In the immortal words of Monty Python, “And now for something completely different.” This post is a little parable to help you take a smarter look at your photography business and ask yourself some important questions…
CHOP, CHOP, CHOP went the axe of the champion woodcutter as he successfully felled another tree. He was defending his world tree chopping title against 100 other top class tree choppers. There are a lot of good tree choppers in the world, but he wasn’t worried because he knew he was the best.
As the competition started both he and the wood cutter next to him were chopping in rhythm CHOP, CHOP,CHOP. However, after just one hour his neighbour stopped altogether. He started to chop with extra vigour in order to take advantage of his neighbour’s weakness. He must have got ahead as his neighbour didn’t start chopping again for 20 minutes.
Once again, they were more or less chopping in time until his neighbour stopped again after another hour.
This stopping and starting went on all day so the woodcutter knew that he was at least going to beat his neighbour.
But then the unthinkable happened…
As all the woodcutter’s gathered round the judges announced the results. The woodcutter was furious when he discovered that he had lost his crown to his neighbour. He was determined to find out how his neighbour had cheated.
“How did you do that?” he asked. “Every hour I heard you stop. How were you able to cut more timber than me! It’s just not possible!”
His neighbour began “It is really very simple; I stopped to sharpen my axe. While you continued to cut, I was preparing for the next 50 minutes of hard work and I made sure I did it with a sharp axe. If you sharpen your axe you can chop more trees!”
So what’s this mean for your photography business?
Most photographers don’t spend any time sharpening their axe. They don’t spend any time learning new ideas. They just continue to do the same things today as they did yesterday and hope that things will improve.
There is a famous saying “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the first sign of madness!”
Here are 10 quick questions to get you thinking about your photography business:
- Are you doing the same things as everyone else?
- What are you doing differently this year than last year?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What part of your photography business are you having the most trouble with? What could you do to fix it?
- If you seem to be incredibly busy but not making much money, then what do you think you might be doing wrong?
- If you’re not very busy and not making much money, then what might you be doing wrong?
- Where might you find your target market?
- Are there any companies in your neighbourhood who share the same target market as you? How can you help each other?
- Is your website the same as everyone else’s, or does it give reasons why people should contact you?
- Do you have a system that you lead your client through, or are you just doing things as you think of them?
If you want things to improve you’re going to have to do something different.
For example, although I’ve studied marketing through college and university and was a marketing professional for nearly 20 years I’ve never had much sales knowledge.
Sales wasn’t something I was keen on and I didn’t really understand it.
But I realised that if I didn’t learn about it then my photography business would struggle.
So, I started reading.
I listened to educational cds from the top sales professionals in my car and I attended webinars and subscribed to blogs.
A wonderful thing happened.
The more I understood sales the more I enjoyed it. I wasn’t scared of it any more. We fear the things we don’t understand.The more you understood sales the more you'll enjoy it! Click To Tweet
I discovered that selling (when done correctly) is actually much more like customer service. It’s about helping people and asking questions.
So now I call sales ‘customer service before they’ve bought’.
I realised that if I wanted to run ANY successful business that I HAD to understand sales as well as marketing.
So, sales was the ‘axe’ that I needed to sharpen. It took hard work but I got better.
It’s why I’ve booked the last 8 wedding couples I’ve met with, in a row. I’ve consistently stayed at around 90% conversion rate for wedding couples who meet me.
All because I studied it.
It also helped me get over my fear and shyness, so I’m now more confident than I ever dreamed I’d be.
So, what axe do you need to sharpen?
Branding / target market?
But are you prepared to put the dedication into getting the career you want?