelevant?

It seems to me this country is preoccupied with time. The multi-tasking. The over-scheduling. How often do you hear, “How long will it take?” We pay extra for things be rushed and we pay extra for things to go slower. Even during the wedding planning, a couple can be faced with time issues for the venue, the officiant, music and church. So while the hours required to execute a service isn’t an exciting concept, time does play a role, yes even if it isn’t explicitly stated to the client? That’s the part of the article that felt vague to me.

OK, so “yes” the amount of time devoted to the client is taken into consideration when we price.  I think that per-hour pricing is really only relevant in a volume-studio situation where you can actually fill every hour with paying work.  Since I don’t run a model like that each hour really isn’t as valuable as the next.  I also don’t want to run a business where I have to sell time to make a profit – I don’t have as much time as I’d need to make what I want in that case.  I’m really more concerned with the overall amount of money that I want to make and how much work I want to do to bring in that sum.  So I’m more focused on the overall number of jobs booked hitting a desired amount.  In the grand scheme of a year and hour or two plus or minus on a wedding really doesn’t impact the plan.  I consider it more of a “day rate” business for my own business (again YMMV).

I do tend to have a pretty good handle on my market acts and my preparation system tends to make every job work the same way.  To be honest, I can’t say that my work changes much if the wedding is very small and intimate or enormous – the approach is largely the same so I really don’t see the need to charge differently.  Then again, I’m primarily selling the approach and belief system  behind it, so the minor differences in wedding size really don’t impact the back-end of my business.

I do agree that many services that may be comparable to ours are built on time.  I’ve simply built a business where the relative amount of time in preparation, execution and post-processing is basically the same regardless of the wedding details.  Some people do pay more to make things go faster.  Some people pay more to indulge their time.  Some people pay more to not concern themselves with time.  I’ve just picked my market.

Thanks for the comment!

- trr

 

 

 

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Hourly coverage vs. “Unlimited”

Wedding photographers tend to be pretty concerned with pricing and how you offer your service.  I’ve heard the argument about respecting your time – that if you don’t charge for every minute the client won’t respect your time and will run over you in negotiation.  But it almost seems too easy to offer “unlimited” coverage and basically make time a non-issue while potentially allowing yourself to be taken advantage of.

I know what I do, and I’ve never been big on making an issue of what I do – you’ve got to do what is right for you. But I do think that “time” is a somewhat strange metric to base all pricing on.  I don’t think anyone thinks about their wedding in terms of how long it is going to take.  It is very difficult to equate deliverables to how much time is spent (sure, it makes sense to us photographers, but I think we understand it largely through the experiences that we’ve had that the client simply doesn’t have).  I do tend to think that many people fantasize about what their wedding will be like – I doubt that any of those fantasies involved a clock.

I realize that time is relevant to us as professionals.  But I think that anything that we care about has to become a value to the client if we are going to make it a decision point for them.  I don’t love making time an issue for clients because it isn’t a positive metric in their minds or anything that they are excited to worry about.  Anything that you make a pricing-based decision point ought to be something exciting to think about in my opinion.  Time doesn’t seem like an exciting thing from the client’s perspective.  I want the decision points to be things they could want, and things they are interested in – I don’t want to focus on what they aren’t getting.

That doesn’t mean that I think you should do “unlimited” coverage.  Besides, everyone who says “unlimited” puts a fucking limit on it anyway which makes the whole concept ridiculous.  Regardless of the way that you build it you need to manage expectations on what you’re going to do, what you aren’t going to do, what options the client has, and what the ramifications of those options are.  Expectation management always rules in this case.  You can’t charge the client more in the moment if they don’t understand what you’re charging or why.  And as a side note, a contract is NOT a communication device (it is a protective device) so you can’t expect them to read the contract and understand how your system works.

But I like to think about it like this – I want to be paid for what I’m doing, not how long I’m doing it.  I don’t think it should cost less for me to shoot because this job is a little shorter than the next.  The value of what I do (IMO) is the preparation, the reputation, trustworthiness, the approach, etc.  None of those things have anything to do with how long I’m doing the job.  If I want to sell those things then making time a decision point seems silly and takes the focus off of the things I want them thinking about.  When you charge for something you tell the client that it is important to think about – I personally don’t want them to be thinking about time.  Your approach may be very different, and you should act accordingly.

What do you think?

 

- trr

 

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Which number is bigger?

A photographer recently lamented that the number of people who valued photography as an art instead of a commodity was obviously diminishing every day.

I think that what is diminishing is the number of photographers willing to communicate value. The market is NOT to blame – the industry is.

Which number is bigger? The number of people who could be compelled to love what you love and believe what you believe or the number of people that already value photography?

Our responsibility is not just to grab the low-hanging fruit of people who already want what we do, our responsibility is to create new believers. It is completely within our ability to make the market as large as we want..

 

- trr

 

I’ve been pretty happy with this week’s content.  If you haven’t already checked out Monday’s post “Who wants to shop at JC Penney’s” head over now - It gets referenced in next week’s podcast.  Also, check out this week’s podcast with Spencer Boerup where we talk about easier sales for photographers.  And if you’d like to make some more money buy his Salesographer product here.

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