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Say Hello to Judy . . .

Last night I got a call from Judy Grann, my friend and teaching partner at Guerrilla Management Workshops. Judy is vice-president of SuccessWare, and she is now a proud iPhone owner. No, she didn't stand in line with the hoards of eager consumers who were desperate to wrap their hands around the latest got-to-have-it Apple toy, she took a chance and dropped by an AT&T store after work and got lucky. She couldn't wait to call me when she got home, even though it was on her standard-issue office phone. She was having too much fun holding it to get it set up!

Why the big deal about Judy's new phone? It just reminded me of how powerful a brand can be in creating loyal clients that are ready at a moment's notice to purchase from you. I hate cell phones with a passion, but I'm going to buy an i-Phone and switch carriers because Apple has added just what I need to make a cell phone something that will improve my life, rather than just intrude on it. And I'm willing to pay the price because I trust the company: their products have never let me down, and they make me happy.

You can read more about how Apple and other companies have elevated their brand to "lovemark" status in a book by Kevin Roberts entitled
Lovemarks - The Future Beyond Brands. You'll learn what it takes to turn YOUR brand into a lovemark that assures a loyal clientele.


Boutique Studio Program Debuts in The Bahamas!

The Lucaya Resort on Grand Bahama Island was a wonderful setting to debut the new marketing program that I've been so eager to share with other photographers! Over the past year I've become fascinated with the boutique studio model because the concept behind each studio is unique and focused, and branding is a key to its success.

I've had several photographers suggest that a boutique business is nothing more than a studio that sells "all kinds of stuff" such as photo collages, jewelry, handbags, etc. While I wouldn't be surprised to find products such as these in a boutique studio, that description really misses the mark . . . almost as widely as the belief that boutique studios are run only by women. In fact, what boutique studios (owned by men OR women) are all about is
marketing to women, and creating businesses that appeal to their specific needs and wants. Market research shows that women are the primary consumers for portrait/wedding photography, so understanding how women respond to marketing also is a key factor in the success of boutique studios. That's the very reason why Marathon has created a new division—BellaGrafica—which is designed to support boutique studios that cater to women clients.

As part of a "soft launch" strategy, BellaGrafica was on hand at the Bahamas Chicks Who Click women's retreat. The enthusiastic reaction of the attendees suggest that you'll be hearing quite a lot about BellaGrafica and the boutique studio concept.


My Son's Wedding Movie

This time last year my family and I were returning from a cruise to Alaska, where my son and his long-time fiancee were married by the captain aboard ship. Back in April I did a blog entry about how easy it was to create wedding album or book layouts using Proselect. Somehow I didn't even think about creating a movie of the album . . . too much going on at the time. Once I did think about it, I assumed that it would be a big deal to create the movie. Boy I wrong!

I had already created a slide show by importing the single page files I had created through the ProSelect Production module back into ProSelect. As you can see from the image below, I added blank pages at the beginning and end and created a closing technique by taking the last image and making a black-and-white dissolve into a sepia version and finally into a color version. I did this to allow the music to begin and end where I wanted it.

So all I had to do to create the movie was go the File menu and pull down to
Export >Quicktime Slide Show. That brought up the dialog box that you see below with the selections I made.

That's all there was to it! You can check out the QT movie below.


Learn To Sell The "Walden Way."

I receive a lot of questions about what resources exist to help photographers improve their sales skills. One of the very best is "
Solving the Puzzle of Successful Sales," a 2-CD set by Beverly Walden. It's a wonderful resource because it takes you through the sales process from beginning to end, and it is written and spoken by one of the best sales pros in the business. What I love about Bev's approach to sales is that 90% of the sale is made before the client ever steps into the salesroom to view the portraits. Therefore there is no hard-sell involved, and no buyer's remorse to worry about, because a good sale is simply a foregone conclusion. What a great way to do business . . . and to make friends with your clients in the process!

I Have My Own Stick Figure!

Got an email from Carrie Viohl, whose blog I mentioned recently (I'm a avid reader), and she absolutely delighted me by sending me a link to the illustration below, and the following much-apprciated email:

"Ann, thank you again for everything you've done to help us enrich our business!! Haley agonized over what you should be doing in your stick figure portrait, and she finally decided that you would most likely be found teaching... bears."

The black bear reference comes from the fact that Garrett County, MD, where my lake house is located, has a sizable native black bear population (over 300). We've spotted bear several times during the day, but they come around mostly in the night to see if anyone has been dumb enough not to lock up their garbage. Two years ago, our community was written about in People magazine, when a particularly aggressive bear came through a cabin's screen door and hauled away the owner's entire refrigerator. So at each Deep Creek Lake Guerrilla Management Class, I make sure to deliver the "people-vs.-bears" speech.

Anyway . . . thanks to Carrie and Haley for the delightful drawing!

"New Blog" Alert! Visit sarahpetty.com.

It was only a matter of time . . .

Last year Springfield, IL photographer Sarah Petty launched her new senior business in a big way, so for this senior season Sarah has introduced an exciting new blog. You can access it by logging on to her site (
sarahpetty.com) or go there directly by clicking here. Either way, you'll see that her blog is aimed at seniors. Such a branding guru, Sarah has used her senior theme "Shine on" as the title for her blog. The site design smartly coordinates with her awe-inspring senior marketing piece, printed and assembled by BellaGrafica. I'll be talking about Sarah's boutique studio as part of my "Boutique Studio Revolution" program at the Chicks Who Click conference later this month in The Bahamas. And Sarah will be teaming with Bev and Tim Walden to present a program entitled "The Boutique Studio Experience" at PPA's Make More Money conference on July 21-August 1 in Memphis.


BellaGrafica To Debut at Women's Retreat

You've probably heard some buzz about BellaGrafica, a new marketing company created specifically to serve the needs of boutique studios, and you'll get an opportunity to learn what this buzz is all about at the
Chicks Who Click women's retreat in the Bahamas, June 25-27 (There's no prohibition against male attendees). At that retreat I'll be presenting my new program entitled "The Boutique Studio Revolution," which will focus on the key factors that make up this emerging business model as well as feature six of the top boutique studios in the country. They are:
It has been my privilege to work with these studios for nearly a year now in helping to develop BellaGrafica, which is being shaped by a small group associated with Marathon Press. I'm often asked why Marathon felt that it was necessary to form a new company in order to create boutique studio products. The answer is simple: Boutique studios truly are a different business model from traditional ones. They have a laser-like focus on marketing to women and are far more niche-oriented. What's more, the marketing philosophy that drives boutique studios requires a complete redeployment of marketing resources. Here's an example:

Let's say you have $5,000 to spend on marketing a particular product line. The traditional studio is likely to send 5,000 direct mail cards to a purchased list at a cost of $1 a piece. The boutique studio, however, is more likely to spend $5 each getting 1,000 "wow-factor" marketing pieces into the hands of clients that the studio really wants to do business with—families who appreciate fine things, including artful photography, which they are willing to purchase at a premium price. The key, then, is how to get these great marketing pieces to the right prospects. Boutique studios often do this through networking with retailers, professionals or organizations that deal with these highly qualified clients, asking them to hand out the materials to their top clients or mailing the materials to leads they supply.

I promise that you'll learn a lot about this exciting new business model and the wonderful products that BellaGrafica has just started producing if you attend the Bahamas event. If that's not possible, then don't miss another opportunity to visit with BellaGrafica at PPA's
Make More Money conference, July 29-August 1, in Memphis, TN.

One Fantastic Blog!

One of the best things about teaching is that you get to learn from your students. Such was the case at my May Guerrilla Management Workshop when I met Carrie Viohl and learned how good for your business a blog can be. Carrie and her husband, Phillip, own Carrie Viohl Photography in Moultrie, Georgia. Employee Renee Truett attended the workshop with Carrie and Philliip. Besides being a wonderful photographer, Carrie has made extraordinary use of her blog (carrieviohl.com) to propel her business. She credits it with helping to gain an incredibly loyal group of clients. I'm confident that you will enjoy taking a look at Carrie's blog. Note that when you reach the bottom of the scroll under a given topic or month, you might not have reached the end of her posts. So be prepared to click on "Previous Entries," because it's worth your time not to miss anything! Carrie has really been an inspiration to me to keep blogging away and doing my best to make it interesting.

One of my favorite parts of her blog is the
"stick figures" section which her super-talented employee Haley draws from time to time. There's an entire set of drawings that cleverly informs clients about how to display photographic art appropriately. I've joined the group of interested readers who log on just to find out what the stick figures are up to!

Here's a photo of Carrie and Phillip taken at Deep Creek during the week of my class. What a great couple! When you visit the blog, you'll see wonderful images of their two darling kids.