Power Corner

This wonderful and generous man has been teaching photographers how to make top dollar with their photography for many years. Chuck is known for his powerful sales and marketing ideas and for '* t7- making photography a super profitable profession. He has also created twenty-three video tapes and seventy-four audio tapes.

His passion for sharing with other photographers throughout the world has earned Chuck a reputation as one of our industry's marketing superstars. He had a great deal of good advice to offer, and this was another example of how a fifteen-minute interview can easily turn into ninety minutes!

For more information on Chuck's money-making ideas, e-mail him at [email protected].

Mitche: What do you see as being the biggest challenges facing our industry now and in the future?

Charles: The number one challenge is digital. Digital is going to be the downfall of an enormous number of photographers because they're putting all of their time, money, and effort on this new technology. I agree that digital is the future of photography, there's no question. But they're putting money they don't have into it and spending time that should be spent on marketing and selling. People are thinking, "Well, I've got to keep up with the times. I've got to keep up with my competitors." But if you can't sell an image on film, you're not going to be able to sell it when it's captured digitally.

Digital is not a magic pill that's going to fix all their problems and help them meet their challenges. They should be spending their time on marketing and sales methods. How you present your photographs is the single most important decision of your entire career. It's more important than any other decision you will ever make. Who cares how you create the photographs? Who cares what f-stop and what equipment you use? What should really matter is putting the time and effort into marketing and selling instead of into the new technology.

I'm sure you've found yourself talking to the top marketers and photographers around the world. The top photographers are using digital as a tool, as just one more thing in their arsenal, not something that's necessarily replacing the way they've done it. It's just one more advantage they can offer their clients to up-sell, to make more dollars, and to make their clients happier and more satisfied. Exactly! Everything goes back to self-image psychology. I think there are photographers who are so insecure about the fact that they're not making the living that they want to make that they say, "Oh, it must be because I'm using outdated technology. If I put, oh, let's just say $50,000 into new equipment, my sales will improve. I'll have to borrow the money, but I'll get into digital, and then I'll learn how to use it! I'll learn how to use the software, too, then I can do my own retouching and—oh, man—this is going to be so cool!" Of course, they're losing sight of the fact that if they can't do it with film, they're not going to be able to do it with digital. We are marketers and sell ers of photographic services. That's how we earn our living, and so if we don't invest a substantial amount of our time in the marketing and the selling aspects of our business, we're not going to be earning anywhere near the kind of living we should be earning.

If you could describe in a nutshell what your marketing philosophy is, what would you say?

The main thing is that you have to create a huge demand for your limited supply and then control the volume of work you do with the price.

What do you feel are the most important attributes of a good Power Marketer?

Well, there's no real secret. The main attribute is they devote the time, the effort, and the thought. They scratch off at least one full day a week, usually two full days a week, devoted strictly to marketing and selling. They won't take appointments, they won't answer the phone. They'll let either their voice mail take the calls or they'll have other employees and staff who will answer the phone. They know that the only way to create a huge demand for a limited supply and to earn a really good aver age sale is by devoting the time to get better at it and figuring out your marketing.

It's all a matter of having goals—knowing where you want to go, what you want to achieve, and how you're going to achieve that. There's no magic formula. It just takes time. So to me, the real difference is that the really good marketers are the people who devote time to it.

Why do you think so many great photographers, find marketing to be such a pain? Why don't they get more excited about it?

None of us went into photography for marketing and selling. Why are we in photography? We love it! We're passionate about it. We're creating something from nothing. We're right-brained, creative, artistic people. So we go ahead and we put all this time and effort into the equipment and the methods and the technology and the f-stops and the vignetting and the diffusion and the depth of field and then we expect—because no one told us differently— that if we have a really good product, it will sell itself. People will line up at our door. It just won't happen that way.

The great Donald Jack, the one man who totally altered my life forever . . . it's just incredible what he did for me when I spent two years understudying with him at his studio in Omaha. The first time I went in to offer my services as an apprentice, he, to my shock, accepted my offer. He said, "I have a wedding this Saturday, why don't you go with me?" Oh man, I was so excited!

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