Ding – the email sounds an alert of an incoming message on your client’s computer. A ransom note appears warning 7 days to upgrade their gallery – or else. For less than $30 they can save their photo gallery from expiring. A short few weeks with all those cute pixels but now a strange company has taken them hostage and is demanding money. Pay up or these photos are taking a ride to the river in a beat up Cadillac to go for a swim with cement boots. And we all know pixels can’t swim. Especially after they’ve been shared, shot, sprayed and prayed at 11fps.
Thousands of photographers have used the system which boasts sharing freely and giving up on physical products in order to serve clients. Or does it?
Who does The System really serve?
In the beginning the concept of sharing photos freely sounded good. Sprinkle a little Jesus juice – as Michael Jackson called it – with words like serving and sharing and caring and loving. You’ve got something that sounds like an idyllic hippie community. Sign me up – I’d love to live in rainbowville and ride my unicorn and share photos everywhere. But then I’m reminded of M Night Shyamalan’s “The Village,” a perfect ye olde village living in harmony until it’s elders can’t maintain control. Suddenly, monsters and carcasses of dead animals start appearing everywhere. Spoiler alert. It’s a cult. Don’t mess with the village elder of a hippie commune built on sharing, eating organic food together & caring. Ugh. I digress. Just. watch. the. movie (or the trailer below)
So back to ransomed pixels. No sensible business model would allow another company to step in and ask for a sale. Sure $30 isn’t that much but it is $30 your business isn’t getting. So what if a client wants to purchase a real life picture to place in a photo frame? They can buy that at rock bottom prices and you’ll get credit. It’s like those tokens you get from Chuck E. Cheese, you can put those tokens towards…paying off ransom notes for your clients!!! I’m not kidding.
How can we really serve our families?
Although we all love photography and many of us would take photos for free if we could, we all need to make a sustainable living. We might have a furry pet counting on our income or a spouse or a few bambinos. The idea that artists must be starving or freely share their art has…well…expired. I mean to earn the distinguished name of “professional photographer” and not hobbyist, you actually have to make $$, right? Whether you have a high volume studio or luxury brand, each photography business can benefit by serving clients through tangible products.
How can we serve our clients?
The first step is to find out what your client really wants. The first answer usually will be “high resolution files” or something like that. Drill deeper and you’ll find out whether they want art for their walls or an album heirloom to pass down. In 10 years will they really just want those photos on a website? In 100 years, will finding a hard drive in the attic get the grandchildren excited to look at a spinning harddrive platter on a hunk of metal? Of course not. Our clients want more than digital. Our clients want mementos of love that celebrate milestones on display in their homes! Our clients already have 2,000 photos on their cellphone and a million websites they can pin, share and tweet. Give them physical items they can touch, feel, see and smell (I love that new leather album smell)!
So here is a next step…
If you haven’t tried In Person Sales (IPS) or Projection Sales. I dare you to give it a try. Shake things up. Host a viewing party. The best tool I’ve found has been Salesographer. Honestly, I’m still new to In Person Sales and Projection Sales and have gone through the material several times. It taught me the process to get out of the mindset of shoot & burn and into a more profit minded and truly client serving approach.
Let’s start treating our photography businesses like a business (not like a charity) and go back to taking pride in our work and pricing it accordingly. The best way we can serve our clients is to give them products they will cherish 10, 20…30 years from now.
Until next time, I’ll pass on this new trend and hope that making an honest living comes in vogue.
As for this article, remember…
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Mike Allebach: Founded Brandsmash as a marketing resource for small business owners with his mantra “Your story changes everything.” Communications & Marketing Director turned Photography Business owner he hosted 4 episodes of a failed webisode called brandsmashTV and writes this blog thingie. Hailed by a Rock n Roll Bride as “the Original Tattooed Bride Photographer”
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