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Don’t Ignore This Book Review

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t have a conversation with a photographer about explaining the value of professional photography or their services to clients.  Now in its 3rd edition, Value Added Selling – first reviewed here seven years ago today – may help you address that issue and more. ~JH

[by Blake Discher]

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 4.09.39 PMThe second [now third] edition of Tom Reilly’s Value Added Selling: how to sell more profitably, confidently, and professionally by completing of value, not price (McGraw-Hill ISBN: 978-0071664875, 288 pages) boasts 70-percent new content from the first edition.  I was given my copy by a fellow airline passenger who had finished it while on a flight we shared.  He said, “You won’t believe how valuable this information is.”  When I asked him if he was sure he wanted to give it away, he said, “I want you to have it, it sounds like your industry could benefit by what the author talks about, and I’ll buy another copy for myself.”

Was he right!  Reilly’s “Value Added Selling Philosophy” is based on demonstrating your value to clients during the early stages of the sales presentation, instead of waiting until the time in the sales process that you have to overcome price objections presented by the client.

Reilly helps you to identify your value added, what it is that you bring to the table that perhaps your competition won’t or can’t.  He talks about differentiation: what are your definable and defendable differences?

Reilly challenges you to look at what he calls process support: how easy do you make it for your customers to do business with you.  But perhaps the most valuable part of the book is his seven strategies for dealing with price resistance.

So, somewhere out there is a traveling salesman I didn’t thank enough for his gift of Tom Reilly’s book. In today’s difficult economy, this book is a must read.  I’ve read it and re-read it, and it has definitely helped my business.

Blake Discher is a photographer and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consultant to small business.

By Blake Discher | Posted: May 1st, 2015 | No comments

Preparing for a Face-to-Face

Social Media is a great tool but nothing beats real-world face time.  This excellent advice on getting ready for those one-on-ones was first published here on April 30, 2012. ~JH

[by Jenna Close]

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll say it again for the record: I’m an absolute, bona-fide chicken when it comes to asking for a meeting.  The biggest problem with this situation is that in-person meetings are an extremely important aspect of marketing; far more potent than faceless mailers and multiple emails.  The only solution I’ve found for overcoming this fear is the following:

Practice until it feels comfortable, then practice some more.

  • Call people you trust and perfect your phone skills in a safe environment.  Put a smile in your voice.  Watch your “ummms”.  Strive to be natural, confident and friendly.
  • Actually listen to telemarketers.  Once I made myself pay attention to people trying to sell me something, I learned a lot about what I DIDN’T want to emulate.
  • Go to a portfolio review.  It’s a great way to practice talking about your work without the full pressure of a meeting.  Study how you react in the face of criticism and learn what kinds of strange behaviors rear their heads when you’re nervous.  I suggest taking it one step further when appropriate and question the reviewer about your desk-side manner.  How was your body language?  Did you appear nervous?  Forget to make eye contact?  What was their first impression of you as you sat down?
  • Ask a local photographer you admire to help you.  Don’t ask them by email, CALL THEM.  If they are willing, meet with them and ask for honest answers.  If you can take the risk with someone you admire, you can do it with a stranger.  If they say no, chalk that up to experience.  Rejection is a part of this process, so it’s best to learn how to deal with it in a healthy way right from the start.

It’s OK to be afraid.  You certainly aren’t the only one.  I think a part of me will always be uncomfortable with this aspect of the job.  However, doing whatever you can to build confidence will make the process far less excruciating.

Jenna Close still drags her feet to meetings.  Only a little bit, though.  She can be found at

By Jenna Close | Posted: April 30th, 2015 | No comments
Get Connected

The Worth of Words

First published on April 29, 2013, Luke Copping’s post on the value of honing your writing skills holds as true today as it did 2 years ago. ~JH

[By Luke Copping]

Few people are better acquainted with the trite but true idiom that “a picture is worth a thousand words” than photographers are. Our native language is visual – we tell stories in slices of moments, we convey meaning and details with light and shadow. Because we embrace such a visual syntax the written word is often overlooked, and along with it the idea that we work in an essentially social business.  One that is defined by the relationships we forge with clients and how we communicate with them. We are communicators and storytellers, and should strive to hone our skills with language as much as we venture to excel at creating images.

Now more than ever our earliest contact with potential clients comes online: through e-mail directly from those interested in working with us, through blogs that speak of our experiences and process, and through our presence and interactions on social media. One of the best methods you have of standing out (aside from creating incredible and relevant visual work – as Steve Martin said  “Be so good they can’t ignore you”) is to translate the interesting, erudite, honest, and passionate creative you are into the words your clients come to know you through.

Put yourself in the role of the recipient for a moment – have you ever received a rushed and poorly worded inquiry email from a potential assistant or vendor that makes you think twice about even replying? Have you ever seen someone spew senseless negativity devoid of punctuation at a client on social media or a blog that alienates your as a reader? How do you react to writing like this? As much as we want to be judged purely on the merit of our images the idea that “the pictures speak for themselves” is simply a fallacy. As freelancers we are the embodiment of our businesses and we are judged on every facet of how we communicate: written, visual, interpersonal, branding – every point of interaction with a potential client is a chance to benefit or harm that relationship. Sharpen your skill with words and craft the voice you communicate in so that those you write to will never think you uninformed, unprepared, rude, condescending, or worst of all… boring.

Here are a few links and resources to get you thinking about how your words follow you and how you can make an impression with your writing without boring your readers to apathy – and one link to help you get off your butt and actually go do it.

The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Etiquette: Clocking in at over 17,000 words, this is a long but worthwhile read. For those of you in a rush, the eleven rules for all social media platforms that they present right from the beginning can give you some great guidelines on what not to do.

The Middle Finger Project: Ash Ambirge tackles ideas on marketing, writing, and language in a decidedly un-boring way – this blog  is dripping with personality and interesting ideas. Start with some of my favorites: Take Off Your Girdle and Show a Little Leg and 25 Words That Will Make You Seem Bland, Stale, Dime-A-Dozen, Washed up…etc

Design Jargon Bullshit: I am a firm believer that people learn best when they laugh, and sometimes its best to laugh at examples of what not to do. Design Jargon Bullshit is an ever growing collection of the sort of buzzword laden written vomit that is responsible for the horrible headaches I get when reading badly written  corporate communications, design briefs, artists statements, and personal bios. If you write like this – stop… now… please?

30 Writing Tips from Famous Authors: Little nuggets of wisdom from some of the best. While I tend to agree with the notion that these inspiring quote roundups are all too common I also think that if even just one of these changes the way you think about your writing then it is time well spent. (Bonus: Substitute the word photography into some of these for some additional fun)

An Invocation for Beginnings: Watch this… then go write, shoot, create – anything. Stop reading and start doing!

Luke Copping is an editorial and commercial portrait photographer from Buffalo NY who makes pictures, writes, cooks, and has set his sights set on conquering the world of competitive ostrich jousting next.

By Luke Copping | Posted: April 29th, 2015 | No comments

Reframing the Discussion

When this post was first published on April 28, 2011, Tom Kennedy worked with ASMP as a keynote speaker for our SB3 conference and contributor to the ASMP Guide to New Markets in Photography.  Today, he is ASMP’s Executive Director and his insights into the value of relationships and the importance of deep listening ring just as true. ~JH

[by Tom Kennedy]

SB3 was a wonderful tonic for what ails us currently as we struggle to live our dreams while making a living that meets our obligations. The positive energy that encircled the conference rooms in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago came directly from the deepest acts of encouragement and sharing that were going on.

One of my “aha moments” was realizing how precious such encounters are and yet how easily they can be created when people get together, free from fear and the pressure of the daily grind. The catalyzing power of the conference came directly from the sharing that was going on in each session. Rather than seeing each other as competitors and our business as a “zero sum” game, we were seeing each other as peers and contemporaries who could generously share experience, insights, and knowledge, thereby allowing all to carry away some kernels of wisdom that can be put to good use in the future. New information could be used as fuel to enlarge the opportunities for all.

Creating powerful visual stories that entertain, inform, and incite positive change in the world is a complicated task. It is sometimes hard to remember that our joy comes from being able to see purely and create powerful visual communication when we are all struggling so hard just to find the next client or assignment that can enable us to stay working.

Another “aha moment” for me came from listening to discussions about how to frame one’s business as providing solutions rather than a commodity. As most business people will say, long-term business relationships occur best when one is seen as being able to effectively listen and then solve another’s problems, thereby meeting their immediate needs. It requires an open mind, a generous heart, patience, a dose of humility, and the instinct to reach out to others as potential collaborators in order to frame and manage complex story-telling projects. I don’t think we have to be perfect in all we do business-wise. We just have to be authentic, kind, and purposeful listeners who then can figure out the best way to execute. Good things come from acting in that way and continually trying to understand and figure out smart ways to meet client needs.

While the world of visual communication and the landscape of media companies may be changing at a breakneck pace, the essential skills crucial for success still seem to involve fundamental human behaviors rooted in operating from wellsprings of personal passion, commitment, and positivity. It was good to see those traits being reaffirmed by all involved in putting on SB3 and to see how it was creating new clarity for many of those in attendance. Ultimately our ability to put things in context for others through our visual communication, depends on seeing things clearly ourselves.

Tom Kennedy attended all three SB3 conferences as a keynote speaker. Formerly with National Geographic and the Washington Post, he now serves [subsequently served] as the Alexia Chair for Documentary Photography at Syracuse University.

By Tom Kennedy | Posted: April 28th, 2015 | No comments

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