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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.

4 Strategies for Creative Business Owners to Work Smarter, Not Harder

4 Strategies for Creative Business Owners to Work Smarter, Not Harder

Running a creative business means juggling multiple hats — and, sometimes it feels like you’re wearing that business owner hat 24/7. But by working smarter, not harder, creative business owners can find ways to expand — and push that work life balance more towards life. Just ask Hangatu Wyld, the owner of The Salty Fox, an online boutique for men’s fashion accessories. She’s currently expanding her business internationally. She recently sat down with Australia Post to share with other business owners just how she managed to move from working out of a pantry to an international company. Here are some of the ways she encourages other business owners, such as photo business owners, to work smarter, not harder.

Research to mitigate risks.

While she first started choosing products for the store, Wyld choose them based on what would fit inside affordable packaging for shipping. Now, there’s more research involved in order to launch a product that’s likely to do well. Using Google Keyword, she finds out what online browsers are searching for. She also keeps a close eye on the competition and looks at what competitors are offering.

How does that apply to photo businesses? By continually researching and keeping an eye on the latest trends, photo business owners can pinpoint new services and new types of prints to offer. With research and a close understanding of the industry, the risks aren’t as great.

Encourage more high-volume sales.

Another way The Salty Fox has grown is by encouraging high volume sales with free shipping for orders that are above $50. The concept isn’t an uncommon one (even Amazon uses it), but many customers are easily swayed to buy one more item rather than paying for shipping.

That same idea can be used when shipping out prints to customers online. By including a free shipping with a certain order amount, customers may be encouraged to buy a bigger print or another product.

Automate tedious processes.

While it’s just Wyld and her brother running the business, she’s able to keep the staff small without adding unnecessary stress through automation. She automates tasks that aren’t in her skill set, like automating an Adwords campaign. Automation can also be used for tedious tasks, like confirmation emails and other customer service.

Photo businesses can take a step back and look at what part of their business could be automated. Technology has made it easy to automate online print orders and even send those images directly to your wide format printer. Other tools speed up the process to book a new photo client, for example.

Look for key trends.

Finally, the way The Salty Fox has begun the process of moving to international sales is by spotting key trends. One of those trends showed visitors that weren’t in Australia, prompting the launch of sales in New Zealand and soon, other countries.

In the same way, photographers can keep an eye out for trends that show what tomorrow’s clients may be looking for. Whether that’s a different print product or a new type of session or something as simple as a cute prop, watching the trends can help business owners work smarter, not harder.

Working smarter doesn’t have to mean working solo — Photo Direct’s team is here to help evaluate your business and spot potential for expansion through new tools and products. Contact us at sales@photodirect.com.au or 03 9894 1644 today.

Hey, photo businesses - are you following the newest marketing musts?

Hey, photo businesses – are you following the newest marketing musts?

Business owners and marketing experts know that marketing is typically divided into four categories: Product, place, price and promotion. While those categories aren’t going anywhere, the business world has changed drastically in the last decade and following those traditional marketing categories may leave out some modern but essential considerations. Inside Retail Australia suggests there are two more Ps to consider: page and performance.

But what do the new marketing categories mean for photo-focused businesses? Photo Direct breaks down what those new categories mean for print shops, photographers and other photo-based businesses.

Page

Page is all about ensuring that a business’s web page is working to drive the right customers to make a purchase. While companies selling a physical product try to convey a sense of what the product looks and feels like, what about photos? Print products should be accurately described both in text and, well, digital images of the printed photos. Allowing customers to leave reviews for others to read is also a positive for webpages.

Page, however, is also about the user experience. Is it easy for potential customers to find the information they are looking for? Is ordering online simple and straight-forward, or confusing and time-consuming? Webpages should make ordering photos online, or finding information about a brick and mortar location, simpler, not more stressful.

One more thing to consider under page (and all the other categories as well): brand. Does your webpage reflect your brand? If your brand is a luxury, high-end artisan print shop, make sure your webpage has a luxurious design and not the bright, clunky colours of a drug store with a photo print service.

Performance

That page, however, means nothing if customers can’t find it. The last new P for marketing covers performance, or the part of the web pages that are difficult to see but play a huge role in driving new sales.

Is your website search engine optimised? Can potential customers easily find your webpage? Do your social media accounts drive traffic to your website or store? If not, it may be time to get an SEO audit of your website to determine what to improve and how to best drive additional performance.

Performance also means seamless integration between the in-store experience and the online one. Having the right online ordering system is a key consideration for performance for photo-based businesses.

Today, businesses need to do more than ever to stay relevant.  Along with product, place, price and promotion, page and performance are essential to consider too. For photo-based businesses, creating relevant, well-made webpages that are easily searched and offering a simple online ordering platform play a big role in the business overall.

Not sure where to start? Contact Photo Direct’s customer service and let us share examples of successful photo businesses who have reaped the benefits of expansion. Let us work with you to ensure you are offering all the right products and services for growth. Ask us as you will be amazed what other opportunities we have ready for you now to add to your business mix. Call 03 9894 1644 for more details today.

4 Reasons Print Shops Should Consider Web to Print (And Why It’s Easier Than You Think)

4 Reasons Print Shops Should Consider Web to Print (And Why It’s Easier Than You Think)

E-commerce powers many businesses today — and allows consumers to find all kinds of odd and previously hard-to-find items. But what does the shift towards online shopping mean for print shops? Web to print is a service that allows customers to order and ship prints online — and the many perks could offer a boost to even traditional brick and mortar shops. Here’s why — and why it’s not as complex as you might think.

Give customers the convenience of printing anytime.

Many of the benefits to web to print are the same as using e-commerce for other physical products. Chief among them, is that customers can shop on their own schedule, whether that’s in their PJs at 1 a.m. or while sitting in the waiting room at the dentist’s office. All customers need with web to print is their digital files, an internet connection and a form of payment to order from a web to print service. That convenience could drive more customers to a business over competitors without the service.

Go beyond regional reach.

Continuing the perks that apply to multiple business segments in e-commerce, the web to print offering allows businesses to sell prints all over the world if the service is combined with shipping. With web to print and shipping, businesses can both offer more convenience for local customers while also extending the reach to non-local customers. The service will help keep existing customers returning, but can also help even small businesses reach more customers by expanding reach beyond just one city.

Spend less time investment on each customer.

When customers order online, they stop in store just to pick up the order, or maybe even not at all if that order is shipped. Using an online ordering system helps free up customer’s time as well as your employees. When online ordering streamlines the process, you can dedicate the extra time to marketing the new service or another task you’ve been meaning to tackle.

Offer faster service.

Web to print often doesn’t need extra work getting the file ready to print. Combined with the easier ordering system, using print to web, many print shops can offer a faster turn around time. Brick and mortar stores can even hold an edge over the global print giants by allowing local in-store pickup, eliminating the time necessary for shipping to offer an even shorter turnaround time.

But isn’t web to print hard to do?

The web to print trend hasn’t gone unnoticed by printer companies — which means that, for print shops, adding a web to print service is often painless. Diland Web, for example, offers an online software that’s identical to in-store kiosks. The software allows customers to use the same system as the in-store prints to send prints to your shop. The service easily integrates with studios already using a Diland Studio kiosk and still allows for redos, order editing and other easy features. The software even offers printing from a mobile device.

Still debating? Find out exactly what adding a web to print service would mean for your business by contacting Photo Direct today.

Tired of boring gifts? Here are 6 creative photo gift ideas sure to bring a smile

Tired of boring gifts? Here are 6 creative photo gift ideas sure to bring a smile

With Amazon a few clicks away and a big box store around the corner, finding a gift isn’t a challenge — but finding a unique, custom gift that shows you were really thinking about that person? That’s still a challenge. Photos, however, make perfect gifts because they are both personal and easy to do. But “photos” still has a lot of flexibility beyond just a simple print on paper. Here are six creative photo gift ideas for the next holiday, birthday or “just because” gift — and with it, six ways creative businesses can add new gift products for customers.

Albums

Photo albums are great gifts for when you can’t decide on a single photo to use. Albums are great gifts that can encompass an event like a wedding, or simply cover another year of growth. Albums can be inexpensive canvas covers, or high-end options with real leather and thick pages. Albums don’t need to be time consuming either — Fotospeed has Easy Books that are easy for small print shops to assemble.

Wall Art

Skip the mass produced art and offer a custom work of art with wall art prints. Wall art doesn’t just fit into a single category either — there’s framed prints, canvas, Foto Blocks, prints on wood or even prints on glass. Wall art makes a great dual purpose gift to both share a memory and dress up a living space.

Photo Cards

Cards are gifts that let the receiver know they are thought of — but don’t require big budgets. Adding a photo helps those cards feel even more custom. Photo cards are great for any occasion, or even ordering in bulk and sending throughout the year when a friend needs some cheering up.

Calendars

Calendars make great photo gifts because there’s a fresh, custom photo for every month. Even within this category, there are still a lot of options for variety. There’s the monthly calendar, the annual snapshot calendar or even daily flip calendars.

Print boxes

While photo albums are excellent for protecting images, loose photos collected in a keepsake box are quickly growing in popularity. This has the advantage of being simple to add to over time, but you also need to make sure to choose a high quality, durable paper with a finish that isn’t prone to fingerprints.

Ornaments and magnets

Photo gifts don’t have to be large to make an impact. Ornaments and photo magnets are excellent keepsake gifts with a personal touch. Since they are small, they are affordable and also work for apartment dwellers and large homeowners alike.

Photographs make excellent gifts and double as memories and decor. Unlike a DIY gift, photos are both custom and easy (not to mention, high quality). Along with making great gift ideas, the same products create great opportunities for creative businesses such as photographers and print shops to expand their product offerings.

How small businesses can encourage the new trend in-store photo snapping

How small businesses can encourage the new trend of in-store photo snapping

Nearly half of Australia’s population uses a mobile phone to shop online — but the same study also suggests customers are using their smartphones in-store too. One of those trends is snapping a photo, in-store, often to save the item for the future or to send as an idea to a friend. So how can small businesses capitalise on this new trend?

The study, sent to us by an industry partner and conducted by Bronto, suggests that 28 percent of Australians use their smartphone to snap a photo of a product in store, making it the second most common option for in-store shoppers by just a single percentage point.

Baby Boomers are in general less likely to use their smartphone, but the age group most uses a smartphone to snap a photo to save for later compared to the other categories in the survey. Millennials tend to snap the most photos, but they are also more likely to look up product info or reviews and compare prices.

Women also tend to tend to snap photos of products more then men. The study suggests 35 percent of females take snapshots of products in-store. For males, that number is only 21 percent.

So what can small businesses do to use that data in their business? First, make stores photo-friendly. Don’t discourage the practice of snapping photos in store, because that customer could later come back to buy. Make sure products are easy to access and not locked in cases or difficult to reach or otherwise photograph.

That image doesn’t have to only exist on that potential customer’s smartphone either. By creating a hashtag relevant to your products, small businesses can encourage customers to share that image, which could bring more people into the store. Hang a sign with the hashtag encouraging shares, or even host a monthly contest where customers enter by sharing an in-store photo with a hashtag. Businesses can also promote the new hashtag on their own social media networks.

Businesses will also want to factor in their target demographic too. The study concluded that younger generations, parents and those in a higher income category were more likely to use their smartphone while shopping in-store.

Smartphones aren’t just for online shopping — many customers use them while browsing brick-and-motar stores too. Small businesses should understand the trend in order to bring more customers in their store and make taking photos easier for current customers.

If you would like to discuss the latest trends for your small businesses, reach out to the Photo Direct Customer Service team at (03) 9894 1644.

4 Photo Booth Event Photography Secrets with Photographer Jess Pace

4 Photo Booth Event Photography Secrets with Photographer Jess Pace

Photo booths are the instant photography of the 21st century, bringing instant printable photos to parties and events while creating keepsakes for the hosts. Jess Pace has been running a photo booth company, In an Instant Photography, for nearly 10 years, now working full time with her fiancé, Seb. We sat down with Jess to gather insight on the industry — and what photographers can do to get started in the growing industry.

Running a photo booth is an enjoyable way to own your own business

In an Instant Photography launched after Jess brought a light and a camera to a friend’s party — she enjoyed the experience so much that she later launched her business. Jess wasn’t a stranger to photography, however — she initially studied photography with plans of pursuing fashion photography, then worked with Pioneer Studios – now Sun Studios — for eight years before running her own company full time.

“I’ve also always been quite passionate about owning my own business and working for myself, I enjoy the freedom and responsibility of running a business,” she said.

But running a photo booth can also be a physically demanding job — with long hours

While part of her job means attending parties for a living, Jess says that running a photo both isn’t always fun and games. “Owning a photo booth involves quite a lot of physical labour, be ready for long days and late nights,” she says. “Although it’s incredibly rewarding! You definitely have to be a people person, as you’ll be interacting with loads of people at every event.”

Jess also recommends joining a Facebook group of other photo booth owners for tips and advice, including Photo Booth Owners Australia / New Zealand and Australian Photo Booth Friends.

Gear is a necessary but straight-forward part of running a photo booth event photography business

In an Instant Photography uses the Simple Booth App, an iPad and the DNP DS40 photo printer. The company also brings their own halo studio lighting, which helps give the company an edge over the competition by providing simple, studio-worthy lighting. Using an open air booth rather than an enclosed space also allows the photo booth to accommodate large groups.

Jess says her printer is efficient — and hasn’t had a major breakdown. “[DNP printers] are so efficient, we’re always receiving comments from guests at events at how quick they print out the images,” she said.

What about marketing?

Jess says word of mouth is their best form of advertising, but the photo both event photography company also runs promotions on Instagram, in wedding magazines and at wedding fairs. The duo also works to request reviews, earning a five-star rating on Facebook to keep new clients coming.

Like other businesses, Jess and Seb had to find what separated them from the rest of the industry — with easy to use gear and a fun personality, their company has thrived. “Because it’s just myself and my fiancé Seb who run In An Instant, you’re dealing with two passionate business owners who love being at every event that we’re hired for,” she said. “We’re quite attentive to our clients and guests throughout the entire process, from booking us via email through to the end of the event. We’re always told from our clients that what really made us stand out from the rest was how we interacted with the guests and how easy the booking process was. We’re just two fun and easy going people, so we’re just being ourselves!”

2018 Trends To Help Photo-Focused Retailers Jumpstart their Year

2018 Trends To Help Photo-Focused Retailers Jumpstart their Year

One month in, and 2018 is already sparking new trends in the retail industry. While some trends are like bell bottom jeans and mullets, missing out on some key retail trends could leave businesses stagnant while trend-focused competitors grow. So what are some of the key trends coming up this year — and how can businesses in the photo industry capitalise on them? Here are a few trends businesses can implement to grow.

Customisation and personalisation are continuing to drive growth.

Remember finding your name on a keychain as a kid at a touristy gift shop? In 2018, personalisation is no less exciting, but easier than ever to do thanks to technology. For photo-focused businesses, this trend can apply to anywhere from marketing to products. For example, a photo print shop could offer personalised service to design and print a gallery wall, customised to the client’s home, images and sense of style.

Another way companies are implementing personalisation is through the use of technology, and in particular, artificial intelligence that is able to recommend products based on what the customer has already viewed. Chat-bots, when properly tailored to your brand, can also help customers build a stronger connection with your company.

Cash is old school.

While accepting a variety of payment options is a good idea, many small businesses haven’t yet adapted to the idea of a cashless payment system. In 2018, Amazon is opening stores without cashiers and Apple, Android and Samsung are allowing users to pay with their phones. While research from Business Insider doesn’t show growth predictions as strong as in 2017, estimates are still putting mobile payments in the billions over the next three years alone. By offering more convenient cash-free payment options, photo-focused businesses can offer one more reason for customers to come back.

Trends aren’t all about tech.

Sure, cashless payments and chat-bots are all trends powered by technology, but trends are far from being tech-only. While the user experience has always been part of a successful online store, the same idea is expanding to brick and mortar stores in 2018. Creating an enjoyable in-store experience, along with encouraging customers to spend more time there, can help businesses grow. As Forbes points out, retailers that focus on the tactile experience stores can offer that e-commerce cannot are doing well, like Coach’s new approach with in-store personalisation, for example.

How can photo-focused retailers enhance the in-store experience? Old-school options like excellent customer service still go a long way. Displaying samples in-store to allow customers to see different finish types and paper types is another option. Hosting free workshops to teach photography skills, or perhaps a DIY workshop teaching the art of making a gallery wall, are just a few of the ideas to enhance the in-store experience.

Photo retailers aren’t immune to changes in the retail industry — and quickly recognising and adapting to new retail trends can help your business to outpace the competitors. With years in the photo industry, Photo Direct is here to help photo businesses find new ways to grow. If you want to brainstorm new ways to help your company grow, call the sales team at Photo Direct at (03) 9894 1644 so we can help you expand your business in 2018 and beyond.

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