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How To Deliver Products Your Clients Really Want

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By Skip Cohen

In a previous life, back in my Polaroid days, I used to get a lot of nice feedback on the marketing programs I wrote for the photo specialty dealers, but guess what? Very few of my program ideas were actually mine!   I used to ask retailers, “What would it take for you to buy double the quantity you bought last year?”   Their initial answer was always pretty funny and filled with sarcasm, but then they’d get serious and they’d practically write my marketing program for me.

I’d ask the sales reps a similar question.  “What would you need to make quota if it was doubled?”  Same sarcasm, same painful humor and then great answers.  I’d sit down and put all this feedback on paper and suddenly I had a great promotion in place.

It was an incredibly effective lesson and I’ve repeated it over and over again over the years – it’s all about asking the right questions and listening to the answers.   All the answers are out there if you pay attention to your market, ask the right questions and then look for ways to put the answers into action.

To take it a step further, and I’ve written about this before, a friend who’s a realtor always calls the clients who don’t list their house with him to ask one simple question, “I noticed you didn’t list your house with our office.  We’re always trying to provide the very best service.  Can I ask what you felt we were missing?”   It’s amazing how often he gets great answers to things he didn’t realize were even a consideration and the feedback is helping him build one of the strongest real estate offices in the area!

So, let’s get out of the anecdotal mode and help you put some ideas into place to help you understand your market and deliver the right products.

1)    Who’s your target audience?  Women make 98% of the purchase decisions when it comes to hiring a professional photographer in just about every category except commercial work.   If you’re a portrait or wedding photographer does your presentation have the right look and feel to appeal to women?

2)    Wander into the local mall and visit the most popular retail stores.  You want to pay attention to their presentation style – what they’re showing and how they’re showing it.

3)    I love the old style focus groups, where major manufacturers would bring in a target audience and show them some products, while the key managers would sit behind one way mirrors and observe.  Well, who says you can’t do the same thing today – only with so much more ease?  Bring in a few of your past clients for lunch and show them some new ideas – get their feedback.   New ideas can include everything from expanding your services to include picture frames, new colors and designs for your albums, customer holiday cards for your clients or prints on canvas, just to name a few.

4)    Pay attention to your competition, what are they providing to their clients that you’re not?

5)    Network, network, network – the biggest benefit to networking is talking to other photographers and learning what’s hot and what’s not.  This is all about listening and paying attention to new products and promotions being tried in other areas.

6)    Do you have a frequent buyer program?  Vicki Taufer  (www.vgallery.net) calls it the Preferred Client Program, Bambi Cantrell (www.cantrellportrait.com) has the Mud Puddle Club, both targeting parents with children.   There are dozens of similar versions throughout the industry, but so many photographers don’t think it’s important.

Think about you own purchases – we’re all into collecting points and photography is no different – does your business lend itself to a frequent buyer program offering additional benefits for the more you buy or the more frequently a client uses your services?   Some times what your client wants isn’t about new products, but about additional discounts.  Here’s a way to offer discounts that are driven by their increased participation.

7)    Put a survey on your blog or in your newsletter.  Surveys are a piece of cake to do today thanks to Vizu.

8)    Test new products!  Virtually every album, lab and frame company will work with you on samples of new products and their introducing more and more all the time. Here’s your chance to dazzle your clients with one of the things that make you a professional photographer – access to professional products!

Consumer trends are constantly changing and what’s hot today won’t necessarily be hot tomorrow.  That means you have to develop a system to regularly check the pulse of your clients and your target audience.   But when you boil it all down – it’s all about listening to your clients and the finding ways to meet and then exceed their expectations!

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Written by scottbourne

May 8, 2010 at 11:26 am

Posted in Business, Marketing

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