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You might remember receiving a survey from InfoTrends sometime last summer. Some of yousurveyimageblog.jpg might even remember filling it out! It was long, but for a good purpose and well, the results are in! They paint an interesting picture of the photographic industry. See where you fit...

In the published report entitled Digital Imaging and Professional Photographers: 2012 Results, InfoTrends examined the behaviors of 2,315 full-time and part-time professional photographers in the U.S. The results uncovered some of today's key opportunities for photographers.

Photographers' Demographics
Sorry fellas, but we have to give some props to the ladies here. The photography industry has historically been dominated by older males, but it looks like that is starting to change. InfoTrends conducted a similar survey in 2009, and only 16% of those who responded were female. In the 2012 edition, that number more than doubled to 33%. You GO girls! Turns out the female photographers also tend to be younger, clocking in at an average of 41.0 years old to the males' 50.5.

Out of those brave men and women who completed the survey (thank you!), 60% were full-time photographers and 40% were part-time.

Photography Specialties
The results here demonstrated that most professional photographers identify multiple specializations. That tells us that many pros are doing a good job of being well-rounded! On average, professional photographers specialized in five different types of photography, and here's where InfoTrends got crafty.

Because photographers identify themselves in multiple areas of specialization (see:  well-rounded), InfoTrends asked them to indicate the percentage of their business that was devoted to the various categories. If his or her company generated more than 40% of their business from one particular type, they were determined to have a concentration in that area.

The most popular areas of specialization were:

infortrendschartspecialties.jpg

By Mariah Ashley

duckboatpicblog.jpgTrue or False? Wealthy clients understand the value of quality photography and are willing to pay more to get it. I would argue false and site the Duckboat Theory. But first let me share a cautionary tale.

When you last tuned in, the snappers were on a roll having "gotten their groove back" by breaking the terrifying losing streak of zero booked weddings. Inquiries started rolling in from the "right kind of clients." One inquiry, from a potential bride we'll call Mindy, seemed particularly promising. I've paraphrased her email here, but you get the idea...

Hello Snappers,

We're getting married on June 21st at our estate in Newport, "Summer's Shore" at 555 Fancy Pants Blvd. We'd love to get a proposal for your services for the wedding and also for the rehearsal dinner at the La Dee Dah Yacht Club the night before. We've heard great things about your company; everyone I've talked to says that you are the BEST! Please call me at your earliest convenience, looking forward to hearing from you.

Mindy


How exciting! I thought to myself as I googled "Summer's Shore" and found that the property sold for $6.8 million to the current resident (Mindy's dad). This was the second highest sale for the year in a city that boasts more than its fair share of mansions. The realtor's website described the property as, "including three acres of rolling lawns that meet Newport Harbor, sprawling views, and an 11,000-square-foot residence which has been renovated with the ultimate in detail, quality, and finish."

What a relief! I could have a conversation with Mindy that did not include her balking over our pricing! Finally, here is a client who will know and appreciate quality when they see it. I called Mindy brimming with confidence.

We had a great conversation. Her description of the wedding was everything I imagined it to be. She was working with all the best people in our industry--planners, designers, florists and they had all confirmed we were the photographers for her. Then Mindy mentioned the Duckboat.

"My father owns a Duckboat. You know, an amphibious vehicle. He wants to drive it from the La Dee Dah Yacht club into the harbor and motor me right down the aisle."

I pictured myself camera in hand charging across Newport Harbor and leaping from the Duckboat as we hit dry land like I was storming the beach at Normandy. It would be an understatement to say that this idea tickled my fancy. She had me at Duckboat.

I told Mindy about our team approach, our high-end products and our attention to detail. I threw in a healthy dose of enthusiasm and a few humorous anecdotes for good measure. I was on fire! I put my feet up on my desk and listened fondly to the "oohs" and "ahs", and the "fabulous, that sounds perfect(s)!"

Only one hurdle left to jump: the pricing. Pish posh (emphasis on posh) this was hardly going to be a hurdle...more like gingerly side- stepping something unpleasant like dog poop on the sidewalk. Oh, watch out! Don't step in that and ruin your Jimmy Choos!

I casually dove right in with my recommendation for her collection. Mindy's generous "oohs" turned to a single "OH!" An "OH!" with a loooooooooooong pause and the dull thud of my feet leaving the table and hitting the floor.

Mindy couldn't get off the phone quick enough.

"Well thanks, I'll discuss this all with my parents and let you know. The one thing they may have an issue with is the price."

Jaw, meet my feet. Feet, jaw will be joining you on the floor now. A problem with the price? Seriously? The last I checked a Duckboat would belong in the "discretionary income" category would it not? Our minimum investment is exactly .001% of the purchase price of their home. If I had a dollar in pennies and paid you that same percentage I'd have to cut one penny into a thousand pieces to do it.

How could I have been so sure about Mindy? Is she not EXACTLY the type of client I should be attracting? What the hell went wrong? After beating my head against the table and lying stunned in a heap of unpaid bills on the floor a phrase floated into my semi-conscious mind..."Looks good on paper."

Some people look good on paper. Take for instance a blind date that Trish had a while back. This guy seemed like a good match; tall, good looking(-ish), gainfully employed. The problem was when they met up for coffee he was wearing pleated pants.

 **Side Note... many of you men are going to wonder to yourself what's wrong with pleated pants. I have two words for you...Flat Front. Get them. Unless of course you want pretty girls to flee from your presence.


So, Mr. Pleats looked good on paper but clearly was not a match for my fashion-forward partner. Mindy's family definitely looked good on paper too, but we were not a good match for them. They had a certain budget in mind and we were above it. Despite being told by every other vendor in a 50-mile radius that we were the best, they were unwilling to loosen the purse strings and make room for us in the budget.

And you know what? That's fine. I don't want anyone to book us who is uncomfortable with the price. Enthusiasm for the Snap! experience is what I love most about the people ultimately book us. Our clients often spend more than they thought they would initially, but make room in the budget because they recognize and appreciate the quality of our work. These people do not own Duckboats, but they know a good thing when they see it.

Moral of the story?
Don't judge a client by their stock portfolio. Or if you prefer, clients who drive ducks do not necessarily lay golden eggs. And that, my friends, is the Duckboat theory.

Working hard, but have little to show for it? PPA's Studio Management Services (SMS) business workshops have helped hundreds of studios, just like yours, gain control of their businesses and become financially stronger and more profitable. And one is coming to Atlanta--with a little something extra--March 12-14!

Our Business Breakthroughs Workshop can help you keep more money and take control. It's all in learning to manage your finances, price right, attract new clients and increase sales average per session to reach the "elusive" next level. The most amazing thing?  This workshop includes a private consultation with an SMS mentor and PPA accountant...meaning you'll walk away with actionable business and marketing goals AND a custom financial plan.

But this Atlanta class also features a special segment you won't get at any other Business Breakthroughs Workshop. Jen Basford of 3 Girls Photography is joining us for a day, meaning you'll be able to glean extra tips on senior sales and marketing specifics!

So, if you specialize in senior portraits (or want to) and have been thinking about gaining control of your studio with a Business Breakthroughs Workshop, this is the class you can't miss. All class sizes are limited, so register now before your spot is gone!



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