Recorded: Welcome to The Rework with Allison Tyler Jones, a podcast dedicated to inspiring portrait photographers to uniquely brand, profitably price, and confidently sell their best work. Allison has been doing just that for the last 15 years, and she’s proven that it’s possible to create unforgettable art and run a portrait business that supports your family and your dreams. All it takes is a little rework. Episodes will include interviews with experts from in and outside of the photo industry, many workshops, and behind the scenes secrets that Allison uses in her portrait studio every single day. She will challenge your thinking and inspire your confidence to create a profitable, sustainable portrait business you love through continually refining and reworking your business. Let’s do The Rework.
Allison Tyler Jones: Hi, friends, and welcome back to The Rework. Today’s topic is one of our most requested, marketing. We are going to talk about marketing right now with Drake Busath of Busath Photography from Salt Lake City, Utah. Busath Photography has been in business for the last 50 years, that’s five, zero, and Drake has been working in the business for the last 40 years, and his boys are poised to take over the business from him.
Allison Tyler Jones: So, Drake knows a thing or two about marketing through good times and bad times, through recessions, through bull markets, bear markets. He’s done it all, and he has found several really great ways to market his business that stay on brand, that don’t train his clients to wait for a sale, but still keep in touch with them and keep his brand at the forefront of his market. I can’t wait for you to hear all of his ideas. If you’re not driving, I would highly recommend that you get a notebook and a pen because you’re going to want to take notes on this one. Let’s do it. Okay. So my brother from another mother from up in Utah, just my northern neighbor, Drake Busath, is here with us today. Drake, thanks so much for taking the time to be here.
Drake Busath: Hi, Allison, thanks for having me. I always jump at the chance to talk with you because I’ve never said it that way, brother from another mother, but that’s really apropos.
Allison Tyler Jones: It is.
Drake Busath: We have a lot in common.
Allison Tyler Jones: We’re kind of the negative and positive of each other. I’m your hyper, crazy sister. You’re like the chill brother.
Drake Busath: That’s exactly it. That’s right. Okay, well thanks, sis, for including me in your family.
Allison Tyler Jones: Anytime. So what I wanted to talk about, and I actually long wanted to talk to you about this topic because I think you guys are really, really good at this, is marketing. What’s working in marketing right now? You have a ton of experience in this business. How many years are we in now?
Drake Busath: Five, 0, 50.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.
Drake Busath: No, not me though.
Allison Tyler Jones: No, I know.
Drake Busath: I’ve only been doing 40.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, only. Okay.
Drake Busath: 45.
Allison Tyler Jones: So you’ve seen a lot of recession, a lot of boom economy, a lot of… We have all been through 2008. We’ve been through lots of things. And so there are things that have worked in the past that maybe don’t work now. So you guys are really great at keeping in touch with your clients. I’m on your mailing list, and I get your emails, and I know you also do some direct mail stuff, so I just wanted to have you kind of tell our listeners the overall thought process behind what it is that you do and how you do it. If you’ll just share some of your gems with us, I would love that.
Drake Busath: I’d be happy to. Well, you mentioned emails. And I think that’s perhaps the heart of our program, so I’ll talk about that a minute. I’ll talk about the mailers and our social efforts, which are not the heart of our efforts, but the emails are, we’ve used MailChimp and we sit down the first of the year and we write a list of promotions that we want to send emails on. So it’s mostly promotion-driven, and I think that’s changing. We’re now talking about more just general emails, more educational, how to, what to wear, that kind of thing that people might engage with.
Drake Busath: But to this point, we really began just sending those out around our Children’s Day specials. So we have these Children’s Day events we call them, and they’re a single concept session. It’s a short child session. Everybody’s calling them mini sessions now.
Allison Tyler Jones: And I like that you don’t call them that.
Drake Busath: Yeah, well-
Allison Tyler Jones: I really like that you don’t call them that.
Drake Busath: I think sometimes I get feeling old and I feel like I invented the concept of the mini session in 1985 or something.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes.
Drake Busath: But we never used that name. And initially that particular promotion was we would raise money for a charity that was dealing with children or women’s issues, junior league, other battered women’s shelters, things like that. And so that’s still on my mind and we still need to get back to that, but right now it’s a short session. We do themed events. So one is black and white closeups, one is white linen in the studio, one is barefoot in the garden, because we have these gardens around our building, and one is fall, autumn color. So it’s kind of a back to school thing. And that’s outdoors in the garden too.
Drake Busath: That one’s tough because we schedule it before the weather turns, but there’s no color. There are no color in the yard yet, so we have to run up the canyon and cut these big branches of leaves off. Hope nobody sees us, and kind of build our backdrop a little bit.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. Well if the leaf police show up at your door this year, it’s because we outed you on The Rework podcast.
Drake Busath: Oh Shoot. Will you edit that little-
Allison Tyler Jones: We’ll just edit that out.
Drake Busath: And anything else that I say that’s illegal.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Anything else that’s illegal. Okay. So black and white closeup, white linen, barefoot, and then fall. Is that four, you’re doing that four times a year?
Drake Busath: Four. And then what else? And then we do one called pastels. Those are closeups in the studio with an overhead, real super soft lighting with a eyelight underneath and these light pastel panels behind the subject where they’re really close. I love to put the children right on the wall, right on this little panel. So there’s a bit of a drop shadow around their shoulders. I like that effect.
Drake Busath: And those are good collectibles, as are the black and white closeups. Parents start doing that and then they just keep coming back and back. One that’s our most this year where we had the most takers was our Halloween thing. We just do a ring Halloween costume. Instead of trying to build set though for it, we just do it on a white seamless. And they stand there and they’re… It’s full length and it’s just a riot.
Drake Busath: It’s a funny day. It’s kind of a gift to our clients. Some years, we do it for free for our clients and give them a five by seven or something. But the idea behind that Children’s Day is to stay in touch with our families and to keep young families coming in the door because, really, our avatar client is more mature young grandma or a mom with teenage kids leaving for college. That’s our prime audience. But Children’s Day appeals to grandmas too, but it also gets the young moms in and kind of establishes a tradition of them coming in.
Allison Tyler Jones: Do you see that transfer? So somebody that’s maybe couldn’t afford you or didn’t think they could when their kids were younger, they brought them in for the Children’s Day thing and then they make a leap to being a real, quote unquote, real client?
Drake Busath: I hope so. I do not keep track very well. I have to admit, that’s my weakness. But we are kind of mainstreaming those people, bringing them in and trying to mainstream. Yeah, they’re coming in. And we’ve made a jump this year. We’ve gone from these $89 session with a five by seven to more of a product-based.
Drake Busath: You’ll like this. And this is a bit ATJ influenced, I have to admit, that the special will include a print. This, for instance, it’s a 12 by 12 white boarder brand with modern frame. The price will be triple what we’ve been charging. And we sat around the table and looked at each other and said, “We’re going to really anger some moms that bring their kids every year for these.” But we looked at the numbers and decided, we really are busy enough. We just need to let some of those people go, keep on people go. And even though if we love them.
Drake Busath: But back to the email blasts, the MailChimp campaigns, we really are trying to show products instead of just images. That’s been a transition the last couple of years. So room views. And to do that, I needed to quit doing it myself, building those, and hire a receptionist that we had that had a baby and went home and needed to work from home. And she’s got a degree in graphic arts and she can put those together. She sends enough Photoshop that she can assemble those. It’s back and forth?
Allison Tyler Jones: You’re talking about the emails, your emails, what?
Drake Busath: Email blast itself.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Okay.
Drake Busath: And the content.
Allison Tyler Jones: Because you were doing all of that yourself? Yeah.
Drake Busath: Right. And I’m doing those for the workshops and I like it. I think it’s fun. MailChimp’s a blast.
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s easy.
Drake Busath: Well easy for you, maybe.
Allison Tyler Jones: No, I mean-
Drake Busath: A guy in his sixties, it’s not easy, but-
Allison Tyler Jones: I mean versus coding your own HTML-
Drake Busath: Exactly.
Allison Tyler Jones: … Email. Yeah. It’s a little more plug and play.
Drake Busath: Yeah. And that’s a kick.
Allison Tyler Jones: I’m not better at that stuff than you are, just FYI.
Drake Busath: Okay. Well, it’s fun. And they put together. Now, you build a campaign and then down underneath that says you want to link this to your Instagram, to your Facebook, to Twitter. And so they kind of package things for you. They help you build groups and they help you… All sorts of little gadgets attached. And so it’s fun, but I cannot, as the business owner, I cannot sustain a campaign like an email blast twice a month without hiring, farming that out.
Drake Busath: So Christine will send that, she’ll send a test email, Bromley and Richard and I will look at it, proof it, we’ll say, “Yeah, I don’t like that second image. Find a new one.” She’s got access to a bunch of our samples. And so she’s got a theme, maybe a catchphrase, and then she designs the content and then we’ll say, “No, I hate that room view, hate the sofa,” whatever.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.
Drake Busath: And we usually go back and forth, maybe two or three proofs before it feels right, because I’m a bit of a control freak.
Allison Tyler Jones: Really?
Drake Busath: And so that’s-
Allison Tyler Jones: A laid back control freak.
Drake Busath: I am. Yeah.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.
Drake Busath: Well-
Allison Tyler Jones: You’re not laid back. That’s the fiction of Drake Busath, is the fiction is the… You’re this stoner surfer that’s just all chill, and that is a lie.
Drake Busath: Thank you.
Allison Tyler Jones: It is a lie. Because there is a control freak. It’s like Tim Walden. Everybody thinks Tim Walden’s just the nicest guy and he is the nicest guy, but there is an iron fist in that velvet glove of control of the work. So I’m just putting it out there.
Drake Busath: Wow. I guess that is a compliment.
Allison Tyler Jones: Absolutely.
Drake Busath: Yeah, I do. I am very opinionated, and that’s a real danger for me personally as a business owner over the years just trying to run my own marketing campaigns because you get two or three pieces put together, or two and a half, and then all of a sudden it’s May and-
Allison Tyler Jones: Never go out.
Drake Busath: … “Oh yeah, I was supposed to do… I had this whole beautiful campaign list.” And so that’s been-
Allison Tyler Jones: I have lots of those that have never seen the light of day or have never gone out.
Drake Busath: I’m sure we all do. One thing that really turned my head was one day, it dawned on me that we had two receptionists at the front office that were not creating money, they’re just answering calls. And those should be marketers. They don’t want to call them receptionists anymore. They are marketers. So our employees are dual tasking, and one of them is in charge of the social, the Instagram account, and Christine is in charge of the emails. And so that’s how that works.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay, hold on. I have questions. I have questions. Okay. So you’re calling these events, they’re portrait events. And you said single concept. Okay, so let’s just use the black and white closeup, for example. So is it a single child?
Drake Busath: Yes. Oh, I forgot.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. Tell me the limitations. Yeah, tell me the limitations.
Drake Busath: All of them, historically, they’ve all been single child events, which causes problems of course because mom wants their three kids done. And can you just do a group shot while we’re at it? No, we just can’t. But come on back… We just have to say no to that because you schedule them tight every 20 minutes or 30 minutes or hour if you’re torturing one of your employees, photographer, and every 20 minutes, get as many as you can.
Drake Busath: But a group shot changes the whole set. So if we’re outdoors, for instance, we’ll sometimes set up a 10 by 10 tent with the roof over it to keep the light consistent, set up a strobe, either push it through a big eight by six by six scrim or put up a soft box or something that’ll hold up in the wind. And because we’ve got to make that light consistent for the whole period of the spec, like half a day at least, or all day if we can.
Drake Busath: So anyway, it’s a tight set and we can’t really vary it for groups. So what we did, because of all the pushback with groups is we designed another Children’s Day called Just Us Kids, and that’s the one I forgot to mention. And we’re doing two of those this year. One of them is in the studio, one of them is outdoors, and that’s just siblings and it’s leave your parents’ home or no parents allowed. I was thinking you would take a picture of a child’s bedroom door with a big handwritten sign, “No parents.”
Drake Busath: But I should say though, when I say promotional sessions, we don’t do bunnies at Easter. We don’t do angels or ferries, Santa. We don’t do that kind of thematic. We just do classical portrait here. So the theme just means it’s a set and the children are looking at the camera. We’re looking for flattering lighting on them. We’re not trying to be seasonal about it or Christmas-y.
Allison Tyler Jones: Do you still want it to be classic and be able to stand the test of time?
Drake Busath: I think so. It just keeps our brand, it stays within our lane, which is classical portraiture with a fresh, comfortable look, fresh twist without getting boring stuff.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So what I’m hearing you say is that even though it is a limited edition session or a, what are you calling them, Children’s Day, is that what it is?
Drake Busath: Children’s Day.
Allison Tyler Jones: Children’s Day.
Drake Busath: We just call them Children’s Day.
Allison Tyler Jones: Children’s Day, okay. So it’s Children’s Day. You’re still very concerned that it is brand consistent. This work could hang with your other portraiture work, no problem. So it doesn’t look like it… It’s not a departure. It’s still consistent.
Drake Busath: Good point.
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s a little more, I think, at least from what I’ve seen, it’s a little closer. It’s a little tighter than some of maybe your full length work or your family portraits. Is that fair?
Drake Busath: Right. Some of the specials are just close up.
Allison Tyler Jones: The face.
Drake Busath: The black and white, just head and shoulders, the pastel. The garden things are full length. On the little ones, three-quarter. We limited it to 12 years old, so it’s one to 12 years old. And so we’re not doing newborns. It just slows the process down. It’s designed to make it painless for the children, have a pleasant experience for the parents, and I find that the images that come out of that are just as good as one full or one hour session with that child. We don’t have the warmup and the cool down period. We don’t have that. Try them in three different situations. Wear them out, make them cry, kind of sessions.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Okay. So you’ve got brand consistent is your number one. Two, the compelling narrative or the philosophy behind it is that you are wanting to get a younger mom used to coming to you so that the older moms of next year are used to coming to Busath, so you’re building in that loyalty there. And then you’re also doing it at times where maybe your studio is not as busy as normal times. So you’re not doing this in November?
Drake Busath: Exactly. Right. Generally, we’re not. We’re avoiding those times. And during the week too, we’re not doing them on Fridays or Saturdays or even Thursdays. They’re Tuesday, Wednesday events usually.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. See, that’s super. I just think it’s important to dig into this stuff because when photographers are copying other photographers, they’re hitting the high points like, “Oh, Drake’s doing minis in the park,” and they don’t realize that that park is literally outside your shooting room.
Drake Busath: Right.
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s on your property. So you’re not driving for all of those separate sessions. It’s very contained and very dialed in.
Drake Busath: Yes, and very efficient. The set is built. We’re doing as many of those as we can, maybe 6, 8, 10 in a row. So it’s very efficient.
Allison Tyler Jones: And it’s limited dates as well. So it’s not just limited days, but you have, you’ll say three day?
Drake Busath: One day.
Allison Tyler Jones: One day? One day, okay.
Drake Busath: Sometimes we’ll put two days on if we know-
Allison Tyler Jones: If you’ve booked them all.
Drake Busath: … this one is going to fill. But normally now we just set one day and then on our calendar, we book an overflow day so we can open that up. So we send one-
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay, so you can book it all.
Drake Busath: Yeah. We try to send two emails for each Children’s Day, one, a few weeks in advance and one close to the event. And then one email blast will maybe list the Children’s Day events coming up so that they can sort of look at the themes and decide in advance what you might want to do.
Allison Tyler Jones: And so you’re just letting them know that when they call to book that… You have online booking though, right? Can they just click on it and book?
Drake Busath: No.
Allison Tyler Jones: No. Okay.
Drake Busath: No, we’re not that fancy.
Allison Tyler Jones: But that’s actually good. So they call and then they’re going to say… You’re going to get the obvious questions. Can I have the siblings? Can I have them change an outfit? Can’t we just jump in with the family? He’s our only child, all of that. And so it’s all no, no, no. Except you’re saying no in a really nice way, I’m sure.
Drake Busath: Yeah. Now I have to admit that we cave as much as anybody. So you have to build in a pressure release valve to any event like this. So if someone were starting this from scratch, I would say build in an hour at the end of your day, and if they want to bring their group children back, we’ll reset the stage for groups of three and build that in, and so you can say yes. Our motto, every staff meeting they hear this from me is we say, yes, yes, yes to everything. Do you get the digital images? Yes, of course you do. When you buy a print, then of course you get an image of that you can share on social media. Yes. And I need that yes release valve.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay, so tell me about what happens after. So I come in, I’ve had my grandkids, I’m going to bring all my seven grandkids, and have you photograph them. And then what happens after that? How are you selling that? What’s happening on the back end of that?
Drake Busath: Right. They come back like every other client a week later for a ordering session. And that’s a lot. That’s debatable. We don’t want to attempt selling those online. We don’t want to diminish the experience because we’re trying to mainstream these people into our system. So currently, we can do that. We have two people at the studio that are, two women that are consultants and let’s call them salespeople and they can schedule those in. So they’re 30 minute appointment to look at the images. And of course, we’re trying to upsell that and have a price list built for that too.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. That was getting our next question.
Drake Busath: Yeah, they are getting discounted packages. So the same ala carte prices, but packages are discounted and they show anywhere from 10, 15, 20% depending on the package. So the salesperson can point that out and people feel like it’s a special, it is a special.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, but with packaging it that way your pricing can still be online because you’re getting a bigger sale, so to speak, to spread that out over. So that makes sense.
Drake Busath: Right. It’s really so tempting to go to say, “20% off” because it’s a special off of all our prices. And then you’re just really hurting yourself and you’re training them to expect discounts when they come, and you don’t want to do that.
Allison Tyler Jones: I’m glad you said that because I really, really, really want to highlight that, if you’re ever doing mini sessions or you’re doing limited edition sessions or whatever you want to call them, something that is not the normal pricing, there has to be a compelling reason behind it. And also if it’s less expensive or somehow priced differently than what you’re normally doing, that it’s because it’s limited in some way by date, by the subject matter. It can’t just be, “Okay, you know what, yes, it’s Children’s Day, but I’m bringing my family of 12 in here, and you’re going to strike that set and do a beautiful garden portrait and I’m going to get it for $89.” You don’t have a release valve for that because that’s not how it works. You just say, “Yes, of course we can do a family session for you on another day.”
Drake Busath: Another day. Of course.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. Yeah. Okay. Thank you for letting me ask those questions and dig back into that. So that’s your email marketing and that’s planned out a year ahead and you know the months that you’re going to do that, and you get that all set up and organized.
Drake Busath: Right. And MailChimp lets you schedule those too, so you can build those. Each one is called a campaign, and you can put it on a calendar with MailChimp, and it’s going to go on a Tuesday or a Thursday morning between 9 and 10. And they say, the guru say it’s a good time to send an email. So that allows Christine to build those in batches and then send them out on calendar days.
Drake Busath: So the second thing you mentioned was mailers. And I still believe in mailers. We had a good experience this last year with 2022 with our mailers. Here’s the best thing that we’ve come up with. Instead of sending them family, we call them graduates. Because in Utah, seniors means-
Allison Tyler Jones: Old people.
Drake Busath: … 80 and over. And so I don’t know in the rest of the country what the terminology would be, but family graduates, we combine them into one mailer and the mailer says, the message of it is graduation is time for a family portrait.
Drake Busath: So, we’re combining the two things, and if they get… And there is an offer, if they book both, they schedule both sessions, they get one of them for free. We used to do graduate sessions and we’d throw in, I know our big package, you’d throw in a family portrait, it was free. Nobody took us up. I mean, they did, but they didn’t buy anything. It was always hurried. It wasn’t successful. But if they can schedule both sessions the same day, so they’re going to book their high school senior, or the college graduate now in May 15th, and their family portrait in September, and they’re both on the book now and they’ve got one of them for…So we’re gifting them that session fee. Our session fees are low. Traditionally, they’ve been from $150, $250. So that’s what we’re giving them. And that mailer, with the combination of they’re attractive kids, it’s a threefold mailer. So I think it’s eight and a half by 17 folded three times.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes, trifold.
Drake Busath: So it’s kind of a little bit like the size of an oversized postcard.
Allison Tyler Jones: So you get attention with that one that comes in the mail?
Drake Busath: Yeah, it’s big enough.
Allison Tyler Jones: And they’re pretty.
Drake Busath: Have you seen one?
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah, I picked up a couple when I was there last summer. Yeah.
Drake Busath: Printing quality is hit and miss, but-
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, but I thought they looked really good.
Drake Busath: Pretty good. Well, it’s got a beautiful 17-year-old kid on the front of it, so it’s probably going to get looked at by most people. And on the back of it, it’s got a family and the offer, and so it’s kind of incentive to open this thing and then it shows the products. It’s big enough, there’s enough real estate in that threefold that we can show our products in a section. Here’s framed work, here’s a float frame canvas, here’s the car, here’s the graduation announcement cards that we do, and here’s a room view. Maybe somewhere in there, there’s a room view with a family portrait in a beautiful entryway or in the living room.
Drake Busath: So we’re planting that seed, and that’s been successful. We’ve done that I think maybe four out of the last five years. And we get a bunch of phone calls when that hits. We send it to our studio mailing list, and then we buy some more zip codes from a mailing service. We send it to-
Allison Tyler Jones: And when are you sending that out, like usually? What time of the year?
Drake Busath: When does that go out? We gave up on trying to advertise to high school graduates in the fall. We just gave up.
Allison Tyler Jones: Oh yeah, I agree.
Drake Busath: Or in the summer. Come in before your grad senior year starts. It’s just not a tradition here.
Allison Tyler Jones: Same here.
Drake Busath: So we send it in the spring, and so it goes out late April. We send out two of them. When we design it, we just change the pictures, but exactly the same format, same message and print two of them. So one goes out late April and one sometime in May. And it’s a reminder.
Allison Tyler Jones: When is your school getting out up there?
Drake Busath: Early June. Yeah, first week of June, late last week of May.
Allison Tyler Jones: So you’d need to adjust for that because for I’m thinking for us, our school gets out May, so we would have to go… if we were doing it, we would have to go March and then late April. The only reason I’m saying that is because sometimes people listen to this and say, “Well, Drake said send it out this time,” but you got to look at when school’s getting out.
Drake Busath: Exactly. It’s built around graduation. And we know that the families are probably not going to come in in May before graduation. They’re going to schedule in the summer or early fall, and we don’t have a cutoff to keep them from November session, we don’t. We probably should.
Allison Tyler Jones: I don’t think so.
Drake Busath: I know that’s what you were just thinking.
Allison Tyler Jones: No, I don’t. Actually, I don’t think that at all. Because I think if they’re doing a family session, yes, they got the session fee comped, but you are going to kind of know what the spend was on the senior. To me, they’ve already proven themselves as a client, so they can come whenever.
Drake Busath: They have. And they are our best… They are in that category of our best clients. Their child is leaving for college, for heaven’s sake. That’s when we sell wall prints to families, is at last, their children are old enough but not married yet.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yep. Everything’s about to change.
Drake Busath: Yeah. So there are so many emotional strings you can pull in the spring that you couldn’t pull in the fall, really about the child leaving home, this is their… There’s been their last summer at home. But I love that. I love combining those two things. It was such an epiphany for me because we used to focus on the seniors and our sales were always okay, but we never got that kind of Midwest high school senior studio-
Allison Tyler Jones: Exactly.
Drake Busath: … groove. We’re getting these $2,000 average sales from seniors or whatever. And so this works. This year, we will change our graduate specials to be inclusive of product as well. And we’ll focus really on albums, on small albums because our kids are coming in with two or three outfits and we’re spending an hour with them, and we get a lot of variety in our gardens. And in the studio, combine that, we’ll have the studio set up with three different looks. The garden has a thousand different looks. So in an hour or an hour and a half, they get really an album session. And we realized recently we really need to be pushing these albums.
Allison Tyler Jones: Because otherwise, why are you shooting all that variety?
Drake Busath: Exactly.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Do you sometimes feel like it’s difficult to get on the same page with your client? You email them a price list, you email them a contract, you send them information, and it seems like nobody’s reading anything anymore.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, I found that even doing an in-person consultation with my clients, that there are sometimes things still falling through the cracks. So I’ve developed what I call my consultation game plan booklet. It allows me to get on the same page with my clients so that nothing is left to chance. After 13 years of revising our internal ATJ consultation form, which by the way is available for free at dotherework.com, I realized that I needed something more for my consultations. I wanted my clients to leave the consultation with more than just a pretty brochure, more than just a price list that had no context.
Allison Tyler Jones: What I needed was a single printed piece that would leave nothing to chance and achieve the following goals. I wanted to educate my clients about the price ranges of my products. I wanted to help my clients understand what I would and wouldn’t be shooting for them during their portrait session, and also ensure that they felt confident about selecting clothing for their session.
Allison Tyler Jones: So this consultation game plan booklet is kind of like part brochure, part getting ready guide, part running out the door, last minute checklist and part consultation form that the client gets to take home with them and most importantly, share with their family, in-laws, and their spouse or partner. It’s all in one, a single booklet that the client takes with them at the end of their consultation.
Allison Tyler Jones: So I’ve been using this booklet in my business for the last five years, and we’ve revised it many times, and this is the first time that we are offering it to our Rework community to use in their own portrait studios.
Allison Tyler Jones: And so this booklet is available online in layer PSD files so that you can lay your own images, logo, everything branded into this booklet to use in your studio. It also gives you access to our online mini-course, which includes a video lesson with me on how I use the Game Plan Booklet in my consultations and an actual video recording of me with an actual client in an actual client consultation using the Game Plan Booklet and how it’s used during that time.
Allison Tyler Jones: So go to dotherework.com/gameplan and get this mini-course and this consultation Game Plan Booklet to use in your studio. It will change your consultations forever.
Allison Tyler Jones: I have a question for you, because we get this a lot, especially if they have boys that are graduates. Could we come in? Could I bring my family in and let’s just do some pictures of him at the same time and just combine it in one? Would you do that?
Drake Busath: Yes, we do that. Yes, we do it. We discourage it and then we do it. This year, what we’ll do is we will have a real simple closeup session offered to the graduates, one outfit, three-quarter and close up images in the studio or in the gardens, and that will be what we can offer along with the family. It’s really what… We have gotten stuck. I personally have been stuck with that. You just finished a family, you’re wiped out, and now they’ve got a graduate with three outfits they want to do, and it’s just cruel, unusual punishment for a photographer.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Yeah. I didn’t do it with… I’ve never done it with a girl because they usually are the ones that want to have the 75 outfits. But if I have a mom that is like, “Look, my son actually doesn’t even want to do senior pictures. I just need a picture for him for his mission” or whatever the thing is he’s going to do after high school. “I need a good headshot for LinkedIn or college. Is there any way we could just get a few of him?” So to me, that’s worth doing and making it simple. But if it was going to be like a whole other shoot, I wouldn’t do it.
Drake Busath: Yes. We’ve always said yes to those and we’ve always done them that way and said, “Yeah, we can do some headshots happily.” And this year, I feel like we need to define that better up front so that the front desk, when they’re scheduling, has gone through that concept and there’s no chance of them expecting more.
Allison Tyler Jones: So that they aren’t showing up with 75 outfits. I got it. Okay.
Drake Busath: But you’re right, with the boys, I’ll bet it’s similar in Salt Lake City to Mesa where they just need a go to school or go on a mission image and their parents are forcing them, and there’s no album there.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.
Drake Busath: Potential.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Okay. Now I know in the past, before we talk about direct mail, you’ve also done these really gorgeous, almost, I would say it looks like a catalog to me with a beautiful baby, usually one of your grandkids on the front cover. Are you still doing that or not really so much?
Drake Busath: We are, but it’s turned into every other year, or every third year because that catalog, if it’s built well,-
Allison Tyler Jones: Expensive.
Drake Busath: It’s expensive, but it also lasts. We don’t change much, so we don’t put specific information in there. Then it’ll last. You can reprint with a different cover and put your specials on the back cover or inside and then ask the printer to just reprint it with a new cover. But we found that we just don’t do that. We print it, we get extra, we get a couple thousand extra. We send out about 5,000 of these, and maybe a thousand extra will last us for quite a long time. We sit out in a pile at the studio.
Drake Busath: I don’t know how long we’ve been doing that, maybe 10 years. And that was a revelation for me too, to have that… We’ll take it with us on sessions. We go out and do headshots for law firms and accounting firms and judges. This couple days ago, Richard and I just did the State Supreme Court. And so we’re there spending time with these people. They are perfect potential clients and hand them one of these catalogs instead of a business card.
Drake Busath: So Richard always has a little pile of these in his light bag. And I just love that idea that we’re showing them that printed piece is divided by product line. So we’ve got something on the… like you said, our lead is always a child’s face, tight crop, just like the banner around in front of our building. It’s a tight crop child’s face that nobody can resist with no words. Kind of mysterious. And then it opens with an introduction, shows our building and the owners and a little statement that no one ever reads that, right? President’s message.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes.
Drake Busath: But it establishes that we’re real people in Salt Lake City, and we’re open every day, and we’re brick and mortar. We have business hours. You don’t have to call us on our cell phone. That kind of message is the first spread. And then we go family. And then extended family is the second product line. So children is a product line, graduates is a product line. We’ll have a wedding section, but we don’t do weddings as a studio. However, our photographers are allowed to do weddings, freelance. And Richard, who’s my son, will do 10 weddings a year, eight or 10. And it’s good kind of side money for him.
Allison Tyler Jones: And he allows you to cherry pick it.
Drake Busath: But when we’re standing there with the judge, I can flip to… when’s last family portrait? Oh, you have 17 grandkids. Look at this section. And here’s a composite portrait with 40 people. And below, there’s a little illustration of how to use that. It’s a room view. There’s a little picture of the cards that I fold out a seven by five card opened up with a composite long pano image in it. It is so powerful. So I just like that as a mailer, but also to have around the studio.
Allison Tyler Jones: As a business card. Well, so
Drake Busath: I think you could get away with every three years really printing one of those just fine.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay, that’s genius. So that really is, rather than an offer or a time constraint kind of thing, that’s more of a brand ambassador for you. So it’s going to serve the purpose of a brochure in your studio, a take along brochure, serves the purpose of a business card because nobody uses those anyway anymore. But also I was thinking it would be great for anything that you do, charitable, silent auctions, anything like that really good. That’s great.
Drake Busath: Absolutely. A pile goes out, exactly. With the sample image at a silent auction and a pile of those. And so they get used and they get seen.
Drake Busath: I think they hang around in a home too. Now, that’s another element of it that I believe in, is there’s enough text in these little paragraphs and there are dollar signs, because I think that means that it doesn’t get tossed real fast. Somebody looks at it and says, “Oh, maybe I’ll read that later.” And it hangs around the house. There’s something, when I say dollar signs, you know what I mean? That little subliminal image that says, “I need to look twice at this. How much does that cost? I don’t have time right now, but it’s going to go in the bathroom with me. Or it’s going to sit around in the kitchen for a while before it gets tossed.”
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, and I think that the important part, the reason why it’s hanging around in my opinion, is that the paper that’s printed on, you’re not printing this on cheap, shiny paper. It’s printed on heavier weight, more matte finish, really beautifully printed. And it’s not like a typical eight and a half by 11 size. It’s like a, what is it? Is it like 8 by 10?
Drake Busath: It’s more 8 by 10.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. More 8 by 10. So it’s kind of a different size. And then that baby image on the front, it’s not all jacked up with a million frames and a ton of type. It’s literally this gorgeous baby face full bleed. And then it’s all really well-designed. So it almost is like a little mini coffee table book. And so you want to look at it again and again. And yes, like you said, there is text in there, but it’s very compelling. The design is very compelling. Here’s all the things we can do. And here’s all the pictures of it. There’s 97 pictures on one page. It’s very highly curated, very tight. I think it’s a beautiful piece.
Drake Busath: Thank you. It took us on, honestly, a few years to get there. The first one wasn’t that great.
Allison Tyler Jones: Don’t believe it.
Drake Busath: I think the hiring a professional, getting some design help from a professional was important on that particular piece. And it’s expensive and it’s hard to justify for a studio owner. I know that. And we look at each other every year. Are we going to do one? Because that’s money out of our pocket, basically. But it’s like I say, it’s a decade or more, maybe 15 years we’ve been doing those. So I think it’s a sustainable idea and worthwhile.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So the one mailer then is the trifold. That’s kind of the weird size that you just said, like five by 14 or something like that. And that’s the more timely graduate. And it’s time for a family portrait. And so that’s undergirding everything that you’re doing. And I don’t know, I’ve heard of so many people that I’ll give you a free family portrait with a graduate, but actually, it’s the flip that makes the difference.
Drake Busath: Yeah. And well, I don’t know. Something about if you buy two, like you said, there’s a limitation on this. They have to earn this. It’s not free. I don’t want to call you get, I don’t want to say a free session. If you buy two, if you book both of them now and reserve them now, then you’ve earned yourself that free family session.
Drake Busath: So for some reason, that has really worked. And think about it, with one mailer, we’ve booked these summer and fall family sessions. It’s really a graduate mailer, but it’s got this kind of spinoff.
Allison Tyler Jones: But I don’t think you can underestimate, and I want to highlight, anybody that’s listening to this, don’t wreck your car, but listen to that, that you did it one way and then realized, “Okay, we weren’t really getting that many bookings.” Realize what the most important thing was, getting that family portrait, flipping the emphasis around.
Allison Tyler Jones: And then also, it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it. We’re not saying buy one get one free, because that’s not your brand at all. That’s not high end. That’s low rent. Right? You’re saying you earn this, if we do this. You book two and then you’re like you say, you’re filling up your calendar, which is amazing and great, and giving them two opportunities to come in and see you. And then going to the booklet. What do you call that? Do you call it a booklet? Do you call it a brochure?
Drake Busath: Catalog.
Allison Tyler Jones: Catalog?
Drake Busath: We call it a catalog, yeah.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.
Drake Busath: It’s really it, is-
Allison Tyler Jones: It is a catalog.
Drake Busath: It was designed after… If someone were designing one of these, I would get yourself a catalog from Restoration Hardware or somewhere that you respect and pattern it after that. Because people look at catalogs, they’re accustomed to them, and they sit around the house and they look at them over and over. So it’s a miniature… I mean, it’s not two inches thick like Restoration Hardware, but it’s got that layout.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes, that needs to be well thought out.
Drake Busath: By the way, if anybody wants sample of that, I’d be more than happy to share that. I’m not private about that. So they could contact us at-
Allison Tyler Jones: How would they get ahold of you?
Drake Busath: Busath.com.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. So B-U-
Drake Busath: Here’s a good way to say it. B, as in boy, USA, T-H.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay.
Drake Busath: Busath. Nobody can say that correctly, but it doesn’t matter. But, busath.com. And my direct contact is firstname.lastname@example.org, my email.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. Drake@busath.com.
Drake Busath: And I’ll send you something in the mail.
Allison Tyler Jones: That is so nice. I love that. Yeah. So tell him that you found him on The Rework and that he’ll send it to you.
Drake Busath: That’s the key word. That’s the secret.
Allison Tyler Jones: That’s the keyword word.
Drake Busath: Yeah. Rework.
Allison Tyler Jones: I love it. Okay, so love that direct mail. And so what do you feel, like going back to a higher view, kind of more macro, what do you feel like that male versus email, how has that layer helped the business? Any thoughts on that?
Drake Busath: Well, the mail is antisocial marketing campaign. It separates us from the crowd. As soon as everybody starts doing direct mail again, then we’ll go back to social marketing news or mainstay. My dad’s famous saying was zig as others zag. And so that’s always stuck with me. That’s been our differentiator, that catalog. It’s bigger, it’s more complex, and interesting than anyone else that they’ve seen. And the big trifold mailer has that quality about it as well. It’s a little bit shocking that a little portrait studio would be sending out a marketing piece that looks that polished.
Drake Busath: So that’s one reason I believe in direct mail. The MailChimp campaigns, the email or Constant Contact or whoever you’re using, to me is a reminder, a event reminder. That’s kind of our regular thing where if we can get two a month out, then I’m thrilled. So I see that as our regular reminder. Our Instagram and Facebook posts are, we just haven’t mastered that. We’re not good at it. I hate it.
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s so hard.
Drake Busath: And so I think you can’t do everything. So I’ve chosen those other two. And then of course, we do other efforts. We give a lot of auction donations and we have a bit of a system for that. And we do pro bono work where we can to get PR, public PR.
Drake Busath: But those two are, you just can’t do everything. We are busy. And it sounds kind of, and people mock me for it, but I really feel like we could say, well, we’re too busy to advertise. That’s the temptation. At least that’s how we feel. And we have to sort of force ourself to… Well, where are we going to fit in these sessions? But I know the proper answer to that is you’re going to drop off the bottom 10% or 20% of your sessions this year, and you’re going to add these new higher end people. I just can’t claim to be a great marketer. We find these particular projects are sustainable and other ideas fall by the wayside. Outsourcing has helped greatly to make these sustainable, by the way.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, and that’s such a good point, because I feel like sometimes we feel like we have to do everything because you hear people talk and you think, “Oh, I got to do that, or I got to do that.” And you feel like you’re always going to fall short somewhere. And so leaning into what you’re really good at or what has worked before and really who is a good marketer, everybody wants the marketing tips, but it’s like you don’t really ever know what totally works until you try it. And then sometimes, it works and sometimes it doesn’t. And then you do more of the things that do work and less of the things that don’t. And then sometimes, it can work for a while and then it quits working. Did you have anything like that that worked for a while and then quit working?
Drake Busath: Oh yeah. Let me count the waves. I told you, I’ve been doing this for 40 years.
Allison Tyler Jones: I know. I know.
Drake Busath: We’ve done, you name it, we’ve done television, we’ve done radio, done billboards.
Allison Tyler Jones: Really?
Drake Busath: Everything, you name it. That hasn’t been sustainable. So I was thinking about the website just now, and we do get a lot of calls and people that say… Front office says, “How did you find us?” And they say, “Your website, it just looks better than the others that we’ve seen.”
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s so good. Your website is so good because it has such good content. It’s so clear what you do. And then you get a lot of information before you have to call anybody, which is awesome. I think your website’s amazing.
Drake Busath: Thank you. That’s really nice to hear.
Allison Tyler Jones: No, it is.
Drake Busath: I see, I bet others can relate to this. I look at our business, our website, and all I see is potential for improvement. That’s all I see. But we do hear that, and I think that’s been a bit of a do-it-yourself project. We spent money to have it built, and then we learned, either Christine or me or someone else on staff has taken turns, sort of learning WordPress and knowing how to substitute images, change the text.
Drake Busath: So it’s free. We don’t pay month to month for the website. It’s a wordpress.org free site. But we did pay someone to build it initially. And you’ve got to plan on that every, I don’t know, with that particular plan every six, eight years. Someone’s going to have to refresh that and put some money into it. But it’s probably the best bang for the buck advertising.
Drake Busath: We used to do a lot of exhibit. That was something that we did that we built our business on, community exhibits. We haven’t done that for a long time. I think I just got tired. It was so much work to sustain that.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, it’s a different world now too. The mall thing isn’t really a thing anymore. And people are so tied to online. And women in particular are like, it’s 10:00 PM laying in bed. That’s when we’re shopping, we’re on Instagram or we’re looking for stuff like that.
Drake Busath: Well, it’s so much. If I had to say, there’s one thing that’s really made a difference for us is room view, showing room view images. And I know you agree with that because you probably taught me that. And I know that’s difficult. So we’re doing that. We’re buying rooms, room views, and we’re inserting Photoshop our images, because I would love to have this be an actual client home. And we do have that occasionally. But we can’t sustain it. It’s one of those great ideas that three months later, “What were we going to do with that?”
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Well, not every client has a home that’s maybe it’s not designed. Your work looks amazing and great, but they might have some weird couch or a catio sitting next to your beautiful art.
Drake Busath: Totally. Or they got it too small or they framed it, they didn’t like it, or the lighting’s bad on it. But we do, we do go out and install and hang things and my son, Bromley and I, go. That’s the team. We have our tools.
Allison Tyler Jones: The install team. I love it.
Drake Busath: I love to get to know people and see their houses and establish that relationship. So we haven’t hired an installer yet, but-
Allison Tyler Jones: But you’re a fan of design. You love interior design. That’s a thing too.
Drake Busath: I do.
Allison Tyler Jones: You do love it.
Drake Busath: And that’s why I love these room views because people like to look at the room just as much as your image. And so why not use that if you can spend some money on great looking room views and then drop your image in.
Allison Tyler Jones: And there’s no shame in that. People will ask me, “Well, what if you haven’t started installing? What if you don’t have pictures of the installations that you’ve already done?” It’s perfectly legitimate to show, because the main thing that we’re wanting to show is an idea of what your artwork can look like in a home. And so it’s just to give them that idea and to get the message across that we’re not just creating disposable imagery, we’re actually creating finished art pieces that are going to be a part of your home.
Drake Busath: Exactly. And obviously, it’s preferable if you’ve got a great image and a great… in your client’s home. And in the image, they’re standing there looking at it, and there’s personal connection. Obviously, we do. So when we do installs, I’m doing a video every time and including grandma and grandpa looking at her mom and dad pointing to it or something. Or do we get to talk about France?
Allison Tyler Jones: We can. Let’s do.
Drake Busath: Is that on the agenda?
Allison Tyler Jones: Speaking of promo, yeah. You’re in charge of the agenda, Drake. I’m just the interviewer.
Drake Busath: Oh, all right.
Allison Tyler Jones: You’re the talent.
Drake Busath: I’m going to change the topic here.
Allison Tyler Jones: Okay. Change the topic.
Drake Busath: Well, in September, we have set aside a week with ATJ in the Loire Valley in Central France, six nights, seven days of pure inspiration and beauty. And I think that’s probably one of the greatest business opportunities for a portrait studio owner that I’ve ever heard of. So that’s what I want to talk about and describe a little. Can I describe it to your listeners.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes, I love it. Because we’ve been talking about it for-
Drake Busath: Promote yourself.
Allison Tyler Jones: … a lot of time. I know. I’m a really bad self-promoter.
Drake Busath: Yeah. Well, that’s good. Really, that’s good.
Allison Tyler Jones: Thanks. Do it.
Drake Busath: Okay. Here’s the experience. Years ago, I designed the model of the workshop, the week-long event workshop that I want to go to. because I was going to conventions a lot and I was going to week-long schools and I was getting a fire hose of information eight hours a day in me.
Drake Busath: So I designed this better model and here it is. Take me out of my country, out of my world, plant me in a beautiful, inspiring place, in this case, Loire Valley, France. Put me in a country inn, preferably with a veranda and a garden or a vineyard and a view. And so I can wake up to that. Okay. Now I got a clean slate brain. Now, feed me country breakfast that’s made by the people there at the Inn. And then put me in a room with Allison and give me an intense one hour of business talk, right? Give me one great concept. One hour. That’s all my brain can handle.
Drake Busath: If you give me three ideas, I’m going to forget two of them anyway. So give me one great concept, one hour, and then let’s go out, drive to the open market in Saumur where it’s colorful and vibrant and I can get my camera out and remember again why I love photography. And then let’s sit around a table and some little hole in the wall, French restaurant where we can kind of digest that brilliant idea that we heard and talk about it with other people in my boat. Not a lot of people. My beautiful, perfect model for a workshop has about 8, 10, 12 people in it. Enough I can get… we can get around two small tables, right? It’s not this gigantic chicken dinner at the banquet at the hotel thing.
Allison Tyler Jones: No. Yeah.
Drake Busath: In a noisy room. And then we get these little drives and we’ll see in this case, in France, on the schedule is these beautiful chateaus that the rulers in Paris built as their getaways down in Central France and along the river, and these little villages that are just too quaint to describe.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, it’s like you keep expecting that Snow White and the seven dwarves are going to walk around the corner, or Belle and the Beast.
Drake Busath: Belle.
Allison Tyler Jones: She’s going to be dancing around with her book in her hand. Yeah.
Drake Busath: Exactly. But that environment to me is inspirational. And then if I got to go to dinner with you or sit in the car next to you on the way to the chateau and got some one-on-one helpful, “Man, in my case though, in my community, that would never work,” whatever. And we get to chew on this idea, then that’s perfect. And a week of that is wonderful. In this case, by the way, in France, my friends Rod and Marie Heiss have put this together, and Marie lives or lived, she’s now in the States, but she grew up in Loire, and so we go to her favorite places, and her favorite restaurants, and meet her friends. And you know how important that is.
Allison Tyler Jones: It’s so good.
Drake Busath: And the reason you agreed to go and be the guest instructor on this is because Ivan speaks French and loves being in France, right?
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes. My husband is fluent in French. She spent two years there as a young man and has kept up with all of that. And he is French in his very soul, as you are Italian in your very soul.
Drake Busath: Yeah. So I started organizing these according to my little model in Italy. And my little side gig is called Italy Workshops, and that’s expanded. We’re doing six of these in Italy this year and just one in France. And I knew I could… That was the hook. I knew you would agree to go, because Ivan loves to be in France and he couldn’t say no to that, right?
Allison Tyler Jones: He has been nagging me incessantly. Like, “Has Drake called? Are we going? What’s happening? What’s happening? What’s happening?” Yeah.
Drake Busath: Anyway, that’s the plan and that’s a getaway for pros, and it’s a trip that really will pay for itself in just a month or two or three afterwards. I’m confident I can say that with you as the instructor more than anyone else I know, perhaps.
Allison Tyler Jones:
Well, I think just getting away-
Drake Busath: That it’ll pay for itself.
Allison Tyler Jones: … getting out of your normal routine and seeing how other people live and just like you said, cleansing that inner palette. So how would they find out about that? Where do they need to go to find out about that?
Drake Busath: There is a website called italyworkshops.com. All one word, italyworkshops.com.
Allison Tyler Jones: We’ll link to it in the show notes too.
Drake Busath: Cool. You can do that?
Allison Tyler Jones: I can do it. Well, I don’t do it. I have people that are smarter than me.
Drake Busath: You have people.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yes.
Drake Busath: So they’ll see all the workshops that I designed. So I have a little team. I have some Italian partners that help me do this, and some friends that are professional photographers that help instruct these, so that I’m not doing everyone anymore. But I love it. It’s my escape. It’s my excuse to get to Europe. Otherwise, I just wouldn’t treat myself. I have a hard time spending money on myself. I don’t know if you can relate to this.
Allison Tyler Jones: No, I can’t relate to that actually. But I’ve heard.
Drake Busath: Maybe you can’t. You’ve heard about people?
Allison Tyler Jones: I’ve heard about people like that.
Drake Busath: Yeah. I kind of need a group of friends to get me to go and this is it.
Allison Tyler Jones: Well, and when we went to Italy together with our XXB group, it was… And that’s actually the reason why I agreed to do this, is because you were doing it. And I knew having had that experience with you, because we had actually talked about this before we did Italy together, and we’ve been kicking this around for a few years, and after that I’m like, “Just tell me where and when,” because everywhere we went was beautiful, amazing, but so authentic. The food was amazing and great, and I felt like I really got a sense of the place. It wasn’t just some Rick Steves, get on your huge bus with your million people and just… I never felt like a tourist. I always felt like I was being welcomed into people’s homes, or I kind of felt like I had the inside track. And so that’s your specialty. And then the small group, of course makes it. So I’m really excited about it.
Drake Busath: Yeah, it’s going to be fun.
Allison Tyler Jones: I’m looking forward to it.
Drake Busath: I’m glad you do. And I think people that come will just probably ask, “When are we going to do this again?”
Allison Tyler Jones: Ivan Jones, number one.
Drake Busath: Most people that come on these, Ivan and you, most people that come, our guests on the workshops come back again. Our group’s usually 75% returning-
Allison Tyler Jones: Nice.
Drake Busath: … guests, sometimes 100%. Like in March, we’re going to Apulia down on the heel in Southern Italy. And the entire group, 12 people have all been with me some six or seven times because it’s a way to travel without having to plan everything yourself. It’s all planned for you. You could just go and relax and think about taking fine art photography. Everybody, it’s just, it’s so amazing how infrequently we professional portrait studio owners get out with our cameras for fun. We take family vacations, but that’s not fun.
Allison Tyler Jones: No.
Drake Busath: Just us out in the village or-
Allison Tyler Jones: Where you get to be a kid again.
Drake Busath: … on the streets.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah.
Drake Busath: Yeah. You remember a lot.
Allison Tyler Jones: Discovering the world.
Drake Busath: Like, “Oh, that’s why I liked, that’s why I’m doing this.” Yeah.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. I love that. Yeah. Well, I’m excited about it. It’s going to be great. And I really appreciate you sharing all that deep inside marketing info because I think that’s really going to help people, even if they don’t do the same thing that you’ve done, it’s going to spin them off in their own directions that feel true to their business and true to their brand. And I just, not everybody’s willing to share that sort of information. So I really appreciate you giving us details on all of that because I think it’s going to be so valuable for so many.
Drake Busath: I’m so happy to do it because I’ve been there in the trenches for a long time and had lean years and understand the pressures that are on the photographers to try to squeeze marketing into their schedules. They’ve got busy lives. It’s just the last, it’s the easiest thing to set aside and put off.
Allison Tyler Jones: Sure, Well, and I think-
Drake Busath: I’m happy to share that stuff.
Allison Tyler Jones: Going back to your earlier statement saying, “Well, we’re too busy to market.” I think the reason that you’re too busy to market is because you’ve been marketing so successfully, really. And it’s just keeping that going, keeping that pipeline full all the time throughout the year. That’s just something to be commended for sure.
Drake Busath: By the way, just I know that there’s a recession threat, and we have inflation, all this bad economic news, but we had our best sales year in 10 years, so it was since 2011, and we were coming out of that last recession that we hit a kind of a high point. So things are good. And you were saying before that you’ve seen a lot of energy and enthusiasm among photographers. So I hope that’s just an encouragement to anybody who’s wondering if this economy’s going to hurt us this year.
Allison Tyler Jones: And I think we see what we’re looking for. Not to be Pollyanna, but I think if you look for doom and gloom, that’s so easily found, just turn the news on. And if you look for the signs that, hey, things are really good and probably going to pick up, you’re going to find every reason for that as well.
Allison Tyler Jones: And I think some of these, oh, I know for sure. I have four pages of notes right here that I’m going to… This is something that I feel like we aren’t really great marketers. We do some things well, but I don’t feel like we’ve done traditional marketing well or direct mail very well. And I really believe in it.
Allison Tyler Jones: I did direct marketing so well in my last business, in my scrap booking store. I was a genius at it. And then with this business, it’s worked in a different way. So I really appreciate the ideas and the encouragement. And so what would you say to somebody that was, well, almost everybody’s been in business less time than you have because of your multi-generational status. But for those that are maybe worried and concerned looking ahead, for somebody that’s weathered many economic storms, what would your encouragement be for everybody?
Drake Busath: Oh, I think it’s just such a viable business if you’re smart about choosing your clients and defining the terms, that you do business on. Don’t try to be everything to everybody. Trust me, I’ve been there too. I’ve done that one.
Allison Tyler Jones: Same.
Drake Busath: And I also like the idea of investing in real estate for your studio. I just think that’s a little piece of advice that I’ve offered once in a while because it worked for my parents and then it provided them a retirement, whereas the value of the business itself wouldn’t have, and it’s done the same for me. And so investing instead of paying rent forever, buy a building. I’m a brick and mortar kind of a guy. So if it’s not a studio building, then make sure that all your expenses are tax deductible. And by the way, all that money that you make this year, invest in a trip to France, with Allison Tyler Jones.
Allison Tyler Jones: You’re still going to sell it. This is the marketer.
Drake Busath: I’m a marketer, after all.
Allison Tyler Jones: This is for italyworkshops.com. Come with us to France. Let’s do it.
Drake Busath: There you go. No.
Allison Tyler Jones: Oh, you’re the best.
Drake Busath: Those are top of the mind things, but unlike you, I just see potential in our marketing and room for improvement. That’s all I can see. I think that’s something you and I have in common.
Allison Tyler Jones: Yeah. Always a better way to do it. Well, thanks again. I appreciate you so much, friend, and I know that so many of our listeners are going to get such value out of this. So thank you so much for being here.
Drake Busath: Thanks for inviting me.
Recorded: You can find more great resources from Allison at dotherework.com and on Instagram @do.the.rework.