Sexy Business Workshops

What’s new?

Hey everyone – so as you might have noticed we ended up taking a few weeks off from the blog.  If you didn’t check out the last 2 podcasts with Paul Gero or the episode previous to those with Jonathan Canlas you ought to.  The feedback I’ve been hearing is that they are among our best and I’m very proud of them.

I posted the last episode with Paul then Jamie and I took off for our first real vacation in a few years.  It was strange – all the traveling we have been doing for work made us really wish we were home instead.  That’s not to say that we didn’t enjoy ourselves, just that we probably should be working on enjoying the home that we have instead of looking for our fun in other places. That thought has lead me to a few realizations.  First, is that it is very easy to look everywhere but home for the answers.

So in an effort to travel less we’re bringing the SEXY BUSINESS Process to Google+.  We’ve piloted out the SEXY BUSINESS process one-on-one over Google+ and we’re pleased with the results we’re seeing now.  So if you’ve been curious about the process but haven’t been able to make the dates or locations now is the time to get serious about the financial side of your business and develop a brand that tells the market exactly why they should hire you.  Options available from $300-5000 (most people would be happy at $1750).

Also, we’re growing up and joining the rest of the blogging world and starting up a subscription service.  I’ve been very hesitant to do so as I hate for anyone to think that we’re going to spam you but there are a few advantages.  Chief among those advantages is understanding who our audience is, where they are coming from and what content they are checking out.  Anyone who has gone through the SEXY BUSINESS process knows that we like to gather data so that we have a good sense of reality and we can plan or adjust accordingly.  So if you’re willing to sign up for the subscription and provide us with some data we’ll be sure to only give you information that we think will be a benefit to you.  First up is that you’ll receive the first 9 extended editions of our podcast for free when you sign up.  That used to cost $18 and kills about 20 hours of editing time, so we hope you’ll enjoy it.  In the coming weeks we’ll be adding some more subscription-exclusive podcasts and article content that we think you’ll enjoy.  So please sign up in the subscription box in the sidebar to the right.

Thanks for staying with us.  We’ll have more articles coming this week and more podcasts coming soon.

TL;DR version -

- trr

Hey everyone – anything you can do to help grow the blog is always appreciated.  So please share this content with everyone that you know.  Much appreciated.

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Don’t Do “Customer Service” at Me

I’ve been a customer of my bank for almost 20 years.  I’ve been with them longer than most of the employees I interact with.  Since we moved almost 2 years ago we’ve still been operating under our Illinois S-corp and recently went through the paperwork to close that one out and open up a proper Georgia corporation.  So we had to open new bank accounts.

And that’s where the fun happens.  We had to work with a new banker to get everything taken care of.  God bless him, he really followed his customer service training.  He scheduled a whole meeting to take care of our needs.  He laid out everything that we were going to talk about and do, made lists to manage expectations, he printed out a bunch of documents explaining everything and put them into marked folders and included keychains and water bottles and logo-festooned backpacks.  Great customer service.

Except that we didn’t need any of it.  I didn’t need a set of discussion points and action items laid out for me.  I didn’t need documents that I’ll never look at nicely filed in a folder that I now have to recycle.  I didn’t need a 90 minute meeting (or a backpack).  What we really needed was a few accounts opened in a new business name – something they really could have done over the phone in a few minutes or maybe at worst at the counter to sign some paperwork.

I know that the banker was happy with his performance.  I know that he felt that he was checking all the good-customer-service-boxes.  I know that he was doing his job as prescribed.  So on his side of the relationship he feels like it was a job well done.  Which is totally understandable if he decides what determines good customer service.

But he wasn’t trying to service my needs, we was just doing customer service at me.  He didn’t bother to understand what I actually needed, he had already decided what I needed (incorrectly) and rushed forward obliviously.  We have a lack of alignment, because he thinks he knocked it out of the park and I’ve had my time wasted and now I’ve got middle-class-guilt over throwing a bunch of useless paper away.  I had a similar experience recently when I purchased a new car.  The dealership spent all kinds of time talking about future service and warranties and all kinds of nonsense I don’t even remember in the name of good customer service.  While they were servicing at me they mentioned that I’d be getting a call to ask them about their customer service and good ratings were very important to them.  We nodded through what seemed like hours of “good service” and then stood around like flaming idiots the first time we needed to put gas in the car and couldn’t figure out where the release button was on the fuel door.  Lack of alignment.

I’m bringing this up for a specific reason.  In our industry the “common sense” tells you that you need to do so many little “customer service” tasks that none of us could really ever keep up.  What with the emails, the phone calls, the gifts, the meetings, the packaging, etc. there is a lot of pressure to expend an enormous amount of our time doing customer service at the client – are we entirely certain that the things we’re doing are an appreciated benefit to the client?

Do the clients need and want more meetings and more emails or are we just taking up their time because we think we should?  We have websites and blogs as separate entities – does the client understand why even though we accept this convention?  Everyone goes gaga over packaging – does the client really need money spent on cards and folders and ribbon and boxes for something that is specifically disposable by nature?   Most of us hope clients will email us with an inquiry, then we’ll email back and maybe set up meetings and send pricing info – why so many back-and-forth steps to initiate a relationship?  Most of us hand over nicely printed contracts and pricing and paperwork – does the client really want to store and refer to this stuff, or does it just make us feel good?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have client contact or nice collateral.  What I am saying is that it is probably worth spending a little time thinking about whether this stuff is really a benefit to the client and the overall process.  Because most business-owners I know are overworked and their to-do list is overflowing and ever-growing.  Don’t add more crap to the list to stress yourself out if it isn’t a benefit to the client.

I used to require a bunch of meetings, now I let the client book me if they want with far fewer steps.  I used to have pretty packaging for everything, then I realized that the client wants to enjoy their album and they aren’t going to put that box on their coffee table.  I used to have all kinds of printed paperwork to hand over, then I realized that they don’t save it and don’t refer to it.  I’m still working on the post-job process, since I suspect that the clients don’t want to have to approve as much as I’m asking them to.

So think about every touch point the client has with your business from start to finish and evaluate whether or not it is a real benefit from their perspective or not.  If you remove a few steps from your process and get more aligned with your client’s needs it will be a big win for everyone.

- trr

 

P.S. – SEXY BUSINESS LAS VEGAS is on tap for this week, and then we’ll be hanging around for WPPI.  So posts will be light but I’m sure I’ll have plenty to talk about coming soon.  Please get in on the SEXY BUSINESS and check out one of our upcoming workshops in TUCSON, ATLANTA and BOSTON.  Our last BOSTON workshop sold out in a week!

If you’re looking for direction, clarity, and a specific plan for proactively attracting more business, and the right business.  Can you tell the market exactly why they should hire you?  Get in answered at the WORKSHOP.

SEXY BUSINESS TESTIMONIALS – Andree Kehn

How would you describe your business before you came to the workshop?  What were you doing?  What were you worried about?  What were you selling/communicating?  How were you performing?

I had a pretty good idea of who my target market was, but I wasn’t putting anything out on my website that I had any particular credentials to serve them. I serve a pretty funky, individualistic and irreverent crowd. I had spent a number of years working at fairs and festivals (as a carny) and had kept that under wraps as it felt white-trashy and pathetic. I knew deep in in my heart that it was a great adventure, but I thought it would make me seem less professional and insecure. I had been spending a lot of energy trying to cultivate an image that would fit in with other wedding photographers. Ha – no such luck anyway.

Fortunately, I had not wasted any time trying to make my photos look like everyone else’s. I have my own photography style and sense of humor; I am always trying to make different unusual images. I had attracted my audience by showing the images, but had done nothing to talk about who I was as a human being on my website.

What did you learn in the workshop?  How did your perception of your business change?  How did your feelings/satisfaction/happiness change after the workshop?

I learned to just be brave about being myself with people I didn’t know. My close friends recognize me as the lovable freak that I am, but I never ran with it as a business identity.

I am much more satisfied with my business now. I am more open with my lifestyle choices (living somewhat itinerantly in order to swim in the ocean as much as I want in the summer and ski all winter.)  I am more comfortable with cashing in on my lifestyle credentials. I gave myself authority to serve the funkier market that I target.

How would you describe the workshop?  Why should someone go to the SB workshop?

You should take the course, to uncover what differentiates your business from everyone else’s. It gave me a roadmap and guiding principles from which to make decisions in the future. I am much clearer on who I am as a business and can run decisions past these principles to help me decide if a business decision is a good one.

As a case in point, I had decided (before Sexy Business) that I would be vocal on Gay Marriage. I believe in the cause strongly, and it is the only “political” stand that I take in public. Being vocal about this has won me the respect of my current clients. Maine just legalized gay marriage and, it was a no-brainer to go City Hall at midnight when a the first marriage licenses were going to be issued and the first wedding was to be held. I used my newspaper connections to to get into City Hall and I shot the event as a photojournalist, not as a “wedding photographer”. I then posted it all over my blog and facebook. It is a cause that my target market feels strongly about (I have heard it mentioned during more than one wedding ceremony) and to be unequivocal in my support had won me many “likes” on Facebook.

 

Regardless of the gain it brings my business, I am happier being open about it, and even happier still about any business it might have lost me. Any potential clients that would be turned off by this (or anything else on my website) can enjoy a “Good Riddance” from me.

 

- AK

 

Our Mystic, Boston, and Las Vegas workshops have already sold out this year.  There are still spots open in Chicago (April 21-24) and we’ll be announcing new workshops in Atlanta and (probably) Boston again later in this year.  Check out he SEXY BUSINESS page for more information and to get on the waiting list for Atlanta or Boston send me an email at [email protected].

 Interested in finding more satisfaction for both yourself and your clients?  REGISTER FOR AN UPCOMING SEXY BUSINESS Workshop HERE.

 

Episode 20 – AMTF Photography Business Podcast: Chicken$#!+ with Daniel Lateulade, Alan Abrams and Josh Gull

For the first time on the podcast we’ve got a roundtable discussion on pricing and the implications where you set your starting, average and top-level price points.  All three guys are SEXY BUSINESS graduates, friends of mine, and kick-ass photographers you should be aware of.  Check out the episode and let us know what you think about pricing in the comments below

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Check out Alan here – Long Island Wedding Photographer Alan Abrams

Check out Daniel here – Fort Lauderdale Wedding Photographer Daniel Lateulade

Josh’s website – Nashville Tennessee Wedding Photographer Josh Gull

And if you haven’t heard them yet I totally recommend checking out one of Josh’s previous podcasts -

 

We have a bunch of podcast guests lined up, and we’re always looking for new topics and guest suggestions.  So please send your questions, comments and referrals my way.  Also, help the podcast grow by sharing it out – if you like it tell a friend and if you hate it tell and enemy.

Many thanks

- trr

 

P.S. – The Boston SEXY BUSINESS Workshop sold out in 5 days.  We only have 1 spot left in our Las Vegas Workshop immediately prior to WPPI (March 7-10) – scratch that, Vegas is SOLD OUT!.  Still spots open in Chicago (april 21-24) - get the info and book your spot now!.

SEXY BUSINESS TESTIMONIAL – Daniel Lateulade

Our 2013 SEXY BUSINESS WORKSHOPS have been announced – we’ve got dates in Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, and a Vegas workshop immediately prior to the WPPI convention.  I’m hoping that many of you will attend.  Our Workshops page does a pretty good job of explaining the goals, but I think most folks would like some real world results to go on.  Fort Lauderdale Wedding Photographer Daniel Lateulade attended the first ever SEXY BUSINESS Workshop, this is his take on the value of the workshop:

How would you describe your business before you came to the workshop?  What were you doing?  What were you worried about?  What were you selling/communicating?  How were you performing?

Before I attended the workshop, I was trying hard to be like all the other seemingly successful photographers I saw around me, and failing miserably. I love documentary coverage, and decided that the best way to pursue that would be to offer full day coverage — needless to say, my brand message of “I’m just like the other guys, but I’ll stay longer” wasn’t doing what I hoped for my business.

What did you learn in the workshop?  How did your perception of your business change?  

Todd and Jamie taught me to stop doing what I’d been doing — hiding my strengths in favor of trying to blend in with every other photographer in town. Instead, I learned how to take what’s different and unique about myself, my photography, and my business, and to show the customer why that difference makes me the perfect photographer to meet their unique needs. As cliche as it sounds, I couldn’t wait to get home and implement the changes — I was excited because I finally felt like my business represented who I was and what I was uniquely capable of bringing to the table, and not what I thought a photography business “should be” from looking at everyone else.

What does your business look like now?  What changes did you make?  What results are you seeing?

Business is great! There’s definitely room for growth, but my average booking has increased 75% since I attended the workshop a year ago, and I shot nearly twice as many weddings.

How would you describe the workshop?  Why should someone go to the Sexy Business Workshop?

The workshop definitely isn’t a magic bullet, and my experience has shown that you’ll only succeed to the degree that you’re willing to do the hard work Todd and Jamie give you. In my experience, the Sexy Business Workshop doesn’t teach you secrets, but it helps you to see what’s been right in front of your face all along — which is great, because it removes all the excuses to success that you’ve been feeding yourself.

Question just for fun – did your photography change after the workshop?

Not a bit, which is why I’m such a fan of Sexy Business. I changed nothing but my brand message and business model, and my business (and bank account) are dramatically different than they were a year ago!

 

Thanks for checking it out.  Hey, I admit that offering any workshop in this climate is dubious at best.  There is a bunch of bullshit out there, and a bunch of hero-worship masquerading as education.  I think most workshops make a fundamental assumption – that you need to do what someone else is doing to be successful.  Do we need more homogeneity?   Do we need more businesses copying each other?  Does the market want a slightly worse version of what someone else is doing?

We approach with a different fundamental assumption.  You don’t need to be inspired by anyone but yourself and your clients.  You don’t need to copy, you need to express what you believe and why that matters.  We’re not here to make your business anything like ours, we’re here to uncover what’s amazing about you and figure out how to communicate that to the market – oh, and we’ll also figure out how to make that definitively profitable.

If you’re interested check out or WORKSHOPS page for dates, details and registration links.  If you have any questions prior to committing drop me a line at [email protected]