In Francis Ford Coppolla’s classic “The Godfather,” a war breaks out between the Corleone family and the other families because Don Corleone refuses to adopt “the future” of organized crime in narcotics. This future is proposed to him by an ambitious up and coming wannabe “don” called “The Turk.” It gets really ugly after that.
My post on Friday about David Jay’s “The Photo System” generated some excellent points and comments. One theme that came up quite a bit was the idea of the “newbies” being influenced by this new generation of photographers whose ways are conflicting to the more seasoned generation. Let’s call them the “young whipper snappers” vs. “the old timers.”
Steven Seymour made an excellent point in the comments Friday:
I don’t think much credit is being given to the newbies, the so-called “victims” of the system. There’s this assumption that they’re gullible, unable to filter out the stuff that doesn’t resonate. But that’s a patronizing position to take. I’m fairly sure if you asked them if they’re aware of alternative opinions and leaders in the industry, they’d say yes. And if you asked them why they are choosing to support this one, the System, it wouldn’t be because they want to get stinking rich really quickly – it’s simply because the quality, quantity and positiveness of the presentation is more persuasive than the alternatives.
I don’t think I could have said it better myself. So let’s look at this from the outside. On one side you have young, attractive, “hip” photographers driving nice cars, wearing nice clothes, speaking around the country and embracing the teachings of well-respected thought leaders like Seth Godin, Marcus Buckingham, Malcolm Gladwell and Spencer Johnson (author of “Who Moved My Cheese”). Their photography looks good to the masses. Right or wrong, they are the paragon of success and examples of the 21st century economy. Part of their message is that the “old way” of doing things is gone. The “grumpies” have it backwards and are complaining about the success of the new generation.
On the other side you have seasoned professionals who are feeding right into the stereotype the new generation is proclaiming. Complaining. Spewing vitriol and in some cases hatred (I’ll never forget someone last year calling Jesh de Rox “The Anti Christ.”)
Now, if I’m new to the business, who do you think I am going to be more drawn to?
You need a better strategy folks. You have many valid points and your passion is to be commended. But you need to approach this thing from a totally different angle.
Consider me your personal consigliere; an outside consultant who is coming in, looking at the condition of your marketing strategies, and offering my objective, level-headed, emotionally detached advice. If you were collectively one company or organization, this would be my advice to you. Take it or leave it.
My 10-Step System to “Combat” The Photo System
- Stop complaining.
- Identify key influencers on “your side” and encourage or partner with them to create the education you think will help. Make sure they have a level of success that is on par (or ideally surpassing) those whose “systems” you dislike. (The obvious choice here is my good buddy Zack Arias. I believe he’s already on the case.)
- Stop blogging about why you hate The System (ever-increasing its SEO rankings)
- Work with the influencers to develop something that is easy to understand, filled with good knowledge, and can be a funnel into other avenues of education that meets your criteria.
- Identify a technology partner who can create the platform upon which your new system will be built.
- Engage the services of a top-notch brand strategy firm to modernize your message and align it with a more contemporary way of doing things.
- Identify a distribution partner to help get the word out and administer your platform.
- Make video part of your strategy using personal and powerful profile films of key players.
- See Step #1
- Execute with kindness, compassion and professionalism
If you do this 10-step process, I guarantee you will see way more results than what you’re seeing now.
Oh, so what in the world does “The Godfather” have anything to do with this? Well, as Tom Hanks character Joe Fox tells us in the movie “You’ve Got Mail,” all great life lessons come from “The Godfather.” In your case, you have to “go to the mattresses.” Also take note of how the Corleone family won in the end:
- They embraced the leadership of someone in the “next generation” (Michael Corleone)
- While Michael didn’t embrace narcotics, he DID embrace new ways of doing the family business. He recognized that much of the old ways were indeed outdated.
- He made hard choices that needed to be made.
Just for the record, I am not encouraging violence. This is just a fun movie reference. Don’t get crazy. You would think I wouldn’t have to say this, but with this passionate crowd, you never know. ;)