business

The Steve Jobs Factor and You

By tangentpath in apple business commodity competition customer loyalty iphone 5 michael carty money photography purpose steve jobs steve wozniak unique vision

Hey Peeps,

I've had a repeating conversation with a lot of people over the last few weeks relating to the new iPhone 5 release, Apple Inc. and Steve Jobs.

How does that relate to you?  Plenty.


Job's first pet?
Two men, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, started Apple back in the days of dinosaurs and the coming invention of the Sony Walkman.
Don't even ask what this is.


Apple has primarily been a company of innovation and breaking rules.  Taking the path least taken, at least according to their product designs.  That's what made Apple unique, what makes their customers more than happy to stand in line overnight for the newest thing, to take mid to low-level customer service with a smile occasionally, to keep going back even if their product gets technical issues over and over.
China's lineup for the IPhone 4

Very different from most businesses.

Most don't have that type of loyalty.

But most don't have a clear message that resonates with their client-base.


Steve Wozniak is the man who knows how to set things up and get things done.  He is the guy who can build the engine of functionality into a cause and clearly express the purpose behind a business.

Steve Jobs was a visionary.  He was the message.  He was a dreamer of change, of uniqueness, of nonconformity.  Jobs was a man who went against blind repetitive, cookie-cutting business practices and product models.  

In a time when the Motorola RAZR was incredibly popular, a flip-phone with over a dozen buttons and a half decent screen(for the time, I actually sold these, *sigh*), Jobs created the iPhone - a full screen/no flip phone with a single button.
Motorola Razr

Totally against the direction things were going.

But look at us now.

Every major manufacturer is copying - or at least emulating that same design years later.  

Sadly, Apple is now one of them.

At present day, we are looking at the Apple iPhone 5 and I wonder if it would have even existed if Steve Jobs were still alive.

I can't believe it would.

I can see Jobs totally against it for so many reasons;  its repetitive design and lack of originality; the fact that the only major design changes are things like slightly altered software and a new port design that can only frustrate customers because of needed upgrades to accessories.

Is there really a huge, fundamental difference in the products below?
iphone 1



 







iphone 5






Is Apple dropping the ball here?  Have they forgot the vision of Jobs?  Have they lost the Steve Jobs factor?

I've wondered about this since Jobs passed, and from what I've seen the corporation is leaning towards what most businesses do;  turning their unique product/service into a commodity - aka. corporate suicide.

If they don't take what they are doing and realign it with the vision of why Apple exists in the first place, their competition will soon eat them alive.

It devalues their products, lowers customer loyalty and breeds a feeling of desperation.

Speaking of desperation, have you noticed how many lawsuits they have with their competitors?  Why?  Did Jobs go after his competitors over miniscule things like rounded corners?  Did he care?




Nope.  He had better things to do, like come up with the next greatest product that everyone wished they invented.  He had innovations to produce and dreams to make reality, and that's what made Apple great.

What would Apple be producing now if Jobs were alive?

Well, starting out as a computer company, delving into mp3 players and then cell phones, I can only imagine they would push into other, high risk industries.

Maybe the car manufacturing industry, the iDrive or iRoll?(Copyright Michael Carty)  Does it come with OnStar or maybe they designed their own version - iLost?  Universal ports?  Hybrid or 100% Electric?  Solar power option?  High end battery life?  How many die-hard Apple customers would HAVE to have one?  How many Apple employees would get one and double as free advertising?  What unique body designs would it have?

It sounds funny, but it's true.  Jobs was the type to do something like this, take something normal and make it completely different, unique and hip.  Go against the direction everyone's heading and make his own path with it.

Again, it doesn't seem like that is Apple's current direction.  It sounds like they want to push a tonne of hype on a product that is only superficially different from one they have previously produced.  That they are commoditizing(real word?) their products and business and losing the message behind their purpose.  They are going from,"I do it my way." to "Let's make some money."

So finally what does this have to do with you?

Is your purpose resonant with your actions?  With your business practices?  Customer service?  Product designs?  Workflow?  Do you have the (insert your name here) factor?

Last week I wrote on my FB page:


"I shoot photography because..." is a horrible way to describe the "Why" behind your work. Try "I feel/believe/want to _______________________________________, and I express this through my photography.", and you will truly find your path.
 
This is not only exclusive to photography, but for every business that wants to be unique, unhampered by external forces and for individuals who want to remember why they do what they do and have a consistently clear image of their direction - which can be incredibly difficult in all of the minutiae of doing business. 
So what do you believe?  What do you feel?  What do you want to say and what do you do to express it?
Tell me yours and I will tell you mine!
Cheers,
Michael Carty
 
 
Michael Carty Website 
Michael Carty Email 

Are You Touching All Of Your Touchpoints? Unrated Version

By tangentpath in business organization photography touchpoints vision wisdom

Hey Peeps,

I'm sure you have all heard the term touchpoints, and if you haven't - well get to it already!

The simplest definition for a touchpoint: where your clients and business connect, and having a business means you have them:  lots of them.

Here are just a few:
  

Each of them should be well thought out in design, congruent with each others design and highly effective towards inviting and welcoming potential clients into your business.
And yes, things like pricing and face-to-face are touchpoints to your business.  They are just two of the many contacts that your clients have with you and your business. 

You have to understand that every one of your touchpoints is a message to your clients about who you are, what you do and where you fit in to their needs.  Not only that, but the message also tells your clients where they fit in with your business.

If you think this list is a lot to go over, you're right.  Yet this is a relatively small list and is only a summary of what you will actually cover.  

Let me show you.
You build a website.  Check.  You have a welcome page, some of your work, contact info, maybe some fun music playing and a slideshow of your favorite work.  

Great!  You're done with that touchpoint right?  WRONG.

How did you design it to create the message you are trying to convey?  You must go over things like colors used, branding, presentation, navigation, product placement, welcome and a minutiae of other information that is crucial - but worth it.

My website has bothered me in the past.  Something was always missing until I sat down and actually started asking myself the right questions about this important touchpoint(Sidenote:  All touchpoints are important).

First I corrected the color scheme.  My branding colors are white, black and vibrant green.  I knew that I liked the green because it was vibrant but I didn't want the site to come off too "green & grey" feeling, so I decided right away that other colors would eventually be used and those other accented colors would have to be as vibrant as the green to keep the style and feel the same.

That's when I looked at my slideshow.  The website has a built-in slideshow at the top.  Normally I would put in some of my best work, but after watching the images slide by I realized that there was subject matter there that I was no longer looking to shoot - and therefore irrelevant to the slideshow.

I decided to remove all of the slideshow images and do something different.

Realizing that my slideshow was a touchpoint within a touchpoint (confused yet?), I decided that I wanted to use it to show my clients specific products in an attractive way without directing them to a sales pitch.  Luckily, I know Photoshop quite well and within a few minutes I had 3 different images for my slideshow (so far) that show work from each of my relevant genres and display them within multiple products on consistently vibrant colored backgrounds.

Check them out:

For portraits

For lifestyle/commercial

For weddings
How did I feel after these subtle - yet crucial changes?

FAN-DAN-TASTIC!

It's true!  I haven't felt this good about the stability and focus of my website in a long time.  Of course it isn't perfect, but it is getting there and I can actually feel the change of moving forward as I go through these steps.  

One great thing is that when my site needs an update, I won't be floundering on which direction to go with it because I know which questions to ask myself.

Oh, and there was another advantage to this - it made me more creatively inventive.

Right after the update, I began to think of an image that I had shot earlier in the year.  It had always reminded me of the story of Dorian Gray.  

So I took that image and created a movie poster out of it - fun and creative!  Exactly why I got into this business!!

Model: Spencer Robertson.  Also click for a larger view and see who stars in the production.


So check out your touchpoints.  Methodically.  Patiently.  Let them wax over your mind for a while until you can use them best to your advantage and then execute.

What are some touchpoints that are bigger struggles to overcome?  Do you have some unique touchpoints?  Tell me about them and let's try to figure out how to make them work!

Later, 

Michael Carty





Michael Carty Email

You Lost Me With The Ramble

By tangentpath in business focus photography vision wisdom

Hey Peeps,

I ramble.

Yes, I do.

You know it and I know it.  I can't help it - sometimes.

Trying to get out all the information to each other, be it family, friends or clients is not always the best way to get your message across.

Something gets lost in the process, it's what's called:  their attention.

You lose their interest and eventually become a sound machine where nothing is retained in the mind of your audience.

Sure, some people need more than a simple, rounded message.  But if they need more info, they will tend to ask for it.

Otherwise, don't waste your breath and their time.

So next time you have an idea for a promotion, or a meeting or whatever, take ALL your minutiae and condense it down into the blocks of specific - yet simplified, messages that you are trying to get across.

Keep it Simple - Keep it Specific.

I think I've heard that somewhere before, and it's a good idea to remember it from time to time.

Cheers,

Michael Carty





Michael Carty Website
Michael Carty Email

NO I DON'T: Getting Things Done By Not Doing What Doesn't

By tangentpath in business photography wisdom work

Hey Peeps,

I hate wasting time.  You do too.  

I won't even ask - it's pretty much a given.

If you're going to say,"Hey Mike, I love wasting time."  Well you're an idiot and we should devour your lifeforce to distribute amongst the rest of us.

Moving away from the darkside now.

I know you find that when working on something important, work, play, crosswords, nuclear reactor in your basement, etc, other things tend to come up.

Distractions and interruptions.

Your spouse, kids, favorite TV show, best friend, mother, in-laws, siblings, boss, employees - I could do this all day.

But what about the least obvious and yet most insidious things of all?

The thing you are trying to work on.

I'm as serious as a heart attack here, but let me state that this is mostly found during work.

We all try to get as much going on as we can being business owners - and if you are an independently, starving photographer, well you are a business owner believe it or not.

This overwhelms and most times burns us out.

Which sucks.

If we are done in, we can't work.  Which is what this is all about right?

So what should you not do?

Let's answer that with a story:

I had a call from my mother yesterday to donate something in a silent auction for a community group she is a part of.

She wanted a few photos, but what does that get me?  Nothing.  No new clients, no income, nada.

Someone would bid and win the images and put them somewhere on a wall or in a basement or give them as gifts to someone else who would put them on a wall or in a basement, etc, etc, etc

So I decided to give away a portrait sitting instead.

This gives the winning bidder incentive to come into my studio, meet me, discus photo options, print sales, CD/DVD purchases, creating a walking, talking billboard telling their friends about my business while still making me money.

Good idea right?

When I started to explain some of the in's-and-out's of connecting and product ordering with her, she found some things restrictive to more elderly and/or less web educated clients,"You have to cater to everybody right?"

My flat out response,"No, I don't."

That's the thing, I don't want to cater to everyone.

I don't want to treat every person like they are my ideal client.

I want to treat my ideal client as my ideal client.

I don't - and you don't - need to make everyone on the planet a paying client.  That would be insane.  But if you focus on your ideal client, and what they are about, you can make all of your clients your ideal client.

So no, I will not have a million ways of contacting me(email, phone, carrier pigeon, locomotive, etc), instead I have the ones that serve me and my ideal clients.  

Just like I will not have a million different products to sell my clients - how could you keep them all in your head and still come across with the confidence of knowing what you are talking about?

I find my ideal client, I learn what they are about - everything.  I cater to that.  Everything else that I do is for  my own creative expression.  

And everything after that is garbage.

I won't do it.

It is a waste of time, energy and happiness that could better be used on things that matter.

What do you do "for" your business that is actually taking away from your forward motion?

Tell me and I will let my favorite story-teller guest post on this blog!

Cheers!

Michael Carty





Michael Carty Email

You Peaked In High School

By tangentpath in business peak photography push struggle succeed vision work

Hey Peeps,

You've probably heard this phrase before.  On TV, in the movies or maybe in real live either being said(hopefully not to you) or saying it yourself to someone else.

The thing is a lot of people "peak" in high school, or college or in their first few years in the working world.  The problem is that they tend to sink into this depressing and utterly black void of mediocrity and complacency from which they usually never return.

They complain about their current situations; the boss on their back; the screaming kids; the complaining spouse; the home that has a million things that need getting done but there's never any time - you know, life.

I'm not going to tell you how to time manage your household chores.

Or how to better kiss your bosses ass.

Or how to muzzle your children.

Or even how to appease your spouse(you SHOULD know how to do most of these things).

I'm going to tell you that like most things in life there are peaks and troughs.  Unbeknownst to most, the power to control this wave ride is mostly up to you.  The key is to try and strive to peak at least once a day.

Let me tell you, I have had my share of troughs - years of them.  

There was a good chance I wouldn't have came back from them either.

But through a slow and steady progression I fight my way back(yes I am still fighting) to my "peak-i-ness"(trademarked), in work, at home and within myself.

No matter what shit happens in your day, you always have the ability to peak again and again.  I peak in my work after a great shoot with the fantastic images I capture.  I peak with my son when I take a break to play outside on our lawn.  I peak in my marriage when I drop the little guy off with grandma and take my wife on a shopping trip.

Sure these don't sound like the peaks that I had in high school.

But I'm not in high school anymore.  Are you?

The difference is that my peaks are higher than I ever could have imagined and they will last me a lifetime of memories.

So fuck peaking in high school - that's for losers, posers, haters and assholes.

PEAK EVERY DAY.

Put that in your mantra and say it.

What do you do to peak?  Have you peaked today?  What are your future peaks?

Cheers,

Michael Carty





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