Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Review: Selling to the Millennial Bride Workshop

I took the Selling to the Millennial Bride workshop in Houston, Texas. It is part of the Startup Strategy series. I paid for the workshop; an early-bird discount was in effect when I registered.

Website: Startup Strategy - registration through Fisheye Connect

Presenters: Jeff Jochum, Me Ra Koh

Date: September 10th, 2010 (Another one will take place in New York on October 14th, 2010)

Location: Hotel Zaza, Houston TX

Price: $199 (Early Bird Special was $149)

Included: 4 hours with Jeff Jochum, after dinner questions with Me Ra Koh.

Bonuses: Free year subscription to Smug Mug, access to Startup Strategy Forums.

What I Expected: Tips on selling to brides between the ages of 21-30 years old.

Expectation Met? Yes, and blown away.

Who This Workshop is For: Anyone in business, at any level. Information is geared to reach all.

Summary: I have met Jeff Jochum in the past, and heard about other's experiences working with him. I went into the workshop knowing that he is a straight-shooter, tell it like it is sort of guy. Seriously, if he thinks it he will say it. I've been watching his Startup Strategy account on Twitter since it first launched, so when I discovered he was doing a workshop in Houston 5 days before it took place, I checked it out. When I saw that it cost $150 with the early bird discount, I signed up immediately and told everyone I could think of.

Jeff definitely rattled some people during the workshop. He said up front though that that was his goal. He shared a TON of information, starting with a high-level overview of tips on getting clear with your business. (He did mention that this was a topic of one of his other workshops, but it was only mentioned in passing and not a sales pitch to go to anything else.) He shared stories of his experiences with both Pictage & SmugMug. He talked about Goals and true goal planning, and how the words you use can impact your sales & your brand.

He spent a lot of time encouraging each of us to discover what was unique about ourselves. It was a very insightful discussion. He shared experiences about people that he has mentored in the past, and how their businesses grew.

After a break, we got in to the meat of the sales portion and talking about the Millennial Bride. He started with statistics - Jeff teaches theory, but it is based on facts. He shared tips on trends, groups, communities, things that are most important to the Millennial generation. He then went from the statistics to the exact things that you can do to increase your sales to them. (I would share more here, but I don't want to give it all away!)

I took over 20 pages of notes, and Jeff provided us with a copy of the slides that he used as well. His slides were well put together, and while the Houston workshop was the very first one, it went pretty smooth. I was surprised because I've learned from past workshop experiences that the first one is usually full of hiccups, but Jeff is such an experienced trainer in marketing and sales it was never a concern.

Jeff did not offer up any type of exact outline for how you should do things in a sales meeting. You do not leave with a list of "spend 20 minutes doing this, then show your albums, then a slideshow, now hand them a contract." How you do things like that is unique to everyone.

The only problem we had was at the end of the workshop for our dinner break, we probably should have stayed in the room and ordered food to be delivered. The website that Jeff used to reserve the room stated that the hotel was in the Galleria area, which is full of restaurants. It wasn't; it is in the museum district and the only option was the hotel bar & restaurant. It was expensive and slow, which cut in to our time with Me Ra Koh.

Me Ra was in town for an event with Sony the next day, so she joined us for dinner and questions afterwards. When there were 12 people at the table at the restaurant it was hard for us to hear her so the conversations split into two. By the time we left there and returned to the suite where the workshop was hosted, we were all really tired so we didn't get to talk as much. I think everyone still got all of their questions answered, but I'm sure if it had been earlier we might have had more questions come up.

Both Jeff & Me Ra were more than willing to answer questions, and I think it is an added bonus to have access to the forums afterwards. That way, if you have something you didn't get to ask in the workshop itself, you can ask it there and discuss it with others.

I expect that as future workshops work themselves out, and Jeff is possibly able to coordinate with city hosts, the problems with dinner will be avoided in the future.

Recommend? Absolutely! Jeff was an excellent instructor who is extremely passionate about the topic of helping our businesses grow, and Me Ra Koh was an open book and a wealth of information as well.

Please note: These are my personal opinions of the workshop. I was not compensated in any form for this review.

UPDATE 9/22/2010: For another perspective on this same workshop, check out Jen Armstrong's review on the SOAR Blog.

Christine Tremoulet is a Houston, Texas Hot Mama Boudoir photographer and wants you to have a Business of Awesome. She also runs Wholly Matrimony, a destination wedding blog. She is a creative geek, having blogged since 2000 at BigPinkCookie. When she isn't taking photos or knitting, she is busy devouring all the info related to Marketing & Social Media and its powers that she can find online. Follow her on Twitter.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Not Getting Inquiries?

Have you noticed that your inbox isn't as full as it used to be? Are you slim on weddings for next season? Maybe you're just starting out and not getting the inquiries you are desiring. Whatever the reason, here are 5 quick things you can do (FOR FREE) to help ensure that traffic is flowing your way!

1. Contact Form: Make sure it is working!!! SO often I read online that such and such photographer didn't realize that their form wasn't working for xx amount of days (usually a large number) until someone called about the issue. If you aren't getting inquiries that's the first place to start!

2. Traffic: Pay attention to your traffic! Are people GETTING to your site? How long are they staying? Where did they come from? Are they in your market area? Knowing and understanding your traffic is a vital part to figuring out where you need to work to get more visibility to clients. Sign up for free site analytics (Google, Stat Counter etc.) and keep an eye on how people are coming to your site. See what is working and what isn't.

3. Pricing: To each their own when it comes to how much or what you list, but I can tell you from a past bride's point of view that if you don't list some sort of number there, the client is highly likely to keep on looking rather than taking the time to call. Many clients are looking for photographers online - and often during working hours - and often want to make sure they are spending their time on vendors that are going to be in their budget. You don't have to list the entire offerings on your site but trust me when I tell you that a starting number will help the inquiries rise up!

4. Portfolio: We are all guilty of this but how up-to-date is your portfolio online? I'm not talking about blogs - your gallery on your website. Often the galleries only get revamped when changing websites or at most once a year during your slow time. How often do you look at your gallery and gasp at how much you've grown since you used those images? Get those suckers out of there and keep it fresh! Try to make sure to add and delete things as you grow at least once every couple months.

5. Engaging: Are clients going to get emotionally attached to your photos? The first images a client sees of your work should be a a positive image, something that's going to make future clients want that feeling that's being emoted in the scene. Laughing, smiling, adoration. Save the stoic and serious images for after you capture the clients heart.

Corey Ann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer from North Canton, OH. She is a mix of everything - fashionista (runs Clothes for Pros, clothing suggestions for photographers), travel guru, deal hound and geek rolled into one. She's had a website online since 1997 and a blog since 1999. When not plotting world domination or her next trip, she can be found reading one of the 100+ books she reads a year. Follow her on Twitter.