Monday, June 27, 2011

Q & A: What Early Mistakes Did You Make In your Business?

From time to time, readers send in questions or ask for help. In the coming weeks, I'll try to answer a few of them here. 

- What are some of the mistakes you believe you made in marketing during your first years in business?

I think that my early marketing mistakes were very common ones; new photographers tend to price their work at what they can afford rather than what they need to keep a business operating in a viable manner. The thought that "I'll get more business if I'm cheaper" does not translate into "I'll make more money doing volume" for most new studios. I was excited at the thought of selling an 8x10 for a few dollars over my "perceived cost", thinking I was "doubling my money" and not realizing that I was actually losing money with every sale.

Since I was concentrating so hard on the present and not the future, I neglected important things like staying in contact with my current and past clients. With today's email and social marketing techniques, there's no excuse for not keeping your name in front of their faces.

It's also an awesome idea to say thanks to your clients with an "old-fashioned" hand-written thank-you note. Odds are good that your lab produces a press-printed 4x5 folded card with envelopes; choose one of your favorite images from a trip or a fun scenic or seasonal image for the front. Since you can order in 25s, you can change these up at random. Five minutes to write a short note thanking them for their business and a first-class postage stamp can go a long way toward building a strong relationship.

I also spent too much money buying new "toys"; we all love gear and lights and props. (These days, we spend tons on money on Photoshop actions and templates, too.) The problem was too much on gadgetry or props but not enough investing in myself by gaining the education I needed to learn proper marketing techniques and skills. At that point, I also had a 50-50 business partner (never again!) who made making decisions difficult when we were not on the same page.

- David Grupa 

Do you have a question you like a member of the Camp David team to answer? Send your questions to !

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