We base our studio’s longevity on having a balanced approach to the photographic artistry & the realities of running a business day in and day out. We call it the 4 Pillars of Studio Success. Each of the 4 pillars is just as important as the next one. Think of it as a 4 legged stool. If one leg is weaker than the rest, the result will be the stool falling over.

 

Here’s our 4 Pillars of Studio Success and the basis of all of our educational endeavors at Mystudiomentor.com!

Marketing

You could be the best photographer in the world but if no one knows about you, what’s the point? In order to sustain a serious, money making photography business you need effective, targeted marketing for you studio. We are big proponents of relationship marketing, which is marketing to your past clients in order to retain them. We obtain this through yearly newsletters, monthly email marketing, a premiere portrait club (like a frequent flyer program for the 10% of our database), social media, and personalizing our content, not over commercializing. But, there also needs to be a healthy balance of old and new, which is why we also subscribe to new client acquisition strategies such as charity auction donations, community involvement, referral programs, 2 party promotions, having an effective website, online video, SEO (search engine optimization), and even effectively using online deals with Groupon, Living Social, etc. We are huge fans of niche marketing efforts which help you identify and cater to a specific group of clients, or specializing your efforts to attract that particular niche. An example is our dedicated brand for high school seniors.
For us and the investment level we ask of our clients, it’s not enough just to get the phone to ring, we need the phone to ring with the RIGHT people! Our goal with every marketing piece, Facebook post, or community interaction is to stand out to the right people and cultivate a profitable win-win relationship!

marketing

Image Creation

For most studio owners creating the image is where they put most of their time, energy, and money (on all the great new equipment), but it’s only one of the 4 pillars of Studio Success. We have always found that the types of clients we want to attract are looking for something different in style and concept. They are looking for images that are personalized, so we always try to incorporate their unique lifestyle and personality in to every photograph. In addition, we customize each client’s images to fit the mood, feeling, and color pallet their home. Thus, the portrait truly is customized for a specific wall or area of the home! None of the image creation starts without a face to face meeting with the client, which is the beginning of our sales process.

image-creation

Sales

In this day and age of online proofing and give everything you photograph away on a disc, who needs sales, right? WRONG! So many newer professionals today have a hard time grasping the concept of printed art and actually providing a design service to their clients. Likewise, many established professionals feel pressured into “jumping on the bandwagon” of digital image creation and selling the dreaded disc of images. Well folks, you find any of that crap here! For over 30 years we have successfully been selling our photography as custom printed art and hanging it 40, 50, 60, even 70 inches large in our client’s homes. Anyone can buy a camera, take an online crash course, snap a few shots of a family in a park, and mail them a disc. It takes a true professional photographer and a serious photographic entrepreneur to design and sell custom wall décor! We subscribe to projection sales and actually working with our client’s one on one. Our process is as follows:

 

Pre-Portrait Planning Consultation– Our clients come into our studio for a planning consultation before we ever go on-location to photograph them.
The Go-See– We go out to our client’s prior to the session to measure wall space, get a feel for the colors and décor of the home, and give specific size recommendations for the finished portrait sizes.
Projection Sales Session– After the portrait session is complete our clients view their images on an 80 inch screen in our projection room.
The Final Fitting– Sometimes the projection session happens in our client’s home, right on the walls they wish to decorate our creations with.
The Hanging– Yes, we even deliver and hang the portraits in our client’s home!

 

We must be something right, our family portrait average sale is $3,000-$5,000 and our high school senior portrait averages are around $2,000. You can’t sell something to someone if they can’t experience it, that’s why proofs and online viewing doesn’t work.

sales

Management

Efficiency and being organized is a huge part of photography business success. But as artists, these 2 key elements to running a profitable, well-oiled machine of a business do not come easy to us. You need to think of your business as a system with policies, procedures, and workflow. I’m not talking about processing your images in Lightroom workflow, but what happens when a client’s contacts you for a session. What is the next step? Do you have staff that you manage? A good starting point is to read the book, “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber. Even if you are just a one person studio you need to organize your business like a franchise. Think of a manager’s office at a Starbucks, what do you see? Binders and binders of policies and procedures. Trust us, it pays to be organized! Knowing your cost of goods sold, your profit margins, where your clients are in the sales process, etc, will not only give you piece of mind but it will help you keep things running smoothly! Our studio is not perfect, but we are constantly looking for ways to improve our customer service, speed of service, and profitability. Even after 30 years of business we are still evolving.

management