Power Corner

Skip's career in the photo industry started at Polaroid in 1970 where, over the course of seventeen years, he held positions in research, personnel, and customer service, and was the U.S. marketing manager for Polaroid's photo-specialty dealers. In 1987, he left to take over Hasselblad USA as President/CEO and to pioneer Hasselblad University. In 1999 he helped launch an Internet photographic retail site as president of PhotoAlley.com.

Skip is now President/Chief Operating Officer of Rangefinder Publishing Inc. and has responsibility for Rangefinder magazine, the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International Association and Trade Show, as well as Focus on Imaging magazine. Two key industry fundraisers created by Skip include the sale of Ansel Adams's Cadillac to the Coastal Hotel Group in 1991 and the sale of Ansel's Hasselblad gear to shock jock Don Imus in 1997, raising $100,000for charity.

With Bambi Cantrell (see page 81), Skip has also written several instructional books for photographers. To contact Skip Cohen, please call (310) 451-0090.

Mitche: What do you feel is the biggest challenge facing our industry in the future?

Skip: Keeping up with technology and reaching our target audience. We are all competing, not just against ourselves, but other businesses. If it took three times for a consumer to remember your name years ago, today it's six to eight. Professional photographers are competing against companies like BMW or that "Zoom, Zoom, Zoom" commercial for Mazda, for example. Everyone is competing to get through the "noise" and build brand recognition in their target demographic.

Describe your marketing philosophy.

Education. It's all about being accessible to your customers and providing quality education.

What are the most important attributes of a Power Marketer?

Knowing your target market, without a doubt. There's a great line from a marketing consultant by the name of Ed Foreman. He said, "If I can see the world through Mitche's eyes, then I can sell Mitche what Mitche buys." In order to achieve success in any industry, you need to know your client.

What things are important to you in life, and how does your marketing come into play with those priorities?

If you love what you are doing, you tend to do it well. You tend to have more enthusiasm. People accuse me of being wound a little too tight sometimes, and I laugh about it. If you look around the industry, I have always believed that if you're not having fun with what you are doing, get out and change gears. I've been very fortunate in my life, and I love what I do! I love photography, I love what great photographers are able to do, I love the magic. I've always believed that with the exception of modern medicine, there is no industry that has given the world more than photography.

If you think about it, everything from capturing a wedding to documenting the violation of human rights is captured by a photographer. If it wasn't for photography, what would 9/11 look like? It would have been a bunch of pencil sketches. Or for someone's wedding we would have drawings of a wedding cake. Photographers tell the story, good or bad. If you don't love what you are doing, make a change. I happen to love what I do so much that people accuse me of having an overindulged zest for life! Basically, it's a "work hard, play hard" approach.

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