by Ron Pybus Published 01/02/2010
Last October, in the depths of the recession, we raised our prices slightly but reduced the number of prints we offered in our initial package and the majority of our customers accepted this. Following the change in the lab prices we raised our prices by 10% in July. Not one person has commented on the increase and we have actually sold more!
One thing that we have been doing is revamping our website. We have made it quicker and are in the process of adding links, improving our keywords, etc. I am not an expert in this field, but have gained help from Business Link in the form of a free health check of my business and a free two-hour session with a specialist website optimisation manager. I am now in the process of persuading my website design company to make changes.
We are investigating a blog and also making the maximum use of the database we hold. A few years ago we were content with name, address, telephone number, but now we are seeking email addresses from our customers and in the near future we will be producing a regular newsletter. It is hard work for me as I hate working with computers, but a database is essential. It is surprising where you can get help. I found a one-day course (including lunch) on database management run by the local Community Council for a cost of £25 and I am now setting up the database with a hope of launching on 1 November.
Being a photographer is not just about taking and selling photographs; you are running a business and you need to spend time on the business aspects and not just hope that it will run itself.
Training is important and although I have been in the business for many years and a fully qualified manager, I still gain from training and motivation. Our local solicitor has linked with Business Link to run a series of evening courses with three or four speakers on a variety of topics. Much of the information is not new, but it always acts as a spur to take some action on a neglected area. I always come away with one gem and always put it into practice within 72 hours. (Tom Peters, the 1980s' American management guru, always said that there was a 72 hour window and that following a course or conference, if you did not put into practice what you had learned, you had wasted both your time and money on the course or conference.
In my local area several 'Breakfast Clubs' have sprung up. Firstly there were a couple of membership-plus-weekly-payment clubs which meet for breakfast, but these have been overtaken by several venues offering a monthly breakfast club, with no membership, a cost-price breakfast and a speaker, subsidised either by the local Chamber of Commerce, Business Link or a commercial sponsor. The last one I attended had over 60 local businesses present and it had the advantage for me that the event was held in the room where there were eight of my pictures on display. The business centre was a new venture and a little off the mainstream routes, but I felt that there may be potential.
I took the risk and offered them eight pictures for their room on the basis that if the centre took off, my images would be seen by local businessmen. The place has taken off and it was simple to talk over breakfast about my work when it was all around the room. The first meeting resulted in one enquiry, which is currently being followed u.
I am already (I am writing this at the beginning of October) working on Valentine and Easter Promotions. We are also revamping our photographer training courses. It has been clear over the past couple of years that newer photographers coming into the business do not want just to learn business practice, but want help with lighting, posing, etc. There are lots of course providers across the country providing training at a variety of levels but we feel that we have found a niche of providing very practical, no-nonsense courses at a reasonable price, which meet the needs of both the newcomer, or the more experienced photographer who wants a boost.
Do you want to be motivated and do you want to be prepared for the growth due in 2010 or are you just starting out? Ron runs a series of weekend or weekday courses from his studio and training complex in the heart of Wiltshire.
Contact him on 01225 774440 or Ron@pybusstudios.co.uk
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