Skype Interview: Vicki Taufer
I actually have a list of questions here that I sent vicki last night because I wanted we're not going to spend a lot of time here she's busy we've got more things to talk about but right off the bat I wanted you to talk a little bit about your studio has always had something going on in the community you've created more ideas that's why referred to use the queen of marketing you created more ideas and hallmark could ever think of and I wanted to just talk about what some of those first ones were that got you started because that's a hard thing for people to do is just launch a promo in their community yeah, I would say one of the very first ones that we did it actually started off being called a winter open house and the concept was really with all of our marketing and the way we've even continue to do it and spend it build relationships so it was building relationships with other vendors in the community who wanted the same clientele we wanted and basically creating almost like many ...
women's lifestyle show in our studio where we had the gift backs for clientele we share databases with each other, so I was able to grow my database of prospects on dh share those also with them and and basically we do this every year in our slow season so we would book sessions when we were slower so it was good for our business and it eventually trying to do we call that girl side out was but the name eventually changed into we hosted at our studio, but if somebody didn't have a studio or they have a smaller space, you could actually I would suggest to have an event like this, you know, even in somebody else's business or space and share the expense share the time share the effort and the money, but it's really was about building those relationships right off the bat with these other vendors because they're going to talk about us they're going to help promote us they were the type of people type of businesses that we wanted to get into and get displays in their stores, the children in the women's clothing boutiques, you know, fun little home stores and shopping, you know, spot so you know, it was again it was just about the relationships was the key thing that was most important with that event how many? How many different companies did you have involved in that? The first one? The first one I think we'll decide maybe closer, maybe about fifteen and at the most like the height of it the biggest year we had that we promoted it the most we spent the most money and effort promoting that we had about thirty benders on we booked thirty sessions that night, and we had over six hundred people come through the studio in a three hour period. Okay, so you brought together fifteen companies that all shared the cost to do to event in the community that all had the same target of being essentially. Am I right? Mostly all moms? Yeah. When, with the wind, the waves started the first year that I did it really the only expense the other thunders had wass what they donated to the gift bag that we gave to the first x amount of attendees on dh. Then they also had to donate a prize that we did like a raffle drawing. It eventually evolved into where they had to pay for their space in their spot. And they had to pay for, you know, mailing out promotions and things for it. But we really made it a very low risk for them initially because the goal for us was to also throw our database, uh, you know, take their lists and added to our list. I'm so we could help promote promote the event. How how long ago was that first event? Um, is nine or ten years ago, are you still doing them? I have well due to some circumstances over the last couple of years that I have changed my business model and was not even living in country I have not done it for about three years, so I did it every year proposed about five years and then I decided I mean, it does take time, effort, money and we don't know what other events will talk about what I started doing other events and so I I suggest to someone you know don't try doing a million you know, pick one or flip flop on side became it became in every other year type of an event on and it's just evolved and I actually with all of the marketing that we've done I've been doing this now for about twelve years I've actually you know, there's a season kind of for everything and I actually saw a shift and these different promotions and what my benefit was kind of changed so initially the benefit was really growing my business growing my database, getting a lot of new clients it kind of eventually became almost like a a party for my existing clients if that makes sense you know that business long enough I'm not that that's a bad thing my business is really evolved into servicing the's crimes I have tremendous relationships with so it's not necessarily a bad thing to throw a little thank you party for them but I just kind of saw that ship, so depends where somebody's out of their business, you know? They're just trying to really jump in on the game. It's a wonderful idea to grow your business, take just a second and talk about the first dog days of summer was either four or five years ago. Other photographers all over the world have copied it and done more things with it. Talk about the result of that first pet promotion to the a piece of your business now that's about photographing pets? Yeah, well, you know, honestly, the truth about dog days of summer was at one of my employees got a cute little puppy and I wanted to photograph it. We got this cute image that was my first promotional piece for dog based summer, and I literally planned it and executed it within a couple weeks, not what I would necessarily recommend. I thought I might get a couple of people doing it honestly, the market for pepe therapy for the most part, as far as I know didn't really exist in our community. I'm in a town of about sixteen thousand people, but there's about, you know, two, three hundred thousand people in our surrounding area, I grew up here, I've been in lots of homes and, you know, I know just from the last thirty six years like you don't see pat portrait's and people's homes for the most part. So my goal was just like to do something fun. Well, what happened that first year? The result was I had to start answering my phones. My employees is starting from my phones be gallery guess we photograph people too, because it was non stop off the hook. It was supposed to be one afternoon I ended up shooting for two days almost one hundred fifty animals, and we created a pet market like it's amazing the results of that, um what's happened now I mean, pepe therapy isn't my main thing it's still children and family, but I absolutely throughout the year photograph pets, sessions and it's not coincidence that before dog days of summer, I don't think I ever just had a past session, there might be a family that brought a pet. We've always been pet friendly or high school senior that brought it put, but now we have clients calling booking a session just for their dog or dogs. I just photographed three dogs last week and it's a repeat client but spend a lot of money she a couple years ago did you know a bunch of prince? She'll do it again this year I mean it's again, it's not a coincidence, we created that market people just needed that little push to be like, oh, it's ok, it's the same marketing tool we've done forever, you have to show it to sell it. So we started showing pet portrait on the walls we started decorating, you know what? The local vet that pet boutiques having images up, and people all of a sudden realized that could do this, you know? And it would be something cool and and not even that I'll tell you the even bigger thing that happen from it is all said you had all these people coming in with their pets, who for may they never came into our studio in our studio space in the way it's decorated it's kind of like this little hidden gem in our community. So one of the goals of my promotions and giving people in with girls night out with the dog days was to just get people in the space to see the work, you know, there's one thing to see your images on a website would actually come in and touch and feel, you know, prince, they were just all sudden, like, oh my gosh, I had no idea this was here, and they almost had, like, these feelings of guilt of like, wow, I'm finally in the gallery, getting a print, but it's for my dog, not that there's anything wrong with it, but well, I haven't had my three kids photographed, so, you know, people were then booking sessions for later on in the year for their families and kids. That's a great sir, are you still in the bowling alley? I'm still in the old bowling alley, right? So for those people who think they can't find any suitable space, vicki is in an old bowling alley and used to refer to herself as the head of photography. If you remember the siri's, nobody remembers it, all right? So what's, out of all the promo is that you've done what's been the best, most successful one ever. Um, I honestly, I would have to say the dog days of summer just because of the the creation of a market that didn't exist and just the residuals that we saw, you know, after that that and are limited editions that's, the other promotion that we have done really almost since we've been in business and it's evolved over the years of what that's meant, but it's really our calendar of special events where we have these kind of one day quick twenty minute sessions and I just do, like once a month or every other month. So it kind of is a gateway for people to try out the studio and I actually was really surprised at the amount that people were still spending on these it's not as high it's an average is our regular clients, but a lot of these clients become a regular clients, so when you look, you know, long term what that becomes yet, especially if you do it during your slow time, most of us have businesses that you have your busier seasons and you're slower season, so if you can time your promotions or you're different events to just help you with that that income in that cash full in the slower times, even if that's all you do that really does help, okay? And the on this side too, that the other side of that question is what's the most difficulty or the worst promotion you ever did because everybody thinks that they hear these stories from you and other photographers everybody seems to think that everything is always a winner. Has there been one that just didn't work out the way you wanted it to? You know, it wasn't uh when you asked me that question or road I mean there's one obvious thing that stands out in my mind I don't call it a marketing thing not necessary like a promotion or an event, but it was our paid display at the local airport it was the first display we ever did and I just thought, oh, this will be great on dh literally I signed a three year contract and cost ness is my ten thousand dollars mistake process ten thousand dollars over three years and we only got one phone call in those three years and it actually was from a maintenance guy who called I happen answer the phone and he said, hey, me and my buddy we're just curious if this image is a picture of a mom and daughter or two sisters and I just was so ticked, you know, hung up the phone and like that's the ten thousand dollars question mike that's the phone call we got but what I learned that I want to share with people is that opened up the entire world of of thinking that a display is not just a display is not just a display I do not pay for displays anymore I my on ly do relationship displays and even if somebody works on just getting one relationship display that's where I tell a lot of people you know to put their money if they with very small budget is just really worked with one thunder get one great display and the difference is at an airport what are you know, people are, you know, irritated they're chasing their kids around, they're not really in the mode of like high end shopping and you have nobody there representing you versus maybe you just have a little bitty core or you know women's clothing shop where you photograph the owner or you photograph you know her grandkids now even though a lot less people will see that and only allow this exposure it's the right people and even somebody there that's just so excited and talking about you and your studio in your business so that was for me is the biggest flop as faras like we lost a lot of money and it was frustrating but what we learned from it what I learned from it you know it was really invaluable you mentioned children stores you told me a story about when you first started photographing all the staff of a look call children store could you just take a minute and show that with everybody because that's almost like you establishing your own ambassador program in the community just ahead no, no and you know and I still do stuff like that. I mean that's never changed as far as any of the vendors or the different businesses I work with it's kind of it's a relationship. So what I think about is I help you you help me, you just do extra things for him and so whether it's helped design their business cards or like, you know, photographing staff for their employees or kids really to sell it you have to show it's no different like I can't expect them to talk about us and our business or why it's worth paying the money you're gonna pay to come to our studio unless they've experienced unless they've seen that difference so you know give them a reason to to talk about you in that it's truthful too it's not just a gimmick like they really do love what you're doing that's great so what advice would you give photographers who want to build a reputation for marketing and promotion and events in their community um you know really where my heart is that right now but it's really been the theme of the majority of our promotions since the beginning and I guess you know I apologize we didn't talk about this with the dog days but is timing with the charity or some kind of a good cause that would be my number one thing I would actually give people advice on because number one yeah it's great to do something you know good for somebody else and from the business standpoint even if it's not the reason you're doing it you know for the dot like for the pet promotion people part of their payment besides the fifty dollars they have tio bring a bag of dog food we give it to the local animal shelter you know, things like that so what's gonna happen from that when you're doing that with your promotions is you're going to see a lot more interest from forgetting like free press so as faras like the first dog days of summer we did we were on the cover by three different newspapers, you know, so sending out press releases and if you're just say no look at me in my business and what I'm doing I'm having this great party like you're probably not going to get is much coverage as hey look at what we're doing we're you know, raising cash I think we got like two thousand pounds of dog food you know, that first year for the local animal shelter that's like an interesting story and people love to read about you know, something that's giving back to the community I mean I'm not saying that's the reason I do it you know it's just really cool how things do come back ten full when your heart's kind of in that right place you know, now my heart's really tied into adoption through the adoption of our daughter that oh, you know, we have events now like the whole month of november we have a special where money goes into our aasha find which helps children families in need and so I would say number one time with some kind of a charity if you can with your events in your promotions and not be scared to start small on dh not be disappointed if your first event is smaller than what you had hoped because most events will snowball you know, the dog days of summer really just blew my mind and I wasn't expecting that but most of our other events and things you know maybe start smaller in the next year you know, it's just like everyone else in their business not just the word spreads people get excited they'll call when your next dog days of summer and we'll just keep growing um working with other vendors, having relationships building those relationships but also don't spread yourself too thin you know, a lot of photographers out there right now you know don't have potentially a lot of staff and things I don't feel like you have to go out and do every little event and have, you know, twenty different relationship displays you're gonna burn yourself out, you know? I think it's way better to just focus on one thing and do it right, then try to do everything you know all at once. I know in terms of other partners I know that oscar book and cambodia image tools have been tied in and I've talked to claire, cambodia because they've done some things that tie back in to your promo I'm not your promo your charity the same way, so I love the fact that you've also wound up getting help from others photographers that are also looking for the similar channel so one of the things just to wrap it up I know you mentioned something that you wanted to do for creative lives audience today oh yeah why we're going to talk about our promotion and so we actually have a an entire download called the gallery unleashed and it's full of how we did our prep promotion and and templates for brochures to set out her your promotion and how did you basically have your own dog days of summer or an event similar to that and that's certainly one twenty five and we're offering it through the weekend for thirty nine dollars and that's all right but yeah that's on her website gallery haven dot com I'm in a lot of things in their third templates and things that honestly it's attacked like so it's a template so even if you don't want to photograph pets you could actually take a lot of the same information and you could you know, tie it into something you're doing for children for families for high school seniors you could actually use a lot of the elements for that as well good stuff I've got my I've got my live audience here you guys have any questions for vicky? We have a question from the internet hold on one second we got an internet question all right a question from for vicky from c m p s do you shoot all kinds of pets? Are you good with all kinds of pets or do you use assistance that are really good with animals yeah you know it's actually normal sessions in the studio throughout the year I really don't shoot with assistance now I do have an employee always here with me if I had to grab him I could get help now dog days of summer one of the key things I would tell anybody attempting this type of that we do very fast paced like every ten minutes is a new session we have to be super organized it's the most organized my studio ever is throughout the whole year and I have assistance I actually get volunteers is just I asked around unity family, friends people that like dogs you know get a couple high school kids in and they will be assistant they literally where aprons with dog biscuits squeakers they have feather dusters they've got things to clean the studio just before and after every single pet and so I do definitely use assistance during that type of a bet and I do parkour and other animals too so don days of summers some are one of the promotions one year we had then and princes and castillo or something and and I know another tire for they created one and they called it like it's raining cats and dogs and they did it in this spring s oh yeah we photographed mostly cats and dogs but you know, one year a little boy brought in a turtle because he felt left out because the year before his sister brought their dog and he's like what I have a pet turtle you know? So if you really want to like get a niche for really easy client like seriously turtles you know they don't move it's like ok don't move you know smiley just sit there so yeah I'd love to get into the turtle market of not really but any any you know, snakes, birds, whatever michael and I said we got a mike here how do you go about gathering partners for something like this through phone calling people are facebook or what no, you know? Well, yeah when I first started this facebook wasn't around that's not necessarily a bad idea, but honestly my personal opinion is grassroots you just get get out of your chair and you go into the stores they want face to face you know? You're building a relationship so it's a way more personal to just make that effort I mean, you know, the first year you do it may be your only with ten people there ten vendors so you just go around any don't get discouraged if somebody says no, you know they go to the next one and so yeah, literally just just going into those places now I will say depending on where you're at in your business or what your connections are, a lot of my vendors would even come from client it's just really talking your clients when you're in a session that's what you find out what your clients do or they have a friend what they d'oh or maybe it's you know a mom who makes really might have said it doesn't have to be like a storefront like it could just be somebody who does something unique that would you know want to be kind of like a vendor in europe well, vicky, we have crashed your website created black audience has a tendency to do that and that's again we have done that all right, so your web site has crashed we will now leave you dealing with chaos. I'm supposed to be taking my daughter to a water park now I'm going to be doing technical stuff with the website oh giver give her hammer and a screwdriver and see if she can fix it. Yeah, you know she's actually better in the ipad than I am she probably could weigh forgot to give you that morning that one way no jets still here we'll get working on it. All right, do that two dead all right, mickey, thank you so much for being a part of this today great stuff. Thanks for asking me thank you good stuff, way love crashing websites is that what happened to your web site? Crashed. How we roll here on creative, lively crash that's. Great, just go out. Many people just go at once, and, you know, s so try back, it'll be. It'll be back up later, for sure. But if you're interested in that gallery, at least, if you say that was going to run through the wednesday, yeah, for the weekend and michael, to your question, she really hit on a good point. This goes back to own your zip code. This goes back to just getting to know all those people that are right in your community. I mean, draw, you know, like a ten twenty mile radius around you and it's. Everybody that comes off into those different directions.