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My Non-Sales Program - How and Why I Developed It!
10-17-2012H by Walter Paul Bebirian
10-17-2012H by Walter Paul Bebirian

Back in 1976 when I began my photography business I obtained a few assignments by meeting different people at their job assignments and letting them know by handing them my business card at the time that I was a photographer and that I could help them with any needs that they might have for photography


After a while I realized that I was running out of people to simply meet at their retail assigments and that I might have to begin a more regimented and focused sales program - and I did pursue a course of introducing my work over a period of time to one person at an advertising agency who was president at the time to the Art Directors Association - who in turn introduced me to 3 past Presidents of the Art Directors Assiciation and of those 3 one went ahead and gave me a list of some 20 or so Art Directors at different Advertising Agencies to contact and show my work to - from this endeavor I learned a lot and I utilized that experience to shape my program from that point on until today - 


One interesting point that I learned was that there would be any number of perceptions or viewpoints of the same work that I was showing in the exact same portfo;io depending on who I was showing it to - so from my perspective it became clear to me that it really did not matter what the feedback was that i was getting - what really mattered was how I felt about the work that I was showing for from that feeling I would gain my own personal confidence which I would benefit me as I proceded to show my work to other people or to represent and tell other people as I went along on this adventure - 


It also became evident to me that many of the people that I was contacted already were working with photographers - most of whom were tops in the field and were very famous because of that and that lent itself to the Art Directors paying top dollar for these photographers' work whether they were any better than mine or not - simply because whether the clients were successful or not with the campaign that was being run the Art Directors could simply point to the photographers and claim that - well they has hired the best and that therefore at least that element of the program was not to be questioned - 


I also saw that for me this process of selling my own work would be pretty much in a sense a great deal of wasted time - calling up - making appointments and then taking up the Art Directors time while they I am sure had tons of work to do in order to justify their high salaries at the agencies that they were working for - not to mention the time out of my own life that this process was consuming - and the fact that the Art Directors were mostly already utilizing the services of photographers that they knew already my getting an assignment form any one of them - if they indeed were intrested in the work that I had shown them - depended on someone else not being able to do an assignment or perhaps a chance overload of work from an influx of lot's of work to the Advertising Agency - 


Also, during this time period I had scheduled meetings with individuals who had wanted to see me about various small jobs whehter it was for a headshot for acting or a wedding or photographs for a model's portfolio, and always these meetings took up so much time and very often there was a non show situation that I had to deal with as well - 


Eventually the frustraton of not having enough work to do and realizing that I was not making much progress in letting a lot of people know about my services got to me and I began to think of a way to be a little more productive and let people know what I did and perhaps what I could do for them - so I began experimenting with giving out different business cards - first a plain white card with my basic information but then a longer 3"X5" card with a list of the different types of photography that I could offer services for so that they had some of their questions answered before they decided to call me - 


But all along it was one of my dreams to have a card with an image on it - a full color photograph illustrating the work that I could do in order to answer many people's questions the moment they had seen it - what did my work look like - Of course the biggest challenge was what image to use and I had struggled with thinking about this for a very very long time - I loved photographing colorful things like flowers and blooming trees and some street scenes in New York City but I was just not sure if any of the images that I could think of would be appropriate or would be the correct image to show to people to get the different types of work that I was interested in getting - 


Finally, after speaking with many many many salespeople in different fields and repeatedly hearing the answer to my questions which was how do you sell and what is the best way to become a good salesperson and what advice can you give me and any other thing that I could possibly think to ask them and hearing a same repeated answer to all of these questions it struck me - what I was hearing over and over and over again was - you sell yourself - OK so I took that leterally and set out with a roll of film to create a "Self Portrait" which I would then use as the phtograph on my new business card.


But then there was the delivery system - I had experienced calling and making appointments and seeing people and pretty much not getting instant results and the odds were very low that any of the people who I was contacting or who I would contact in the future would need a photographer for anything in the immediate future if at all so I kept on thinking at the same time that the thousands of people that were passing me by every day in the streets of Manhattan - that perhaps some of them might need some service that I had and that I was missing the opportunities that were right there in front of me if I did not simply give these people my business card and let them decide when and if they were interested in my doing work for them - 


And so I developed my "Doubling Project" whcih began in 1992 with the creation of the "Self Portrait" and have been working on that project ever since - which means that till now I have given out over 3.2 million of the business cards with that "Self Portrait" on it.


Still during this time, however, I had assets that were not being utilized, yes I was getting assignment work and plenty of it and I was growing in the number of people who knew about my services and who were hiring me to do different jobs but all along I was photographing as well as drawing different subjects works that I did for myself and that were what I considered my artistic photography as well as my art - and many of those pieces I had sold originals of and would never see them again - but then along came the digital world and eventually a site called Imagekind where it was simply a matter of uploading the file of the images that I created - no matter what shapes and colors that they were comprised of and I began in December 2006 uploading images to this site and have continued on so that now I have over 165,000 images in what I now call "The Bebirian Art Collection" where viewers can choose an image - choose the paper type or canvas that they would like to see that image printed on and then choose the size that they would like this image to hang on thier wall in their own home and simply order a print or canvas for themselves with the click of the mouse right from their own homes - 


Now of course my focus of work has become directed towards creating more and more images and I continue to do this every day and night and the marketing or sales force that I have is the millions of cards that I have handed out so I continue to hand out these cards with an image icon for "The Bebirian Art Collection" which was created from the original "Self Portrait" that so many people had already seen and received for their very own in the form of the original business cards.


So now, I continue on with my "Doubling Project" by handing out my new business cards with the icon for "The Bebirian Art Collection" on it and work towards my next project that has already begun but is still in its infancy stage so far!


But the point of this story that I have told you here is that I have created a way of letting people know about my services that I offer as well as the art that they can view and purchase prints and canvases of by making my business cards my sales force instead of me or anyone else personally having to expend any energy and time knocking on people's doors and calling people who are not interested in whatever it is that I have to offer - but instead I am giving them the opportunity to contact me or view the art whenever it is in their best interest and when they are ready to do so!!!!


This I believe is way beyond what is known as "Permission Marketing" which is pretty much the format that most sales and marketing programs are working on at present and simply gives the individual the opportunity to take the initiative with any of the offers that I have for them - if and when they are ready to do so!!!


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