An Interview with Ronan Ryle – 3XM
As a ‘Trade Supporter’ of RISE, I was very interested and excited to catch up with Ronan Ryle and find out exactly why, he and his company are so passionate about helping photographers achieve their goals…
RISE: As founder and CEO of 3XM based in Dublin, can you tell us more about how your company started?
Well in 2021 we will celebrate our 40th year in business, so we have seen many changes in our industry. To survive that long you need to innovate and change continually.
Photovalue limited was formed by my parents in 1981 and is the overall entity, and I joined the business in 1989. Today we have three brands Photovalue.com, 3XM and Business Success Academy.
Photovalue.com is the most prominent manufacturer and supplier of folders & mounts in Europe making and selling 13 million mats and mounts a year.
3XM was formed in 2013 and has pivoted a couple of times to be now known worldwide as the home of the Ultimate Folio Box.
In Dec 2019, we launched Business Success Academy to address the need of Small Business owners (including Photographers). We have started with helping our clients to create qualified sales leads using social media.
RISE: 3XM was initially formed to assist photographers in the ‘Shoot and Burn’ culture that clients wanted, but you do offer printed products too. What are your thoughts on digital images versus print?
Initially, 3XM was formed in partnership with our brand Wedding Album Boutique (no longer existing) to try and ensure all Photographers work ended up in print.
Many Wedding Photographers at this time were switching to a ‘digital image service’ rather than a full wedding album package service.
We wanted to ensure the consumer had a lasting memory in print, and we tried to create a win for both these image service Photographers & the consumer. While it seemed a great idea, it did not work in the end.
So while the overall mission has not changed of fulfilling the consumers’ requirement to enjoy the images created by professional photographers in both print and digital format while ensuring the Photographer can create a sustainable, profitable business doing so. How, and what we do to achieve this has evolved and changed based on the needs of both the Photographer & the consumer.
Today’s consumers of Millennials and Gen Z want both the tangible and the digital. We see this in Music, Literature and amateur Photography. Sales of hard-backed books, vinyl records and instant cameras are growing with these generations, but they also want Spotify, e-Readers and Phones with digital cameras.
As GEN Z grow older (oldest now 23/24 years old) then I believe for the vast majority of Photographers to succeed, they need to satisfy both needs.
RISE: We work in a very fast-paced industry, as a company, how do you keep on top of this?
It requires a lot of focus, determination, guts and research. We follow precisely the model I teach Photographers which is the 2-Page Business Success plan combined with my 3-D Circles of sustainable business success requirements. The 3D-Circles of sustainable business are Discovery, Decide & Do-It.
RISE: What do you feel photographers struggle with the most?
I can’t just answer this with one single thing, so I am going to give you three.
Firstly, the vast majority of Photographers are creatives and therefore, are right-brain dominated. As a result, they often struggle with the ‘Business Of Photography’. That is why we put massive effort and resources as a company into helping Photographers turn their passion for Photography into profit and in so doing help them create sustainable, profitable businesses.
Secondly, Many photographers don’t value the difference their work makes to society. The work of professional photographers every day contributes to a healthier community in mind, body and spirit.
Thirdly, Photographers are like all humans, sometimes we spend a lot of time learning new things, but we don’t implement them, i.e. We don’t ‘Do-It’. That is why I created the 2-Page Business Success Plan with Page 2 of the plan called the ‘Action Page’ to encourage them to ‘Do-It’.
RISE: You are so passionate about training photographers to become more profitable, and you frequently travel globally to deliver your message. Do you see the same reoccurring problems across continents and photographers?
Yes, every country, every colour, every language, the overall challenges are the same.
RISE: Social Media is here to stay. How do you think photographers can help themselves with this ever-growing online medium?
Social Media changes very rapidly. It is still only a teenager (Now 14 years since everyone in the world could sign up to Facebook) so it is constantly evolving can be challenging to keep up. What worked, five years, three years or even one year ago won’t work today.
That is why we created our first course on Business Success Academy on precisely just how to do this. To develop sales leads using social media, you MUST have a marketing funnel.
RISE: What do you find most fascinating about this wonderful world of Photography we are in?
The fact that many photographers don’t know the real difference the work they do as Photographers makes to the ongoing health of our society.
RISE: You have a Facebook group’ 3XM Insiders’ can you tell us more about this?
3XM insiders are one of our initiatives to help Photographers turn their passion for Photography into more profit. Three hundred sixty-five days of the year, my team and I publish a daily short-tip across the fields of business, personal development or marketing. It is also a fantastic community of like-minded Photographers, so if a photographer has a question on the business of Photography, they can ask it in the group.
RISE: Can you tell us about ‘WAYS-TO-GO’ and your 2-Page Business Success Plan?
WAYS-TO-GO is a business training program I developed out to help photographers with the business side of things. Many Photographers who have completed it have told me it had changed their lives.
Others have described it as a mini MBA, and I am sure others who haven’t yet delved in think this can’t be any good because it is provided for FREE. However, the reason why it is FREE is that my company sponsors it. You don’t even have to be a client of our company to participate. Our overall mission is to help as many photographers as we can turn their passion for Photography into more profit whether or not you are a client. We also know by Photographers creating successful businesses results in more consumers enjoying their memories in print which results in a healthier society in mind, body and spirit.
RISE: Tell us more about your four-day event in Ireland’ The Future of Photography’.
Future of Photography started five years ago to brainstorm with Photography leaders in the industry to try to predict where the industry might be going in the future and what we as an industry might need to adapt, survive and prosper. Many Photographers were blindsided first by digital and then the changing consumer habits we have already talked about.
Many of our clients then asked how can we get to this event too. So we re-designed it for 2020 to allow all our clients to come also. While we charge a fee to attend, we look after all expenses (excluding flights), i.e. Accommodation, food, drink, activities, training, excursions etc.
Our clients can also use their 3XM Reward points to pay in full if they have enough of them or use whatever 3XM Reward-points they have to reduce the costs. This year’s event we are hosting in Kilronan Castle (I hope no one follows through on the name of the Castle though Lol).
RISE: Having your finger on the pulse, where do you see the photographic industry heading?
The industry has evolved over the last few decades from requiring the core skills of a scientist to those of an ‘Artist who knows business’.
The Photographer who knows and practises their business in a way that their ideal clients’ experience is at the core of their focus and realises the Photography is the end result of this process will live long and prosper (to borrow a line from Star Treks Spock).
RISE: What is the one piece of advice above all others, that you can share with us all?
1. Discover your Why,
2. Decide on a Plan with your Ideal Client at the core of it,
3. and Do-It or to borrow from Nike, ‘Just Do-It’.
Don’t forget as a member of RISE to check out Ronan’s video on goal setting and the assisting download
For more information on 3XM and what they offer photographers check them out…