SUCCESSFUL PORTRAIT PROMOTION 1978
This is one of the portrait promotions that was left by Lisle Ramsey with those of you who attended his first seminar. Richard Wallace has put this to work successfully and has discovered there are certain ground rules that must be observed to make it successful. This is a step-by-step action plan for you to have the same success as Richard Wallace.
The promotion is a voucher that is handed out by a retailer in your town to his customers. The voucher is handed out in the name of the retailer and entitles the customer to a free 5 x 7 portrait of their family group.
CHOOSING THE RETAILER
The retailer should preferably be a men's wear and women's wear fashion shop. If it is an exclusive fashion shop all the better. However it must be a respected business in the town for this promotion to achieve the most.
APPROACHING ThE RETAILER
Before you make the approach, you must have done all of your homework, found out about the type of business he runs, does he send out monthly accounts, is he well respected etc. My next move would be then to have a sample voucher run off by your printer so you can take him along a finished printed voucher bearing his name so that he can see precisely what you are talking about. The retailer that Richard approached was very enthusiastic about the idea and in fact he paid for the printing of the voucher. This I can recommend being a standard procedure, insomuch that this then gives both you and the retailer an investment in the promotion... .his is very minor, nevertheless it is an investment. This means that when you are questioned by the people that come in to have their photograph taken how this is done or who is paying for it the answer can be fairly said that "we are sharing the costs".
The expiry date on the voucher should be 30 days after it is posted. This means that they have to make the appointment for the sitting within a month of receipt of the voucher. It does not mean that you have to do all of the sittings in the month, but can do what Peter Clarke does on his mystery envelope campaigns and make the appointments up to three months ahead. However in this particular promotion should you get sufficient appointments to book that far ahead, I think you should consider some other alternative to move the people through your studio. This may be hiring another photographer for a month or so.... organising a professional sales person or working day and night.
METHOD OF DISTRIBUTION
The method of distribution is for your retailer to send the vouchers out with his monthly accounts. This of course neglects all of the people who pay cash, but there is no other way that I can see where you can get many vouchers out to people of good standing quickly, unless shop assistants are also given vouchers to be offered to cash customers during that month. In Richard's case, there were 350 vouchers sent out, in a town with a population of 2,000.
WHY A FASHION SHOP?
The reason for choosing a fashion shop is that then you will hopefully get in as prospective clients, all the people with money to spend. This I feel is the secret of the success of this promotion in so much if you handed these vouchers out in Woolworth's, or some other store that depends upon reasonably low prices and high turnover, you will have a bigger chance of the person who receives the voucher, of coming, having their photograph taken and accepting your 5 x 7 print which would be the last you ever saw of them until they got their next voucher. Richard has found the fail rate on this promotion to be extremely low.
BEFORE THE PROMOTION
You must have your business completely organised this promotion in a reasonable size town can fetch you in a minimum of one third of the people whom these vouchers are sent to. This means a tremendous amount of business which you'll have to be geared to handle.
A 16 on camera or 16 on back for your camera.
A print projector.
A viewing room for viewing the enlarged copies, the proofs. This can be a special room or your studio.
A studio large enough to handle the average size family group.
Good reliable electronic flash and standardized lighting.
MAKING THE APPOINTMENT
The day after the accounts go out in the mail you will start getting telephone calls. Some of these people telephoning maybe a little embarrassed about taking advantage of a freebee like this. You must make it as easy as you can for them when they telephone and put them at their ease. Treat everybody like they are going to spend $1,000 and you'll be surprised at what you get from these sittings.
Do not schedule the appointments 15 minutes apart, but give yourself the same length of me you would give a normal family group sitting, which should be somewhere between 30 and 120 minutes. It is most important that you allow plenty of time to do this sitting and not to rush them, if you are to achieve the results that you wish.
GALLERY OF ORIGINALS
You should have on the wall a gallery of pictures in the form of a family group, individuals, parents, grandparents etc. This should be done as well as possible in an area that people can associate with a lounge at home. By having this type of display, you can discuss this with the people and sell them on the idea of galleries of photographs, rather than 5 x 4 prints or whatever. It is the concept of the idea of a gallery that you must impress upon them. Once you have done this you'll find that they will no longer be thinking of a single print to go on a wall and the rest perhaps on a mantelpiece, but will be thinking of a gallery of originals. Your gallery must be well done and it must appear feasible to the people. You must learn to talk about decorating rather than hanging some prints on the wall. The less price is talked about the better.
l6on film is ideal, with a 127 lens... .very few of your customers will order over a 20x 24 and you will find that up to this size, l6on is ideal. It would pay you if necessary to purchase a l6on back for your RB67 if you do not have one. If this promotion is successful as it should be, you'll find the difference in the film used to be substantial.
Your lighting must be kept simple and it is preferable that you work towards an ideal aperture of F8. F8 has been chosen after a lot of re by Richard Wallace for the following reasons:-
F.5.6 you have insufficient depth of field.
F11 is too dark when you stop down to look at the effect of your vignette, so by a matter of elimination you end up with F.8.
NUMBER OF EXPOSURES PER SITTING....
It is important that you do a good job on this sitting and that you do not limit the whole sitting to five or six exposures. However to the other degree you do not waste film merely for the sake of giving a large number of previews for them to look at, you make every photograph count and do enough so you have something good to sell.
When the sitting arrives you must be all ready and waiting for them and not have to start arranging the studio whilst they wait for you to get organised. You should of course greet them by name and know every member of the family. You will start off and do the family group, with simple lighting and beautiful arranging. Once you have photographed that successfully you will then completely dismantle the complete sitting (if you know what I mean) and photograph the parents together. Once you have done that you will then photograph all the children together.
To get to and from the studio, they should bypass your reception room or your selling area, which have your gallery of originals hanging and you should pause momentarily and discuss this with them to sow the seed at an early stage.
1999 The next two sections are OUT OF DATE but I will leave them it in to give you some direction rather than none…
GET THE FILM TO THE LAB
It is most important that the lab is aware of what you are doing, so that they can help you to the utmost in getting the work back to you.... it is most important that you have the proofs back in the hands of your client within 10 days from the appointment. Premier proofs are the size that you will need from the lab, as this keeps your investment down to the minimum.
The previews should be handed to your customer with as little work done on them as possible. The more work you do on the previews in the way of packaging, making them more pretty, doing up flash presentations, the longer it is going to take you to get through all your work. You need to keep your time invested on each sitting in this section down to the minimum. Whether the preview is mounted on gold card or completely unmounted is not going to affect the total order. I've enclosed a photograph of a typical sitting that Richard Wallace has done and how they are passed out to his client. I can recommend this along with his policy that the proofs should be in the clients hands no longer than five days. There should be no flash order sheets or any pieces of paper sent out with the order that they can write out their order before you have had an opportunity to talk to them when they return to place their order.
ACCEPTING THE ORDER
The success of this promotion, to a degree I feel, depends upon you the photographer meeting with and talking to your clients when they return to place their order. This is unless you have a super sales person, then you must do all of the selling. The reason for this is that your clients will consider you to be the expert as to what looks best, what size it should be and you will find that you are able to sell larger because of these reasons a lot easier than any of your assistants. They should have of course placed an appointment to see you to return the previews and when they come to place the order, give them as much time as is necessary to complete the order. This could be 15 minutes, it could be 2 hours, but like the sitting, they must have plenty of time so they can get the message that this is not a rush job and that you intend putting a lot of work into it.
When they come back to discuss the previews with you, the first thing you must do before you try to start selling at all, is to get the free photograph out of the way. (Don't be tempted to give the value of the free print off the price of a larger photograph. Some people will ask for this, but point out that the free 5 x 7 is a gift from the retailer and quite separate from any other photographs they may want). Once you have done this and fulfilled your obligation to them and if you have done your job well talking about the galleries of originals, you'll find the rest just flows along.
1999 There are currently several schools of thought on sales and you would be well advised to check then out.
THE PRINT PROJECTOR
The print projector should be located in a room that is warm, you must have comfortable seating for your customers, it must be able to be darkened... Phil Charis has his lights on a rheostat, so he can turn them down to whatever level he wants... .and you must have a nice range of frames, a card that reflects the light well so that the premier proofs when projected to that size, look good.
It is most important that you do not use the print projector to sort out which is the best preview. This should be done by just comparing one preview with the other until you have got it down to the various ones that they want. That is step one. Step two is when you start talking about the size of the prints that they want and this should be done with the aid of the print projector, projecting them up to 20 x 24 comparing this with all the other various sizes. You should be working towards a plan for the gallery of originals at this stage.. answer any questions that they have about price, but do not dwell on it and tell them - "first of all let us work out what you would like, then if it is too expensive, let us prune it down".
Once you have established the size, then you move onto frames and then extra finishes and services like Exhibitex, Canvas Mounting etc. It is reasonably important that you do it in this order rather than bit by bit and once you have got the complete order together, then you total it up and see how much it comes to. You'll possibly find that the majority of people will be surprised at how little it adds up to, however if it turns out to be more than they are prepared to pay, then you can start trimming it down a fraction, until it gets in line with the amount of money that they have to spend. Do not prejudge the customer as to how much they have to spend. It is most important that you are pleasant to them at all stages, even if they end up just by accepting your 5 x 7 print and nothing else. You never know quite when they will be back to reorder other prints.
1999 The advent of transviews has changed the presentation of above
What can you expect from a promotion like this? Well Richard Wallace sent out 350 vouchers, from which he had 115 accept his offer. Of these 115 to date 15 have accepted just the 7 x 5 and have placed no order to date. The remainder are averaging out at approximately $74.00 (1978 dollars) a sitting, 30 from 78 order so far. This means this one promotion increased Richard's turnover for this year by $8,000-$l0,000.
This I feel could be even improved if you were able to get the list of customers that these vouchers were sent to and on the last day very pleasantly telephone them and simply remind them that it is the last day for the offer.
The name of the game on this promotion is to sell, sell, sell.
1999 This promotion has formed the basis for many successful Studios throughout NZ. Some currently get sales in the thousands.
SOFT IS AN UMBRELLA
A lot of people think that the light from an umbrella is possibly as soft as you can get. Well the answer is they are right and they are wrong.
First of all the umbrella at a certain distance does give an extremely soft light, however at the wrong distance, the light is as hard as a parabolic reflector.
The secret of all this is to know precisely the distance that the light changes from soft to hard. The distance will depend precisely upon the distance the light source is from the umbrella and the size of the umbrella.
The way to find this out and to prove these statements I have just been making is to hold your hand in front of a piece of white card approximately nine inches from the card and move slowly away from the umbrella, observing the shadow that your hand casts upon the white card. You will note that the further you get away from the umbrella, the stronger the shadow from your hand becomes on the card. Once you are aware of this, it will help you when you are setting up your lighting on groups etc. and you have wondered why you sometimes get a hard shadow. If you want really soft lighting and you want the light source a reasonable distance from your subject, the only real answer is to have a real big umbrella. The lecture that I saw in on at the Long Beach Convention in California, where Larsens were presenting these facts, they showed some slides which were very interesting from the aspect that one slide showed a 60" umbrella and a 40" umbrella.
The 60" umbrella was a greater distance from the subject than the 40" umbrella, yet they were both throwing the same sort of light on the subject. The other interesting point was that from the subject's point of view, both umbrellas looked the same size because of the difference in the distance between the two from the subject.
It has become obvious during my travelling around the country that a lot of photographers are not using a wedding contract.
I would recommend this because if a wedding has been booked three to six months ahead, by the time the wedding happens, the details that have been discussed are very blurry, both to the photographer and to the bride.
If they are not blurry to the photographer it is because he has written them down, if they are blurry to the bride it's because she has not remembered precisely what she has told the photographer.
For this reason I would seriously suggest the use of some sort of contract so that both parties know precisely where they stand. At Thorpe Studios, we had several various contracts over the years that we had pinched from other people and had made up ourselves.
I have one available that I made up which I found suited most requirements. I did find on occasions this got me out of what could have been a sticky situation, because of what one could refer to as the fine print.
Several photographers reported on running specials in the form of a free 5 x 4 photograph as an inducement to get the person to come in to have a photograph taken.
All relied on the power of newspaper advertising and everybody found that the only person to make any money out of this type of promotion was the newspapers, because it simply did not pull in enough people to pay for the cost of advertising.
The conclusion everybody reached was that the only type of advertising that should be considered was direct mail advertising and to this extent a renewed interest was aroused in the letter writing computer.
Reviewing a customer complaint I think I should draw to your attention the fact that the old saying of what the customer is saying is not always what the customer means.
When you are dealing with customer complaints, this is very important to keep at the back of your mind. For example this case the customer was delivered some prints where the dress was almost white. The brides dress was of a light creamy shade and whilst there may be all factors as to why the dress came out white, the customer had some D & P prints that had a yellow colour caste in them.
Now to her the colour of the dress in the D & P prints were more like the dress than the prints supplied by the photographer. Perhaps it was over cream, but nevertheless it emphasised the point that she was trying to make.
With these facts I think the conversation should have gone something like this.
Customer. These prints of yours are no good, the ones I got back that Uncle Charlie took are much better.
You. (Laying both sets of prints out so that you can see them both). (The first things to find out is what the customer thinks is wrong with your photographs). Well Mrs Smith, in what way do you feel Uncle Charlie's prints are better?
Customer. Well the colour of the dress and the suits are a lot better.
You. (Now you've isolated the cause of the complaint down to the colour of the dress and the suits, at this stage a bell should start ringing and let you know that perhaps the dress was not white). Now let me see Mrs Smith, Mary's dress was slightly off-white wasn't it?
Customer. Yes it was a delightful shade of cream.
You. (This tells you that what she is actually saying is that the colour of the dress in your photograph is wrong, and the colour of the dress in the D & P photographs is closer but not perhaps exactly right). Oh I see and we've gone and made the dress white, well let us see if we can fix that.
Now what about the suits? Customer. Well Tom's suit was a nice shade of green, a lightish sort of green. You. Oh it was one of those colours was it.
(You also note that the D & P photographs have a slight green tinge to the suit, so you can't say that there is subject failure, even though the film may have been Sukura, printed in a Agfa machine on Fuji paper with May & Baker chemistry that was out of line).
Remember a customer, before they come in to complain, have worked themselves up into a state where they can come into complain and have justified the complaint to themselves and all of their friends have reinforced their justification.
They come in expecting to have a big resistance put up by you to correct their complaint. If you can take the wind out of their sails right from the word go by indicating that yes, they do have a complaint, often you can get down to the nitty gritty without any bad arguing right from the beginning.
I find the following phrase used to work wonders.
"I am sorry you are disappointed in these photographs, what can we do to make them right."
Right away the customer is no longer on the defensive, but can talk to you like a normal human being. Somebody that is not going to tell them they don't know what they are talking about, but somebody that is prepared to listen to them.
SUMMARY OF A TALK BY GEORGE M. TRUMAN ENTITLED HOW TO PREDICT YOUR PROFIT TWELVE MONTHS AHEAD AND ACHIEVE IT.
was given at the NZPPA Nelson convention.
He stated that talk should have been how to survive in business. His first comment was that you have to spruce up your whole marketing concept from your car to your shop, your letterhead, your advertising. Have a good look at what your image is. Some of his ideas on how to increase your turnover were a letter to engaged couples, perhaps offering them some free prints, he stressed that this had to be a individually written letter and signed by you yourself.
Wedding anniversaries. A note should be sent to couples on five year, ten year and fifteen year. Write to them, offer to go to their house and do photography of their families, make it as easy as possible.
Bowling Clubs, he suggested that perhaps photographs of members at play with a telephoto lens from the other end of the green.
Banks etc. Perhaps offer to organise an annual publication for them this is for a firm that changes staff a lot. In other words it is a year book of the staff.
Saturday morning, get out there and photograph the juniors in action. Any sports in actual fact could be good, yachting in particular. Take them and then sort them out. If there is any industrial building going on offer to do regular photographs even if it is on speculation. AMP shows - photograph the farmer and his bull, or whatever.
Retails outlets, offer to organise householders for them and of course you'll do the photographs. Set them out, because often they don't know how to set them out. Get the copy, get it all organised. Motels are another good thing in this avenue.
The standard of photography he commented in the retail business is dismal real estate agents are a good example of this.
If you sell film and cameras why not organise a safari with four of your customers, just you and your customers, take them out show them what a tele lens is like. If you can teach people to take good photographs they'll take more photographs. If you can teach them the difference between good photographs and bad photographs they'll appreciate your photography assuming that it is good.
You have to decide exactly what your business is and expand it with the changing world. The book called Future Shock said that the only thing that is constant is change. Half the children at primary school today will work in jobs that don't exist today, you must move your business as the technology moves. He gave the example that the Railways thought they were in the Railway business, where in actual fact they were in the transport business, and should of course have moved into aircraft.
Currently the Railways in America are almost out of business.
If your studio is in your home measure out exactly what you use for your business on a square foot basis, divide this into the total square footage of your home and the resulting percentage means that you can claim that percentage on your total expenses of your home i.e. power, water rates, painting, etc.
He made the point that if your business is freehold and you owe money on your house, all the interest that you pay on your house is paid after you have paid tax on it, whereas if you owed money on your business the tax is deductible before taxation, therefore if any money is owed at all it should be owed by the business rather than you yourself. Even if your business has to loan you the money to do this. He made the interesting point that every nine years on the average everybody changes houses in New Zealand.
He then went on to mention how to handle bank managers. His comment was to talk to him once a month at least. Remember that in some banks the manager sees every cheque over a certain amount. So you should tell him that you are writing out a large cheque because the chances are that he will see it anyway. Tell him what the cheque is for i.e. if you are buying a new car, just ring him up and say "Hey Bill I am writing out a cheque for the new car, the old one's clapped out" etc.
If you are operating on overdraft whatever you do you should come out of overdraft at least once a year. By doing this you allow your bank manager to get your overdraft passed head office. Even if it means not paying your accounts for a month, the main thing is that you do come out of overdraft.
He said in times of inflation borrow like mad as long as you can repay the interest, because the money is depreciating so reasonably fast. Life insurance he said is now a no-no as far as endowment policies are concerned and he says to take out term insurance which I presume maybe just straight life, but you should make the policy out in somebody else's name.
If you are owed any money the way to get paid is to ring him up if it's a large amount. Write down exactly what he said i.e. if he said I will pay you on Friday, and he doesn't pay you on Friday, ring him up, find out why and write down whatever he says to you each time. Each time you ring him lay the ground work for the next phone call until you finally get paid. This is much more satisfactory he said than going to the debt collectors.
The new poor in New Zealand are now the young families, old people are the new rich so you should be aiming a certain amount of your business for them. Hire purchase is good for young families, you can make a good profit from hire purchase if you carry yourself. Alternatively finance houses will provide the money.