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I’ve begun to think of creative business owners as the world’s most reluctant group of superheroes. Imagine:  You’re a superhero.  Cape and all.  And you see a building on fire.  What do you do? 1) Stand on the sidelines, scuff your superhero boots, and say quietly: “I know how to save the day.  Do you […]

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  • Charlotte Reeves - The beauty of the advice you give is in the simplicity, Jenika! It all seems so obvious when you lay it out like this. I’m taking this fantastic advice and running with it, thanks so much!ReplyCancel

  • Alexandre - I’ve always admired your writing style and to-the-point content but sometimes you manage to post nuggets like this one that are pure gold. And I don’t like shiny stuff…ReplyCancel

  • Patty - Thank you for the insite. Great post!ReplyCancel

  • Samantha - This is so true. Thank you for sharing! Will keep this in mind at my next client meeting!ReplyCancel

  • Maureen A Vaccaro - great writing and topicsReplyCancel

  • Spencer Lum - As always, spot on advice, Jenika, and so well put!ReplyCancel

  • Dawn - “But if you speak to their concern – I know you’re worried about the way you’ll look. Lots of people have this worry, including the people you see in my portfolio here – suddenly the chances of their exact desired outcome coming true feels a lot more certain.”

    I definitely need to work on this aspect of my writing.

    Brilliant, as always. Thanks, Jenika!ReplyCancel

  • Oli - I enjoy reading your blog Jenika, I’ve read this advice many times before from different marketing gurus, find your ideal client’s problem and show them you’ve got the solution, however as a baby photographer I don’t really believe I’m solving any problems, to me I see it you either want professional photos of your baby or you don’t. I don’t see me taking their photos as solving any of their problems. It’s more of a desire than a problem. Does that make sense?ReplyCancel

    • - There may not be a burning field at that time but with new burns you are creating a lasting visual memory of a moment in time that will never occur again. Perhaps in the future circumstances will change and that precious memory will become priceless. You can’t go back and take memorable images later. That is what you are safe guarding against future loss and regret.ReplyCancel

So yesterday I’m standing in the hallway, early morning, still in PJ’s, with the phone pressed to my ear. Enduring a lengthy automated menu while trying to make an appointment with a new doctor. “If you are a NEW patient and would like to schedule an appointment, press SIX.” I beep the “6” button. A […]

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  • Dawn - Words of wisdom, as always, Jenika!

    I read an article this week about keeping only the stuff that brings you joy, which was based on a book by Marie Condo, called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

    Your first point resonated with me, too, as I KNOW I always use too many words. Hard habit to break.ReplyCancel

  • Charlotte Reeves - Great article, Jenika! Lots of gems for everyday living as well as business in there.ReplyCancel

  • Leanda - Thank you! Great article xoxoReplyCancel

  • Lisa - Just finished reading this article tonight, and had trouble finding spot for my coffee cup! AND noted the book life changing magic of tidying up was mentioned. You wouldn’t believe it but I just bought this book today, just today and its in my handbag begging me to read it :-)ReplyCancel

  • - You are absolutely right about the content. I have reworked content over and over again as a test to see which has a higher conversion. Clients only want to read what is relevant to them not all the extra stuff that doesn’t apply to their particular session or package. Thanks for the post.ReplyCancel

  • Adrienne Maples - Your newsletter today sucked me in- just like magic! I followed your words like a rat in a maze, instantly convinced that I needed these ‘Irresistible Words”- I needed them NOW.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Woo-hoo! Thanks for leaving me this note, Adrienne! <3ReplyCancel

“Does dumping ice water over your head really do anything for ALS – or is it just narcissistic?” This critique of the Ice Bucket Challenge has been bouncing around in my mini-feed.  Probably yours, too. As far as I can see, this is actually two critiques rolled into one – 1) does taking the challenge […]

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  • Spencer Lum - Fantastic article, Jenika! I read the Slate article, as well, and I loved your analysis. Spot on.ReplyCancel

  • Camille - Loved the Harry Potter reference. ????ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Who doesn’t love a good Harry Potter reference? Hehe.ReplyCancel

  • Regina Marie - I love this explaination. I’ve been seeing everyone do the challenge, (as has nearly everyone), but actually getting to hear the psychology of WHY people are doing … that’s very cool. And I love there’s a name for it. (Other then “social proof”.)

    …Now, how to work out how to use this to my benefit.ReplyCancel

  • Christina Gressianu - I sent you an email before I realized I should have just commented here… Fantastic article! Thank you so much!!ReplyCancel

  • Sophie Callahan - What a truly fascinating post!! Personally I’m absolutely dreading being nominated and have avoided it as much as possible, lol, but only because I hate being on camera (ironically!!!) But this is certainly an incredibly helpful little tidbit and I guess explains clearly why tagging your clients on Facebook helps photography businesses virtually self perpetuate.ReplyCancel

  • Justine - Such a great article and I love that you gave examples at the end! Wonderful!ReplyCancel

  • Victoria Hershman - Lockhart… hahahahaha… I adore that man.

    I just wanted to say I just tried this with my four year old at dinner. I told him that mommy was going to finish her plate all gone. Was he going to finish his? He popped up and immediately said, “You and me together?? Yes!!”

    He did at least eat his chicken. Still working on the sweet potatoes. I love little tidbits of information that can not only help with my business but also my mom life. 😉ReplyCancel

  • Charlotte Reeves - Seeing this ice bucket challenge constantly for the last few weeks has been doing my head in! But reading this blog article really helps give some perspective. Amazing what understanding human nature is capable of achieving. Thanks Jenika!ReplyCancel

  • Wayfaring Wanderer - Awesome insight! I really appreciate the examples to show how this can be applied to businesses!

    Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Robyn - Loved this post! Makes so much sense, and really great advice on how to apply this into business life! Thanks, Jenika!ReplyCancel

  • Lisa Jacobs - Brilliant read. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Victoria - You are brilliant, Jenika! Cannot wait for the juicy emails!!ReplyCancel

  • Rana - LOVE this post! I could read it 10 times over. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Mathew Donovan - I actually wasn’t sure how to look at the entire ALS thing, and it seemed to have passed me without any challenge to myself, but I was caught between wondering WHY it worked so well in the first place, and why people were thinking that dumping water on themselves and behaving much like sheep following the herd was a big deal anyway… this lines it out in ways I can really understand. I simply made a donation to the ALS foundation of my choosing, quietly and without any fanfare. This blog is great by the way, I’m going to share this post with friends who have been debating this topic with me for WEEKS now.ReplyCancel

  • JoanieB - Well your “Call To Action” really works …… Here I am answering the call. I enjoyed your blog and thought that it was well thought out and structured in a way that everyone got the idea about how infectious joining in with the crowd can actually be. Think about all the times you didn’t really want a product ……until everyone else wanted it and stocks were flying off the shelf. ” must get it now whilst stocks last”. Hmmmmmm Great article and I enjoyed reading it thanks :-)ReplyCancel

  • Tracy Karkut-Law - Just found you by accident – read two articles already. Off to read another one!ReplyCancel

  • Mark Thackeray - Excellent article and insight! And the applications to photography are very powerful as well. That is precisely what happens when you tell your prospective clients something like, “most clients end up spending $$$..” You stated it brilliantly, and with much better vocabulary than I could have :)ReplyCancel

  • Kurt - Thank you for this refreshing view on the ice bucket mania.
    After reading your article i will have to reconsider my initial opinion on this.
    Thanks again. I love your site.

  • Jordan Baker - Really great piece, I never thought of it in that why until i read this article, ThanksReplyCancel

  • Anthony - Very well-put explanation of a trend I thought would decimate the world’s reserve of ice-water.ReplyCancel

  • Heather @ Epic Photo Lab - Great points! And my next door neighbor DID do the ice bucket challenge :)ReplyCancel

  • Atlanta Photographer - I think if anything it taught us how awareness is the key. If it’s not in the public eye or mind then people tend to forget about things. I only hope that it continues and people don’t move on to the next cause and forget about the effects ALS has on people and their families.ReplyCancel

  • Produktfotografering - The icebucket challange have even spred to Sweden! Keep up the good work!ReplyCancel

  • Sandals - Great Examples at the end, i thoroughly enjoyed this read!ReplyCancel

  • Rayvin - this is amazingReplyCancel

  • Trent - It’s totally possible if not easy to explain virality post factum.
    Now let’s try to replicate it :)ReplyCancel

  • Lu - I love how you’re deconstructing the psychology behind these memes, but if I may inject a couple of thoughts:

    In your “48 hour sale! Only 20 spots available!” example, you’re using both a time limit and the seat limit, but assuming that it’s the seat limit that is making people act. Second, you’re assuming the seat limit is working by making people think other people are doing it so they should, too.

    That’s not the way I think of it. If I see a time limit or the seat count going down, I’m thinking I have less and less time to act before I miss the opportunity. I actually don’t care if other people are buying or not. The question is, how much do I want it, and will this be the only chance to get it (at this discount, for example).

    With the book countdown on Amazon, it doesn’t make me want to buy the book if there are only 2 copies left. I don’t care if a million people have bought the book and gave it 5 stars. That doesn’t mean anything to me. I also know that Amazon is going to restock the book once it’s out, so there’s really no urgency.

    On the other hand, at a book site like, the countdown really means I have to seriously consider how badly I want the book because once it’s out of stock, it may never be available there again.

    My second thought is, are you actually labelling your most popular item on your menu, or are you “influencing” it to be your most popular item by labelling it such first? Chicken or egg? What if the most popular item is really the 8×12? What if you don’t want to sell more 8x12s?

    Frankly, when I see things labelled this way (“««most popular!”), I don’t think those are truth statements but marketing statements intended to get me to buy what they want me to buy. To convince me what are actually the most popular items sold, you’d have to show me a bar chart showing the number of each item that was bought by customers in the past 5 years. And even then, I might dispute the authenticity of the data source (does the data automatically update every time there’s a sale? does it update when I make a purchase?).

    And no, there was no earthly way I was pouring a bucket of ice on my head just because a lot of other people were doing it online. Truthfully, the mere fact that so many people were doing it and posting videos of it was the main dissuading factor. The other main dissuading factor was there was no reason to do the ice bucket if you were willing to write a cheque and I was willing to write a cheque.

    So, third thought: what about people like me who run the other way when we see a trend coming? What about people who don’t want to do what everyone else is doing? Are these people just the off-radar people that marketing doesn’t work on? What if my clientele are just these people?

    To be clear, I’m not disputing the science! I’m just wondering about edge cases and ethical issues.ReplyCancel

    • Jenika - Great questions Lu!

      1) With regard to the “I don’t care how many other people are doing it” – that’s true, but how many other people are doing it DOES influence your ability to buy it, no? Some people are influenced purely by the social proof of how popular it is – that is undeniable. But you’re right, there’s a second element here – is it my last chance to get it? Even then the number of other people acting still matters. Because if there are 20 spots available, but you see that there are 16, 9, 4, 3, 2….you see that hey, there are other people deciding right now so I need to decide faster. That time pressure is caused by what others are doing so the two are intertwined. If there are 20 spots open but no one is booking, you have longer to decide. If they are booking, you have less time. So it’s still socially-oriented.

      2) I think you and I are a lot alike – both inclined to like something less when everyone is doing it. 😉 I don’t advocate lying and saying the 16×24 is most popular if it’s actually the 8×12, but if that were the case you could say something that would be ethically accurate – like “best value” or “editor’s top pick” next to 16×24. The point is really that when people are confronted with a list of numbers (sizes and prices) and they are not experts, they’re going to look and see what others are doing (there are studies to back that up). If others tend to book x package because it really is the best and that’s what you recommend to everyone so they end up going with it, you can honestly save everyone time by saying “this one is the most popular” because it’s what people end up going with. If you want to sell something that isn’t currently being bought, you could pick another adjective which wouldn’t take advantage of social proof but would simply be an expertise cue, which others might use as an anchor point for their decision even if they don’t end up getting that exact thing.

      Hope that makes some sense! :-)ReplyCancel

  • Douglas White - This was an excellent article I think I will try that just to see what happens. Instead of sitting in a restaurant watching people we can send out a notice and see how people respond. Looking forward to reading more of articles. I found you through an article you were in, in Turning Pro magazine.ReplyCancel

“Well,” said Pooh, “what I like best,” and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called. – A.A. Milne […]

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  • Allison - This is so funny – IReplyCancel

  • Allison - Ahem – as I was saying, this is so funny. I literally just got home from dropping a dozen cake pops off at my Physical Therapist’s office, as a surprise thank you for putting up with me for 6 weeks this summer. The anticipation had been building for 3 weeks, while I planned out the best time to deliver them, what they should look like, how I would deliver them, and then actually delivering them and seeing their faces in the office when I arrived made it so worth the $20. Another on-point post, Jenika! :)ReplyCancel

  • Mark - So now I know why Alan Bean, Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 12 said – Is that it? Is that all there is? He trained for so long to get to walk on the moon. He had trained and simulated the journey for years leading up to the event that it almost didn’t live up to his expectations. It obviously effected him more deeply than he realized as later in life he became an artist and created beautiful works of art that were all space themed from his own experience.

    With that in mind, what is the opposite of that called? I’ve had experiences in life that while in the moment I didn’t realize how fondly I’d someday look back on it. Sometimes it’s a day, a week or years later before I realize it.

    I’m so glad I found you and your blog! Keep up the great work and inspiring lessons!ReplyCancel

Scene opens:  You’re at a beachfront lounge, waiting for a friend to arrive. (Play along with me for this one.  Your task:  To point your finger at the screen the moment you read something that would irritate you.  Simple.) You’re sitting at a table, enjoying the music.  Enter waiter. Waiter:  Would you care for a […]

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  • Monisha - Thank you for this eye-opening post! While I don’t do the things you have mentioned in the list of “actual pushy things”. I have sometimes said “I am marketing and pushing, but no one responds”. thanks for listing out potential reasons as to why there were no responses.
    I’m definitely going to go back to the marketing I did where no one responded and re-assess. Could be timing, my message was not clear, etc.


  • Julie - This is–you are–brilliant! I haven’t had the obvious thought about being pushy, but I definitely recognize that it’s in the back of my mind with my hesitations about marketing. Thank you so much for this much-needed realistic perspective!ReplyCancel

  • Matthew Donovan - First off, I’m signing up. You’ve hooked me in the first post I bothered to read. I seriously have never looked at it this way, so careful to consider what other people might think, or that they might be so offended instantly, or felt as though I was being pushy, yeah that word… I hear it all the time, people use it constantly. I never gave that much thought til I read this, and now I’m not so concerned, you’re RIGHT. People can close what they don’t want to see. Nobody has tied them to a chair and made them read, or listen. (Or maybe they have, but that’s neither here nor there) :)
    Point is, there’s so much more to be looked at, like the wording used, the tone, the ability to help someone find something they are already looking for. I can’t thank you enough for opening my eyes.ReplyCancel

  • Elisa - Thank you for a fascinating and informative post. Just shared it with my professional forum of over 600 people. Serendipitously, we were also talking about marketing.ReplyCancel

  • Alena Belleque (The Homemade Creative) - Darn, I missed the sign up! #sadpanda

    This post is GREAT – thank you, thank you, thank you. ? I’ve lived in this new little town on the other side of the country from where I grew up for almost four years now, and for the last six months I’ve tried to attract my first local photography clients, to no avail. I’ve watched friends go to other photographers, and bit back irritation (because they can go to whomever the heck they want, dang it), and just kept trying. I finally got my first family session in September, only to have her not like half the photos because of issues I told her would be a problem in the location she insisted on; I finally saw the last of her (I hope) last week, and it’s totally burned me out on this “job” for the moment. And being “pushy” is a thing for me, because I’m really good at selling people on things, but when it comes to my art I struggle with second guessing my worth as a commodity because I’m having such a hard time getting anyone to pay me to do it, and of course that’s then a vicious cycle, with no one wanting my flavor of photography making me feel anxious about my worth all over again. I think I’ve decided to just take a step back for a bit, work on perfecting some things, and then come back at it in the spring.ReplyCancel

  • Doug - Hi, I didn’t point to any of the waiters remarks but I am pretty relaxed and I usually just let people talk. I let them talk just like the folks that stop by and give me religious pamphlets. Besides it gives them the practice of communicating their message to others and not shutting them down can help boost their confidence to keep trying.ReplyCancel

  • Hark - Hi Jenika great post. I’ve been a lurker for quite a while and finally coming out :) You have a great blog with very helpful content. Thank you for being a valuable resource for new and veteran photographers.ReplyCancel