What do you think coffee is worth?
I decided to conduct an experiment for the sake of making a comparison to photography branding and this blog. On Monday, after I dropped my two kids to school and with some money in my pocket, I headed to the city centre to run some errands.
I decided I needed a coffee and I proceeded to park my car in the metered spot outside the door of the Starbucks on Mespil Road. I paid fifty cents for parking and I walked into the Starbucks, waited in line for about 10 minutes while I listened to “pick of the week” music playing out of the overhead speakers. The cashier took my order, and I paid €2.40 for a Grande coffee, plus a €0.60 tip.
Then, I walked over to the pick-up counter and waited another five minutes while the barista wrapped up the drinks he was making for the customers ahead of me. He handed my tall coffee to me, and apologized for the wait.
Total cost for a tall coffee at Starbucks: €3.00 (plus parking@ 50 cents!)
Total time at Starbucks, including parking: 20 minutes
Then, on my way out of town, I went ‘Drive Thru’ at my local McDonald’s in Nutgrove. There was one vehicle ahead of me, so within a mere 60 seconds of waiting, I was at the call box talking to the order-taker. She couldn’t hear me, so I had to place my order three times. Finally, the sound worked, and she captured my request for a medium coffee.
I drove around the corner of the building and paid under €2 for my coffee. At the next window, I picked up my medium coffee (it should be noted that a large is also the same price as a small and medium coffee at McDonald’s).
I spent about 3 minutes in the entire McDonald’s drive-thru and then headed home.
Total cost for my medium McDonald’s coffee: under €2
Total time at McDonald’s drive-thru: 3 minutes
On my drive home, I reflected on my experience. I waited significantly longer at Starbucks and had to hassle with parking my car. The people in Starbucks were nicer, the ambience was pleasant in the store, and the white paper cup the barista handed me felt good in my hand. By paying almost twice as much for a smaller cup of coffee, it got me an experience that “felt” better to all senses despite the hassle of parking the car and waiting longer. The wait was made pleasant via the music and kind employees.
My experience at my McDonald’s wasn’t horrific, but it wasn’t good either. By paying about half as much for a few more ounces in my cup, it came at the expense of not-so-nice employees, the smell of the car exhaust from the vehicle ahead of me, a cup that felt shiny, and just a general bad feeling (McDonald’s is just not a food establishment that “feels” good to me).
Why I bought two cups of coffee, really
I’ve been doing some research about pricing and branding strategies for my other business , recently. At a higher level, I’m interested in working with and helping photographers “take back” the photography industry. I wanted to have something to reflect on as a litmus test for some of my thinking.
Because customers expect stuff from “cheaper”. They associate an experience worth tolerating in exchange for “cheap”.
On the flip side, customers tend to feel good about an experience that is “worth more”. By paying more, they are sitting back and enjoying the tiny elements of delight the company or business owner took the time to architect.
How this relates to photography branding
My exercise resulted in a microcosm of proof that photography branding and evaluating the value of your photography can be done in the same way as the value of a commodity like coffee. Cheap can work fine for you, if your customer is expecting a “cheap-like” experience. And being worth more can work fine for you, if you are interested in crafting a delightful experience for your customers who are patient and willing to spend more time with you, because they value you more.
There is no definitively right answer, only a more right answer for you.
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of Cormac O’Kelly & Social Media Management
“Digital Darwinism” is a phrase that has been appearing more and more. This simple idea basically links digital marketing with natural selection. Simply put, “Those who evolve will survive”.
Whether you like it or not digital media is here to stay and has taken over. Everything has gone digital; radio has gone digital, TV has gone digital and even print has gone digital. What this says to those who have yet to engage or those who have resisted change is that there really is no choice but to engage via these channels. Once the media channels you used to use move to a new platform, you no longer have the choice or are able to resist. Any business, whether it’s business2business or business2consumer, needs to reach their customers and potential customers.
Why you don’t have a choice:
- Your customers are nto paying attention to where you currently are
- Your customers cannot find you where they are looking
- Your competitors are using these new(er) digital tools to sell there products and services more efficiently and in turn steal your customers.
You are probably saying, “Not in my industry”! If you are, you are wrong! Every single industry out there is being disrupted by new technologies. This applies to the way the industry works and functions and to the way they reach their customers.
What should you be doing? Here are some steps you should be taking.
If you don’t have any real estate online you’re in BIG trouble. Your website has the ability to be one of the most powerful sales tools in your arsenal. The bad news… Just being online isn’t enough. Your website from 5 years ago isn’t going to live up to the modern expectations of your customers and is most likely going to make them angry. You need to consider everything from the user experience to the functionality and especially the design.
Phonebooks are now commonplace holding open doors and propping up ‘wobbly’ tables and stuff. When people need something, they Google it. If they don’t Google, they use Bing or Yahoo!. If you haven’t put much work into optimizing your digital presence for the search engines of the world, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. If you’re business covers a wide geographic space, you’re going to have some more intense competition. If you’re covering a small local area you have a big opportunity, but it won’t last. Simply put … The sad truth is that if you don’t show up in the first page of the search results your customers will move on.
Customer Retention Plan
This needs to be a well thought-out process involving multiple forms of media. Everybody has a shorter attention span than ever before and are a lot less patient. This means that when we need something we need it NOWand that we might easily forget about the things we like or want. There are a million options out there and the perfect plan for your company will depend on how your business operates, who your customer is, and what they need from you. A few of the options would include
- Ongoing and creative newsletters or email campaigns
- Digital customer service
- Customer rewards program
… but there is lots more besides.
Most of the time the content on your website is static, meaning it doesn’t get updated often (if at all). This is bad for many reasons. One being that you aren’t giving your customers a reason to come back to the site. Twobeing that the search engines tend to favor the sites that are updated often. Another trend online right now is that brands are creating and sponsoring content that their customers will enjoy and hopefully find valuable. Instead of an advertisement trying to persuade the consumer to buy, they’re providing entertainment, insight or value through content creation. This is being done through editorial format as well as through audio, video and images. You can build a loyal following of brand followers with the right content strategy… alternatively you can waste your time with the wrong one.
There’s a lot of adapting and “evolving” for businesses to take on right now but the list above should get you started. If you have any questions or need any help, contact me.
This is a recent interview with Peter Gordon, the 2013 IPPA Photographer of the Year. Peter was kind enough to give up some time to go on camera to be asked a few questions about his photography career to date and what future projects are ahead.
I hope you enjoy it and please forgive some of the (natural) lighting issues we had to contend with. Just click on the video below…
- The most important order you ever get from any customer is the second order.
- Understanding and adapting to consumer motivation is not an option. It is an absolute necessity for competitive survival.
- Know the power of repetition. Your message must be consistent.
- The two most common mistakes companies make when using the phone is failing to track results and tracking the wrong thing.
- Marketing activities should be designed to increase profits, not just sales.
- It costs five times as much to sell a new customer as an existing customer. Get out that customer list!
- Selling what your customers need, instead of what you think they want, will lead to failure.
- Don’t think that product superiority, technology, innovation or company size will sell itself.
- Don’t neglect or ignore your current customers while pursuing new ones.
- People don’t buy products, they buy the benefits and solutions they believe the products provide.
- The average business never hears from 96% of its dissatisfied customers.
- 50% of those customers who complain would do business with the company again if their complaints were handledsatisfactorily.
- It is estimated that customers are twice as likely to talk about their bad experiences as their good ones.
- Exaggerated claims produce inflated expectations that the product or service cannot live up to, thereby resulting in dissatisfiedcustomers.
- Get to know your prime customers—the 20% of product/service users who account for 80% of the total consumption of that product class.
Hope it helps.
….. Peter Gordon.
The other category and image winners for 2013 were as follows:
2013 Best Architecture Portfolio – Enda Cavanagh
2013 Best Architecture Image - No Award Given
2013 Best Commercial / Advertising Award – Cormac Byrne
2013 Best Fashion & The Human Form Portfolio - Michael Hayes
2013 Best Fashion & The Human Form Image - Edel Kelly
2013 Best Landscape Portfolio - Peter Gordon
2013 Best Landscape Image - Peter Gordon
2013 Best Open Art & Creativity Portfolio - Michael McLoughlin
2013 Best Open Art & Creativity Image - Michael McLoughlin
2013 Best Children & Family Portraiture Portfolio – Corin Bishop
2013 Best Children & Family Portraiture Images - Corin Bishop
2013 Best Classical Portrait Portfolio - Claire Durkin
2013 Best Classical Portrait Image - Claire Durkin
2013 Best Contemporary Portrait Portfolio - Claire Dunne
2013 Best Contemporary Portrait Image - Maria Dunphy
2013 Best Press & P.R. Portfolio - No Award Given
2013 Best Press & P.R. Image - Michael McLaughlin
2013 Best Pictorial, Travel & Fine Art Portfolio - Peter Gordon
2013 Best Pictorial, Travel & Fine Art Image - Peter Gordon
2013 Best Wedding Classical Portfolio - Paddy Clarke
2013 Best Wedding Classical Image - Paddy Clarke
2013 Best Contemporary Wedding Portfolio – Peter Gordon (Merit Award also awarded to Dermot Culhane)
2013 Best Contemporary Wedding Image - Dermot Culhane
2013 Best Wildlife Portfolio - Sheena Jolley
2013 Best Wildlife Image – Phil Pound
A special mention to Raimonda Milasiene who took home the 2013 Student of the Year IPPA Award.