Tag Archives: Small business owner

Doug’s Dubious Debut in Sales

I’ve been in sales of some sort for a long time.  Almost 25 years actually.  I took a long and winding road to get to Frameable Faces Photography where I’ve spent the last seven years with Ally and this is by far the most fun “job” I’ve ever had.  It doesn’t feel like work at all most of the time.  For years working in a corporate environment I always dreamed of the day when my clients would actually come to me and be happy to do business with me.  No cold calling, no massive RFPs, no representing a shabby product that I barely believed in, no politics and stupid bosses who couldn’t even keep their time zones straight or were having affairs with the incompetent staff responsible for supporting my accounts (true story), no territory issues…. the list goes on and on.

Dubious Debut

Okay Doug – calm down – it’s over.  That was way in the past.  You’re good now.

The fact is as much as I hated that environment for many years I was able to navigate it and I was pretty “successful” for a long time.  I sat in “high level” meetings with CEOs of Fortune 50 companies, and “low level” meetings with cashiers at dry cleaner shops, and everything in between.  I closed big deals, trained, hired, and fired people.  Yeah – I was a real “big deal”.  Yuck.  When I joined Ally I took the good I learned, left behind the bad I wanted no part of, and I’ve used it all to build a community here at our studio.  It’s our own and I love it.  I love marketing our business.  I love social media.  I LOVE live streaming on Periscope.  Fulfilled and alive, I feel like a “big deal” again – for the right reasons.

Dubious Debut

But it didn’t start that way.  No one steps into the business world fully polished and accomplished the very first time.

Dubious Debut

Dubious Debut

My first sales job was over the summer in Ann Arbor while I was still in college at The University of Michigan selling latex medical gloves to medical practices.  My dad spent decades in sales so he got me all set up – took me to TJ Maxx (!) and bought me a couple of short sleeve dress shirts and a couple ties, got me some business cards printed up, gave me a few sales tips and turned me loose.  I meticulously made up three boxes of samples for small, medium, and large gloves with each glove in a baggie with a color coded sticker on each bag.  My first stop (and first sales call ever) was at a Veterinarian’s office near the corner of Packard and Platt.  They were pleasant and I left them a couple samples and was told I could call to follow up.  I left and went to my next stop feeling proud of myself.  When I got to the next stop I noticed I didn’t have any of my samples.  Annoyed I turned around and went back to the vet’s office to grab them.  They claimed they hadn’t seen them.  I knew that was impossible since it was my only stop and I was convinced they kept them for themselves (I was still young).  Man was I mad.  I pulled away steaming and trying to figure out what to do about it when I pulled up to the intersection.

Keep in mind that back in those days the car I was driving (a brown Pontiac Phoenix inherited from my Grandpa Louie may he rest in peace) had this thing under the door handle called a key hole that you actually had to put your car key into and turn to unlock your car.  So it became clear that with my briefcase in one hand and the samples in the other I obviously put the samples on top of the car as I fished around for my keys when I initially left the vet’s office.  I found this out because when I pulled up to the intersection of Packard and Platt it was completely covered with latex gloves……

A dubious debut indeed.  Everyone has to start somewhere.

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Frameable Faces Photography
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Frameable Faces Photography is a small biz retail mom & pop shop of Doug&Ally Cohen located in the Orchard Mall in West Bloomfield, Michigan, United States Of America!
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Ally & Doug can be reached at the studio at tel:248-790-7317 or emailed at mailto:info@frameablefaces.com
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Facebook: http://facebook.com/frameablefaces
Twitter: https://twitter.com/frameablefaces
YouTube: https://youtube.com/frameablefaces
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Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/frameablefaces
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Being “Frameable” is an attitude, a community, a way of life – a life you would want to celebrate and display on your walls for all to see!  Tell us… ARE YOU FRAMEABLE?
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Join the Frameable Faces Community – sign up for our email newsletter for the best of the week in the Frameable Faces World!  Click here!

 

 

Senior Pictures With Style, Beauty, and Elle-gance!

Our session with Elle definitely produced senior pictures with style, beauty, and Elle-gance!!!  This was technically our fourth time photographing Elle – once with her family a couple years ago, once for her spokesmodel session, once for the mural in our window (sometimes I forget to count that) and now her senior pictures!  Anticipation for this session was high, and Elle certainly delivered!

To Heritage Park We Go…

Heritage Park served a couple of purposes on this day.  Not only is it a fantastic park with many obvious and hidden treasures for a photographer, but for Elle it was a safe distance away to keep her out of range for the Detroit Country Day water wars (haha).  Her mom joined us for the session and we had a blast!  So let’s get started – I believe this is the first time we’ve used this wooden door in the stone wall that we love:

Elle-Gance

A little side note here – very often we feature both full length and close up photos of our seniors, but these are all full length of Elle because Ally said she just looked so cute and coordinated with her outfits she felt the full length showed off the whole look!

Elle-gance…

For this session we spent the whole time outdoors which is a nice change especially at Heritage Park.  It gives us a chance to really explore.  The blossoms framing this photo and the backlight on Elle’s hair really come together nicely here…

Elle-gance

Let’s take a look at the first vine from this session… yes a session so nice we vined it twice!

You can see from the vines we used a number of different spots for this session many of which we won’t get to here…  But a shot like this next one is just undeniable even if we didn’t vine it:

Elle-gance

Now for vine number two!

So fun!  Okay now one last shot…

Elle-gance

So there it is – style, beauty and Elle-gance!  We hope you enjoyed these highlights from our morning with Elle!

 

Our New Neighbors Across The Hall – Cycle And Row!

There is going to be some sweating, working, cycling, and rowing going on across the hall really soon, and we are so excited about it!  Recently we had a fun photo session here at the studio with our new neighbors – the folks from Cycle And Row!  We had a photo session for their new website and we wanted to share a few of the photos with you!

Karen and Samantha are a mother and daughter team who came up with the Cycle And Row concept together and along with Karen’s husband Paul and Samantha’s fiancé Jeff they are pursuing their dream together starting right here in the Orchard Mall!  Let’s start with a group shot!

New Neighbors

Their website is already up and their schedule is available with class starting on 2/12/15 so you should check it out and sign up.  Cycle and Row is split into two main rooms with rowing on one side and cycling on the other and they have an enthusiastic crew of instructors who we also photographed.  You can meet and read about them all at the website.  As for these four, well as you can imagine they just light up if you ask them about fitness and what Cycle And Row has to offer, which is actually more than just just cycling and rowing.  I won’t try to explain it all in this post, but suffice it to say I was really impressed with their approach.

Meanwhile we had a blast on the photo shoot…  They hauled the equipment into our studio and we got some fun action shots!  Here is the fun behind the scenes vine of our session…  🙂

Now let’s take a look at a photo of mom and daughter…

New Neighbors

And one of daughter Sam and fiancé Jeff…

New Neighbors

They’re a cute pair aren’t they?  Now let’s wrap it up with one more of the whole crew…

New Neighbors

We wish them the best of luck and much success and we welcome them to the Orchard Mall!  As I mentioned before check out their website, and like them on Facebook, and follow them on Instagram and Twitter too.  We are excited for our new neighbors!

Doug’s Rant – Why Is Social Media “So Quiet”?

So quiet

Why is social media so quiet lately?  It just doesn’t seem to me that there has been a lot going on.  Let me explain.  For a few solid years there it seemed like it was the “golden age” of major platforms – such as:

  • Facebook Pages switched over to “likes” from fans in April 2010 a month after we set up the Frameable Faces page.
  • Instagram launched on October 6th, 2010 and we joined it in May of 2012.
  • Pinterest launched in April of 2010
  • Snapchat launched in September of 2011 (more on that in a minute).
  • Google Plus pages for businesses launched in October of 2011 and they added Google My Business last June.
  • The major Twitter redesign launched in April 2011.
  • Vine launched in January of 2013 and at the time we had to wait until June for Android since T-Mobile didn’t have iPhones yet.

Since then……not a whole lot.

All of those platforms seem to still be thriving and growing as a general rule and it has now been two years by my count since a new “major” platform has made a splash.

Is a lull a good thing?

I can’t decide if I like the fact that it’s been a little quiet or not.  The thought of feeling like I have to manage additional platforms can be stressful especially if we are only adding more and not dropping any, but the rush of starting out on a new one is exciting and a lot of fun.  For example I was pretty excited about Pano Perfect which I thought might be the next big social photo sharing platform but that one has gone nowhere…  I hear people talking about Swipe and sure there are others.  We can debate all day about what a “major” platform is – I am not using any scientific criteria here…  I’m just ranting after all.  Feel free to jump in in the comments and add your two cents.  What do you think is the next big thing?  I want to know.

Meanwhile Snapchat is the one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.  Of the big ones I listed it’s the one that we don’t have an official Frameable Faces profile for, and after weighing it I don’t know if it’s right for us as a brand at least for the moment.

Edit*** – A Curve Ball

I wrote that last paragraph earlier today and one of our spokesmodels just happened to pop in to the studio and we were chatting about Snapchat since it was on my mind, and I think I just changed my mind again.  She showed me a couple things that convinced me that it could be a good platform for us.  For example I didn’t realize how it notifies you how many people have viewed your snapchat stories and which people viewed them.  So look for it – my wheels are turning now!

So as it turns out I have Snapchat to work on.  I started out wondering why it’s been so quiet in social media, but now that I’ve got another platform to play with I’m hoping things stay quiet for a bit!

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Frameable Faces Photography
**********************************************
Frameable Faces Photography is a small biz retail mom & pop shop of Doug&Ally Cohen located in the Orchard Mall in West Bloomfield, Michigan, United States Of America!
************************************************
Ally & Doug can be reached at the studio at tel:248-790-7317 or emailed at mailto:info@frameablefaces.com
************************************************
***************************************­*******
Being “Frameable” is an attitude, a community, a way of life – a life you would want to celebrate and display on your walls for all to see!  Tell us… ARE YOU FRAMEABLE?
**********************************************
Join the Frameable Faces Community – sign up for our email newsletter for the best of the week in the Frameable Faces World!  Click here!

 

 

Doug’s Rant – Why You Should Care About “Google My Business”

It seems that you should care about Google Plus and now the new “Google My Business” after all, especially if you are a small business owner.

Google’s social media network (they prefer to call it a “layer”) has been around since June of 2011.  Google Plus is not as popular as Facebook but it’s still Google and it’s not going anywhere.  Does this mean you have to participate and get immersed in yet another social media platform?  Not quite.

Google My Business

However, here is where you should pay attention.  A while back I “claimed” Frameable Faces on Google.  I just went on Google and verified that I am an owner so I could fill in the information that is there about our business.  That is an important step because Google is obviously the most popular way to search the Internet.  Regardless of how much or how little you bother with search engine optimization or social media, people are using Google to find you and they will continue to do so.

What I didn’t know is that at some point by claiming my “place” (my business) on Google, that prompted Google to create a verified Google Plus Page for Frameable Faces – I had no idea it existed.  Kind of like a Facebook Business Page that they were calling “Google Places For Business” and now they have announced they have changed the name to “Google My Business”.  If you’re a little confused it’s okay – Google has done a good job of confusing the marketplace with how they’ve rolled out their products.

The good news is that the new “Google My Business” does represent an opportunity.  One thing I noticed when I went to the Frameable Faces page they created is that Google had been collecting data for me all along.  It told me how many people had viewed the page (presumably from Google search results), how many people had asked for driving directions to the studio and where they asked for them from, what key words they used to find my listing – lots of good data!

Are you going to lose business by not using Google My Business?  I can’t say that for a fact, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to ignore it.  From just what I see locally very few brands know about this so don’t feel like you’ve missed the boat so far.  The question is are you going to use this to your advantage going forward?

Here are a few benefits to setting up your page in my mind:

  1. It just generally looks good – when someone does a search for your business on Google it looks better when the results represent a thriving and welcoming business – one that appears to actually be in the game.
  2. Familiarizing yourself with this page and managing it can give you potentially valuable Google data and anaylytics about traffic and clients finding your brand via Google search.
  3. Getting a slight edge on your competition since not many brands are taking advantage of this.
  4. An opportunity to post and share fresh content in a spot where potential new customers might see it (as opposed to only a portion of your Facebook following for example).  Look at the screenshot below.  By doing a Google search for Frameable Faces this is what comes up on the right hand side of the screen.  Notice the “follow” buttons along with a link to an article from our blog that I posted to the Frameable Faces Google page.  It’s a way to capture fans directly from Google search results.

Google My Business

Don’t just take my word for it, check out this article about the benefits of this new tool.  Listen, I am not predicting that Google Plus will become a pervasively popular social media site with the masses like Facebook.  It is definitely growing now but it might not ever reach that tipping point where “everyone” is on it….and then again it might.  Either way we already know the search engine is dominant, so at least set up your brand properly for now with Google My Business.

Doug’s Rant – Don’t Make These 5 Marketing Mistakes Online

People make mistakes online when trying to advance their interests all the time.  Some of the miscues are flat out awful, but some come from someone just trying to make a dollar and not being aware of the etiquette on social media sites.  I figured I would try to come to the rescue with 5 tips that can apply to you personally or your brand.  So please, don’t make these 5 marketing mistakes online.  Here we go…

5 marketing mistakes online

Ugh – CLEARLY an online marketing mistake…!

  1. Do NOT send requests to strangers on LinkedIn without a professional (or any) headshot in your profile.  Why would I accept a request from a stranger with no picture for me to see if I know them?  I’ve posted about this before regarding Facebook too but I feel it is much worse on LinkedIn.  Some people venture on to Facebook without knowing much about it and are just getting their feet wet.  Fine.  But LinkedIn is a different story – people are literally there trying to network this way.  Like going to a networking event with a bag over your head.
  2. Don’t forget to be social on social media.  I wrote an entire article about this on another blog.  If you are posting things but not engaging with people it is like going to a party and talking at people, and then walking away when they open their mouths to reply.  Make sure your content isn’t all about you, and even if your content is fantastic be sure to reply to people who take the time to comment on it.  This applies to every social media site.  Go to their page and see what they are up to as well.  Be genuine about it because people can spot a fake.  Comment back and build those relationships.
  3. Don’t set up your new business on Facebook as a personal profile.  This can be an honest mistake but it is a big one.  So your brand is a female born in Detroit?  Tell me is your brand single or in a relationship?  Not only does this look silly and signal to people that you don’t quite have a grasp on what you’re doing, but you lose out on many tools for monitoring your progress with the data Facebook provides to business pages.  If you have already made this mistake you should correct it – make an announcement on your personal page that you are launching a proper Facebook business page for your brand and invite people to like it.
  4. Dont mispel werds ore yooz inkorect grammer.  It reely duz hert you’re kredibillity.  Enuff sed.  Hear iz ann inphografic too hellp yoo whith grammmr.
  5. Don’t bore us (or offend us) with your politics.  While I think it is never a great idea to espouse your politics online, it is even more important that you not do this with your brand.  Find a way to inject your personality into your brand because that’s important, but you have to be able to do it without being too personal.  This is another one I wrote about a while back on this blog.

There are certainly plenty of others (like not posting more than one Instagram per day for example).  I am willing to admit I have made plenty of mistakes myself but I see these out there a lot and they have been on my mind lately.  So make sure you don’t make these 5 marketing mistakes online!  What other mistakes have you made or see others making on a daily basis?

 

 

A Dream 5 Years and Counting!

5 year business anniversary

Yes that status was 5 years ago!  It’s hard to believe…  Ally’s dream of having a real studio of her own has become a reality and we love doing this together.

Humble Beginnings

Those who were around us and the mall back then might remember that this really started off as an experiment of sorts.  The mall had several vacancies but tenants were starting to move in which at the time was really bucking the trend – this was right in the middle of the Great Recession and Detroit was the epicenter of the whole thing.  Things were quite bleak around here but there were exciting things on the horizon at the Orchard Mall.  As for Ally, the first few months were basically spent just her by herself in this space with a desk, a temporary backdrop, her camera and a banner in the window to see if this could be a viable business…  She had been building Frameable Faces out of the house before this, photographing on location and this was a big next step.

5 year business anniversary

Starting to take shape – Frameable Faces in early 2009 – we had our new sign but no paint, furniture or much else!

The “Rescue”

I was working a dead end job at T-Mobile as a National Account Manager selling BlackBerrys to auto companies who were mostly in bankruptcy at the time.  I knew my days were numbered and Ally convinced me that when the time came that they showed me the door that instead of looking for another job we should pour all our energy into Frameable Faces Photography together.  It was a struggle to be sure growing a new business in a really rough economy, but we had never been happier.  I like to say that Ally “rescued” me from corporate America and I used to use the line that I was “way happier struggling than when I was miserable making money” and it was true!

5 Years Later

So here we are 5 years from that first status update about getting the keys to the empty space in our beloved mall and opening up the studio, and in some ways we feel like we’re just getting started!  We’ve come a long way – we’ve made so many friends and met so many incredible “Frameables” along the way.  We are forever grateful for all of you and we look forward to what’s next!!!  Cheers to 5 years!!!

Facebook First Aid For Brands – How To Survive The New Changes

West Bloomfield Photographer, Frameable Faces Photography, Metro Detroit PhotographerI wrote a guest post back in May for The Collective where I echoed the predominant thinking about how your blog (and website) should be the center of your online universe since you own them, as opposed to your pages on Facebook and Twitter that you don’t own.  You don’t know what might happen with those sites and you can’t control it.  Well something indeed happened to Facebook…

Money changes everything.

The short version is Facebook went public, it didn’t go well, and now they are scrambling to make more money – fast.  They have Wall Street investors to answer to now and everything has changed.  I get it – they are a business.  The problem is how they went about this.  Now stay with me here… They encouraged brands to build a following by engaging with their fans, and then once the brands acquired the fans Facebook took away the ability to reach the fans unless the brand pays to “promote” posts to the fans who were already following the posts.  A major bait and switch.

The dilemma…

Keep in mind that our philosophy at Frameable Faces like many others has been to grow our likes and our reach on Facebook in a totally organic way – steadily building relationships fan by fan without contests and cheesy promotions.  This suddenly has become more difficult and it raises a two part dilemma:

  1. I’m not in love with the idea of my peeps seeing my posts because I paid for them to see them.  I want them to see our content because they like it and the posts are worthy of being seen.  Facebook used to ensure your posts would show up in the news feed of people who regularly interacted with your brand.  Your reach was largely a result of successful engaging posts.  Not sure if that’s happening at all anymore…
  2. Even though we’ve had some success with diversifying on sites like Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter to name a few, we haven’t been able to ween ourselves completely from Facebook for reaching our peeps or driving traffic to this blog for example.
So what next?  First what NOT to do…

I read a great article by Ken Mueller on 10/22 that stated in part to “stop trying to game Facebook’s Edgerank” – in other words don’t try to cheat the system because shortcuts are not the answer.  People are trying to find ways to do this like moving brand content to their personal pages for example.  While I have used my personal page to promote our studio from time to time I’ve done it in a very limited fashion, and with a couple exceptions it’s usually when I’ve written a blog post that is more universal like tips on social media that I know everyone can use.  If you start doubling up your content on both your business and personal pages your message can start to get lost. Think of it as making a social call on your personal friends to market your studio to them – this isn’t the exact same thing but it’s similar – in real life it’s a little awkward, in online life it’s a little spammy. The people who subscribe to our page (personal friends or not) subscribe there to follow our studio, the people who friend me want to be my friend – not necessarily my prospect.

So What Next?  What TO Do…

The best bet seems to stay the course and focus on creating great content, and make sure all your eggs are never in one basket – especially a basket you don’t own like Facebook.  However Facebook isn’t going anywhere and it’s critical to be able to adapt to these changes.  One way to adapt unfortunately is to yes, spend a little money to promote a post here or there to make sure you continue to reach your audience.  Which leads me to the following tip.

A Specific Tip I Learned From Trial and Error

I paid my first 5 dollars to sponsor a status update to see what kind of result I would get.  The number of people it reached was a little disappointing, but here’s the tip – this was a post that no one commented on or liked (pretty pathetic I know). But misfires happen once in a while to the best of us, and these posts are NOT the ones you want to promote. Afterwards I came across an article by Jay Baer about when to sponsor posts and one of the things he mentioned was to only promote a post if after waiting 6 hours it’s exceeded a 1% engagement rate. Then give it a boost.  Don’t try to boost a dog that no one is responding to in the first place.  Promote a status update that is already proving to be engagement worthy.

Hope this helps!  Please comment with any feedback or helpful tips on this topic!

It’s Time We Gave Props to Camera Mart…

camera martWe follow most of our favorite vendors and partners on twitter and facebook and we are committed to buying local when we can, so when it dawned on us that we hadn’t given  any online love to Camera Mart we decided to remedy that situation immediately.  For starters, we decided to make a little impromptu and extremely amateurish video of our trip there yesterday to buy some grey paper for an on-location photo shoot for a dance studio (plus we think the grey will be great in the studio too).  Caution: This was NOT done under professional video supervision and you should absolutely try this at home.

A Visit To Camera Mart!

Huge Selection at Camera Mart

Camera Mart carries all the major brands of just about every type of equipment you need in the field of photography.  They have a great selection of lenses, accessories, printing equipment, backdrop paper, camera bags, you name it…

Knowledgeable Staff

It seems like everyone there has vast expertise not just on the products but the applications for the products beyond what you find in a product manual.  They can advise on practical uses for your photography and your studio which makes a big difference when considering your purchase.  Camera Mart also holds “demo days” at the store where you can come talk to representatives of most of the major brands they carry and attend various seminars to improve your knowledge.

Local Independent Store

Maybe most importantly they are a good old fashioned local merchant – we identify with that!  Remember according to the 3/50 Project for every $100 spent in locally owned independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures.  If you spend that in a national chain, only $43 stays here, and if you spend it online nothing comes home.

So take our word for it – if you are looking for the best camera store in Metro Detroit, Camera Mart is the place to be!

Attention Small Business Owners – 10 things you should know

I just read a fantastic blog post that I wanted to share. http://virtualphotographystudio.com/photographyblog/2010/05/running-a-photography-business/comment-page-1/#comment-11993 It is entitled “10 Things You Should Know About Running A Photography Business”, but you could easily remove the word “Photography” as most of these are universal and wherever the topic is specifically photography related you could easily insert products or services from your own trade.

For us this was mostly reinforcement that we are approaching our business the right way but we still have two weaknesses on this list and we’ll be the first to admit them:

Number 3 – we need to hand off some of this bookkeeping – NOW.  I’m good at tracking many aspects of our business but I’m not exactly an expert bookkeeper and some of this stuff bogs me down.  When I read this point it kind of smacked me in the face….

Number 6 – actually more of a strength for us overall (so maybe I lied).  We do this well – we are specialists and not generalists (love that way of putting it by the way).  We do NOT specialize in event photography.  We will not photograph huge events.  Or even pretty big events.  We will photograph certain smaller events and we are selective about which ones will fit for us and our clients.  We are fortunate to have the talents of miss Angela Bell as well for some of our informal events such as engagement parties that require more casual images – she is our second photographer and she does a great job on those.  As a rule however, we specialize in portrait photography – all kinds.  Yes it’s a broad category but it’s one category we enjoy the most and it’s where we rock.  I listed this one because we need reminding – as do all business owners – to resist the temptation to accept a one-off job that isn’t really what you do best and isn’t what you want to be known for.  We’ve done this before and we’ve learned that we should not be doing it or we should at least think it all the way through first.

Hope this helps and we would like you to add any advice for us and for each other if there is something you don’t see on this list.  Please comment and join the discussion!

– Doug