Becoming a V.I.P. – Part 2
Part 2. Why you should become a V.I.P. (Volume Imaging Professional)
So why should you diversify your current photography business with high volume promotions? Or. if you’re just starting in the photography business, why should you incorporate a healthy mix of volume promotions with more traditional photography programs?
First, Control your destiny! The first reason might be the most important. Volume promotions allow you to be more in control of your destiny. Rather than waiting for the phone to ring, an inquiry to come in through your website, or a prospect lead to come from your Facebook page, you can proactively reach out to decision-makers who can ultimately hire you. You can control that process, start to finish, many times on your own schedule. You can better control buyer procrastination by tactfully and skillfully manipulating the environment and inducing the decision you want. You can help create the conditions to cultivate a positive mental frame of mind in your decision-maker to achieve your sales and marketing objectives.
Secondly, Avoid unnecessary competition. There is much less competition for the high-volume accounts out there than you probably see for more traditional portrait and wedding photography work. In today’s world, virtually anyone with a DSLR camera who wants to call themselves a “professional” can and will do it. Anyone who has read a few internet articles about starting a photography business may use the minimal skills they’ve learned to attempt a business start.
Very few of these individuals will be successful at building a good business. Many will fail at their initial attempts to provide quality and service to clients, and unfortunately many clients do not have an appreciation for the type of high quality photography you provide. Regrettably, clients serviced by these wannabe professionals may receive substandard results; creating a chilling affect about ever hiring a real professional anytime in the future.
Please note that the skills required to successfully handle high-volume accounts probably far exceed those of your wannabe competitors. They probably have only the most basic photography equipment; which may be unsuitable for high-volume use. They probably do not have the sales and marketing skills required to land a volume account in the first place. They will not have the training or experience required to operationally conduct a volume shoot. They will lack the confidence to photograph more than a few persons in a single they day, and this lack of confidence may be apparent to the ultimate decision-maker who hires the photographer. They just won’t be real competition for you after you’ve learned all the strategies and tactics covered in this book.
It’s also true that numerically there is far less competition for high-volume business. There are far fewer companies with this expertise in your market area. Some of this competition is not from your area at all, but could be a part of a larger regional or national company without ties to the local area or any real commitment to localized customer service. You can readily compete with these companies with the information from this book, as well as additional resources we will make you aware of.
Clearly, if the presence of competition seems challenging to you, becoming a trained and accredited volume photographer can help reduce some of your anxiety as there is less competition to deal with.
Cash Flow – Year Round! Volume photography promotions will also allow you to fill any seasonal gaps you might experience in your current business. We all know the busy sales months of traditional wedding and portrait photography. Even if you have been highly successful in utilizing every productive day of your busy seasons you probably have too much down time between those seasons. You most likely rely on the profits generated from your busy season to carry you through the slack periods. Imagine what it would be like to have positive cash flow – every month of the year – with little or no down time except for your much-needed time off for family vacations. The wide variety of volume promotions available can provide that luxury of year-round CASH. You’ll be able to find the work to be busy when you need to be productive.
The concept of “filling the pipeline” with business is particularly relevant here. Summarized, we mean that most volume photo promotions occur annually or seasonally or some other time interval on a regular basis. As you take on each account, execute well, and have happy clients, they are likely to want to retain your services, time and time again; usually at the same time of the year. Sometimes they are even willing to execute multi-year agreements which can reserve your services for three, four or even five years down the road. Consider that after you complete your first year doing volume promotions and providing top-quality service, you can usually bank on these same clients using you next time. You will now have filled “X” number of promotion days toward achieving a year-round schedule.
Now, let’s look at your second year of building your year-round promotion schedule. You can likely rely on those clients from last time, plus you will continue to add new clients in your second year for events occurring throughout the year. Repeat the process; successfully executing these programs and keeping those customers happy as well. By the end of the second year of your business you should have all the clients you booked in year one, plus all of the clients from year two under contract to do business with you.
Year three of your volume business building plan will provide the revenue benefit of all or most of the accounts from years one and two along with the additional business gained in year three. You can probably see the pattern here. We call it “Filling the Pipeline” with business. Each year builds on the previous year and adds new business; leading ultimately to knowing a full year’s schedule and cash flow in advance. Would that not be the best thing that could happen for your business and your family life? Imagine how your stress would be reduced and how easy it would be to make family plans and financial commitments when your cash flow is virtually guaranteed.
Best of all, you’ll probably find that, as you successfully build business relationships with clients, that they will endorse you to other potential clients. The word will spread organically about your programs and skills and lead to exponential (not linear) growth in the second, third and successive years of your volume business development. Typically, we see second year growth tripling first year results, and third year growth doubling again. Wouldn’t that be great?
Expand your current markets. Volume photography programs will also allow you to profit by dramatically expanding your market area. Most traditional photographers realize that the bulk of their business will come from their immediate local area. If you happen to live in a smaller city or town, this can seriously limit your business potential, especially if you live in an area of low population density and longer distances between populated areas. There’s only so far a client would be willing to drive to come to your studio, and there is certainly a limit to the distance that your local reputation will likely carry you in drawing clients from a distant town.
As a trained and accredited volume photographer, you can do business wherever your vehicle can take you. You can get business not only from your local community, but also surrounding communities, the surrounding region, and even in a multi- state area; a market area much larger than you would have access to as a studio-based photographer.
Watch for Part 3 of this article, coming up!