It's all in a Brand!
Thursday, Jan 31, 2008
Last night we finished our 5th and 6th legs of the tour! 9 cities in 11 days! We started in Buffalo, NY and traveled to Cleveland, Detroit, Columbus, and Cincinnati. When then drove from to Washington, DC, Newark, Hartford, and finally Boston. It is amazing how each one of these cities has their own flavor and identity. They are all each known for their special food, sports team, and attitude. Each city has its own unique brand that sets them apart from the rest! What do you do to create your studio brand that separates you from the rest? Take a minute or 2 in the next few days and come up with a list of characteristics that separates you from the other studios in your area. I am not talking about your logo! Why should a client come to you instead of your competition down the street? It’s all about the brand and the elements that create the brand! Many thanks to all the wonderful photographers we had the pleasure of meeting and sharing our message with! On our way out of town in Boston today, we had a great lasting impression of the city at a restaurant called the Eastern Standard. What a great place! The service was excellent as well. A special thanks to Megan for taking to the time to chat with us about her city! Next stop is back home in Seattle for 3 days, but they are a busy 3 days! Josh and I are both booked solid Friday, have a memorial for my cousin on Saturday, and I am moving into my new home on Sunday! Monday we fly out to Green Bay, WI for tour leg#7! Hope to see you there! B.H.
Work hard…but find a balance!
Tuesday, Jan 29, 2008
This morning Josh and I were watching a biography on TV of Emeril Lagasse, you know, the BAM guy! What an amazing man! He has single handedly built an empire of restaurants and has created a cult following as well. But all his hard work has cost him two marriages. What I have learned over the years is that in order to be successful and make it to the next level in life and business, you need to work harder and smarter than the average person. Every business and motivational book I have ever read profiles successful people, and they all have this characteristic. But at what price? That is where you need to find a balance! When Sue (my late wife) and I started the business in 1982, we sometimes worked 80, 90, even 100 hours a week! But that is what it took to build our business. The kids (Josh and McKenna) spent a lot of time at both grandparents and aunts and uncles houses. So how did Sue and I find the balance with our hectic, overwhelming schedule? You have to set priorities. For instance, Sundays were family time. We also made every attempt to make it baseball games, soccer matches, ballet shows, etc. Family dinners at home were also key. Quality versus quantity! I guess my point of this blog came from what Emeril said. “Everyday should not be about meeting expectations, but exceeding them.” But make sure as you build your business you never lose sight of what really matters, because sometimes our loved ones are not ALWAYS their waiting when we come home. So have fun, work hard, and cherish the things that matter! So long from Hartford, CT with another great crowd! See you in Boston tomorrow! B.H.
Caught without a camera!
Monday, Jan 28, 2008
Josh and I got a much needed 2 days off and had the opportunity to experience Washington DC. Josh was in heaven! He had never seen our nation’s capital and with his BA in Political Science and minor in History, you can imagine his excitement! This was defiantly a “Fuji” moment but unfortunately we forgot our new Fuji point and shoot camera on this leg of the trip. We resorted to purchasing a disposable camera! But instead of your standard disposable camera, Josh and I opted for a more artsy look, so we bought the black and white camera with 27 exposures! We walked from the White House, to the Washington Monument, then to the WWII Memorial, down the Reflection Pond to the Lincoln Memorial, and finally ended at the Vietnam War Memorial! We defiantly got a much needed workout! Being able to experience both Niagara Falls and Washington DC are truly some highlights from this trip. And even though the Maryland State Convention was going this weekend we still had over 70 in attendance yesterday. There were also a number of photographers in attendance that have studied with me before at such schools as Triangle and MARS. It was great catching up with them and seeing how their businesses have grown during over the years. We are in Newark tonight with a crowd of over a hundred! B.H.
It Starts at the TOP!
Friday, Jan 25, 2008
Last night in Cincinnati, OH we finished the first half of the tour with city 24. Josh and I are excited to have 2 days off and drive to Washington DC. The hotel last night (Embassy Suites) and their staff gave us some of the best customer service we have experienced so far. From the people helping us set up, their supervisor Don, and the Manager at the top, it was obvious that each of the employees had been well trained and managed brilliantly! As I left breakfast this morning and started walking to the ballroom to pack up from last night, I noticed a couple of “manager types” coming towards me. They both made eye contact and greeted me with a “Good morning sir, are you enjoying your stay?” Wow, trust me; you don’t get that greeting at every hotel! Here is the best part, as the two passed me one of them bent over and picked up a handful of dead leaves that had fallen from one of the décor trees in the lobby. I asked, “Excuse me, are the manager?” He replied politely, “Yes, I am the manager.” I then asked him, “What is your secret? Everyone single one of your employees is amazing!” “Thank you,” he said. “My goal is to empower my team to make good decisions. Everyone has a job to do and every job has a detailed job description. If they don’t understand their job, that is because WE haven’t explained it in enough detail. Once you set clear expectations, let your employees do their job. That’s what empowering is all about! All of my team understands that we are not just selling rooms, we are selling customer service!” WOW! Did I go to school this morning or what? Thanks to the great photographers that attended last night and thank you to the Embassy Suites and their manager Tony. Talk to you tomorrow, B.H.
Thank you Detroit!
Wednesday, Jan 23, 2008
Wow, what a great crowd last night in Detroit! Thank you for your enthusiasm and all your great questions. We had a fantastic dinner after at a local grill. Talk about creating a memorable experience. The owner held the restaurant open just for us (group of ten), brought us a free plate of ribs to try his new sauce, made sure that everyone was happy and the staff was extremely accommodating! They could have easily shut their doors to us and called it a night. Instead they went the extra mile! When that client calls you and asks if you are available on that Sunday because “Johnny” is home on leave from the military that weekend and they want a portrait while he is home, will you go the extra mile? Just something to ponder! Tonight we are in Columbus, OH with another great crowd! Sorry for the short message, I’ll have more tomorrow! B.H.
The Turnpike Experience!
Tuesday, Jan 22, 2008
We had an extremely attentive crowd last night in Cleveland. Thank you for braving the cold and coming out to see us! We are noticing throughout the tour a large number of first time photography seminar attendees. One of things I love from the front of room is watching various light bulbs going off throughout the evening. I also see couples turning to each other and saying, “See, I told you so!” One of the biggest compliments we have received so far came from our representative from The MAC Group who spent the evening with us last night in Cleveland and the night before in Buffalo. “In all my years doing these kinds of seminars, I have never seen a crowd linger so long after the seminar is over! It’s like they don’t want to leave!” It has been our goal from the beginning with this tour to give the most comprehensive set of ideas, concepts, and strategies to combat the challenges in our market due to the Digital Revolution. I don’t profess to have all the answers but it is good to know that many of my suggestions are working for photographers throughout the country. As we drive to Detroit on the Ohio Turnpike we are impressed with the state’s enthusiasm in creating a pleasurable driving experience with their Service Plaza’s every few miles. It reminds us of driving in Europe where they really take their driving experience to a new level. Creating that experience for your clients is something you probably have heard me preach before, but it is essential for growing your business and your revenue. The next time we are driving across our State of Washington, our rest stops with the “free” stale coffee are just not going to cut it! We are now spoiled thanks to the Service Plaza! Way to go Ohio! Tonight we are in Detroit, hope to see you there! B.H.
It’s the Little Things!
Saturday, Jan 19, 2008
My apologies for missing last few days’ messages but both Josh and I were swamped with clients, preparing for our next tour leg, and we had an issue with our server. Sorry! On Friday I had lunch with one of my mastermind marketing group buddies, Mario. He’s a building contractor that specializes in high-end kitchen and bathroom remodels. Mario is going after the same level of clientele that I am and it’s amazing to see the parallels that our professions have. He believes that success in business is based on relationships-Where have you heard that before? During lunch he told me a story about a client that he had taken to lunch recently at his favorite Chinese place. During the course of the lunch the client confessed to Mario that she knew the minute she met him that he was going to be her contractor. He asked, “How did you know?” She then replied, “It was when you continued to remove your shoes even after I told you not too! I can’t name another contractor that has ever entered my home and thought of being that courteous. You earned my respect by respecting me and my home. I can see why you are so highly recommended!” Mario is convinced, like I am, that many times it is the “Little Things” that determine making a sale or not. What little things can you do this next week to win a clients heart? B.H. (PS) We started our 5th Leg of the New Directions/Reality Check Tour in Buffalo last night and we had a great crowd! Now we are off to Cleveland, Detroit, Columbus, and Cincinnati! Hope to see you in one of the cities! I’ll give you a special little surprise if you come up and tell me the secret words “P is for Professional.”
Staff Picture Day!
Thursday, Jan 17, 2008
Tomorrow is our annual staff portrait day. This year we are taking it in front of my new home and soon to be new location of Hudson’s On The Lake (formerly Hudson’s Designer Portraits). Each year we take the time to send a thank you card with our new staff portrait on it to all of the clients who had invested their time and money with us over the past year. Each staff member also signs the card to add that extra personal touch. It is great way to continually build that relationship and put a face (or faces) to your photography business. See you tomorrow! B.H.
Things to come...
Tuesday, Jan 15, 2008
As you know (or maybe you don't), our studio business model is in the process of changing this year. I am moving from a 20 year storefront studio with a beautiful camera room to a residential (home) operation, where I do everything on-location. Instead of photographing one client at the studio from an office, how about traveling to the office and photographing the whole staff. That's what I did today! It's amazing how you're able to increase your productivity and increase profits twenty-fold when you work on your client's "turf"! Instead of one doctor in the studio, I photographed 23 staff members. A huge bonus came when I had the chance to discuss providing fine art prints for an upcoming office makeover. The new business model will include many changes, but will also open up new opportunities. Hopefully today was a good example of things to come!
Nothing Starts Out Perfect!
Monday, Jan 14, 2008
Hi there everyone! This is Josh, Bruce’s son and humble partner in MyStudioMentor.com! My father had to rush out to his new home today because they are installing carpets. How exciting! Anyway, I decided to blog today on something that I am getting an education on right now. Not everything you do in business is going to be perfect the first time. You may try something once and think it is perfect; just to find out that you still have some kinks to work out! Take for instance, selling your images with projection. I speak with photographers everyday that are interested in selling with projection but are afraid to try for the fear of “messing up”. I know for a fact that when my father started over 20 years ago it took months, even years to prefect his sales presentation. One of our Platinum members named Denise Jane called yesterday and said she just sold her first 30x40! She was so excited! She has been using projection since she started her studio about one year ago after studying with my dad. Denise is a great example of what hard work and taking a leap into the unknown can accomplish. I keep her in mind as our first issue of The Monthly Mentor is on its way to all our regular and trial members. I was on cloud nine, over a years worth of hard work and not to mention my heart and soul went into it! But I found out today that some of the CD’s have been delivered broken. Needless to say I am a little upset. But I am so lucky to have a boss, mentor, and father like my dad around when things like this happen. His experience has taught him to access certain situations with a calm, positive attitude. So my dad and I called the post office, the disc manufacture, and the problem is being resolved! In the mean time, we are now sending new discs to everyone that received a damaged one. I guess my point is do not let the fear of failure keep you from trying something new or taking a risk. Everything in life is a work in progress! I am learning that you do it, and then you perfect it. Making it happen is the majority of the battle! My dad will be back tomorrow, till next time! J.H
You Never Know!
Friday, Jan 11, 2008
Today at lunch I had the opportunity to speak to a professional businesswoman’s networking group. The title of the program was “The Biggest Mistake Every Business is Guilty of…and how to Avoid it!” It was based on my new book The Relationographer and how important relationship marketing is to ANY business. We sold an amazing amount of books, which was pretty cool. But most importantly I came away with five solid gold leads for my “core business” of photography. Two for senior portraits, one for soft touch portraits (our form of boudoir), one for a large wedding, and one for a heating company that takes five of their top clients somewhere in the world for an all inclusive paid trip for three weeks every year! This next year they will be traveling to Italy. This potential client liked the portrait safari concept that I shared in the program and suggested I travel with their group to artistically document their event and create custom albums for each one of their clients. Yeah, that sounds like something I MIGHT just consider! Can you believe it! Sometimes you never know where your next client will come from. Till tomorrow, Go Seahawks! B.H.
PhotoShop Finally Saves Bruce’s Butt!
Thursday, Jan 10, 2008
As you know (or maybe you don’t) I am a big advocate of GETTING IT IN THE CAMERA. Sitting in front of the computer can suck the profits right out of your bottom line! With all that said I recently had a situation where PhotoShop did save me from doom. Here’s what happened: I was photographing a 20+ year client’s set of grandkids. There were 9 granddaughters from 4 of their children that had flown in from around the country for Christmas. No chance for errors! The girl’s ages ranged from 2 to 14. A challenging proposition that became even more difficult with one of the granddaughters being artistic. She did really well for most of the session. But the real problems came technically. Let’s just say I had some “hiccups.” I was at my client’s home using my ProPhoto Compacts. Like a dummy I forgot one of my pocket wizards so I had to rely on my second light to fire optically, which it did 50% of the time because of the positioning of the lights. (SIDE NOTE: The new ProPhoto Compacts have a built in Pocket Wizard receiver) Bottom line was of course Murphy’s Law; the shots that had the correct exposure did not have the best expressions. So PhotoShop and my production manager Kelly to the rescue! She created a few images with all of the best expressions and exposures combined. Not the best use of time. But defiantly a way to save my butt on an important session that could not be repeated. See you tomorrow, your humble mentor, B.H.
Painting with Light
Wednesday, Jan 09, 2008
As the weather gets murky this time of year I tend to do more studio portraits. It is amazing how much lighting control you really have with the right tools. This week’s “Image of the Week” has received a ton of questions and I believe it is a great example of this. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out! The majority of light came from a 40 inch soft box that illuminated her full body from the left side. I then painted the right side slightly with a 5 foot silver reflector. To accent her back I painted with grid spot. With the ProPhoto lighting system I use I have the capability to move my grid spot forward and back which gives me total control of spot size and intensity of my light or “Paint.” I used the same technique to paint my subject’s face much like the Hollywood photographers did in the 1930’s and 40’s. I know many photographers fear studio lighting, but when you approach lighting a subject more like painting, it becomes easier to understand and determine the creative outcome. More of this lighting stuff in the future! See you tomorrow, B.H.
Tuesday, Jan 08, 2008
Have you ever heard of the old saying, “It’s the early bird that gets the worm?” I am sure you have! Well it’s true! The “worms” in this case is “getting stuff done!” Have you ever noticed that you are a lot more productive when you don’t have all the distractions like answering phones, working with clients, you know, all the “unimportant stuff” I am kidding, those are important, but how is a person supposed to get projects done when dealing with everyday stuff from just 9-5? I am one of those rare people that can function on 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night. My beautiful bride Terri is normal and needs more sleep than I do to function during the day and that is ok too. She has her own way of doing things and getting her work projects done. I guess what I am saying we are all different, but in order to run a successful business you need to go the extra mile and find ways to get the everyday stuff done and still find time to do the necessary side projects to grow your business. I wake early, go to the studio hours before any of my staff, and even leave the studio when I have an hour between appointments. For me, I need to get out of the chaos and go sit in a restaurant or coffee shop to get my head clear and really focus on my action list for that day. It is up to you to minimize your distractions in whatever way you feel is best for you. Whether it is staying late, going in early, or leaving the studio, you have to find a way! But remember as my late wife and Josh’s mom Sue used to say, “True success is found outside your comfort zone!” Try getting up early, you might surprise yourself! B.H.
Spring Cleaning in Jan!
Monday, Jan 07, 2008
Now is the time to clean and organize your studio while things are on a slower pace. As you update your files why not take the time to call and once again thank your clients for the business they have given you the past year! See how they are enjoying your work and how their friends and family have responded to your portraits. This is also a great time to ask for testimonials for those up coming marketing pieces. Cleaning and organizing doesn’t have to be boring, it can be a great source of marketing content and a way to continue that relationship with your clients! On a side note before I sign off, Josh and I are updating the Image of the Week tomorrow morning…check it out! B.H.
Life is Not a Rehearsal, Part I
Thursday, Jan 03, 2008
With this week being the first work week first of the New Year, what did you accomplish so far? We all have the tendency to do the easy things first and leave the hard things for tomorrow. I have found over the years that you move farther and faster by accomplishing the challenging tasks first and the easy ones second! Life is not a rehearsal, and shouldn’t be treated as such!
Not even the FLU can stop my dad!
Wednesday, Jan 02, 2008
Greetings everyone! For those of you that haven’t met me yet, I am Josh, Bruce’s son. I am one of the people who really pushed my dad to start this website! He is actually home sick today and never made it to the office. This is EXTREMELY RARE! Growing up my parents never had “Sick Days.” When you are in business for yourself, you are working when many others are not. Holidays, when you don’t feel well, on weekends, etc. But the sacrifices we all make everyday do pay off! I am a witness to it everyday. My dad has worked so hard for the past 30 years of his life; he deserves a “Sick Day.” But in typical Bruce Hudson fashion, the studio received multiple phone calls during the day from him. He also answered emails and is gearing up for tomorrow’s appointments. Not to mention I am sure his builder for the new house/studio received multiple inquiries on the progress as well. I feel so lucky to have the privilege to pay my father back for all he has done for me by working at the studio and making his life easier. Although most of the time I come up with new ideas and ways to generate income at the studio which usually leads to more work! I can’t help it; it is in my blood I guess! Anyway, Bruce will back tomorrow! J.H.
Tuesday, Jan 01, 2008
Yesterday was a mix of emotions. In the morning we laid my cousin to his finally resting place and later that afternoon we celebrated my daughter’s 23rd birthday. A day filled with sadness and happiness. Today are the beginnings of New Year’s Resolutions for hundreds of millions in our country. Why does it take a specific date of the year to pledge an improvement to ourselves? Why not do it daily? One of the success strategies that I strive for everyday when I walk into the studio is: WHAT can I do in the next few hours to create CASH FLOW TODAY! Is it following up with a client to finalize a sale? Is it delivering an order to a client who has been unable to stop in and pick up? Is it creating an E-Newsletter and sending it to your database? It would be great if ALL we had to do is take pretty pictures to make a living. But to make a consistent living unfortunately it takes more. Make this year’s resolution to execute DAILY RESOLUTIONS! Happy New Year! B.H.