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Two Quick Thoughts on Maintaining your Facebook Business Page and Purchasing Likes

Facebook pages can be wonderful sources of interaction between you, your business, and the market you are trying to reach. However, this wonderful and free medium for delivering your brand to the marketplace must be maintained and appreciated for it to be a successful arm of your marketing body.

I’ve created and maintained a few facebook pages for my various companies over the years. One was easy to launch, expand, and utilize….the other, is not so much. I’ve learned a great deal from these two pages:

1. Content First

Establishing a concentrated and deliberate message within your facebook page can take a haphazard collection of random thoughts and turn it into a marketing machine reaping daily or weekly rewards.

My more successful page, facebook.com/redfordseniors, is a place to share our high school senior portraits, offers, and expertise. The marketplace is vast, yet concentrated on a particular age range and location. The content is directed at our local clientele, fans of high quality senior portraits, and our brand in general. We aren’t mixing message or playing games, we are showing off our work, allowing for comments and information exchange, and doing so for a specific audience. This page grows very well. It is not going to be a 50k like page for a while. There aren’t THAT many potential clients in this area. We’ve grown by a few hundred likes every year and they are 100% organic. (not paid for)

We grow by constantly updating the page, adding new work, and relevant content.

2. Paying for LIkes is Cheating (But Can Be Necessary)

I don’t like the idea of paying for likes, but I get it. I know why it is done, yet I still refuse to do it. I will not buy likes, and it may be to my detriment, but for the sake of the cause I will sacrifice myself.  Once the idea was introduced, I thought about it. It would be so much prettier to have a collection of 1,100 likes compared to my 60 on my wedding entertainment business page facebook.com/redforddjs . However, the 60 are made up of personal relationships and many past, happy clients. I LOVE that my likes are real, as I can name every one of them and even refer a new client to any of them to brag about my services. Of the clients who contact me, this has not affected their search and inquire. I CAN’T say that it hasn’t swayed a few away from the DJ with only 60 likes to a company with 10,000 likes. But my brand is not a flashy, in your face DJ service. I specialize in personalized service, as a small business, not a mega-dj-complex. I’ll keep the slow build going.

Whether you choose to allow for the likes to slowly grow on your page or choose to pay a foreign country to demand every citizen ‘like’ your page, it’s up to you. Be mindful that with every ‘like’ purchased you are diminishing the concept, your brand, and your integrity. But, it’s your call.

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Making New Years Resolutions Work in 2012

Goals are the map that lead us where we want to go. Writing down and reviewing your goals are the difference between dreaming and planning.

The problem with our ever changing world is that our goals get away from us as we get distracted.

Make 2012 the year you actually get something done!

Here are 5 simple goal enhancers to keep your goals in your mind until you’ve taken steps to achieve them

1. Set your computer password to your goal use distractions to your advantage. If your regular work and social life get in the way of achieving your hearts true desires, then stay efficient at work, but have a constant reminder of your goals. Having to write ‘IwantToBeAnAuthor5x a day will be to your goal’s advantage.

Goal Setting Practices

Goal Setting Practices

2. Take a Picture of your goal and make it your home screen

it’s a subtle reminder everyday of what you’re working toward.

 

3. Label your iphone alarm clock with a goal reminder a less subtle reminder of what is important to you. You’ll start your day with that reminder everyday. The morning is by far the best time to be reminded of your goals, as compared to the night time. At night we get excited, but tired and the quality of our effort are distorted. We think we’re making major progress because we’re burning the midnight oil, while we’re actually just missing out on sleep with mediocre work.

Goal Setting Practices

Goal Setting Practices

4. Set a reminder to harass you everyday and promise not to stop it until youve completed your goal making long term decisions in the heat of your goal desire (such as midnight on new years eve) can be effective if there is a consistent reminder. I’d suggest rather than just writing down your goal in your phone notes app, set it in your calendar and make it a daily reminder alert. Don’t stop it until you’ve completed your goal!

5. Write every goal you have, in specific terms, every night and review every morning. Consistently reviewing your goals is essential to their completion.All the above ideas are fun and will likely have an impact, but the simple act of daily attention to what it is that you really want will do more for you in the short and long terms than you can possibly imagine. Your brain’s power to move you in the right direction will blow you away and you’ll quickly become addicted to your own success and achievement.

I wish you all the best and have a very productive 2012!

All thoughts, Kevin Redford

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The Value of Time

The days of wasting people’s time are over. We can no longer expect to get to ‘yes’ via the same practices we’ve grown accustom. The days of taking a prospect out to lunch or 18 holes of golf are numbered. The major benefit to the prospect of going out to fancy lunch or taking the afternoon to play golf was the luxury of the gift.  Today, where even 15 seconds can feel like an eternity, I’ve found my prospects are more receptive to the gift of time. Being able to present your case, leading with benefits over features, in a short and easy to digest method can be the most effective sales technique.

The need for the products and/or services we provide has not changed. Whether we offer a window cleaning service or business changing widgets, the need has grown and so has our list of things to do. The recession can be somewhat to blame as more and more of our buyers have had to take on additional duties as a part of company restructuring or the lay offs. The same things need done but with fewer hands. Our prospects of gone into survival mode and the one commodity most effected by the fewer hands are the fewer hours.

Four things you can do:

Lead with Your Ability to Cut Time– I always start a call with ‘this will take literally 2 minutes of your time, unless you’re really interested. Then it may take 5 minutes.’ I do mean it however, so don’t just apply this to your regular call/visits. If needed, trim your time so that key elements are hit and interest is gained.

Note the Time You Will Save In the Future– The gift of time does not stop with the initial sales call, be of service to the point that you are taking on all the time-wasting responsibility of your prospect. Sell time and they’ll always buy.

DO NOT CUT CORNERS – Many think that a killer way to cut a sales call time down is to suggest they do some additional research online. While a solid online presence is required, do not ask your prospect to do more work in the guise of saving them time. All you do then is add much needed time. Be thorough, effective, and efficient with your call/visits.

Don’t Be a Long-Winded Person– How many of us have that person or two in our lives we dread having to call back because while they’re likable and maybe even do wonderful things for us, but my goodness can they drag a conversation on…?  You avoid calling them back, so too do their sales leads. Don’t be that guy or girl. Be the person they know they can squeeze a quick buying call in in just a few minutes.

 

GIve the gift of time and your sales calls with be more beneficial to you, and your client, and will they likely lead to a faster ‘yes.’

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Social Media Photography Demand

BE IN SOCIAL-MEDIA DEMAND

I specialize in High School senior photography, so my marketing advice will often lead to examples of success we’ve had in this aspect of our industry, but many of the concepts are universal. Social Media is certainly a High School Senior and Children Photography game. High School seniors are addicted to social media. Everyone wants to know what everyone is doing right this second. Are you embracing social media?

Ignore it at your own peril, reject it at your own retirement. We work in the vanity business and social media is ALL about vanity. It’s all about what ‘I’ am doing, how ‘I’ look, who ‘I’ am talking to.

Social Media is always in need of imagery. Every comment, click, status update, tweet, etc….they all need a picture. YOur clients WANT the best possible picture to represent their social persona.

IF YOU ARE IN ANY WAY RESTRICTING YOUR CLIENTS FROM UTILIZING THEIR PICTURES, YOU ARE INFURIATING THEM AND SLOWLY KILLING YOUR BUSINESS

Let’s say I am a senior. I use facebook 5 hours a day and twitter 2 hours a day. My world is online. When I go into my world, I MUST look my best.

So I go to your studio because you provide the ‘best’ image. I make a purchase and when I go home and decide I want Your Pictures to be on facebook and twitter. So I scan the picture, as best  I can (80% quality is fine by me), crop out the copyright logo, then I make it my ‘avatar’ on the two social networks. I get excited for the world to see it so I go on a facebook comment binge,. I comment on everyone’s pictures, wall posts, and status updates. My New Picture is EVERYWHERE.

I’m sure you’re thinking it’s either

a)    Great for my studio-pictures out there and I guarantee her friends ask her where she got the picture and I’ll get that ‘word of mouth’ marketing kickstarted. (WRONG: Friends don’t ask. If they don’t see the logo, they don’t care.  It’s the least effective form of ‘word of mouth’ marketing you’ll get this year.)

or

b)    Illegal-I’ll Sue.

(UNLIKELY: you aren’t going to sue.  We both know that suing a 17 year old for copyright is nothing more than desperate attempt to salvage minor damages, DESTROY’s the company’s image, and quite frankly a process that will have you blind on paperwork in no time.)

SOLUTION: Find a way to control your work in social media in a manner that benefits you and your clients. Create a scenario where every client gets 1 or 2 Social Media images with a purchase. Create a consistent logo that is constant on every client order. (re:branding) Be the facebook friendly photographer, obsessed with creating high quality images and making your clients look their best on social networks.

 

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What This Senior Photographer Learned By Selling My Own Work

Do you have what it takes to sell your photography? Many photographers choose not to handle the selling of their work. Many leave it to professional sales people or a spouse. I’ll be honest, selling your own stuff is tough. I’ve been a professional photographer for the past 13 years and even today I get anxious when presenting and selling my work.

There is just something about dealing in the world of personal art, the process of seeing an image before it’s created and then attempting to interpret that art into a portrait and then asking for money for the interpretation, that can rattle the best of us. I bit the bullet this year and committed to selling at least 50% of the images I shot.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

Shooting then Selling is Trial By Fire.

I’ve been both guys for years.  The photographer and the salesperson.12 years in photography, 10 years in Sales.                 I know what it’s like to handle a model/senior and with work him/her to put together a desirable selection of portraits. I also know what it’s like to sell the work of another photographer. It’s far easier to be the salesperson only. There is no attachment, nothing personal. I present the work, practicing proven sales strategies, then create a package. All along the way taking absolutely no offense to the client disliking or not appreciating particular images. In the sales room it’s common practice in my role to let those negative opinions roll off quickly so as to get to the good stuff that gets a big sale. But As the photographer shooting the portraits then selling, what a whole different sensation!  Now when they don’t like a pose I want to scream

‘Why?!? Look at that again! That’s gorgeous stuff!’

I don’t, but I learn from it. I will tell any photographer who has not sold their own images for awhile: Commit to selling some of your own work once a week or so. This will do more for your technique, in-studio personality, and pose/scene decisions than anything else you could ever do. Hearing first hand what clients like, hate, or approach indifferently is humbling, but terribly helpful.

Art is in the Eye of the Checkbook Holder

You can play with sun flare, obscure poses, artistic interpretations all that you want, but if you want to sell portraits for high profits you better damn well listen to what your paying customers have to say when you are in that studio. There is no amount of convincing on this planet that can sell a mom who just doesn’t ‘get it’. If she doesn’t like the leading lines that define the image, or she thinks that too much background distracts from her daughter, than you have artistically created an image that will never be seen again. Your art is great, I’m sure, but if dad doesn’t like it and the senior isn’t sold, then it’s just a waste of your time. This does not mean to stop trying new things. This means, listen and learn and approach new looks as a means for improvement to your skill and your ‘go-to-poses.’ Don’t get huffy when they don’t buy it.The same image is seen two very different ways:  You see your art, She only sees her kid. She will buy what she thinks is best for her kid and not what’s likely to impress at the state convention.

In Studio Attitude, Service, and Demeanor Mean A LOT

How you handle the model and his or her handlers (in my case the mom or dad of the senior) will go a long way in the salesroom. Let’s face it, half of what they want is a GREAT experience. I hate to say this, because I refuse to accept it as Law, but a great personality on a photographer can sometimes make up for not-so-great photography. If the senior feels that she was treated like a model/celebrity and all along the session you (photographer) are going out of your way to service and portraits but because they want their ‘new friend’ to feel appreciated for your work.  So rather than seeing this is an excuse to get lazy and treat the client better, just keep up the great work and treat the client better for even bigger numbers!

It always comes down to great photography, great service-based approach, and the photographer’s attitude. Master the concept of creating a wonderful session experience and you can assure that your sales average will be where you want it to be.

Kevin Redford is a speaker on the subjects of Photography, Generation Y, Social Media, Sales, and Marketing.Educational DVDs on the subjects of Senior Portrait Marketing, Senior Portrait Sales, and Social Media for Senior Photography are available by contacting Kevin at me@KevinRedford.com. Please add comment  or Subscribe today!

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Raising Your Prices

About Raising your prices…..Do it.

I know we are in a recession and by no means am I suggesting a blanket addition of 10% to all of your current pricing, but general laws of sales…if you want more money, raise your prices.  Raising your prices is optional and it makes you a better company….if done correctly. It’s all based on knowing the right time.

Are you too Busy for your own good? 

If so then you are likely too busy for your clients good and your business’ good, too. Being overworked is detrimental especially in a creative industry like photography. If you are constantly running around like a nut trying to fulfill all of your clients’ needs then there is a chance that those clients aren’t truly getting the best of what you can do. If you have more business than you can handle, the best and easiest way to work that number down to manageable group, all the while maintaing the same income, is to raise your prices. You will lose some, yes-it’s by design, but the ones who stay will be more profitable and treated better.

Your Competition is More Expensive…

This sentence is typically finished with ‘therefore perceived to be better.’ I can’t say for everyone how good your work is or has been. I can only say that if you have a strong client base with a significant retention or return rate then you likely have a desirable product. Desirable products maintain and grow in price. I take my family to Disneyworld every January. I first of all don’t know the price increase year to year, but I have my assumptions that it’s roughly 5-10% each January. I however continue to go because their product is at such a premium to my family. Sure I could take them to local amusement parks, or Universal Studio, but I have a relationship with Disney and a subliminal commitment to them. I know the cost of business goes up, so I accept their rate raise.

You’re truly worth it

I have been a professional photographer for years. I don’t shoot weddings, but I do go to weddings every Saturday.

I’ve been a wedding Dj for 10 years. When I first made the jump into the industry a great friend was in charge of booking my gigs. His company had the established name, I helped it to grow, but as time went on I realized the market could only afford to pay one of us for my DJ services so I set out to create my own DJ booking company. Sure I had experience, but I didn’t want to hurt my friend’s booking ability by advertising as ‘previously of So n So Entertainment’, so I entered the market basically as a new act.

The Wedding DJ market is similar to the Wedding Photography market because the cost to ‘get into the game’ is not that high so the  competition is everywhere. Honestly, it would have greatly helped to have associated myself with a very well known agency, but I wanted to do it all on my own. I had to set a price for my Entertainment service. The logical choice would have been to enter the market at a price that most ‘newbies’ come in and gradually grow to what I actually wanted. I decided rather to present my service as the same price my friend was getting for me with his established name.

My first contact with a bride was the big test. She sent an email and asked my pricing. I stated the price boldly and with confidence, because I know what I can do and that I am worth it. I booked her in 5 minutes. I have a since created a wonderful part-time company for myself. I attribute my instant success in the DJ market to my confidence in the product I sell. (To this day I have never mentioned my association with the other company as a means to getting the sale.)

Lesson learned, believe in your work and they too will believe in it as well. If a client asks me if my photography is truly worth what we charge, I can honestly look at him/her and say Yes with confidence because I believe in the product. We are worth what we charge.

Your Game Is Flawless

There are tons of new photographers creating their companies and blogs each day. Many have  a very nice reputation for creating wonderful pictures and they are renowned for their shooting styles. Yet, they quickly become infamous for their band end nightmares. Orders taking 4-6 months or longer, a tedious sales process and horrific final results. The highest paid professionals in any field will tell you that what they are most known for is only a percentage of what they are paid for. The value is in the entire product and not just the flashy tip of that iceberg. Educate, Enlighten, and Enthuse your clients and they will praise you from the rooftops. Be the photographer will the reputation for a flawless and pleasant experience and your price can be whatever you want it to be.

Kevin Redford is a speaker on the subjects of Photography, Generation Y, Social Media, Sales, and Marketing.Educational DVDs on the subjects of Senior Portrait Marketing, Senior Portrait Sales, and Social Media for Senior Photography are available by contacting Kevin at me@KevinRedford.com. Please add comment  or Subscribe today!

 

 

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This Abercrombie ‘Situation’

This is Abercrombie & Fitch ‘Situation’is absolutely absurd and it’s a lot bigger than the suits at Abercrombie even realize just yet. What in the world could have lead Abercrombie and Fitch Co. to tell the most popular stars of the most popular television show among their most popular age demographic that they want them to STOP WEARING THEIR PRODUCT IN PUBLIC? Are they out of their minds?

JERSEY SHORE CAST FROM NYMAG

JERSEY SHORE CAST FROM NYMAG

This is the ideal lesson for todays Marketing and PR professionals. One day, in a PR class this decision will be discussed and debated. Congratulations, guidos and guidettes, you just got added to another significant pop culture folk tale.

This is a lesson for today’s marketers, as there are 3 things to learn from this one bad decision.

  1. Know your Customer

MTV’s the Jersey Shore is the most popular show among 17-24 year olds by a mile. They love watching these 8 Jerseyites as they party and hook up. They’ve created a new wing to today’s culture. The stars of the show are infamous, yet terribly intriguing. Regardless of how many ‘regular’ people feel about the show, the 17-24 crowd can’t get enough of them. So Abercrombie’s mistake was allowing for those removed from this demographic, those not understanding of this demographic, to take a significant stance in the face of this generation. The customers of A&F would have never agreed to asking Sitch to stop wearing the clothes, they likely don’t care if he does or does not, but now the suits  have insulted their friend.

  1. Know Your Goal in your PR decisions

What in the world could have been the goal or benefit to asking these popular star TO NOT wear the brand? How does that decision translate to bigger and better sales? Would publicly asking Derek Jeter to NOT wear your brand of batting gloves really lead to a better bottom line?

Is there a hope that enough dejected Abercrombie clients who ‘jumped’ ship when Jersey Shore came out would suddenly come back? Are there enough non-partying types that will jump into action and support Abercrombie for this decision? Probably not, Abercrombie likely has all the clients it can get and all the clients they deserve.

Did Abercrombie expect this to go over as a ‘all publicity is good publicity’ style decision? Because I would doubt they feel good about their 9% stock drop over a 24 hour period.

  1. Beware Angering Social Media Giants

Abercrombie’s clients are on twitter and facebook. It’s where they LIVE. Do you know who has a very large presence on these two networks? Jersey Shore Stars and Jersey Shore faithful do, and it’s a rule in Jersey that you always take care of family.  Do you know who has a MUCH smaller influence socially (comparatively)? A&F.

Once the decision came out the stars and fans went on defense to their millions of followers and the 9% drop is the start of something that could be significant.

Allowing traditional PR thinking to persuade decisions is one thing, but this went beyond misreading the usefulness of a promotion. This was anti-promotion. This wasn’t smart.