WHERE HAVE ALL THE PHOTOGRAPHERS GONE?
No matter where I go throughout New Zealand I always have a conversation with a member of the public and this has happened from Whangarei right down to Invercargill.
The conversation has usually got around to me asking ? "Can you name me a photographer Nine times out of ten the photographer they mention went out of business within the last 5 or 10 years
Then I follow this up with.. "Have you had a family group photograph done recently ?"
Again the answer is rather obvious even before it is asked.... the answer is always no and why is it no ? It is because photographers are not visible, photographers do not promote, photographers are not in the market place competing for the discretionary dollar and so consequently this dollar when it comes to be spent, the photographer has not got any show of getting any because the people don't even know he exists.
Paul Linwood-Gittings an entrepreneur who had his heyday in America through to the mid 60's used to spend 17% of his budgeted turnover (that is what he anticipated doing in the coming year ) on what he called procurement money, or, any money that was spent towards procuring customers.
He made his mark on photography in America, but even so, even though he made more money than we will see in our lifetime he still had the market untapped.
He was one of the few photographers promoting. He was a voice in the wilderness explaining the necessity to people in his district of the need to have a photograph done. The other photographers benefited from his advertising from his dollar being spent but they themselves did not add their whisper to his whisper so consequently there was no shout from photographers as a collective group calling on the public to have their portraits done.
It is time photographers in New Zealand together took a page out of Paul Linwood- Gittings notebook and allocated a percentage of their projected turnover as a group and pooled their resources and employed a competent person to put together a powerful advertising campaign and together as a group start explaining to the public the need to have professional photography done on a regular basis.
As I travel around the country I've yet to meet a photographer who has all of the business they can handle even the photographers who are doing very nicely thank you... could handle, if the clients walked through the doors an extra 100 family groups a year.
Yet none of these people are putting their heads together as a group and coming up with any concepts to increase the money spent on professional photography in any area.
Sure there are individual photographers putting on exhibitions Sure there are photographers advertising in newspapers
Sure there are photographers running specials to get a very small percentage of their prospective clients into their studios, but there is no positive campaign to make people aware of the professional photography, to make them think of professional photography on their important occasions of their life.
At all levels of our community and I've spoken to truck drivers, farmers, traffic officers (at the business end) university graduates, doctors, lawyers car salesmen... none of them could name a photographer ! All agreed that a family photograph was well overdue and all said they would have had one done had they been approached. None had been sold, none had been convinced, none had been made aware of photography.
We need to do something now! We need to do something as an Association!
We need to do something as Professional Photographers!
I don't necessarily mean radio advertising or T.V advertising or newspaper advertising or direct mailing advertising however one of these mediums will be of course the obvious medium to push, but to push it will take money and will take an involvement and a commitment by every professional photographer in New Zealand.
Every photographer will have to give a big push to photography and a personal commitment to professional photography because without it professional photography will be like the dodo EXTINCT.
What I would like is a commitment for at least 200 photographers to face up with a thousand dollars over the next 12 months to be spent in advertising.
This would not be an open cheque to blow the lot on one T V Commercial, but would be the start of an ongoing money making promotion which would be able to be planned and executed by a professional.
This would be aimed at producing a minimum return of 10 times the investment.
What am I asking for I'm asking for ?
A letter from you to me saying.... "Yes
Ivan you have my pledge of a thousand dollars and I will forward a post-dated cheque of a thousand dollars to be dated one month after the campaign is due to start." Sign the letter and send it to me....
and enclose no money or any cheques at this time.
However I know my voice is a cry in the wilderness and the response will be like the response of every other cry in the wilderness it will be completely ignored. I know I won't get 200 letters.
I know I will be lucky to get 50 replies and this is the problem with our industry, complete and utter apathy, but perhaps I'm wrong perhaps professional photography in New Zealand has come of age.
I await your response.
1999 Just as well I did not hold my breath…..this was written in 1982….. things have NOT improved…
More people are displaying large prints
I've almost completed my tours of New Zealand and there is one thing that is very obvious. That more and more people are displaying large prints in actual fact the South Island is leading the North in this with quite a number of photographers displaying 30x40s and one even going to the extent of 40x60s.
It is obvious that even the most vigorously promotion oriented photographer in any town is still only scratching the surface of what is available and the ones that aren't promotion oriented of course are doing much less. There appear to be a few photographers making a good living but the main majority of photographers are not yet making what could be done on wages in a reasonable job.
The answer to all this I think has got to be in promotion and deciding that you want to make more money and then sitting down and in actual fact making a plan so that you can achieve this.
Invitational sittings have been around for a long long time and very few photographers appear to be using these at all to their full advantage.
I'm not talking about working 80 hours a week I’m merely talking about organising work and deciding what sections of your business you should be promoting and what sections of your business you should be pricing at a realistic margin.
Remember the majority of photographers require at least 60 to 80 dollars an hour to make ends meet and to achieve an income of $15000. The reason this is of course is because the majority do not do sufficient work behind the camera during working hours.
XXXXXX ZZZZZZZ is a very good example of what can be done by planning.
He did an extra 800 family groups last year, worked less hours, went on holiday more, increased his business by something like 60%, won a trip to the States on the largest increase in turnover and for the first time is laughing all the way to the bank.
This increase in business and profitability can be experienced by any photographer that sits down and plans what they are going to do throughout the year and then sets out and does it.
What is junk mail?
According to newspapers…Junk mail is anything that is deposited in the mail box in the form of direct mail catalogues, brochures householders etc that arrives there direct and not through the aid of the newspaper.
This is how direct mail got its title junk mail from newspapers who saw their revenue disappearing into other forms of advertising.
A very successful campaign this was because almost everybody throughout the world now refers to this type of advertising as junk mail.
This just shows you what successful advertising campaign can do over the years all the newspapers had to do was to combine their resources publish articles editorial comment etc and keep using the work junk mail and low and behold even down here in New Zealand we refer to the brochures that arrive in the letter box as junk mail.
What these people who down grade this type of advertising don't realise that the market place its self is the best limiting factor to any venture if the so called junk mail was not successful nobody would use it and the main comment that I once read which I think is a real gem is "One persons junk mail maybe somebody else's treasure"
When we talk of direct mail and when you think of direct mail you should be thinking of letters.
People perceive mail as letters.
When a mailing arrives at home or work the immediate reaction is I wonder who this letter is from and what it is about.
People are used to getting letters. From Aunt Emma, from customers, from folks at home.
Imagine their reaction when they pull an impersonal brochure from an envelope Just a brochure....What's this all about ?
Not interested they say as they toss it away.
Think of a brochure as a flyer, as a back up device only never as your main selling ingredient.
People perceive brochures as printed material and the printed page can't get under the skin of your prospect like a letter can.
Remember your profits from direct mail come from 2 directions..
INCREASE YOUR PROFITS.
One way you can increase your profits is by doing more appointments in the week
Okay you say what's new about that ? Now what is new could be the way of getting those appointments. To get these extra appointment does require a team approach and does require what could be described as hard work, you have to work at it all the time.The ingredients of this particular idea is basically that you work out how many appointments you average a week excluding passports.
This is normal studio Sittings.Let us say it is 5 you then tell your staff that they will receive say $5.00 for every appointment they book for you over that 5.However they must make at least 5 more appointments before the bonus comes into effect. What that means is that no bonuses are even considered until the basic 5 appointments of that week are booked in then if another 5 appointments are booked in this will result in a $25 bonus for that particular person.
This could be changed slightly so that if you have more than one person doing this that they both have to book a total of 5 or 6 appointments between them before the bonus is paid out this means that in the above example you would be doubling the amount of work going through your studio at an extra cost of $25.If you normally do 20 studios appointments a week you would be increasing the amount of work you do by 25% and so forth.
Okay where are they going to get these extra appointments from where are they going to come from that they are not coming from now?Very simple everybody that steps into your reception area is a potential for a portrait or a family group all that has to happen to them is for the receptionist or sales person to be interested in them and talk to them.
Show the people how to use photographs talk to them about photographs, give them ideas about photographs motivate them into thinking that heck this would be a good idea for a Christmas present for grandmother, auntie, mother or whoever ask the people when they come in have they ever had a family group done.
Or if you know the clients when did we last photograph your family group ?You will be surprised at the number of people who have never had their family group photographed professionally.Most people make do with the casuals that are taken at weddings of family groups, wonderful if you let this happen. Okay families are not always together
Every family is together at some time
It may be one weeks time, one months time, 1 years time or 5 years time and you must make yourself available for that time. The least frequently they are together the more potential you have for sales.
Another potential is for those Shops that are lucky enough to do D&P through their business.I say lucky enough because the potential customers from people dropping in films to be processed is just mind boggling.All ready by dropping films into they are telling you hey I'm interested in photography!Sure some of the time they will do their own snaps but on important occasions if you can show them and give them a reason for having it done they will have a good photograph done by you.Lets face it they are calling into your place of business and are exposed to your good photography all of the time opportunities are unlimited.
Tell me where else can you get people walking into a shop where you can legitimately ask them their name, address, telephone number business telephone number. When they leave you can make notes whether they are male or female (their income bracket) ( you can tell this from the way they look and the way they dress) put all this information into a family record card.When the their photographs come back have a look and see what their interests are you can tell from the photographs as to whether they are married have children what they are interested in what is important to them.By just noting things like this on all of your customers. ... even your frame sales.
Everybody that walks into your shop warrants a family record card and if you keep adding to this information all the time very soon you will have from this information a direct source that can be used for direct mail advertising, or telephone advertising, or invitations to view a print exhibit.
The opportunities are unlimited….well not quite unlimited because they are limited by your own mind.Lets outline the 5 basic steps that will put you on the way to double your income.1. Have your staff make appointments for you with present customers or good prospects.2. Pay them the incentive for each appointment over the basic figure. Minimum's must be met to pay this bonus.3. Use company data, family record cards, any other information you have to help you make these appointments.4. Set a specific time for this appointment.5. Send a reminder card along with a small gift like a calendar.Result ; double the amount of work you do and double your income its as simple as that.
Often I'm given the comment of the problem that one now strikes because of solo parents when you are looking to photograph family groups.Now Lisle Ramsey has an answer to this in that it is not a problem but an opportunity.
It is an opportunity to sell twice as many photographs to the same people.In the old days before solo parents you had mother & father and children they would come in as a group and no matter how many ways you split them up there was a limit to the number of photographs you could sell of them.
Today in our solo parent society you still have a mother and father and children but the mother and father are not living together. So when you want to photograph this same family you will photograph the mother with the children and the children by themselves. Then and the mother can buy these photographs for herself and for her children and for her relations.Then more important still you have the father.
He is an important figure because 9 times out of 10 the mother has the custody of the children and the father sees them at allotted times and if the children are out of the area it may only be several times a year.All you have to do is reach the father sell him on the idea and it won't be hard and of course you will be photographing him with his children the children by themselves him by himself.You will be able to sell him a large photograph to go on his wall to remind him of his children and that will be a photograph of him with his children and also a photograph of the children by themselves.You will be able to sell him a photograph of him by himself to give to his children and if this is the second series you have done of these children in other words the mother has already had some done in a studio setting this sitting would be done in an outdoor setting.So therefore you can legitimately sell another series of photographs of the children for the father to give to the children low and behold one family has doubled your income.
So solo parents are no longer a problem but an opportunity.One word of caution however do remember in most cases the male has more ready cash than the female in these circumstances but do not let this put blinkers on your eyesight because all you have to do is convince anybody of a need and the value of photographs and they will buy them.
What should you emphasize when you are selling photographs.You should be selling the benefits that there are to the people with these photographs you are not selling pieces of paper but memories tell them of all the reasons why they should have these photographs remember sell the sizzle remember the old saying about steak sell the sizzle not the steak.
All of us at some time have had a successful promotion and yet we try different promotion later and it is not successful why?In every successful promotion there is a basic ingredient ! So what you have to do .... is once you have a success in a promotion .... you must examine it test it to find out what that ingredient is.... and use that ingredient in all of your future promotions. You must be careful of course that you don't cancel out that successful ingredient by putting an equally unsuccessful ingredient and there by canceling a plus out with a minus.
So think over your successful promotions.... write every little thing that you did down and start utilizing all of these points from various promotions vary them fractionally each time one point at a time and in that way you should discover exactly what that successful ingredient is.Be careful the successful ingredient may have been your receptionist that left you last week now I'm not saying dash after her and get her but if you are testing a idea that she had an important part don't over look that part.
That part may have only been the way in which she contacted your customers, your answer to this of course is to get somebody with her ability even if it is only on a part time basis to supply that ingredient