3.07.2011

The process of reinvention. Starbucks gets it.....

50mm Carl Zeiss 1.4 shot at 1.4 on Canon 1dmk2n.
50mm Carl Zeiss 1.4 shot at f8 on a Canon 1dmk2n.

Consumers and B to B clients are moving targets.  That's why it makes sense to focus on updating your "public face", your offerings and even the way you personally engage clients and potential clients.  Many people debated the intelligence of removing the type from the Starbuck's logo but it makes perfect sense if your plan is to move beyond coffee.  They've made the foray into ice cream and music, now watch them start serving wine in the afternoons and evening.  Their core market is adults and they own the morning for the middle to upscale part of the market (Sorry McDonald's....) but the problem with adults, even the most caffeine addicted adults, is that few of them can drink much coffee in the evenings and still sleep.

That means that Starbuck's sales  probably look like downhill skiing when you chart hour by hour sales.

If you can get adults back in by changing your product mix to match hour by hour sensibilities then you maximize your investment in rent and wages.  Wine and cheese makes perfect sense.  Happy Hour at Starbucks.  Please note that this is just my opinion about how they might go forward.......

As photographers we've got some psychological and process hurdles to get over too.  The days of print sales are wrapping up.  If you sell directly to consumers (weddings and portraits) you've got to re-invent your business so that pricing and fulfillment aren't 100% dependent on the physical print being your final product.  As demographics shift the draw of the print declines in lock step with the acceleration of electronic display.  You should probably be working to a sales model that delivers final images on an iPad.  With a slide show.  With video.  With other extensions.

In commercial (advertising and corporate) photography the print is as rare as a dodo.  We deliver high res tiff files to clients who are aiming toward magazine or direct mail or brochure print production.  We deliver profiled and optimized Jpegs to web designers and web marketers.  If you gave a print to our direct clients (such as medical practices and retailers) the first thing they would do is scan it into their system and the second thing they'd do is find another photographer.  

My graphic designer spouse reminds me that color preferences change in two to three years cycles and popular typestyles change quickly too.  Refreshing the look of our logos becomes a priority when daily presentation of a website is the lifeblood of commerce.  

Website design is now fashion.  And fashions change with the seasons (warning:  this is not a suggestion to use pumpkin graphics in the fall and beach balls in summer.....)  What's your Fall line look like?

Just like Starbucks we have seasonal shifts of demand and by broadening our offerings and pushing into new markets we can smooth out the curves so that the slow times are less........slow.  Think of the addition of video services as the introduction of Frappacinos.  That was a brilliant move on SB's part to build Summer traffic.  The coffee of our business is the photo assignment.  The copywriting is the hot chocolate.  

Now, along with refreshing my brand, I guess I need to come up with names for our different products.
Anyone up for a Venti Executive Portraitiano?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kirk,

The clarity and contrast of Zeiss lenses are phenomenal. Did you ever do direct comparison of Canon 50 or 85mm vs Zeiss 50 or 85 mm. I am very curious. Thanks.

Dan Fogel said...

Kirk - great post and not industry specific. The tight rope walk is brand continuity while still remaining fresh for your existing and (let's hope) new customers. I don't shoot professionally, rather, as a hobby, but I do sell mortgages for a living. I was presented with some "new" marketing material last week all of which I rejected because it both wasn't my brand and it felt stale as I looked at it. We can all learn from that white cup with the wordless green image.

kirk tuck said...

Anon, I did compare them. They are different. One isn't necessarily better than the other but I do prefer the way the Zeiss lenses look in my work. When shooting people the way sharpness rolls off means as much as the sharpness itself....

Debbi_in_California said...

Wow
Who do you know to get the new cup early? LOL
I tried to get one this am and they said not until tomorrow

kirk tuck said...

Debbi, I wasn't supposed to have one either but one of the Barristas at my Starbucks read the blog.....

Dave Elfering Photography said...

Kirk I'm trying video but it is kicking my butt! Very different animal than stills. Like a bad algebra problem the concept of the capture rate in frames per second versus the shutter speed befuddles m :) It is fun though and makes me envision things differently. I picked up a wonderful little Panasonic GH1 and holy toledo what a video beast. With a little software assistance (otherwise known as a hack) full 1080 come through at 40 mbps -- and we all though raw format PHOTOS were space hogs! :)

Today's digital hardware gives us the ability to essentially add a third dimension but I ponder the discipline necessary to take creative advantage of it. Sort of a proverbial pandora's box.

kirk tuck said...

Dave, Video works best when you start with a plan and move from there. Editing is the place where a lot of the art happens. But don't automatically assume that you need to do video. Your secret powers may lie somewhere else.....

Frank Grygier said...

I come from a video background. The art in video is telling the story. Shooting the footage and editing it down to the essence of the story you are telling requires many skills. Writing being at the top of the list. Lighting and framing the shot translate from still photography but getting the audio right and editing are skills that need to be learned to create good video projects. Using the new video capable DSLR's actually make some of these tasks more daunting.

Dave Elfering Photography said...

I've long had ideas about how I liked to frame scenes, people and stories but never thought about seriously shooting video to do it. The idea behind a still of video reminds me poetry composition in an abstract sense. As a hobby guy I guess I can back into it, fart around and try things out. For me stills don't seem like enough but WOW video requires a lot more considerations that make me wish I'd listened in math class. It makes me watch movies and shows from an entirely different point of view.

Kirk I know you are right... an investment should have a plan behind it. Not a rationalization but an actual plan... rats!

There truly is something spectacular about 40 mbps sequences shot with great light and composition though.

Thabani said...

Kirk- I've read your book "Comercial Photography Handbook" over and over and in it you say that delivering full res Jpegs to clients is giving up potential future income..
How does one balance protecting one's potential future revenue from print sales and also meet growing demand for High Res images

kirk tuck said...

Thabani, Thanks. Good Question. I fear that the wedding market and the portrait markets have changed a lot. I understand that a whole generation wants digital files instead of prints. If that's affecting your business make sure you raise the shooting fee to offset the loss of future sales and then charge a "per file" fee, explaining that you touch each file to enhance and improve it.

As the consumer market shifts this is going to be a very interesting business consideration. If I were in the wedding business right now I'd be selling a package that included an iPad with a slide show and I'd expand my business model so that I do more and more profitable pieces of business. Partner with a videographer. Find more parts of the wedding you can handle.

But, in business to business, even if you deliver a full res file you are only licensing specific rights!