The following is a post by Lindsay Chavez [www.lindsaychavezphoto.com], staff writer for SLR Lounge and Orange County Photographer.
At 8:58 in the morning, a bunch of sleepy and weary-eyed photographers piled into room 310 at the MGM conference facility. There was Mary, Starbucks in hand, having a quiet moment with Justin. She reaches for his hand, takes a deep breath. Justin gives her a small smile, and in the dim lighting, Mary’s face glows.
The WPPI program said that this talk was to cover how to build a business that thrives, not just survives, in any economic climate. The brochure was not wrong, but I’m here to tell you that it was much more than that it definitely sold the class short.
Mary began by asking us a simple question with a hard answer. What is love? She shared her father’s life story of being a logger who worked so hard for so little in return because he loved it. This was akin to Mary’s own photography journey. It’s the perfect inspirational tale for those who struggle with their photography businesses. The room was captivated. Mary promised us two things before she continued. One, she would tell us the truth. And two, we would feel overwhelmed. And overwhelmed I was. But Mary assured us that, “Overwhelmed immediately precedes amazing.
Then she began telling us how to be a Rainmaker. Which is defined in the dictionary as, “One who has an exceptional ability to attract clients and increase profits . . .so that you can make a life and a living that you love.
Justin and Mary added that last bit. I definitely wanted to be a rainmaker. Here are 10 tips on how to do just that, from the mind and heart of Mary Marantz.
It’s perfectly fine to feel afraid. The problem is letting that fear turn into excuses that paralyze you from doing things. In a Facebook post, Mary asked her friends and followers, “If you’re part time what’s preventing you from being fulltime? The number one answer? FEAR!
Boy is she right on with this one! According to Mary, the trick is not letting that fear turn into excuses because there will always be a reason NOT to chase your dreams. And the best way to do conquer these fears is to take action because “action trumps fear. The vicious cycle of being part time but wanting to be full time, is that having another job keeps you too busy. So here’s what you’re going to do.
Mary’s ACTION PLAN
Step 1: Give yourself a “no excuses, no regrets deadline for when you want to reach a goal. In this case, it’s being a full time photographer/business owner.
Step 2: Have an Emergency Plan and fund that will make you feel comfortable. How much do you need in your emergency fund and divide that by the number of months until your deadline. That’s what it’s worth to chase your dreams.
In truth, because she promised us she’d only tell the truth, Mary said this will be hard, but the dream is worth the sacrifice
When people say it’s the photographer and not the photography, they are wrong! It’s both!!! It’s important to have a good product that people believe in and be committed to providing this good product. Also, keep in mind that your product will evolve with you and get better over time.
One of the books that Mary recommends is, E Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. In this book he says, “In business you are either growing or dying. You are never standing still. Momentum is needed to grow. Gaining momentum is done by feeding your business the pure fuel of having an authentic, and viral, word of mouth marketing campaign. Here’s what you do.
Mary’s ACTION PLAN
Step 1: Get people in front of your camera.
a. Ask friends to pose for you and Facebook them.
b. Post 20-25 images on your blog, then post your top 5 favorites on FB and say, “To see the rest, visit www.(insertyourbusinessnamehere).com
c. Work the J&M Blog Comment Contest. Email them that they are featured on the blog and let them know to share it with their friends and family. Give prizes for having a certain number of comments. For example, 20 comments will earn you an 8×10, 50 comments will earn an 11×14, 100 comments will earn a Gallery Wrap. (People will always go for the gallery wrap, and you will love the blog traffic).
Step 2: Get people to pay you
a. Continue to work FB and comment contests.
b. Leave a book of your work at your favorite locations, but never pay to be a preferred vendor. Make your album stand out!
c. Remember the triangle offense of marketing – Vendors in your area, Photographers in your market, and at the top, Clients turned friends.
Step 3: Ready for something better?
a. Shoot low budget weddings as if it were a high budget wedding.
b. Keep working the systems, blog comment contest, vendor cards, books, etc.
c. Improve your craft. Show what you want to shoot.
d. Rock out your client and vendor experience.
Spending all your time looking left and right won’t get you ahead.
A Rainmaker takes better care of their clients in a down economy. Feed your business by, 1) Improve your product, and 2) Rock that vendor and client experience. Give your vendors and clients something to talk about! For clients, give them a gift for booking with you. Give them a couple of months before their wedding. Show up at the wedding with a gift! Remember them on holidays.
For vendors, give them images within a week. Make them vendor cards that showcase their work and stay connected with them.
Know that a brand is not about your logo and colors, it’s how you make your clients feel. Mary explained this so well by asking us what it means to be a Mac. What does it mean to be a PC? What does it mean to be a Vera Wang bride? What does it mean to be a JCrew bride?
What does it mean to be a (insert your name here) bride?
To cultivate brand power, you must know how you want your clients to feel when they buy from you. Then, market it! Give the client the stories to tell themselves that will evoke those emotions.
There is power in volume, booking only a few weddings will make it harder to get your name out there. Here’s what you have to do:
Step 1: Make yourself in demand. Price yourself to be an incredible value. Book as many weddings as possible. Just provide coverage and disc, little to no products.
Step 2: Do the Facebook and blog comment contest.
Step 3: Rock out the client and vendor experience with everyone!
Step 4: Gradually start increasing prices.
When you start booking a lot of weddings, start to filter. Book clients that you like and care about. Come up with your ideal client profile.
Set your business up to free your time from the very beginning and don’t wait until you can justify it. The last thing you want is to fall behind or let things slip through the cracks because negative word of mouth is 100% more powerful than positive word of mouth.
Create systems that stick. Determine your workflow from first email to delivery. Who will do your editing? (not you!) Who will do your albums? Who will do vendor cards? Create email signatures. Keep inventory of things you need, boxes, cards, ribbon, tissue, etc. Buy in bulk!
Most importantly, cut the fluff! If it’s not making you money, it’s costing you money.
Step 1: List how much it costs you to live in a month, then add 50%
Step 2: Be intentional and committed.
Build your album sales.
Create and execute booking specials.
Take vendors out to lunch.
Give better referrals to photographers.
Submit to online publications
That’s it! That’s how to be a Rainmaker. Overwhelmed? Yes, but know that you can do this, because in Mary Marantz’ words,
“It is not your lot in life to struggle! Forget the past. Today is the day things will change!
I hope that if you were at that WPPI platform class with me, that you got as much out of it as I did. I hope that you are putting Mary’s tips into action in your own business as I am working on doing as well. If you weren’t at the WPPI platform class, I hope that this recap of her session has lit a fire in you and that you are ready to take your fears and turn them into action.
Lastly. Thanks so much Mary, for everything.
About the Author: Lindsay Chavez is a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Southern California. View her site and blog at www.lindsaychavezphoto.com. Be her friend on facebook www.facebook.com/linzchav