From 1987 to 1992 I founded and ran a media production company. We mainly did press and billboard ads, calendars, annual reports and a bit of TV commercial stuff. We worked with big-name clients such as Nestlé, BAT, P&G and Ford.
The company was pretty successful – the last year that I was involved we turned over more than $1m in sales. And there was just four of us.
The thing was, I was never great as a photographer.
I certainly wasn’t bad, but there were people around who were better. Much better. My stuff was always approved by client, in focus (when it needed to be) technically well lit, and was correctly exposed, (remember that we’re talking about a time when everyone was shooting with film). But I always knew that I wasn’t that good.
So how did I get so much business, even when (during the early 90s) the world fell into recession?
I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was because I made it as easy as I could for my clients to do business with me. Not just easy, but they actually looked forward to it.
I’d schedule fashion photo shoots to begin at 9.00pm, while my contemporaries would force the models to turn up and look their best at eight o’clock in the morning. I would work with junior art directors for free, helping them to realize ad layouts or TV storyboards. I would even present ad pitches to a client on behalf of the ad agency.
I didn’t do all of this hoping that the individuals concerned would feel like they ‘owed’ me something and so give me more commissions. I did it selflessly, purely for the pleasure of doing it. As a result my professional reputation grew, and the company blossomed.
What are YOU doing to make it easier for your customers to do business with you?