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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.

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.