Saturday, February 10, 2007

Diversification and A Variety of Clients

Each week, my subscription to BusinessWeek arrives and I look forward to reading it. Yes, yes, there are many articles which don't apply to me, but I do appreciate keeping up with other fields, and I really enjoy seeing the work my colleagues produce for this publication, and I've had an assignment or two grace their pages, and, quite importantly, they have a very fair contract for their photographic contributors. For less than $1 a week, you too can get this collection of insights delivered to your doorstep.

But, that's not why I write. It's because of a really great message that resonates with what I've been trying to say for some time. In today's mail my Business Week arrived, and in Jack and Suzy Welch's column, Ideas The Welch Way (he, legendarily formerly of GE), responds to a question which posits:

"Companies let go of troublesome employees. Is it ever a good idea to apply the same practice to troublesome customers?"
In part, they respond:
"...there are some circumstances where the old adage about customer supremacy can actually be destructive, and it makes sense to say no or even goodbye....when a customer's demand for price destroys your profitablility, or worse, creates industry pricing chaos, that's when you have to hold the line and dump the, sometimes your big customers...they own you, and they know it. So with them, you may need to endure...outrageous demands."
Sound familiar? Are you a diversified photographer who has many clients in multiple arenas, or just a few big ones? How about clients making outrageous demands? If you're not diversified, you feel you must put up with them, and it often seems like a spiral that you can never escape.

Dumping the bad clients, and embracing the best, turning away the bad deals, and celebrating the good. I know, I know...I hear the refrain "but I'm new to business, how do I get these clients?" Well, frankly, one at a time, and initially, they are few and far between. Why? Because the "best" clients, with "good" deals, have photographers they call upon. They don't know who you are, or that you exist. They only look for another photographer when theirs is not available. And, in the meantime, the deals that others are turning away are coming to you. I know it takes awhile, but like any good thing, it takes awhile to come around.

BusinessWeek (along with Fortune,Fast Company, and Kiplinger's Personal Finance)are among those publications I look forward to each month. For less than a cheap (i.e. non-Starbucks!) cup of coffee, I get much more of a pick-me-up than that java would provide, each and every time.
Please post your comments by clicking the link below. If you've got questions, please pose them in our Photo Business Forum Flickr Group Discussion Threads.


Anonymous said...

EP (Editorial Photographers) led the way with the Business Week contract. It was EP and the personal efforts of the then EP leaders who met with Business Week and worked out a contract that was fair and equitable.

EP was (at the time) a renegade group of editorial photographers who banded together to create change in how editorial photographers were paid.

EP took action when the inaction of other trade groups became unbearable.

A small group of San Francisco photographers - who all shot for BW, said, as a group and individually, no to the low day rate and increased requests for more usage.

BW tried to work around them. It did not work. BW worked with EP and from the efforts of EP leadership and Larry Lippman, Photo Editor for BW, a new and equitable agreement was reached.

It was truly a win-win agreement.

It was simple - a group of photographers looking out for their and the industries welfare decided to make a change - all via the web and a forum.

It showed the power of open communication and effort.

What was disturbing was how ASMP and to some degree, NPPA ignored the problem. But that had more to do with ego driven leadership than wanting to help photographers.

Anonymous said...

Reading the biz magazines along with Vanity Fair, the Geographic and some foreign mags (online) help me stay aware and hopefully awake.

Also, reading the Sunday N.Y. Times, Wall Street Journal, intelligent forums (rare and few), the BBC site has a different perspective on news, even the Christian Science Monitor online give you an alternative perspective and insight into the world.

Anonymous said...

Education is the key, I turned down two shoots this week because the client didn't want to pay my day rate, which was in keeping to industry standards. The hardest thing to do, is walk away, but you will be better off in the long term not getting stuck with a client who does not know the value of a good photographer.

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