Attending photography conventions are an important part of staying fresh, gaining perspective, meeting others and learning how to grow your skill set.
It is also a powerful way to get ideas on how to market to get clients and price your photography.
However, many people lose the knowledge they learned because they come home and fall into the same rut they were in before.
Others are like kids in a candy store, buying everything offered in the trade show or by the speakers they listen to only to go home with a pile of stuff that won’t make them any money or get them new clients.
Here are 5 photography convention tips to maximize your experience as well as your investment.
1. Do research prior to leaving home.
Most conventions have detailed websites where you can print out the trade show map and list of speakers.
This gives you time to visit websites to find out which booths to visit and which speakers resonate.
If you choose speakers only by their short course description, you will sometimes be disappointed.
While you want to pre-plan, be flexible once you arrive as many times, there is a buzz about certain speakers who you may not have chosen.
If you’ll be at IUSA in Atlanta, be sure to come meet me and learn 3 Marketing Activities to Build a 6 Figure Photography Business on Tuesday, January 12 at 5:15 pm Central.
2. Don’t buy anything on the first day in the trade show.
Simply make this your rule. Visit the entire trade show with your list and at night, digest what you saw. Impulse purchases are often regretted later so take your time and make a smart decision. On the final day, make your rounds and purchase the things that will build your brand or make you money.
Here are a few booths I recommend visiting at Imaging USA or WPPI for photographers:
1) whcc – My lab. I love touching their new papers, looking at samples and checking out their backdrops.
These wood image boxes below are a newer product I started using after seeing them at a trade show.
2) Animoto – This is one of my favorite value-added incentive products I offer at Sarah Petty Photography.
If you haven’t seen a demo of how you can create movies using the images you take from a session, stop by their booth.
They also usually have great ‘trade show only’ specials, too.
3) Sticky Albums – I added this product to my product offerings 3 years ago and my clients LOVE it.
What it does is allow you to create a custom app of images from your client’s session for them to have on their phone or ipad.
It’s a super cool way for clients to share your images and your talent with their circle.
4) ProSelect – Great live training in their booth by Ron Nichols on how to do in-person sales using this must-have software.
5) Marathon Press – Any amazing marketing piece I dream up, they help me bring to life.
I don’t send postcards to get photography clients or even use business cards. Instead, I create ‘dog whistle’ marketing pieces that get attention and create emotion.
If it twists, turns, pops up or has a fancy cut, the right potential clients have to pay attention.
6) Photobiz – I consider them the best website company in the photography industry.
I don’t think you should invest thousands of dollars on a custom website for your photography business, and neither does Photobiz.
You have to stop by to see their passionate support team and how they make a website SUPER easy.
7) Canon or Nikon – try out any new camera equipment before you buy.
8) FINAO – I love their high-end albums….from the paper they use the the unique cover materials. Drool-worthy!
3. Go with a filter on.
It is easy to become overwhelmed at conventions when one speaker says to do it one way and the next says to do it the exact opposite way.
This is why education is so important because it creates a filter to help you decipher which advice applies to you and which doesn’t.
If you are looking for the “How to build a business in a box” kit, you will be very disappointed.
Take detailed notes and if you aren’t sure which advice is best for you, invest in a business coach.
4. Stay out of your hotel room.
You should go to conventions not only to see the latest and greatest products at the trade show and to hear the speakers, but to network with others who share your passion.
Attend the evening activities, eat all of the scheduled meals and don’t be afraid to spark up conversation with others sitting around you.
You will be amazed at how you might create lifelong friendships. I have friends who I met ten years ago at one of my first conventions and now one of them, Kimberly Wylie, educates in the industry, too!
5. Schedule a day in the quiet when you return.
This is when you organize your notes and create action steps.
This allows you time to research the new websites that were shared with you and create action plans to enact the new strategies and tactics that you learned.
If you simply get off the plane and hop back onto the treadmill of life, you will lose the momentum you gained and the return on what you invested will decrease immediately.
What’s your favorite photography convention tip? I’d love to hear it!
(Image: Sarah Petty speaking at PPA’s IUSA in SanAntonio in 2011 at whcc booth)
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