A signature system is a photographer's best friend.
Unique systems are critical. So critical, in fact, that we're going to say something that may surprise (even shock) you:
Systems play an equally—if not more—important role than even your own photography style in differentiating your business from all the others.
There are gobs of reasons, but here are the the top three:
- A signature system quietly delights every single client even while you are catching some Zs (it ensures your Zs, too)
- A signature system makes sales and everyday operations easy-breezy for people who think they are not good at selling and business
- Here’s the real kicker: A system will not only make success easier, it will practically ensure it
(Let’s have a quick yet honest side conversation on the selling thing. Photographers who actually like and excel at selling are either part Magical Unicorn, AKA extremely rare, or they ended up in the photography business by accident—an accident that they usually correct fairly quickly.
I’ve met many togs who occupy the latter niche, but I’ve only met one Magical Unicorn photographer worth her salt who also really enjoyed the sales process. She was a very rare diamond indeed. However, even she mostly lacked a formal system.)
But I’m not talking to her. I’m talking to you.
You, the talented photographer who loves creating, and finds selling and systems awkward if not downright intimidating.
Without a signature, developed, documented (i.e. written-down) system that guides your business and every single client interaction, you will never make the leap from good to great. D'oh—there's reason #4.
Without your own unique system, you and your business are just another undifferentiated blip in the online universe. (Oops, that's reason #5…I'll stop now.)
It’s also very hard to retain and re-acquire raving client fans without a system. (Ack! There’s reason #6…somebody help me!)
Luckily, I've put together a quick quiz so you can see if you've got working systems--or if you need to buckle down and build some.
Ask yourself the following questions to see if you have a signature system in place
- Do all of your clients see you and your business as highly differentiated from other photographers? (Read: Are you doing things so drastically different from other photographers that World Photographer Magazine is planning to put you on the cover?)
- Are your ordering sessions easy-breezy and fun for you (and you alone), not to mention highly profitable?
- Do you know exactly what will happen when a prospect contacts you? Are you so comfortable in your knowledge of your clients that when a prospect contacts you, it’s an easy 1,2,3 and they hire you?
- Rather than just being in your head, are all your client workflows and processes documented in an easily accessible place that anyone can pick up and understand?
- When someone sees your image or your product with no logo attached, do they immediately know it’s yours? (That’s a sneaky one, isn’t it? But yes, systems can do this for you.)
- Do you have 1-3 key employees/associates who can refer to your manual and step in to run things for you on a dime?
- When a client returns to your studio for their next portrait, do they know exactly what will happen without being told?
- Do clients never ask you questions about your services, because they're all so readily laid out in plain English (and cool graphics), and the process is exactly the same every time?
- Do you command high premiums that your clients happily line up down the block to pay? (Again, this has almost nothing to do with your photos.)
If you answered "yes" (an honest yes) to all of these questions, congratulations to you on your storage unit full of neatly stacked $100 bills! Have a wonderful life. I'll see you on the cover of WPM next month.
If you answered "yes" to a few of these questions, you're most likely struggling and relying on luck or your amazing talent to get booked. Both of these options will eventually burn you out mentally and physically, if they haven’t already.
If you answered "no" to most of these questions…take heart. You're in good company. Most businesses (photography or otherwise) don’t have systems either. And that is why countless businesses wallow in mediocrity and struggle with low cash flow.
But there is a fix for this. Only the very best of best businesses are undertaking this fix.
You are here reading this, so you are one step closer to fixing your business, too.
In a word, the fix is: SYSTEMS.
So the final question is:
What are you waiting for?
I just told you the secret!
Start building your systems and see how your business transforms (completely). We can help!