Starting my life as an entrepreneur... at Utsav exhibition, 2014
So being the typical artist who dreads the marketing part and loves photographing part of business, it was eating me up that i am not getting as many clients in. I had a lot of marketing ideas and none of them really pulled me in. So i just googled for trade shows/exhibitions in Pune and got this entire list of upcoming exhibitions. I clicked on the first link and posted a general enquiry to know how much it costs to put up a stall. The event organizer for Utsav exhibition calls me and gives me the details and the next thing i know is i end up paying the advance without giving myself the space to think if i should do it. If i would have analyzed i would have definitely talked myself out of it.
Now that "to do" or "not to do" was out of question, i had to arrange for the money needed for the entire thing. (Yeah i know!) I had no clue what to expect out of the exhibition. The exhibition in Pune had an estimated footfall of 2 lakhs in the entire 11 days. All i knew was this was the way i could meet the end consumer directly and show people i exist on a big platform. The primary reason i needed to do this because my self doubt kept saying i couldn't. Fears, self doubts roaming in my head needed to rest in peace now.
The Branding stage: Even though it was going to be a 6ft x 9 ft stall, i wanted it to be the best looking space that stop people in their tracks and look. I wanted it to be a space people wanted to be in. So i focused my energies on the branding.
I printed over a 1000 cards and brochures for people to take away.
I covered the stall with black satin and filled it with huge prints on the shelves.
I put some lilies and carnations in vases so that it smelled and looked good. I put all my products i offer on display. My portfolio box of portraits, magazines, before and afters and also my promo videos, behind the scenes of the shoot and slideshows were looping on the television.
Even the name on the top of the stall, i did not want it to be the default naming with the white background. So i pasted a flex with my logo for the top banner.
Got a standee made and placed it at the entrance. Many people saw the standee and came searching for the stall so it was totally worth it.
The Introduction/Client education stage:
Now that involves a lot of talking :D I have never spoken to so many people and so much in a single day ever! I had some really meaningful conversations with so many people. I got to tell them about why i do, what i do. I could understand different requirements of people. I could study some really honest reactions from people too through their micro expressions. Some people were vaguely ignorant and rude but so many were so nice and appreciated the work. After a while you stop taking people so seriously. You just learn to move on quickly if the interaction is not so pleasant.
The Learning stage: I have been an artist and an employee before but this was the first time i felt like an entrepreneur. The exhibition showed me the spirit of entrepreneurship. I was never exposed to watching how hard people work to setup and run their businesses. I had a huge sofa stall in front of me and watching them sell their sofas all day, the technique, the hardwork, pitching to people without any fear of rejection. People coming from different cities to sell their products may it be clothes, jewellery or expensive artifacts. People manufacturing beautiful clocks with their own original designs and artistry, lamps, huge brass statues. Here a 11 day exhibition was so physically demanding for me, i was stumped when i heard some businesses do 100 exhibitions a year. It was like a bootcamp for me in pitching, marketing, market research, sales and getting real bookings.
The Booking stage: Even though everything looked good and people loved the concept of my business, the first 5 days i had no bookings. That is because i did not push anyone to book. I did not even ask people if they wanted to book now. Even if the product is good enough, a little pushing is still required for making the client take the plunge since portraits are a luxury, not a need. You see all kinds of awesome stuff in the market, it does not mean you buy everything. I let them go when they said they will think and get back, discuss with wife, mother, sister, friend, etc. They never get back - Lesson learnt! When they are physically present at the stall, things are in your control. Ofcourse i don't mean followups don't work, they do but you can make the most impact when they are physically in front of you. So yes by end of day 11 i made a total of 12 bookings which are spread across till the end of this year. Plus i have a nice email list i can stay in touch with and share my updates with.
Weekdays when the flow of the crowd was less, it was boring to sit there. It needed a lot of patience to be sitting at 1 place and doing something that is not so much in your original nature to do. I kept asking myself why am i doing this?! When people are not so pleasant, the entire effort feels pretty stupid. People have enough things to crib about, be sad about and I just want to spread some goodness in the world. Although i knew it was necessary i had to keep reminding myself of the bigger picture here.
My mission is to create Beautiful portraits of people especially women, I want every woman in my city/country/wherever to have their stunning portraits hung in their homes. I want people to exist in photographs for their loved ones. I want homes to have these huge family walls filled with portraits of people that live in them. I want them to be a reminder of love, beauty and happiness for years to come. It gives me joy every time i show somebody how beautiful they are through my pictures. And every time i dread doing something that i don't enjoy, I just need to remind myself of my mission occasionally and i get back to work ;)
Did you read -
- How to make sure you hire the best photographer for yourself or for your important day?
- 12 steps to Germinating the Seed of a Creative Idea! ..with a few beautiful faces i photographed in these few months.
- The real Freedom!
- Nam's photoshoot - Behind the scenes!