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Imaging USA 2013 – Fave Trade Show Products

Imaging USA

Last week, I shared with you some booths at Imaging USA 2013 that overall inspired me. They gave me ideas for design, my business, photography and more. This week, I am sharing with you a few products that I loved and hope to blend into my business in 2013.


Wild Sorbet

Gray and yellow are so striking together. This was my favorite wall at Wild Sorbet. Tana, the owner, said it was her favorite wall too when I posted the picture on Instagram. So stylish.

Wild Sorbet Fave

American Color Imaging

Speaking of frames, these circle frames from ACI that you can print in whatever pattern you want would be so fun to offer. How customized can you get?

ACI Fave of Kia BOndurant at Imaging USA 2013

Packaging & Product

Rice Paper Supply

On to packaging, I saw two completely distinct looks that stuck out to me. Rice was one. They have developed a complete, gorgeous line of packaging that I would totally love if I were a client. Torn edges, fiber paper. Very tactile and they displayed it in such a fun way with clothes pins and wooden boxes.

Rice Paper Supply at Imaging USA

Wildcat Packaging

The other packaging that I really liked was on the complete other end of the spectrum. Wildcat Packaging offers brightly colored boxes and bags in a rainbow of color with full color printing at a really cheap price and quantities only starting at 25. Decisions, decisions.

Wildcat Packaging Fave of Kia Bondurant at Imaging USA in Atlanta Georgia


Another unique offering for printing is Woodsnap. I love the look of printing on wood, especially for fun signage. Fun idea here for sure.

Woodsnap Fave

Couture Books

I also always love the Couture Book line. They are so classy.

Couture Books Fave of Kia Bondurant at Imaging USA 2013


White House Custom Color

I’m also always looking for backgrounds that will go with the upcoming trends. Here are a few of my favorite my WHCC. Emerald is Pantone’s color of year so the green vintage background is great. And the retro patterns are also perfect with some of my favorite trends.

WHCC Fave of Kia Bondurant at Imaging USA 2013

WHCC Fave of Kia Bondurant at Imaging USA 2013

Backgrounds by Maheu

These gorgeous blossoms in David Maheu’s new line really jumped out at me, too. He said it’s absolutely brand new so I can’t wait to see how it photographs. Such an artist!

David Maheu Fave of Kia Bondurant

Giving Back


And last, I love the idea of giving back with Fotostrap’s fotolanthropy concept. You can customize your fotostrap with your name imprinted on the leather too.

FotoStrap Fave of Kia Bondurant at Imaging USA 2013

What about you?

Did you have a favorite inspiration or product you found at Imaging? Share it here. We would love to see what you are excited about in 2013!

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How to identify YOUR target client

Photo Talk Forum 12 Days of Christmas bannerThis article is a gift from Lori Nordstrom and Photo Talk Forum. Lori is in the midst of her annual 12 Days of Christmas giveaways. She is giving away education and information that you will not believe! As a bonus to The Collective readers, she is offering a year membership to the PTF for only $89! Simply use the code: COLLECTIVEGIFTNOW. Also, make sure to read all the way through. Lori has added a FREE download for you to help you with identifying your target clients. Enjoy!

Lessons from an archer.

Have you ever been to an archery shoot and seen the painstaking steps the archer follows before letting loose his or her arrow?

Carefully the three fingers of one hand are hooked into a strong “claw” that draws back the string until it is taut and even with the chin. With his or her other arm the archer steadily stretches the bow, pivoting the wrist slightly to keep the arrow in place. Eyes locked in concentration, the archer sights down the shaft of the arrow to the target, looking straight at the bull’s eye and nothing else.

Can you imagine the archer at that point, when everything is in place for making a perfect shot, just pointing the bow and arrow off in some random direction and letting the arrow fly, hoping it might hit the target somehow?

Ludicrous as this picture seems, that is exactly what we do with all our efforts to build our business when we move forward without identifying our target client. We are letting loose our best shot with no target in mind. It has been said that the businessperson who doesn’t do any market research is the businessperson who doesn’t want to make money. Narrowly and clearly defining your target client is an essential step you must take for your business.

Until we know WHO our target client is, we can’t effectively develop a marketing strategy to find them and reach them.

Image by Lori Nordstrom

When we decide where our client is spending her time and spending her money, we can begin to understand what her needs and expectations are as well as what she values and what we can offer to her that will be in line with those things.

Ask yourself, what expectations does your target client have for the value of the product you are offering?

If I choose to buy my clothes at Siren in Des Moines I know I can walk into the shop and they will know my name. If I tell them what sort of event I am going to they are going to bring outfits to me in my personalized fitting room. My name will be written on the chalkboard that hangs on the door.

Inside the dressing room will be bottled water and chocolate. They will put together accessories for me, recommend a shoe style and continue to use my name throughout the shopping experience. When I’m leaving, everything is packaged nicely. I will spend much more than I would at somewhere like Kohl’s, but I have an expectation of getting extra value for what I spend, right down to the distinctive packaging Siren uses that adds pleasure to my shopping experience.

Whenever I think about packaging, I remember going to the shopping district of downtown Chicago and seeing all the girls walking down the street carrying a little red bag because they went to the American Girl store for a doll. When I saw the American Girl store’s distinctive red bag, I thought about the experience of taking your daughter to Chicago to get an American Girl doll and having a tea party in the store, having their dolls hair done and how different that experience is compared to going to a get a baby doll at Target.

There is nothing wrong with shopping at Target – I love Target!  But, if I wanted to create a memory with my daughter along with the purchase of the doll, I’m going to go to American Girl, pay 5 times as much, and be happy about it!

Asked and answer these questions:

  • Which experience are you giving your client?
  • What expectations does she have for the experience she will have with your business?
  • How does your business and your product meet the needs of your target client?

If you are stymied on how to answer some of these questions, look to yourself.

  • What businesses do you return to over and over again?
  • Who are you loyal to?
  • What are these businesses or services doing to earn your loyalty?
  • Do they remember your name?
  • Do they make specific suggestions that you believe are just for you?
  • Do they say thank you in a special way?
  • Do they take care of you after the purchase with exceptional customer service?

Lessons from a dentist.

An example of studying customer care is my experience with my son’s pediatric dentist. The dentist is great, but it’s the people and things he’s surrounded himself with that make us return each time.

When Jaxon walks in the door, they know his name and ask him questions about the sports he’s playing or about school. They don’t just ask about school, however. They ask how the 5th grade is, or call his teacher by name. Jaxon gets to play video games while getting his teeth cleaned and worked on, so he loves going to the dentist!

He always leaves with a little surprise and lots of smiles and hugs. They make him feel special, and that makes me happy! Because of the way Jaxon is treated at his dentist, there is no way that I could ever take him anywhere else!

What lessons have I learned from Jaxon’s dentist?

Well, I am a businessperson and I know that the hygienists and assistants at the dentist office probably do not remember Jaxon’s name, let alone his best friends name, or his dog’s name. This tells me that after every visit, they are logging in information about Jaxon, documenting the things that are important to him, and then taking the time to read and check those things before he comes in. What a great practice!

Jaxon gets to do something that he likes to do while having a service provided that is not so fun. I won’t say I’ve never heard a child cry there, but there is plenty around to distract them and occupy their hands and minds if a child does get upset.

How can we make our clients feel just as special?

I want to make sure that moms leave my studio knowing how much I care about them and their babies and children. Think about the things that you can do, things that you’ve learned from other businesses around you. Meet your clients’ expectation of value with customer care and an exceptional experience. Keep careful records on your clients so that you can not only call them by name, but also remember little things that are important to them, as well as the milestones.

After every contact with the client, write thank you notes. Do this all along the span of working with your client. Have mommy gift bags for new mommies, or a gift for the new baby, and don’t leave dad out of the pampering. Do something extra as a surprise for a nice order. Take the time to get to know your clients and their tastes. Ask about their homes and their décor and help them design their space beautifully. Thank them for referrals with a special gift or portrait credit. Offer extra services like going to their home to show them their images, or going back to their home to hang their portraits for them.

Photo Talk Forum with Lori Nordstrom logo

What is happening in my client’s life? Do those events offer any windows of opportunity such as marriage, a new baby, children hitting birthdays, a completed family, tweens, a high school senior, last family portrait before an addition to the family or wedding anniversary?


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Everyone loves a winner.

The beautiful game.

I love the game of soccer. I love to coach it. I love to play it. I love to watch it on television. Most of all, I love watching it in person. Pretty much any age or level is fun for me.

Last weekend, I attended a local Major League Soccer game – Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park. Over the past couple of years, these games have become one of the hottest tickets in town. Why?

MLS team Sporting KC stadium

They win.

That can’t be said of other professional sports teams in Kansas City. The Royals haven’t been to the baseball playoffs since 1985 – the year they won the World Series. They haven’t had a winning season in…I don’t know how long. The Chiefs have been to the playoffs several times, but haven’t won a playoff game since the mid-9o’s. They have big plans for 2012-2013. We’ll see.

Sporting Kansas City wins, and done it consistently the last 2 seasons. They were one step away from the MLS Championship game last season. They currently are on top of the Eastern league.

It shows when attending a home game.

4 ways to know if you have a winner.

Attending the game last weekend, I observed a few facts about having a winning organization, team or business. The arena changes depending on what you’re doing, but the results remain the same.

1. Happy faces.

All around the stadium, I observed happy, smiling faces. It wasn’t always pretty for the home team either. Sporting KC controlled the ball and tempo the entire first half, yet still found themselves down 0-1 at halftime.

Cheering and happy faces after a goal is scored

When people believe in your team, they believe you are a winner – no matter the circumstances. This belief shows up in their faces. They smile. Their eyes shine. They hold their heads high.

Do you have smiling, happy, cheerful faces on your team – your staff? Do your clients arrive and leave happy? If so, you are building on a winner.

2. Packed house.

The game I attended, Sporting KC played Toronto. Toronto is at the bottom of the league, and they don’t have any famous players on their team. Despite these 2 obstacles, the stadium was 90% full, and I’m guessing it was technically a sell-out.

If you have winning team, people show up. Not only do people show up, but they show up and PAY. Not only did the fans pay for their tickets, but everywhere you looked you saw Sporting KC jerseys, t-shirts, hats, scarves, pins, etc, etc, etc.

If people find value in associating themselves with a successful brand or organization. Ultimately, people will show their loyalty through their wallets.

3. Noise and activity.

It’s hard to describe what it’s like to attend a professional soccer game. It’s not like any other sport. Throughout the entire game one section (in KC it’s called The Cauldron) leads the entire stadium in chants, cheers, songs and more. They beat drums, and generally make themselves a nuisance to the opposing team.

Sporting KC scores a goal at Livestrong Park in Kansas City, Kansas

A winner creates activity. A winner creates noise. Sometimes it will be a little messy (the chants and cheers coming from The Cauldron are many times PG-13 at best).

Activity for activity’s sake won’t lead you very far, but activity based around a winner means you are on the right track.

4. The haters will hate.

Sitting behind me at the game were a pair of negative people. I’m pretty sure they were Sporting KC fans, and they definitely considered themselves soccer experts (one guy had a British accent, so I think it automatically made him an authority). During most of the 2nd half they complained about the tactics employed by Sporting.

20 minutes into the 2nd half Sporting scored a tying goal, yet this couple stayed seated…and continued to complain. Sporting scored the winning goal with 3-4 minutes left in the game. These 2 fans had already left.

It doesn’t matter how good you do. It doesn’t matter how incredible your product is. It doesn’t matter how many people love what you have. You will have detractors. You will have haters.

Let ‘em hate.

Are you building a winner?

Take a moment and assess your team.

  • Does it have happy faces coming and going?
  • Are people willingly paying for your product?
  •  Are you creating noise?
  • Do you have a few haters?

If you can say yes to 3 or more of these, you have a winner. If you can say yes to 1 or 2, you are building a winner. If you can’t say yes to any, then you have a lot of work cut out for you.

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Yes, Millennials, you truly feel entitled.

The Millennials strike again!

I’ve read and written a lot about the Millennial generation. It’s the group of American young adults, teens and pre-teens born between 1982 and 2004 (though this generation may end earlier). There are roughly 80 million Millennials, with much and said about the generation, here are a few examples:

  • They are super tech/internet savvy and wired to the network. This has led some people to dub them as “digital natives” – the first generation to grow up knowing only the digital world.
  • They tend to straddle the line between consumer and socially conscious. Example: a high school/college student who dreams of being a nurse…while driving a Hummer.
  • They have grown up believing they can indeed do anything they put their mind to. This comes from a set of “helicopter” parents who constantly attend to and feed the needs/wants of their children.

I’ll add one more:

Image of High School Senior by Kia Bondurant

Image by Kia Bondurant

Do Millennials truly believe they are entitled?

Let me first say this is indeed a generalization. Many Millennials will buck the trend – just as not all Baby Boomers are über-materialistic and not all Gen Xers grew up as latch-key kids.

Second, let’s realize this sense of entitlement may be reflected in some parts of culture and life but not others.

Finally, yes, Millennials do feel entitled.

A case in point.

A few weeks ago, Cathryn Sloane, a 2012 graduate from the University of Iowa, wrote a heart-felt article for NextGen - “Why Every Social Media Manager Should Be Under 25“.

Here is one paragraph from the column:

You might argue that everyone, regardless of age, was along for the ride (of the social media explosion – namely Facebook and Twitter), or at least everyone under the age of 30. I’m not saying they weren’t, but we spent our adolescence growing up with social media. We were around long enough to see how life worked without it but had it thrown upon us at an age where the ways to make the best/correct use of it came most naturally to us. No one else will ever be able to have as clear an understanding of these services, no matter how much they may think they do.

Sloane goes on to lament that most companies are looking for people with 5+ years of experience in social media among other things. The truth is she has a point, those under 30 have a native understanding of the web that us older people don’t. However, she misses the equal truth that there is no substitute for experience.

Cathryn speaks for her generation. They truly believe they deserve responsibility and authority in their workplace and beyond…simply…because…

The Millennials, entitlement and your business.

There are 2 sides to this attribute of the Millennial generation. The side of the consumer – the Millennials you market (senior portraits, weddings, baby, family, etc), and the side of the employer/employee – the Millennials you employ.

1. Dealing with the entitled Millennial client.

I highly encourage you to read an article I wrote recently for Seniors Ignite, where I answered this question: “What motivates a Millennial to buy?” After doing some research, here are 5 things that motivates an entitled client to work with your studio:

  • Relationship
  • Customization
  • Delight
  • Brand Recognition
  • Purpose

In the Seniors Ignite article, I give a more in-depth explanation of each attribute. Each one of these motivations point back to a sense of entitlement. They believe they deserve each of those 5 things (one, all or a combination). As a business owner, you must recognize as they client they should have those elements within your business.

2. Dealing with entitled Millennial employees.

As a micro business owner you most likely have or will have a Millennial working for your business. They are relatively inexpensive to hire, they may want to learn the business, or they may just want part-time hours. All great reasons to hire young employees.

However, you do need to take into account these concepts when managing a Millennial in your business:

  1. Be upfront with your and their expectations. Define in practical terms your work ethic; share what is and isn’t acceptable with social media; tell them your thoughts on raises and/or promotions. This may come in the form of an employee handbook or in one-on-one conversations.
  2. Reward with little things. Millennials, in general, are the star of their own reality TV show. They want to be recognized in big and little ways. Give them their birthday off and take them out  occasionally for lunch. When your business hits sales goals, celebrate with your entire team
  3. Recognize differences in generations. You most likely are a Boomer or Gen Xer. Though you don’t think the same as a Millennial, you aren’t right and they aren’t wrong (just for that difference). Be willing to bend to understand their point of view.

The next GREAT generation.

According to American generation archetype, the Millennial generation is the next great generation. They could very well be compared to my grandparent’s generation – the WWII generation.

On the one hand, this makes me a little jealous, but ultimately it makes me excited to see what the Millennials will do with this energy and destiny. It may be exactly why they feel so entitled, and this sense of entitlement may be the force that drives them to greatness.

I, for one, want to see where they take us.

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Take your definition of success to the NEXT level! – PART TWO

Missy and Dustin Sinner in Watertown, South Dakota

4 steps to the NEXT level

In a two-part post about moving your success to the next level, Dustin and Missy Sinner from ML Portraits Inc. in Watertown, SD, tell us how they stopped ‘going through the motions’ and complaining about outside factors (such as the economy and new photographers) and did what it took to keep living up to their highest potential.

In part one, the Sinners share the first two of four key elements they feel have helped them take their success to the next level:

  1. Implement Your Education
  2. Stay on Top of Marketing

You can see that post at Seniors Ignite, the next level in senior portrait photography education.

Here, they share the last two elements that they live by to keep their studio success climbing to their full potential:

3. Keep Improving your Product

high school senior picture by Missy Sinner for The CollectiveYour product is mainly your photography, but there are a lot of elements that make that product.  We work as hard as possible to add new lighting ideas, photoshop tricks, new graphic templates and anything that could make our product more valuable.

When we learn new techniques we try to fit them into our studio’s work flow. Don’t add new techniques to your studio if they are going to cut into your creative process. Also, don’t spend a couple thousand dollars on new equipment or software when you can duplicate the same look with the equipment you already have.

Keep your mind open and create the look with a technique that is most comfortable to you.

4. Create an Amazing Customer Experience.

senior boy picture by Missy Sinner in Watertown, SD for The CollectiveWe really wanted to build better relationships with our clients.  Using the “customer is always right” philosophy can really help with this. Whether it was your fault or their fault, happily fix it right away and move on. Doing this helped us obtain more loyal customers, which spread a good word about our studio.

We were able to create an amazing customer experience by simply being friendly. When you walk into your studio you need to put your mind in a “happy place:)”.  If you can’t stay in that “happy place” all day, then you need to at least be friendly when a customer walks in that door. Be genuine!

A good way to be genuine in the customer service side of your business is to think of ways to turn your studio into a Disney experience.  Think of it as making your studio experience flawless and effortless.  There may be moments when your clients could feel awkward or confused. The best thing to do is think of those situations ahead of time and rework them so that they fit into your experience in a flawless and effortless manner.

Image by Missy Sinner of Watertown, SD of a high school senior

Stay educated, focused, energized, and motivated.  This will help you take your studio to the NEXT level!

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