We know that you’re doing business. The evidence is everywhere. You sign contracts, shoot jobs, process images and deliver products to customers. But are you taking care of business? Are you keeping in touch with customers the way you know you should? Are you getting in touch and spending time with people who can bring business your way? Are you keeping up with your blog and Facebook page? Are you taking care of business?
Successful photographers may not necessarily be better artists or technicians than their counterparts, but they do know what they are selling and what it means to be taking care of business. What they are selling is a personal relationship with their customer, and that can’t be done sitting in front of your computer, no matter how late you stay up. They understand that taking care of business means getting up out of the chair and out the door.
Yes, your blog and Facebook page are important, but they are tools in the on-going effort to build a successful photography business. To sell yourself as a photographer, you have to get out and let people know you as a person. My father, a traveling salesman all his working life, once told me: “You will never sell your products until you sell yourself.”
Great, so how do I get all of my work done? That’s a good question, but if the work is not related to marketing and selling yourself as a photographer then it might be time to re-prioritize how you spend your time. Here’s a useful exercise:
- Make a list of all of the things you do for your business today other than shooting jobs. Use broad categories like the following:
- Direct Sales
- Customer Relations
- Customer Service
- Post-Production Image Work
- Order Fulfillment
- Accounting & Administration
- Training & Education
- Now list them in order of how much time you spend on them. If your top four don’t include a. through d., then you might want to change that. It will help your business because these are the activities that lead to revenue. The next three reduce costs but don’t build the business. Training and Education is a cost you have to incur, so allocate it wisely. Use it as a marketing opportunity whenever possible.
It may seem counterintuitive to pay someone else to do work that you are perfectly capable of doing just so that you can fill out a few note cards and attend a few receptions for event planners. This is especially true if business isn’t what it should be and you need every penny you can squeeze out of every job.
Understood, but think about this: If you could spend just another few hours selling more prints and other products to existing customers you could more than pay for any post-production and order fulfillment that you are now doing yourself. You don’t even have to bring in any new customers – you just need the time to cultivate the ones you already have.
Happy customers lead to new customers, so there is an additional benefit to refocusing your efforts away from those things that don’t make you money and toward those things that do. Then you can say for real that you’re not just doing business – you’re taking care of business.