Corporate Decisions – Building or Tearing Down Your Brand?

A Thomas Image is not the most expensive photography studio in town, nor is it the least expensive.  I’ve always felt you should experience product quality and quality service at A Thomas Image.  When you purchase prints and photography from my studio I want you to receive a high level of quality and service.

That having been said let me tell you about a situation my Wife and I experienced recently.  My Wife decided it was time to replace our kitchen counter tops.  She called in the designer we used when we originally built our home.  The designer recommended Cambria for our counter tops.  Why? – Because they positioned themselves as a “high-end” manufacturer.  When you buy Cambria, you buy the best in product and service.

Well, the new countertops came in.  After installation, we noticed a defect in one of the tops.  A Cambria field service representative was dispatched to our house.  He inspected the top, took pictures, filled out a report, and tried to correct the problem.  He could not correct the problem.  We were told Cambria would review the information and advise us of their disposition.

Afterwards we learned the defect was in the counter top when it arrived at the installer’s facility.  Meaning it came that way from Cambria.  So now we’re thinking Cambria will make good on the counter top.  After all, they positioned themselves as a “high-end” manufacturer.

We got the results from Cambria – they felt the defect was caused by the installer.  As a result they would not replace the top.  So how did the situation get resolved?  The installer stood behind the job.  He purchased a new counter top, came on site, removed the old top and installed a brand new one.  His commitment was to make us and the designer happy – even at his expense.  Wow!  That’s commitment!

Lessons learned?  First, when I make a statement about the quality of my product and service at A Thomas Image, I need to be committed to stand behind that statement.  Second, just how committed is Cambria to their name in the marketplace and what might you think about their name, higher price and the marketing hype: a “high-end” manufacturer?

More info as it becomes available.

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What Does Your Social Networking Photo Say About You?

How cool, you’re on several social networks now.  Everyone knows what you’re thinking.  You’ve posted photos about your pet and your trip to the cottage.  Your list of “friends” keeps growing.  You’re really on your way. 

Hey you even managed to upload a photo of yourself shot with your friend’s cell phone.  Ok, Ok, so some alcohol was involved in the photo – but hey what difference does it make?  Your friends will like that photo over the one of you in a sport shirt, which has nice composition.

 Let’s explore this scenario; You’ve been working real hard at your job.  The raises have been steady.  Co-workers even come to you for your expertise.  Your supervisor often gives you the better jobs/assignments.  Everything seems to be on a roll.  Hey you’re even up for a promotion.

 Now let’s rewind this scenario a little.  Remember the night at the party your friend shot that profile picture?  You know the one where alcohol was involved.  That’s the same night you made a small pass at your best friend’s girl friend – just a little innocent thing – Right?  Well maybe your friend didn’t think it was so innocent.

 Now that you’re up for a promotion, a copy of that profile photo winds up in your Vice President’s email “in-box”.   Oh by the way the VP is a woman and she was in an abusive relationship with an alcoholic, but you don’t know that.  Now she’s looking at your profile picture and she makes the final decision regarding your promotion.  What do you think might be going through her head at this point?  What about that promotion?

 Which profile photo would you prefer your VP see?  The one with some thought about clothing and composition or the picture of you from your friend’s cell phone?  Even if you change the photo the damage is done.  Can you change that – probably not?  Oh to be a fly on the wall during that interview!

Business Cards – Photo or No Photo

When do you listen to the so-called experts? I’ve attended seminars where marketing Guru’s tell the audience just what to do and what not to do. At one such event, the Guru told the audience not to put your photo on your business card. As a photographer can you picture my head snap around when I heard that statement? Now is that a rule or a guideline? Rules are one thing, but a guideline is just that – a guideline. Actually, photographers believe rules are made to be broken! I know, I know – what a rebel!

Let’s consider this scenario – you are calling on the owner of a large plumbing distributor, how would you dress? Walk in wearing a $1500 designer suit with spit-polished shoes, the plumber’s impression – What do you know about plumbing or manual labor? Wear a pair of casual slacks and a polo shirt, he might think; you actually understand working for a living! That’s an impression that might get you more attention and respect. Ask yourself – What’s appropriate?
How you communicate with your market may not fit a specific rule. Although this rule might apply – “don’t blurt out something that angers your prospect”. You have to tailor your message to suit your intended audience, just like the clothing the salesman wore in the example above.

Ok, back to photos on business cards. I look at this much the same way. As a photographer, I think it’s quite appropriate when prospects see my photo on my business card. Real estate agents are notorious for putting their photo on all their marketing materials. Look at how agents are compensated – they work on commission. No sale – no pay! If a marketing tool doesn’t make them money, you can bet it gets thrown out.

For some businesses, the owner or representative is the product being sold. We are selling our skills. In a case like that, I believe it’s perfectly acceptable to have your photo on the card. Imagine you get a phone call from a customer referral. Your customer gave the prospect your business card. Your prospect agrees to meet you at the local coffee shop for the first time. What if your competitor walked in 5 minutes ahead of you and your prospect mistakes him for you? Wow, that’s bad for business. Your photo on the business card may be just the ticket to getting picked out of the crowd.

Another one of my favorites, does “stock” photography really represent your company? When your prospect walks into your office and it looks nothing like the “stock photograph” used in your brochure, what’s the impression?

So ask yourself: What’s your message to your marketplace? What will you use to communicate that message? And remember that word “appropriate”. Do what’s “appropriate” for your marketplace, prospect or customer. Does your message require text, graphics, photos or all three? That’s what should be on your business card, literature, web site, blog, letterhead or any marketing material you use for your business.

After all, your customer pays the invoice, which ultimately pays your salary! It’s simple, No sale, No invoice, No paycheck. They’re opinion is the one that counts. Not necessarily what the Guru says!

You can learn more about A Thomas Image by viewing the studio web site.

Next time let’s talk about photos on Social Networking sites!