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5 Ideas to Increase Post-Holiday Sales in January

5 Ideas to Increase Post-Holiday Sales in January

The holidays have come and gone and the calendar has turned to a new year — and with it, the holiday shopping season has dissipated. For many businesses, January is a month of slow sales. Consumers overspent during the holidays and aren’t as actively shopping. But businesses shouldn’t just cross their fingers and ride out the slow season. Here are five ideas to increase post-holiday sales in January.

Encourage gift card spending (and exchanges).

After the holidays, consumers may have several gift cards to spend. Encourage them to spend during the slow season with sales and social media campaigns. Consider post-holiday needs and run a special focused on that. For example, print shops can offer discounted album for customers to print of their images from the Christmas-New Years season.

For retailers, January is often the biggest time for returns and exchanges. Push for the latter with specials, well-placed product displays, and excellent customer service.

Launch a unique marketing campaign.

Combat slow sales with a January marketing campaign. Brainstorm ideas for an unusual sale, new product, or social media campaign. If you’ve always wanted to try a video campaign on social media, for example, now is the time to try.

Businesses can also begin focusing on the next holiday. Photographers, for example, can run specials ahead of Easter or Mother’s Day.

Host an event or contest.

In the slowdown after the holiday, why not create your own reason to get customers in the store? A contest or event is often a great way to boost a business during a slow down. Host an event to battle the winter blues. Run a giveaway on social media. Encourage customers to come into the store with in-person contest entries.

Reach out to holiday shoppers.

If you’ve been collecting emails and information from holiday shoppers, now is a good time to use it. Follow up with holiday shoppers and reach out with an exclusive offer, just for previous customers. Word the email like a friend, not a business — ask about their holidays before launching into any sales materials. Be sure to keep emails short and infrequent — no one likes junk mail.

Focus on ways to improve while shopping is slow.

Sometimes, a slow down is exactly what a business needs. If that’s you, instead of focusing on reversing the slow down, take the time to take a breather, and work on business tasks that can’t be tackled during the busy season. Update your website. Plan social media posts ahead of time.  Improve the appearance of your store. Invest in new tools to help your business run smoothly. Take the time to service equipment, like printers and computers.

The holidays may be over, but the work never stops for small businesses. To fight the slow season, try new ways to bring customers in like encouraging gift card spending, launching a campaign, hosting an event, reaching out to previous shoppers, or simply focusing on improvements that can’t be mastered during the busy season.

Contact the Photo Direct team on (03) 9894 1644 and use our expertise to build your business for 2019 and beyond.

5 Ways Small Business Can Prevent Dangerous Cyber Attacks

5 Ways Small Business Can Prevent Dangerous Cyber Attacks

Small businesses are increasingly encouraged to step up digital efforts — and for good reason. But while investing in a digital reach and digital tools can boost your bottom line, it can also make your business vulnerable to cyber attacks. Big businesses aren’t the only ones attracting hackers — and small businesses with smaller budgets for cybersecurity can be more vulnerable. A recent report suggests that cyber attacks against small businesses are on the rise.

So what can small businesses do to protect their companies and customers from hacks? Here are five things small business owners can do to prevent cyber attacks.

Download a good antivirus software on all computers and mobile devices.

Protecting your small business starts by making it not worth the extra effort for hackers to get in, under any guise. Make sure your office devices use an antivirus software. Look for a software that helps protect against viruses, ransomware and malware. Anti-virus is a small investment that can help protect your company from expensive cyber threats in the future.

Don’t forget to protect your mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, with antivirus apps designed for your device. And before investing in any smart device that’s connected to the internet, consider if the smart convenience is really worth it and make sure the device has security measures in place as well.

Use a firewall to prevent data theft.

Firewalls limit the ways in which your internet connection can send data — which also helps keep data more secure against hacks. Firewalls can be software or a device that you install on your internet line — and for the most protection, small businesses can use both. Hiring a professional to set up the firewall is often the best route.

Use two-factor authentication and be wary of any email links.

Phishing schemes aren’t always targeted to individuals — because why get into an individual’s bank account when you can get into a businesses? To avoid phishing, use caution whenever clicking on a link in your inbox. Phishing attempts look like they are coming from a legitimate company but instead send you to a site where you unintentionally give away your data. Always check the full sender address before clicking on a link. Anytime you need to type in sensitive information, go directly to the url yourself instead of using an email link.

Keep customer data encrypted and use an SSL security certificate.

Online stores save data like payment information for later — and hackers might target that information instead of yours. Make sure you use software that encrypts any customer data — check your current software to ensure that customer data is encrypted.

An SSL security certificate is also a must for any small business completing transactions online. An SSL is an extra layer of protection that protects credit card information — and many web browsers will now warn customers if they are trying to buy something from a website that doesn’t have a valid SSL. Besides protecting customer data, using an SSL will help customers feel more confident when buying from you online.

Make a cybersecurity plan for your entire small business.

Chances are, your small business isn’t just you. Make a plan so employees know the best practices for keeping data safe. For example, this plan should tell employees to install software updates every so often, since updates often include patches to correct vulnerabilities. Your plan can also include a guideline on changing passwords often and whether employees are allowed to use flash drives or connect to a personal social or chat network.

What’s Next? 5 Key Retail Trends Experts Predict for 2019

What’s Next? 5 Key Retail Trends Experts Predict for 2019

As the calendar begins to approach the end of 2018, business are already looking to the next year — and the trends that come along with it. Analysing retail trends can help small businesses identify where to grow next to keep up with what customers are looking for. So what retail trends are experts predicting for the next year? Here are a few trends for small businesses to keep in mind.

Artificial intelligence is growing.

More and more, artificial intelligence is changing the face of technology. But retailers could see shifts too because of this technology trend. Today, shoppers can ask Alexa to order them something — that’s a prime example of artificial intelligence working inside retail. Small businesses probably can’t afford to develop their own digital assistant, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the trend. AI software can help streamline your tasks and save time, or help customers save time. Watch out for AI trends that could help in both, like Messenger bots for answering commonly asked questions or smarter software for helping customers design photo albums.

Shopping isn’t just one channel any more.

Today, more customers are looking at multiple channels before digging out their wallet (or digital payment). Retailers with more than one way to buy will likely be rewarded. Besides a brick and mortar store and website, consider selling on social media outlets, in apps or with third-party companies. While there are more ways to buy than ever, the traditional isn’t going anywhere — statistics predict 45 percent of consumers prefer the physical stores anyway.

Think personal and custom.

Shoppers have always loved a bit of personalisation — remember how easy it was to find your name on a pencil or a key chain in the 80s and 90s? But what’s changed is the technology that makes personalisation easier to do. From including a first name in those marketing emails to creating custom photography packages, brainstorm ways that your business can offer a custom experience. Personalising ads by reaching out to target groups is also a good idea — if you also respect user privacy.

Recommendations are still essential — and easier than ever.

Word of mouth isn’t going anywhere, but it’s becoming word of fingers — those written reviews play a big role in business today. While online reviews have been around for awhile, experts predict increasing importance on recommendations, in whatever form. Make it easy for customers to leave a review by adding a review tool to your website. Encourage reviews on your social media page. If you don’t have one already, claim your business on review sites like Yelp and Google’s listings.

Focus on mobile reach.

Online shopping has been around for some time, but mobile shopping is getting its time in the sun. Statistics show a growing number of consumers are shopping on a smartphone, not a desktop computer. Start by making sure your website is responsive, looking good both on desktop and mobile. Consider outlets that are easy to access from mobile — like selling through social media. Make sure your online ordering system is just as easy to use on a smartphone.

5 Ways to Build Your Social Media Following

5 Ways to Build Your Social Media Following

Social media can be a great tool for small businesses — but once you get started, that follower count seems to creep up rather slow. Building a social media following is even more essential ahead of busy seasons, like the upcoming holidays. But you don’t need to wait years before you actually have a significant follower count, with a few tricks, you can accelerate your social media presence. Here are five ways small business owners such as print shops and photographers can increase their social media following.

Share fun, informative content.

First things first, no one is going to follow you if all your posts are marketing. Create content worth following — that means something that’s fun or informative. Create funny memes centered on topics related to your business. Share links to helpful articles. Craft tips that are helpful for your target audience. For example, wedding photographers can share wedding planning tips. The more worthwhile your content is, the easier growing your follower count will be.

Run a contest.

Shares can drastically increase your reach and the number of followers. Creating a contest is an easy way to encourage shares and new followers. Give away something related to your business — like a product or gift card for a service. In the contest, require entrants to like your page and share the contest post. Those actions will help boost your follower count and help new people to see that contest. Online contest tools can help make contest planning a bit easier.

Create an exclusive coupon for followers.

Another way to encourage followers is to share exclusive offers on your social media page. That gives customers a very good reason to follow your page in order to see and use those discounts. Think of email coupons, but on social media. Facebook, for example has an option for businesses to create an offer. This creates in-store or online coupons for customers to use.

Make it a two-way conversation.

Too often, small business social media pages are all talk. One of the best ways to increase followers is to engage with them. Besides just creating posts, comment on other posts, and share posts from other users. When followers comment on your posts, be sure to respond or like the comment. Social media is about being social, not a one-way conversation.

Try boosting posts.

Social media advertising can often reach hundreds of people just for a five dollar bill. Experiment with boosting posts and targeting your business’ audience. On Facebook, for example, a wedding photographer can advertise only to couples that list engaged under relationship status. Try boosting images or video, offers or helpful links.

Social media followers climb slowly at first — but once you start sharing the right kind of content and interacting with other users, those numbers grow quickly. Always share worthwhile content that’s fun or informative more than you share content that’s strictly marketing. Try contests, coupons, conversations and paid social media ads.

Print Marketing Materials To Increase Your Sales

Print Marketing Materials To Increase Your Sales

Digital content today is a must — but as many businesses begin ignoring print, the effectiveness of print marketing is actually increasing. With digital content, you have one chance — a headline — to capture attention. But with print marketing, you have much more space and the possibility of using a colourful design and photographs to capture that potential customer’s attention. Print gives your audience something physical to hold attention much longer than the few seconds it takes to read an email. Here are some print marketing opportunities that you may be missing out on.

Business Cards

Word-of-mouth marketing isn’t going anywhere — but boring white business cards are. Today, it’s easy and inexpensive to create an eye-catching business card that reflects your brand and grabs the attention of those that you may come across. Instead of the traditional plain white background, create a business card that’s as memorable as that in-person meeting. Printing technology today makes it easy to print high-quality images on both sides of the business card. Well-designed graphics also work well. Even finding metallic prints and die-cut business cards today is easy to do. While you’re making the card modern, include a QR code for easy access to your online presence.

Brochures

Eye-catching with plenty of space for information, brochures are seeing a resurgence. Unlike a business card, a brochure doesn’t just get tucked inside a wallet — they’re placed on desks and fridges. If you can make a brochure that’s attractive and informative, your band can stay around longer than a website click.

Like other print materials, however, the brochure has evolved too. Don’t feel constrained by the traditional designs like the tri-fold. Think outside the box. Better yet, hire a designer instead of using a template for an even more eye-catching design.

Post cards

Potential customers will probably hold a post card that they’ve received in the mail a lot longer than they’ll spend reading an email. As more marketing shifts towards email marketing, direct mail begins to earn more attention — and it should. Design is important here too, but so is what you put on it. Discounts and coupons work well for this type of print, because customers are more likely to keep it around longer.

Thank you cards

This print product works particularly well for service businesses that rely on repeat customers, such as photographers. Sending along a thank you note with the final product is more likely to leave a lasting impression than the work alone. Printing custom thank you cards that fit your brand simplifies the process while also keeping it professional.

Signs and photo prints

Always a staple in brick-and-mortar stores, signs are still a viable way to promote your business — if you think outside the box. Gone are the gaudy, busy signs and in their place are modern signs and posters. Photographers and print shops don’t even necessarily need all that marketing text. A canvas of a newborn photo hung inside an area hospital with a business card in the corner, for example, can be a great print marketing material that’s not over the top. If you are a photographer or print shop, use prints and canvases to show off the quality of your work and display some business cards next to that print to show who’s behind that quality work. Even better, find a way to display that image where potential customers frequent, like inside a bridal shop for a wedding photographer.

Digital marketing is huge — but as more companies move to digital, printed marketing materials have less noise. Printed marketing doesn’t have to be traditional either, with modern designs and outside-the-box placement.

Business: Do you know where to find your target market online?

Business: Do you know where to find your target market online?

The internet is wonderful for searching — just a few keywords and you have millions of results at your fingertips. But what about businesses searching for the right audience? That’s a bit less cut and dried. Do you know if a majority of your target audience is on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest? Understanding where your audience spends most of their time can help boost your social media marketing, from ads to organic content. Here’s who’s on each of the top five social networks: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Facebook

Facebook is the largest social media network, boasting numbers in the billions. The size means that Facebook probably has some section of your business’ target audience, though there may be better networks depending on who your audience is. Around two thirds of the network is Gen Xers, so this is the primary network to use for reaching those born before 1980. That’s not the only generation on Facebook though — Millennials are more likely to hit the share button here. The network also has slightly more women than men, but not enough to be crazy significant.

YouTube

YouTube has a higher percentage of men than women — but the ten percent difference suggests not ignoring the platform entirely for female target audience. The video-focused platform is also the most popular among Generation Z, youth born between 1997 and the current day. That means YouTube should be a serious consideration for anyone targeting anyone under age 21. (Along with Snapchat, a network that’s heavy towards younger users.)

Instagram

Instagram is also more popular among the youngest demographics, though with a billion users, the network reaches many types of people. The network is also slightly skewed more towards women, but like most of the other networks, gender isn’t big enough to deter a business with products focused towards men. Remember, Instagram is a visual network — which makes the network well suited for visual ads and products.

Twitter

The micro-blogging platform is most popular among users between age 18 and 29. More than 90 percent of users on Twitter follow a business, so it’s a good network for creating organic content campaigns. The network is most popular in Japan, the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia. The short and sweet nature of the network is great for businesses that are witty or well-spoken.

Pinterest

Pinterest is likely the network where gender plays the biggest role — 45 percent of women in the U.S use the network while only 17 percent of men do, though the male demographic is growing. Pinterest’s idea board style makes it ideal for brands in home decor, fashion, weddings, parties and food, as well as anything that can be part of a DIY project. The age group most likely to look on Pinterest for something to buy are the millennials.

Social media marketing is a must, whether through organic, unpaid content or ads, the networks serve as a way to quickly get a message out to potential customers. Social media also helps consumers continually see a brand, rather than a one-and-done approach. For the best results, however, you need to determine what network is most likely to reach your audience.

5 Reasons to Print Your Photos

5 Reasons to Print Your Photos

A photo’s purpose is far from finished once the shutter has been pressed — after all, if we never really look at our images, then what are they for? Digital technology has made photography easier, allowing photographers to go ahead and take dozens of images to nail the perfect shot. But while digital is a great way to capture images, it’s not always the best way to store or display those moments. Here are five more reasons to print your photographs.

Photographs are irreplaceable.

Once you take an image, you can’t capture that exact same second in time again. Sure, you may be able to imitate a landscape photo again, but even with landscapes, changes in the weather and seasons means that second image won’t be the same as the first. This is especially true for images of people — we’re constantly growing up, growing old and changing in other subtle ways. An image’s irreplaceable nature only increases with time.

Print your photos because, if you loose those photos, you can’t replace them.

Images aren’t meant to be temporary.

Photographer Missy Mwac compares never printing photos to floral bouquets — if you never print your photos, you’re only enjoying them temporarily while they circulate your feeds. Printing your photos is like moving from a bouquet to a potted plant — they’ll be around much longer. (Of course, the metaphor only goes so far, it’s pretty hard to forget to water your pictures, so chances are, your printed photos will last way longer than the fern wilting on your windowsill).

Print your photos because, in electronic form, pictures are only temporary enjoyment.

You don’t truly see an image until you see it in print.

An image on a screen and an image on paper or canvas are entirely different. Yes, the same details will be there, but the quality of an image is best on a print. That’s when the true colours surface, when the details are easy to spot, and when you stop being distracted by the backlit glare of a screen.

Print your pictures because, on paper, you can truly see your images.

Printed images don’t suffer from hard drive failures.

Loosing images from a hard drive failure is devastating. Sure, you should also back up photos on cloud storage, but creating prints is one more layer of protection from loosing those memories. Printed photos aren’t hacked, accidentally formatted or lost in a technical failure.

Print your photos because the digital files may not always be there.

Printing images forces you to analyse the shots to find the best one.

As great as printed photos are, you’re not going to print every single image. That negates the benefits of digital, where you don’t have to pay to hold a bad photo, but only the best ones. Printing your photo automatically forces to to take a closer look at your work when choosing the images to make the final cut into print. Analysing our own work is something photographers should do often to grow, but it’s something we often forget to do.

Print your photos because your future photos will be even better because of it.

Potential clients silent after that first email? Here’s what to do

Potential clients silent after that first email? Here’s what to do

You open your email and your heart rate picks up when you see an email asking for more information about booking a photo session. You maybe already imaging the images that could result when you send out an email with some details and, probably, a price sheet. And then — nothing. That client that seemed so interested never responded. What should photographers do about leads that don’t stay in touch? While some client-photographer matches just weren’t right, there are some things you can do that might encourage a potential client to take the next step.

Don’t jump to conclusions.

First, don’t just assume that because they aren’t responding that they hate your work or fainted when they saw your prices. Sometimes, these potential clients are sending out half a dozen emails to different photographers and are just starting their search for a photographer. Yes, sometimes, it could be your prices, but it could also be they emailed another photographer and they like that style better. Or, maybe your reply got lost in an inbox with hundreds of other emails.

Give them time.

Sending a quick reply to the initial message can actually increase the odds of getting a booking — but clients don’t have to be as speedy to respond to you. They may be thinking about it, waiting for other photographers to respond, discussing what you’ve already sent, or maybe they just don’t check their email that often. Wait about two days before following up — too long, and they may have moved on, too short and you appear rude and impatient.

Follow up, and be detailed.

Don’t just assume that because that potential client didn’t respond, they aren’t interested. Following up can show persistence and dedication (provided you’re not rude about it) and can bring a lost email back up to the top of their inbox.

If you just sent a quick response to the initial email, take some time to send details in the follow up. The more they know, the more reasons they might have to choose your work over another photographer’s. It may be helpful to put together a pre-written email so sending out details doesn’t take up hours of your time. Let them know why your work is different and what to expect.

Offer an invitation.

Emails are quick and easy — and impersonal. Include an invitation to hop on a phone call or meet for coffee to chat more. If you didn’t completely loose their interest, a chance to meet in person or chat on the phone may be what they need to get to know your work and feel more confident in their decision.

Don’t sweat the small inquiries.

Some people will reach out and find that you’re not the right photographer for the job. That’s just part of business. If you do get a “thanks but no thanks” kind of reply, make a mental note of the reason and move on. Rejections are part of every business and learning how to handle them is essential to building a successful photography business.