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Portfolio, presentation, cold calls etc.
I just registered my photo retouching and restoration business last week and am getting started on trying to generate some actual business. Some completely newbie questions for your consideration:
1. What are people looking for in a portfolio of r&r? Are there standard things that people will want to see? Is there a standard type of presentation medium, e.g., hardcover book, file folder, photo album, separate prints? How many samples of my work should I have?
2. What is a good way to get in the door or to get an appointment? Is it wiser to phone ahead to a photo studio or shop or walk in off the street? Do I go in selling or asking? What materials should I have with me and what should I be prepared to leave behind, price list, business card, brochure, samples, etc?
3. Should I be asking for business directly in the form of referrals or should I work under someone as a sub contracted individual?
Thanks all for your help.
Let me just say that as you read what I am writing, keep in mind that I'm not typical of what others may be doing. Also, I don't limit my services to just retouching. Besides retouching, I offer graphic design, printng, photography, illustration, multimedia services, web design and I also am a corporate art consultant. Keep in mind, too that I am trying to generalize my experiences so the following won't contain any specifics.
I live in an area (Northern NJ, USA), where there's plenty of work if you're willing to get it. I want to spend more time doing work than getting it, so I chose to market myself to advertising and graphic design firms rather to individual companies. That way I don't have to go to any meetings or constantly sell my services. So now I have a pool of about 4 steady clients that keep me pretty busy.
Personally, I have found to get work it seems to be better to walk right in and ask for it rather than make a cold call, send samples and attempt to make an appointment. Yes, these companies are very busy, but that's precisely when they need you the most. If they have time to schedule an appointment to meet with you, they don't have a job in mind for you. Also, I find that a spur-of-the-moment meeting is less stressfull because it's not scripted, nor do I have to lug around my portfolio and waste time making a presentation. I just go in like I'm asking for directions or something, and start a conversation. You won't believe how well that works.
I'm no psychologist, but I think that if you give people the opportunity to help you, they become familiar with you and are more open to you. Or maybe people like my anti-salesman personality.
Now if I actually do have to go to a sales meeting (say the person I meet wants me to pitch to his boss), I almost never open my portfolio. I focus completely on the customer and their needs so much, that the meeting never turns to me and my dog-and-pony show. I basically get down to business. I ask questions about what their problem is, what have they done so far to fix it, has it worked, what do they think still needs to be done, what's their plan to fix it, when will they implement the plan, what outcome do they expect. the I ask a lot of "if" questions. If you were to give me this project, when would you expect it completed? If you could change your methods now, what would you do? If there was one problem you could change today, what would it be?
At this point I am not talking about me or how I can fix their problem. I only focus on the project and try to see it from their perpective. I repeat it back to them in my own words so they know that I understand. I'm scribbling down notes and reading it back to them.
When I am satisfied that they know that I am empathetic to their problem and completely understand their situation, I ask the big "if" question. If I could put together a program that will remedy your situation, would you be interested? If they say yes, I got 'em. They've practically committed themselves to me as long as they believe that I can deliver.
If possible, I share a common experience here. "I once worked with a company that was in a similar situation and this is what we did to fix it."
From this point I behave like they've already hired me.
As far as referrals are concerned. You gotta ask for them. My philosophy is that every client you have is worth at least two more.
Well I think I've babbled enough. Hope my experiences are helpful.
Last edited by emarts; 09-15-2005 at 08:03 AM. Reason: clarify some points
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