Are You a Doormat or a Dictator?

Guest: Jessica Mackey

Client Coordinator | ATJ Photo
Mesa, Arizona

DATE: March 31, 2022

If you have been in business long, you might know EXACTLY what it feels like to become a Darling Doormat or a Disagreeable Dictator when it comes to your client interactions. Although you never started out intending to be either of those things, in an effort to “be nice” or get referrals, you’ve allowed clients to walk all over you and completely disregard your business rules (because you didn’t enforce them).

Or perhaps, in an effort to prevent being a doormat, you have become a Disagreeable Dictator, instituting multi-page contracts and showing up with a disgruntled and distrusting energy to nice clients who just want to pay you to photograph their families. All in an effort to ensure you are NEVER taken advantage of again.  

It should come as no surprise that neither of these options will get you to where you want to be in your portrait business, because, at the end of the day, these strategies don’t serve your clients (or you) in the best possible way.

Consider instead a third option—stepping into the role of the expert and becoming a Trusted Advisor to your clients. Your clients don’t know the photography industry like you do. They don’t know “how it works” or how YOU work.

They just know they “need pictures.”

And the only way to succeed in creating a profitable, sustainable portrait studio is to take full responsibility for every aspect of your business and guide your clients through the process with an expert hand. 

Join us for this week’s episode, where Jessica and I discuss exactly how we’ve evolved becoming Trusted Advisors to our own portrait clients. 

Here’s a glance at this episode…

  • [02:05] Similarities and differences between what we’re going through at ATJ Photography and what our Art of Selling Art students are experiencing in their businesses.
  • [03:22] Characteristics of a “darling doormat.”
  • [05:22] Discomfort that is likely to arise if you are not open with your clients about your costs and your offerings from the beginning. 
  • [08:36] How  a “darling doormat” turns into a “disagreeable dictator,” and the characteristics of this type of photographer. 
  • [10:14] An example of what can happen when the traits of a “darling doormat” and a “disagreeable dictator” are combined in one photographer.
  • [12:58] Why the “darling doormat” approach often results in unhappy clients.
  • [15:04] How clients feel on the receiving end of the “disagreeable dictator” approach.
  • [17:07] What it looks like when a photographer steps into the role of “the expert” (or “trusted advisor”). 
  • [21:56] Why you should drastically limit the number of images you show your clients. 
  • [28:09] The difference between dictating and guiding. 
  • [30:19] The realization which allowed me to move away from being a doormat.
  • [34:34] Advice for dealing with clients who aren’t happy with their photographs, using a recent experience of mine as an example.
  • [43:12] Emotions that clients feel when we take responsibility for our work. 
  • [45:08] Where you can access the (free) booklet that we have created to help you have difficult conversations with your clients.
  • [48:11] My favorite quote about success. 

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