Day 4 Bonus: "Studio Image"
Let's talk about your studio image you know that's one of the things that years ago when somebody would mention your studio image or my studio image to me and let me back up for a second and just say that when I talk about your studio I just mean your business it doesn't mean that you have to have a retail location it could mean that you're in your home or you're all on location you still have a studio business you're still a portrait business and so um when I talk about your studio doesn't necessarily mean four walls a retail location um but back in the day when somebody would say to me you know, think about your image what your studio image what does that mean to you? I would always think about you know, well, I guess that means the way things look when you walk in the door or it means the way I'm dressed on what I'm wearing, you know, that's my image right? And you know, over the years have learned that your studio image means so much more than that and yes, those things are importa...
nt we want to make sure that when people walk through our door whether it's in her home or whether it's in a retail location or even if you're on location what's their first introduction teo walking up in meeting you if even if you're driving up in a car you know, that image is very important, you know, first impressions are always lasting impression, so we want to think about that, but we also want to think about everything beyond all those first initial first impressions and really everything that income passes, what your studio image is. So, you know, first of all, let's, let's do talk about that let's talk about what their first introduced to and what you're dressed like, and over the years, one of the things that I have really felt like kind of just came to me overtime in the beginning, when I first started, I was film, and it was in a an era of a lot of men in the business, and a lot of older men in the business is that we're old school, traditional photographers and, you know, I learned a lot from them, but as faras image goes, one of the things that they were projecting and preaching wass, you know, you want to dress for success, you wantto the men were supposed to be in suits or in ties and the women in business, clothes and jackets and, you know, and I tried that for a while, I really did, because that's, what was suggested to me and I tried dressing in pant suits and, you know, doing something that was a little bit more quote unquote professional at the time but that really wasn't who I wass and so over time I realized that you know, I want to be mirroring who my client is and who my target client is and so, you know, while I may not wear a two hundred dollar pair of jeans on every day of the week if I'm going to meet with one of my clients, I want to put on those designer jeans or I want to put on that, you know, that certain look that I want my clients to be projecting as well. So that's definitely part of your image as a business is what you want your clients to believe about you in the way you present yourself and, you know, there's again, you know, on and on there's topics back and forth on how you should present yourself as a professional and as artist we have a little bit more of ah, play there a little bit of more of a leeway and how we're going to present ourselves in the way we dress. So you've got you've got a little bit of option there, but you still in my opinion, the most important thing is to really think about your target client and then mirror that target client you know, what do you expect to walk through your door and then you should be projecting that as well so that's part of your studio image and then when they walk in, you definitely want things to be presentable and things to be, you know, that's their first impression a lot of times when they walk through the door of your business, whether it's, the retail location or a home studio, and so if you're a retail location, you want to think about the five senses and you want to think about sight and smell and sound and touch and taste and all those things, and so make sure that you're having things and items available to them that are going to reach out to each of those senses. So it might be that when they walk in, things are beautifully set, maybe you have a couch with a family grouping above it, and that can happen even in your home studio, you know, always show what you want your clients to do beast to be displaying in their own home. So it may be that in your home, if you have a home studio, you just want to show your family and your kids and what that would look like in your own home so that you can walk your clients through and they can see we value photography here, and this is how I would display portrait's of my own family in my home, this is what I'm suggesting to you so that's a beautiful first interpretation of what you have to offer same thing in your studio if you have a retail location we want to really be showing off what it is we want to sell and so for me in my studio I want to show groupings I want to show complete family wall groupings just like I would want them displayed in the client's home so that's what they're going to see first if you're on location you know your first presentation is going to be your vehicle and unfortunately that is just one of those things that at some point you're gonna have to choose to invest in and well we don't necessarily need to be driving the same type of vehicle that we expect our clients to be driving we do need to our car to be, you know, well kept and clean and that's an issue for me I live on a farm I live five miles out on gravel and so, you know, washing my car before I go to a session that's on location is something that's important for me and it's you know it's something that I just have to do it's an issue, something that we have to put into the plan in the system in the process but we want to make that really great first impression when we drive up or walk up we also want to get out of our car and greet our client as a professional so be thinking about all those things be thinking about how you're going to first greet your client and what their first impression of you and your business is going to be as you move away from those two initial things what you look like and how you're presented and how your studio or location is presented you want to think about so many more things that income pass what your image is and the next thing would be your personality and your personality is going to be a huge part of what your image is in the marketplace so think about your personality really who you are and I always want people teo really think about three to five words that describe your personality so think about those things and write those down those are words and just you know things that you should be able to be incorporating into your marketing and into your client communication process you know if you are simple and calm and sweet that's going to be a different image that you're going to be projecting and somebody who was crazy and loud and you know boisterous those air going to be different words and different values that you're gonna be communicating to your market and neither one is better than the other but you need to know who you are and what you need to be projecting to your audience so really think about your personality and being true to yourself as part of your studio image next to be thinking about your reputation in your community, you know, I live in a tiny little town of about fifty, five hundred people, and I am not marketing much to my small community, but I still want to have a presence here. I want to make sure that people here know that I care about my community, that I want to be a part of my community and that I'm involved in charitable contributions, that I'm involved in community activities, and I want to have a presence here, you know, and it's very, very important as part of your image, how you are represented in your community, so make sure that you're involved in charity events and local events and get involved with your chamber of commerce, maybe there's some sort of special run, maybe a five k for cancer or for a local something that people are raising money for locally. So get involved in those things and have your business have a presence there that's a huge part of your image, and even if you don't do business extremely locally, like I don't, you know, you still want people to know about you and know that you care about your community and that you're involved in your community. I still want people, even if they would never consider coming to the studio because they think I'm too expensive or whatever their reasons might be. I still want them to know about the business, and I want them to be able to talk about the business, and I want them to be able to talk about how I'm involved in certain things and how they're connected to me in ways other than even me photographing them. So think about your community awareness and how that affects your image in regards to that you want to think about who you're partnering up with, we're going to talk a lot through this siri's about networking and working with other businesses to promote your image in tow, promote your value in the community, so be thinking about those other businesses that you're tied, teo, and make sure that those businesses have the same values in the same reach that you want, so that when you're thought of in thought of in their little bubble, your image is what you wanted to be in your images projected. So think about those networking possibilities and how that is going to relate to the studio image that you want to project and that ties into charities as well, you know, you want to be really involved with local charities as well as maybe national and international charities. And it's always great for your community, tio no and believe that you are a studio that cares your business that cares and you were always a little bit more tied to those businesses that really have a mission really have something that they're passionate about and involved in and they care about, you know, there's there's, toms shoes and that's a great example of a business that cares. You know, for every shoe that you buy from toms, they're going to match that with a chute that's donated to someone in a third world country somebody that doesn't have a parachute and you know, that may be a driving force and even why you choose to buy shoes from tom's you know, it could just be that you don't necessarily think that those are the best looking shoes in the world or even the most comfortable, even though they do make great shoes that may not be your driving force for buying from them. It may be that you know that if you purchase from them it's going to be a donation of that same amount in that same type of shoe to someone who really, really needs them. And so think about that as you are planning and preparing for what your studio image looks like in your community and as you're working with different charities and choosing the charities that you're going to be involved with and we'll talk more about charities and auctions and different ways that you can be involved as we go along but I want you to think about that right now from the beginning and how that affects your image as a business the next thing that affects your image is your status in the photography industry and that's something that we don't often think about but you would really consider you know, having your certified professional photographer certification and if you've got your c p p that is a great thing to be able to advertise and put out there and if you don't have your certified professional photographer certification license I don't know what we even call that but your cpp is something that is great to advertise and it's great for somethingto work tours if he don't have it and so I look at people a professional photographers of america and they put out a certification for photographers that you can advertise to your community into your audience that hey I'm a certified professional photographer this is a licence this's a designation that's completely different from photographers a through z up and down my street and really sets me apart and if you're doing any type of competition image competition at your state level or local level make sure that you're promoting that and your advertising that and one of the things that I've learned is I never want to say you know hey lori nordstrom got first place in this competition, I always instead want to say the image of such and such got first place in the professional photographers of iowa competition or the pp of a national competition. I always want to promote the other person because that's going to get even more attention and also going to get that person to blast set out to their friends and family, so we're doubling up on the marketing possibilities if we're talking about the other person that was included in the image or the album whatever we've been competing, so think about that you could even be competing at your you know, your state fair, whatever it is, make sure that you're taking the opportunity to let your market know another thing that's going to speak teo, your image as a business is the quality of your images themselves. Now we always want to make sure that we're delivering the very best quality to our clients. I personally guarantee every single thing that leaves my studio, I want to make sure that our clients are one hundred percent happy with what they take home with them. If it's the wrong size for any reason I'm going to replace it, if something happens to damage their image, it doesn't matter what it is I'm going to replace in it doesn't matter how long it is after they have purchased from me, I have recently gotten a few images back from back in the day when I usedto hand paint on my prince I we used to do oils and charcoal lt's right on the image back in the film days and that's kind of how I got known as the hand painted portrait photographer so back in the day when I used to do that and was hand painting the trickles and oils those prints now you know, ten years fifteen years later are starting to discolor a little bit and the sad thing is is back in the day you know, we were told we were doing this on archival prints and we had archival oils and you know, we're doing all the right things I know that I followed all the steps that I was taught to make sure that I was producing archival prince well now it's fifteen years later and I'm having people are brain things back to me that are discolored or look just a little funky I mean, there's there are things that almost look metallic where the edges are where the oil's met the print and so you know what, I'm replacing those and now I can do them digitally and they're actually even more beautiful than when they started so it's it's kind of fun but it's still out of my pocket, you know, I'm paying for those things and it hasn't happened often and unfortunately we know that for a cz many people have bought prince back brought them back, you know, we've probably had five over the last three four years bring things back, but I know for a cz many as have brought them back there's that many that are unsatisfied with what they have hanging and so that something always keep in mind and you want to make sure that your studio images, you know, really keeping up with the times and evolving and changing with the times, so I always want to make sure that I'm guaranteeing things, even if it was back in the film days, even before I went digital, I want to make sure that I am taking care of those clients and making sure that my image quality is what I wanted to be, what I want my image as a business to project, so make sure that everything that goes out of your business is up to standard. You know, one of the things that I've had, teo also learnt the hard way over the years is, you know, we get too busy season's like the holidays and even after events that we do in the studio and we're busy waver at all this stuff that gets piled up and things that we were packaging and getting sent out and, you know, for not really carefully evaluating every single image that comes through we can get into trouble and there's also times when there are so many things stacked up, and we're behind on things, and we might even want to say, oh, you know, this isn't just quite right, but they're not going to notice let's just get it sent along and, you know, maybe if they noticed bill call and they'll say, hey, you know, this isn't isn't quite right and weaken at that time say, okay, we'll fix it, we'll fix it, you know, let's, just get it sent out for now, and maybe they won't notice, you know, that's really not acceptable. We want to make sure things are one hundred percent before they leave our door, and yes, we have eaten some costs over that over time, but it's more important to me, tio take on that costs in the beginning and make sure that my image, when it leaves our studio, is what I wanted to be with our clients. I don't ever want our client calling us and saying this isn't right because of x y z reason I instead want to fix it on the front end and make sure that our image is what I wanted to be as it leaves, the next thing that has a huge, huge impact on your image is your pricing. And I know that really hurts pricing is so so hard and it's you know it's it's such a hard thing for any of us to wrap our heads around unless you're a weirdo like me that loves pricing you know it's it's just really hard concept to wrap your mind around that we need to need teo value our time and we have to value our product and the way we present our pricing to our clan it really has a huge effect on how they feel about us as a business and you know, there are so many products out there in the marketplace right now that you are buying every day and I'm buying every day where price really matters you know, we feel differently about a product that we're going to spend a lot of money on versus something that we're not spending a lot of money on you know, if I am picking up a box of hair color at the grocery store for eight dollars I am not expecting that color teo feel is good and make me look is good and last as long as going to the hair salon and spending eighty dollars on my color service now they're just different things that we perceive as as ah higher value if we spend more money on them and so think about what you're projecting to your marketplace with the pricing that you have and if you're presenting pricing that is twenty dollars for an eight by ten what really is your perceived value? You're always going to be price a little bit higher than what people think you're really worth and so whether you're twenty dollars for an eight by ten or two hundred dollars for an eight by ten it's too much for somebody and so what is the perceived value for the marketplace? Is it you know well, she's charging twenty dollars so she's really probably only worth fifteen or she's charging two hundred dollars, so how she must be really worth it? Why is she charging two hundred dollars like that really says something to somebody so really think about your pricing and and what that says to your marketplace and also the presentation of your pricing. How is the client getting your pricing from you? Are they getting a sheet of paper that you're running off your xerox that has a list of eight by tens through twenty four by thirty with numbers beside it? Are they getting a beautiful product menu? It can even be in a pdf that's what I do for my clients were just pdf are our product money to our clients, but it's beautiful and it's full of images and it's full of products and, you know, really projects value to the client, it lets them know exactly what we want them to buy and so it's a completely different perception than sending over a sheet of paper with a list of prices on them. So think about your pricing and the presentation of your pricing and what that says about your image. The next part of your image is your telephone personality, and this is a big one. This is your client's first presentation to you as a business, this could be emailed this could be phone this could be, however, you're first making the very first connection with your potential clients, but hopefully usually it's the phone call if it's not the phone call first it's going to be an email that leads to the phone call or facebook message that leads to the phone call. And so think about that telephone personality and so many times, the way you answer the phone is a potential clients of very first opportunity to do business with you. And so it really means a lot how you answer the phone and in fact, it's so important, we're gonna spend an entire segment talking about this. We're gonna talk about the whole first inquiry and what that should look like and how that should go. We're going to talk about phone scripts and putting those together, but overall, I want you to make sure. That you're answering the phone with a smile and it does make a huge difference and how that's how that's you know represented to your client and so whether you're answering or a staff member is answering, make sure that you're smiling make sure that you're not distracted, everything else could be put away and you can concentrate on that client that's calling and so your telephone personality has so much to say about the image of your business, so make sure that you're making that a priority, but you're putting those phone scripts in place that you have a phone log available so we can track everything jane and build on that relationship that has started right when the phone rings. I also want to talk to you about your staff and we will be spending a lot of time talking about when is the right time to hire and who you should be hiring first. But when that time comes really be thinking about what your image is and how you want to project that through the people that are working with you and for you. So think about your staff think about their presentation when somebody walks through the door there presentation on the phone there presentation even as an assistant that's working with you, getting kids to smile or whatever their role is be thinking about your images of business and how those staff members can plug into that next I want you to think about your website and your blogged and even your newsletter and your newsletter maybe or blogged these days a lot of times in the same age in our digital world your newsletter has become your blogged and so really think about your block and you're your website and how those things project your studio image if you know what your images you can always go back to that you can make sure that everything is fitting into what you've designed and declared as your studio image. So go back and think through that and and decide you know, does this fit in? Is this really what I want to portray to the marketplace and you can think about that as you're pulling images for your website as you're pulling content for your block you know make sure everything fits in everything for me I want to make sure everything is all about home design and home decor and really doing something beautiful for your home that you're going to enjoy every single day so I wanna make sure that's what I show on my website and on my block and even on my facebook page I want to be talking about home decor and design style and really get clients to think about that and so whatever it is for you what is your image what you what do you want people to think about when they think about you and your business and really make sure that you're incorporating that into your web presence your marketing is going to be your very first communication with your marketplace, so make sure that your marketing completely ties into your image as a business no think about what that images define that image and make sure that it's communicated in every single piece that you put out there, whether it's, digital or printed you want to make sure that your studio images communicated so really think about that personality that you have, how you're going to communicate that to the client, how you're gonna market that to the client and make sure that all of your marketing pieces in general are communicating that same message even your packaging is huge how your images leave your studio how your product leaves your studio your business your home studio says a lot about your studio image so think about how things are packaged are they finished beautifully? Are they package in a way that people are excited to go and show off the bag that they're carrying out? Or, you know, get home and unwrapped their gifts in front of their family? You know, that's one of the things for us that we package everything very beautifully in the studio are large prints are usually set on easels when clients come in the studio, they're going to see and be presented with those we have all the pieces cut for those that we can just wrap them right away and tie them with bows and ribbons and tags, but we want them to be presented with those large pieces. First, all their small pieces are packaged and put into folders and boxes and bags and with tissue and ribbons and and stickers and whatever it takes it complete those and they're beautifully wrapped. And what happens ninety nine percent of the time when a client comes in, we'll ask them if they want to unwrap everything so that they can see everything before they leave. And almost every time our clients tell us, you know what? No, I want to take these home and make sure that I can unwrap everything with my family. This is like christmas, you know, we hear that a lot, and we want our clients to feel that way, and I want your clients to feel that way that when they're picking things up from you, it's like a really special occasion there, it's like christmas, you know, they're getting gifts, they're getting really pretty packages. And then the last thing that I want you to think about when it comes to your image as a business is your client experience, and you know, these days and exceptional client experience isn't an option anymore. People expect great customer service, and if they don't get great customer service, they're going to talk about it. I'm going to talk about it on yelp and on twitter and online and it's going to come back to baekje, so make sure that your client experience is exceptional. You know, one of the things that I always want to live by is that star experience and star for me means something they'll always remember, and so whatever type of session it is, I want a plan, something that makes it, you know, that that experience, that they'll always remember something they want to talk about, something that they're ready to go out and tell their friends, oh, my gosh, we just left hori nordstrom's, and this is what happened. This is what happened with my kids or this is what happened with me, and we want them to be super excited and go out talking about it. So think about the client experience and what you can do to really raise the bar of what you're doing with your client so that they're excited to talk about it. And I am kind of a geek when it comes to marketing statistics, and one of the sights that I love is marketing sherpa dot com and one of the stacks that I've loved there is that twenty seven percent of consumers would pay more than fifteen percent over market value for exceptional customer service and I think that is really powerful when you stopped you think about it that twenty seven percent of the marketplace will pay more than what the average market value is if they get great customer service and I think about this for myself you know, I just had my daughter's wedding and I went and I was looking for a dress and I was down the last minute I had bought four dresses and was down to the saturday before my daughter's wedding and I went looking for a dress all day long and I had sent pictures of the dress that I had bought two friends and they're like no no no start over that's not the one and I went looking and you know, I went into a boutique that I really knew that I couldn't afford but I thought, you know I'm going to go in if they have the right dress I'll know it when I see it and I'll buy it and I went in and there was a really beautiful dress but it was not suitable for my daughter's wedding she had an outdoor wedding was very casual outdoors it was a hot you know, one hundred degree day even more than that it was it was we were all sweating it was bad but we you know, I was planning for this and I went in and this woman shows me and I told her where I was looking for and she says you know here's what we have and she showed me this beautiful beautiful gown that was a a floor length that was full length a gown was beated it was heavy it was and it was beautiful but it really wasn't the style of the wedding but the way she communicated to me you know, calling by me by name and telling me laurie this's gonna look amazing on you you are the mother of the bride and you deserve this that was a language that she used with me and I have to tell you this gown was seven hundred dollars seven hundred dollars for a mother of the pride dress and I was this close to buying it it was not right for the wedding it really wasn't even perfect for me it was not really my style I am a more casual person and I was looking for something that was shorter it's a casual wedding I was looking for something that was sleeveless very hot day but she showed me this beautiful gown she basically forced me into getting into it with her language just telling me I really want to see this on you this is going to be amazing this is how you're going to feel in it this is how you're gonna look in it you know it wasn't this is the designer. It wasn't this is the exquisite beating on it. It was nothing about the dress. She told me how I was goingto look and feel in this dress, and she almost had me talked into buying it. And, you know, that was a huge lesson walking out of there. I hated telling her no, because I really felt like she was invested in me as a person and how I would look and feel in this in this wedding gown and, you know, and it was really in the end, I would have been completely out of place in this dress. It was not right for my daughter's wedding, but I was so close to buying just because the experience that I had and trying it on and how this sales person made me feel in it and about it. And so, you know, think about all those things as your presenting to your client as you're making those suggestions, you know, twenty seven percent of the market place that's, a huge percent that's over a fourth of the marketplace that is willing to spend over and above market value if they have great customer service. So thinking, think about those things as you're presenting what your studio images and what that great customer services we always want to let people know how they're going to feel what their end result is going to be. What's in it for them, instead of what we're all about, is a business. But we can project are made and what we want our image to be into that client. Experience it into that final product into that feeling that the client's gonna have.