In this episode of The Build A Photography Business Show I talk about 3 things the corporate world does better than you ... or at least better than a lot of real estate photographers and architectural photographers.
However, if you can turn things around by also pursuing excellence in these three areas - and we'll talk about how you can do that with some practical ideas - then you're going to have a much stronger business.
Here's what I covered in this episode (you can jump to the different sections in the video timeline):
0:00 - Intro
1:26 - Excellence in pricing
3:38 - Excellence in communication
7:32 - Excellence in learning
11:19 - Summary
12:20 - Q&A
Three things the corporate world does better than you
Today I want to take a look at three things the corporate world does better than a lot of photographers, and I want to highlight these things because I see photographers fall short in these three areas all the time, but they are super, super important and if you can make some big improvements here then your business is going to be so much stronger.
Excellence in pricing
The first thing is excellence in pricing. Now when we look at the big end of town they get down to the finest detail when it comes to pricing whatever it is they do. So if they can switch from one product to another and save 2 cents in the manufacturing process, they’ll do it. It’s those tiny little savings that they know add up to big savings over time, and because they know their numbers so well they can make those small adjustments based on facts, and not just based on their feelings or because it's a Tuesday.
So as photographers we also want to pursue excellence in pricing, and maybe getting more detailed with your pricing is something you need to take a good look at.
So let me ask you - Where could you make some savings, even tiny savings for each photo shoot you do, or alternatively, where do you need to increase your fees?
Now to dig into this you'll need to know exactly what it costs you to do each shoot and each package, so I want you to go through your numbers and get super detailed with it so you can get your pricing right, and if there are any small expenses that you can remove do it, or if that expense is important and you can't remove it, factor it into your pricing and if you've been ignoring that expense up until now, bump up your fee.
Another thing you can do is find ways to learn what your market wants and use the information you gather to influence your pricing as well. This is something that corporate does a great job with where they do all of these tests of new products and new features, and that influences their pricing because they understand the value of what they are selling from the point of view of their target market. As a photographer the more you can learn about your market and the industries you work with the better so start learning and start asking questions of your target market.
Excellence in communication
The next thing that corporate does is excellence in communication. As Warren Buffett said:
“If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.”
So your ability to communicate is important – it’s how you engage with your current customers and with future customers, and it really can be the difference between success and failure. I mean, your photo skills matter of course, right, but that communication step comes before the photo shoot, so you need to get that right or you don’t even get to show off your awesome photo skills.
Now when we’re looking at the big companies they obviously have their own communication departments, and that’s not something you can do, but there are 2 simple things you CAN do:
The first one is check over everything you send to clients and prospects to make sure it matches up with what you really want to say, both in terms of the tone of voice and the content. Now if that’s not something you’re good at then get someone else who is good at that sort of thing, and have them read what you’ve created and make sure it works, or delegate the task to them. The thing with being a business owner is that you don’t have to do everything – in fact it’s probably better if you don’t do everything. As John Maxwell said:
“If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.”
Quick example - I write newsletters for the photographers in my coaching program because a lot of them find that kind of thing very difficult, so they can take what I write and use that in their own newsletters which they send to clients and prospects as a way of staying in touch. So delegating some of your communication to other people who might be better at those tasks is a smart way to go and makes a lot of sense.
The second thing you can do to copy the corporate world, and here I’m really thinking of individual executives and entrepreneurs rather than the business as an organisation, and that is they respond to emails and other messages in a timely manner, and it's something photographers could be doing better.
I’ve engaged with a lot of photographers who don’t respond to emails for several days or they ignore them altogether. That’s just not good enough, and even if you’re crazy busy, personally I don’t think that’s a valid excuse. Everyone’s busy, we’ve all got a lot on our plate, but as a matter of being professional, and as a matter of being courteous to someone who has taken the time to reply to an email or a text message or whatever, send them a reply as soon as you can. Corporate executives understand the importance of that, and it’s something you’ll want to do as well.
So just to reiterate those points, if you want to pursue excellence in communication then check over what you're saying or delegate those roles if that's not your strength, and reply to people promptly. It's easy to do, and it's going to make your business seem much more professional.
Now is that something you can do? And are we clear on why that's important? Does that make sense to you? If you've got a question about what that might look like, or if you'd like to share an experience, then feel free to drop a comment or send me a message.
Excellence in learning
The final thing we can learn from the corporate world is their focus on excellence in learning, even for the CEOs of billion-dollar firms. So if you have a look at what big business spends on conferences, training days and executive coaching, you’ll see that they put a high price on learning because they know it helps their businesses do better.
Now unfortunately what I see from a lot of photographers is that they jump into learning when they first get started in photography, and it’s like a fire hose and they’ll just take on everything, but once they get more experience they assume don’t need to do that anymore. Whereas what we see from big business is very different, because in that world the CEOs and the top entrepreneurs still have training days, they still read a lot of books, and they’ll bring in their own business coaches and mentors because they know it makes a difference for them as individuals and for the company. These businesses wouldn’t be spending millions of dollars on learning if it didn’t help their corporate bottom line, and as small businesses we need to see it the same way – learning is good for business.
So no matter where you are on your journey as a photographer, whether you’ve been doing this for 6 months or 20 years, you want to keep that passion for learning. Now I’m not just talking about learning photo skills, but I'm talking about everything to do with your business, because if you’re a business owner and not just a photographer, then you need to wear a lot of different hats, so there are a lot of skills you need to learn.
Now taking on a business coach or mentor is going to help you enormously with this, and again it doesn’t matter where you are at, whether you’re a beginner or whether you’re super successful. If the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies see the benefit in having a coach, if Olympic athletes and the top tennis players have their own coach - it's not because they don't know what they're doing. They have a coach because they want to push themselves to be as successful as possible.
So let's get practical with this - how much time do you currently spend learning each and every month? Or are you too busy for that? Maybe your business is going well and you've decided that you don't need to learn anything else and you don't need any help, which seems kind of weird when you look at the corporate world and their focus on learning, so maybe you need to make some changes.
So let me ask you - what are you going to change in order to do more learning from now on? Send me a message and let me know what you're going to do differently. You could start by reading at least one book on business each month, or do a new online training course each month, or get a business coach so you can chat with them and they'll push you to learn and grow, and you can chat with me if you want to know what I do in that regard. But whatever works for you, what's important is that you commit to learning, even if you're experienced, because learning is good for business.
So to wrap things up – three things we can learn from the corporate world is their focus on excellence in pricing, excellence in communication and excellence in learning. Now the big companies spend a lot of money to make sure they get those three things right, so I think it’s smart business for us to focus on those three things as well.
So take a look at what you’re doing and see what you can do better when it comes to your pricing and make sure you know your numbers, look at your communication and get some help if you need it, and finally make a commitment to do more learning and the best thing you can do there is read more books, do more online learning and get yourself a business coach, and if you’ve got any questions about any of those things feel free to message me or send me an email – I’d be happy to help you out.