Holiday product ideas at every price point

The holidays are quickly approaching! There are only 2 weekends left for holiday shoppers who do not want to incur expedited shipping fees on most websites. A new product mix for the holidays could go a long way towards increasing sales. One key to a well-balanced product mix is to feature multiple price points. This gives every customer the opportunity to make a purchase. Here are a few ideas!

Low Price Point

During the holidays, many of your customers expect deals. Offering lower priced items that can be gifted affordably to family members and friends is important. Allow your customers to create puzzles, photo buttons, ceramic ornaments, collages, holiday cards and custom attitude prints with a holiday message to show off their photos in a fun and creative way. Keep shipping costs in mind too! Paper products and other products that can be shipped flat will help keep costs down.

Moderate Price Point

If standard products such as 5x7s and 8x10s are your business’s bread-and-butter, this is a great chance for a special that encourages your customers to buy more prints or upgrade their purchase. Consider offering attractive upgrades to these core products such as pearlized paper, frames with a purchase or even larger packages. Allow your customers to customize their images with holiday text and bubbles, or consider an upsell (or gift with purchase) with an item from the lower tiered price point such as an aluminum keychain.

Other popular gift items at a moderate price point include iPhone cases, photo mugs, water bottles, plaques, statuettes and calendars (which should be promoted as the New Year draws near).

Premium Price Point

In every market there are customers looking for products that are the best-of-the-best and are willing to pay for them. Framed prints, canvas gallery wraps, box mounts and acrylic products are meant to be displayed. Many customers desire these kinds of finished pieces which are ready-to-hang. There is no better marketing for you than to have your customers show off your premier products in their homes, especially during the holidays when friends and family gather.

You can remarket for Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years and Valentine’s all within the next 2 months!

Need help?

Candid Color Systems can provide assistance in your marketing and booking efforts. If you are interested in setting up a customized holiday email marketing campaign with the FREE software CCS provides, please contact Customer Development at 1-800-336-4550.

Winter Graduations 101-part 2

Winter graduation season is upon us. If you already have a relationship with a school, their graduation ceremony is a natural way to do more work for existing clients. Here are some of our best practices that could be used when shooting and selling graduation images as part 2 of our graduation series.

Day of the Graduation Arrive at the venue at least two hours early. This allows for plenty of time for setup, meeting with the contact to confirm locations of the photographs, deal with any equipment malfunctions, or get additional equipment or staff if necessary. After the contact has verified the shooting location, setup the equipment and backgrounds if necessary. Setup a video camera aimed at the reader and graduate handing their card to the reader and two audio recorders to be used by post production to ensure that the order of the grad cards matches the order that the graduates processed in. Buddy shots can then be conducted in the holding room and email addresses can be collected from audience members using web cards. Web cards are a two part card that allows you to collect email addresses from the graduation audience as well as leave them with a card that shows them how to access their graduate’s images online.

As the graduation starts, PR pictures can be taken. These will include processional, band, singers, speakers, stage setup, and anything of interest at the graduation. The handshake and additional photographers will take their positions prior to the conferring of the degrees.

Keep an eye on your grad cards. They are essential in ID’ing the graduation. IDing is matching the names up with the images of the graduates. This makes it easier for the graduates to find their images online. Immediately following the processional, collect the grad cards and place them in a secure location. Secure the memory cards and label them immediately after the graduation. After the graduation has ended, send photographers out to do family and friend photographs while organizing the memory cards and reader cards. Label the friends and family memory cards when the crowd has dispersed. Pack the equipment and be sure to clean up any tape or marks that have been made at the venue. Check in with the contact to ensure that they do not need anything additional and thank them for having you at the ceremony.

Fill out ceremony reports. The ceremony reports are pre-printed forms that allow photographers to draw diagrams of the ceremony as well as include notes about what took place at the ceremony. They also include checklists to help the photographers remember what PR pictures to take. This, if done every time you go to a graduation, will allow photographers to share the setup, details of the ceremony, and any trouble that they had. These notes will allow the post production staff to figure out anomalies that may have occurred during the ceremony and to do a better job at future graduations.

Post Production Post production starts immediately after the graduation materials return to the office. The goal is to get the graduation online within 24 hours of the ceremony. Getting images online quickly is striking while the iron is hot. Graduates and their guests are still excited about the commencement and are more likely to buy increasing the percentage of participation.

A team of production staff needs to be waiting to start when the photographers return. The list of duties is as follows:

• Check the materials that were returned – video, audio, grad cards, memory cards, notes in the binder • Backup all images and audio/video on hard drive and CD • Setup rendered backgrounds in CCS Transfer (if using green screen) • Upload the images to the event • Listen to the audio recordings and check the accuracy of the order of grad cards • Type the grad cards while uploading images • Import the graduate name list • Add secondary emails that were collected on web cards • Align the images • Spot the graduates to their names and addresses • Enable and check the event online • Queue emails and proofs to be printed • Quality Check all events that go online • Order a sample from each graduation to ensure that the website and offer are working properly • Check and correct bounced emails Email Campaigns

Email campaigns are started within 24 hours of the graduation and continue to be sent for at least 12 months and up to 3 years. We suggest emails include an image of the graduate or the group of the entire graduating class. This helps increase traffic to the website. It is important to send additional emails during the holidays that highlight products or include special deals. This will maximize the sales from each graduation.

Sales Review and Audit Tracking the results of a graduation is essential to knowing what works and what does not work in your area. Track the results immediately and frequently after the event. Doing this will identify problems with event postings and mailings and will allow for a quick recovery. Within 24 hours of the event, begin tracking the $ per graduate, % ordering, average order, and email/address counts. By comparing graduations to the previous year or similar graduations, any errors will be made apparent.

Post-Event Follow-up Send the PR images to the school to be used in promotional materials or on their website. Include the student names list with addresses and emails that can be used by their alumni association to contact the students after the graduation. The name list collected during the graduation is unique because they are fresh emails and addresses that will be much more current than the information that the school has from the beginning of the year. This step adds value to your services for the contact at the school and it will make it harder for someone to book away from you.

For additional information on how to shoot graduations and on the highly-specialized tools CCS has to offer for the graduation market, please contact a customer development representative.

NOTE: Graduation marketing posters and flyers can be obtained from the CCS catalog. CCS has a default product offering that includes our suggested list of graduation products. CCS offers pre-made email campaigns to use in-conjunction with graduations. These emails are automated through CORE or QuicPost to send automatically throughout the year.

Winter Graduations 101-part 1

Graduations are a lucrative photography market that requires planning and precise execution. Many schools have winter ceremonies. These graduations are a great opportunity to get your feet wet shooting in this market. Here are some of our best practices that could be used when booking and preparing for graduation shoots in part 1 of our 2-part graduation series.

The Basics of Graduations Typically graduation ceremonies are shot by several photographers simultaneously in different locations around the ceremony. Handshake photos and 1-2 additional positions yield the best results. Implementing green screen can open new opportunities including unique school-specific backgrounds and allow you to build a virtual group of the graduating class. Speed is essential in the successful execution of a graduation as some ceremonies process across the stage as quickly as 1 student every 2 seconds. Marketing these photographs is typically done online as well as with paper proofing. Advertising your services before, during, and after a graduation ceremony will increase traffic to your website and lead to higher percentages of participation from your graduates and their families.

Before the Shoot It is imperative to have effective communication with the contact at the school. Visit with the decision makers at least 2 months prior to the commencement date. This will help maximize your opportunities at the graduation as well as establish a partnership and relationship with the contact. Discussing what shots you will be taking, the position of these shots, venue details, and flow will determine how smoothly the photography will run during the ceremony.

Traditional Formal

The handshake photograph is a staple of the graduation market. The formal handshake pose is best for the following reasons: You get a better exposure, head size is the same for the graduate and the presenter, tassels are less of a problem, and you can see the face of the presenter. The formal handshake is composed of both the presenter and the graduate facing the camera as they shake hands or hand off the diploma. Alternatively, you can photograph this

using a traditional handshake which is shot over the shoulder of the presenter, capturing the graduate’s face. The photographer should discuss this detail with the school contact before the graduation as it is difficult to get these changes made the day of the graduation.

Discuss additional photography opportunities with the school before the graduation. Talk to the contact ahead of time about any additional locations that you would like to photograph during the graduation such as a green screen location, a flag shot, or a close up with the graduates in the background. This is also a good time to discuss taking PR photographs for the school of their speakers, processional, and overview. Try taking family and friends or buddy pictures before and after the ceremony. All of these images will yield higher sales numbers.

Promotion of photography services is the key to successful results at a graduation. Pre-promotion includes sending the school posters or flyers, making audio announcements, collecting email and street addresses, advertising on the school’s website, and being included in the graduation program. Collecting emails and addresses can be done directly on your website. Always ask the school to advertise your services on their website and make periodic announcements to their graduates about how to find their images after the graduation.

Send grad cards to the school two weeks prior to the graduation for use during the graduation. Explain that these should be strung or placed in order of the students graduating. If the cards are kept in order, it will save time when doing

the post production. We also suggest making a box for each letter of the email address to force graduates to print legibly.

Pre-Production Get your online event ready including any offer graphics, upload any background images that are needed for green screen and get your emails ready. Setup a location that will be used for post production. Check all of the computers that will be used to ensure that they have all of the software that will be needed to do production. Make a chart or graph that will allow you to track post-production and see where the team is at a glance.

Staffing Do not underestimate the amount of staff that you need to do a thorough job. There will be a need for one photographer at every position that will be photographed, photographer assistants to help the graduates into position and keep the line moving smoothly with no delays, information collection staff to obtain email addresses from the audience members, friends and family photographers which can sometimes be the same photographers from your ceremony, and a lead photographer at every venue.

Train the entire staff well before the event date. Use role playing to train each member of the staff to do his/her specific job. Teach the photographers how to troubleshoot the equipment along with how to take a great picture. Setting sheets or diagrams should be included in training as well as in the equipment that is sent to the event. Details of the graduation must be written out for the staff that will be photographing the event. Include key points for successful execution and point of potential pain with the school or contact that they will be interacting with. Any points of negotiation with the school should be included in these notes.

Post production staff will need to be hired and trained before the graduation takes place. To determine the number of post production staff that will be needed, you can assume the following: 1 hour of labor/30 graduates (this includes uploading images, data entry, spotting, enabling the event online, proof mailing, and checking the event) so, a 300 person grad will equal 10 labor hours.

This time will then be divided by the number of staff members that you plan to have working on each graduation to determine the total time it should take to get the event online. If you have the 300 person graduation mentioned above, with 10 labor hours, and have 2 people working on it, the entire production process should take 5 hours. Make a spreadsheet of all of your graduations and plan the production staffing using this simple formula: # of students divided by 30 divided by # of production staff= total amount of production time (or students/30/production staff= time).

Additional Photography Opportunities Don’t settle for just shooting the handshake pose at a graduation. Talk to the school and advisors to find additional opportunities to photograph the graduates and their guests. Buddy shots can be taken of the graduates and their friends in the holding room before the graduation. Friends and family pictures are a great opportunity for additional sales. These are typically taken after the ceremony is over either at a banquet or outside the venue in which the graduation was held. Take PR photographs during the graduation of the processional, band, speakers, valedictorian, alma matter, vocalist, and anything significant that happens during the ceremony. Post these online for purchase and deliver them to the school as an added value. Overviews are taken of the entire graduating class and offered for purchase.

Equipment Nikon D3000’s or other suitable SLR’s are recommended for graduations. This is a great camera for grads. Set it at medium resolution (5MP) and use an 1870mm lens. SunPak 544s are used for lighting along with a hobby battery. 2GB SD Memory cards are recommended as well. SanDisk, Lexar, Transcend, and Kingston are the recommended brands of memory cards.

Digital audio recorders are recommended with the equipment. Two per ceremony allow for any errors or technical issues that may occur. As a backup to the audio recording, a video recording is also used. This will allow your post-production team to see the face of the graduate as they pass the reader and makes spotting a difficult graduation much easier.

A 5×7 green screen is used in the venue to take the green screen pictures that will be rendered with the school background or used for a virtual group. Don’t forget a stand and super clamp to affix the green screen background to.

Include tape, rubber bands, envelopes, markers, and something to mark the spot that the graduate is to stop for their photograph with the equipment.

Include enough extra grad cards to cover the number of graduates in case the contact does not have the cards that were sent ahead of time.

Graduations require a LOT of attention to detail, but can be extremely profitable. If you are currently shooting jobs for any middle schools, high schools or colleges (including vocational or technical schools) then graduations are a natural progression in your business.

For additional information on how to shoot graduations and on the highly- specialized tools CCS has to offer for the graduation market, please contact a customer development representative.

Quick ideas to improve email collection

Don’t let interested buyers and website traffic go to waste! If you shoot special events such as parties, races, proms, graduations and even sports pictures where you are selling online (instead of doing prepay) you need buyers to be able to get to their images! It is also highly possible that you have interested buyers hitting your website before you have the chance to post your images online.

To improve your sales you can do 2 things:

1. Get contact information for every attendee or potential buyer at your event. 2. Capture information for buyers who beat the images to your website and let them know when images are available. Here are some ideas to help you accomplish collecting contact information.

Create a form on your website that allows you to collect contact information and the event name of the images the customer would like to see. Get customers to this section of your website by:

o giving out password cards that list the URL to visit to sign up for email alerts o giving out password cards at your event that contain a QR code that links directly to your website to sign up for email alerts o listing your URL on Fliers/Handouts/Programs/signage o making use of digital signage such as a JumboTron You could request cooperation from the event organizer to facilitate email collection by offering to provide them with a copy of the contact information you collect. Many of the above ideas could take place prior to the event. Whenever possible, we highly suggest collecting emails prior to and during the event as opposed to depending on customers to visit your website on their own. This allows you to be proactive after the event!

One way to collect emails at the event is to use a 2-part password card. Ask the customer to fill out one half with email addresses and allow them to keep another half listing your company name, website and event details. Make sure to use boxes in your email collection space! This will make your cards easier to read by forcing users to PRINT!

We also suggest that you capture emails for those who are visiting your website prior to your images going live so that you can alert them when their images are available to view and purchase.

Don’t forget that cell phone numbers could be a valuable (and quick) way to reach customers. Make sure to add a space for mobile numbers on your contact information form.

For help with any of these methods, contact a CCS customer development representative. We do have tools to facilitate all of these methods!

 

How Your File Size Can Impact Your Bottom Line

Camera manufacturers tout their megapixels whenever possible. Photoshop enthusiasts shoot raw (which makes LARGE files) so that they can have a lot of freedom to manipulate images, most of which are never purchased. Journalists write magazine articles extolling the virtues of shooting raw or using settings that produce large file sizes. So, the average photographer, subjected to all these influences, can’t help but believe that more (megapixels) is better.

In the face of this advocacy for shooting bigger files, there is almost no rebuttal from any source, advocating the smallest file necessary to obtain good quality end products.

Here are the facts. You make the choice. The silver halide printers manufactured in the last 10 years print pictures at 250 dots per inch which for printing an 8×10 is about 5 megapixels. No matter what size is submitted to the lab, any pixels beyond those that will constitute 250 dots per inch are not used to print the picture. So unless you are shooting a large group picture with lots of small faces or unless you mess up the exposure of your pictures and need to fix them using Camera Software or Photoshop, there is no need to shoot really large images.

So, you ask, why not just have extra insurance and shoot the largest file size anyway?

There are several good reasons not to make your file sizes larger than absolutely necessary.

1. The first good reason is that smaller file sizes will allow you to shoot more images on a memory card. 2. The second reason is that it will save you time handling images in your office. You will save time and labor costs related to copying the images from the memory card to your computer, rotating images to a heads up position, backing them up to CD or hard drive and transmitting them to a fulfillment service printing. 3. The third reason is that large file sizes could negatively impact your cost structure for online storage fees (depending on the service you use). There are certainly instances when you may feel like a larger file size could be helpful. If you plan to do a lot of cropping (as is often the case with action sports), or if you have a large number of subjects in an image (like with group pictures and large family portraits) you may want some extra wiggle room. But remember that the file size you need is a function of the DPI of the production method you choose and

the size of your final product. Save yourself some time and money by researching what you really NEED to shoot for your business.

Here are some recommended resolution and compression/quality settings for many types of photography:

Candid event shots, 8×10 head shots, graduations, league sports, action shots 3 MP Resolution Basic Quality-Nikon/Normal Quality-Canon 500 KB-700 KB File Size

Full length dance portraits and Sports, graduations and races requiring cropping 6 MP Resolution Basic Quality-Nikon/Normal Quality-Canon 700 KB-1.2 MB File size

Groups up to 250 people, 16×20/20×24 high end portraits 8-12 MP Resolution Fine Quality for groups/Basic quality for portraits-Nikon/Normal Quality –Canon 1.2-4 MB File Size

Large groups 250+ to 10×24 or 10×30, images requiring extreme zooming

16-34 MP Resolution

Fine Quality

2-8 MB File Size

 

Booking Tips for Fall

As the summer season begins, it is never too early to prepare for Fall Sports. As photographers, we will do all we can to produce great photography. It’s what we love to do. However, one area that can often be ignored is the marketing of your photography business. Increasing your bookings is a must. Making a commitment to invest the time and capital into this area on a regular basis will promote and increase awareness about your business. This awareness will result in growth and increased revenue. Constantly being out in front of your customers and prospects will only grow your business. Here are a couple of marketing ideas that will help make this Fall a success:

The most effective way to book more business is to make face to face sales calls on promising potential customers.


Make sure your first impression is a great one. Taking the following steps will insure a great first impression:

  • Attitude is everything! Display an upbeat positive attitude. Explaining the execution of the photo shoot and your unique product line with excitement and passion is one simple step to making a great first impression. Always present a “can do” attitude. Your positive energy will have a positive influence on the entire presentation. Even when giving a 30 second sales pitch, the use of positive body language and an energetic attitude can make all the difference.
  • Dress the part. When meeting with your contact for the first time, your appearance is one of the first things your prospect will notice. If meeting with a large booster group in the evening, professional attire consisting of a dress shirt and slacks may be necessary. Casual dress is acceptable if you’re meeting a coach in the gym or out on the field. Looking sharp shows respect to the client and can only help in making a good first impression.
  • Be Prepared. Put time and effort into perfecting your sales presentation. Before every appointment, visit their website and thoroughly review all their information. With this one step, you will gain detailed information which will make you more comfortable and confident when giving your pitch. It also is an excellent way to show the customer you actually care about the project and you’re not just trying to book another shoot. Have plenty of copies of your presentation to pass out. Have your print samples organized and ready to pass out at different times of your presentation. Passing out all of your materials at the beginning of the presentation can result in the customer concentrating on the samples and losing focus on you and what you are saying. Review and know the particular products and prices of what you will offer. Testimonies are a powerful tool. Provide a list of satisfied customers. Let your prospect know who already believes in you and has benefitted from your services. Finally, have scheduling agreements with you so you can close the deal.
  • Listen. Be careful not to talk all the time about you. Listen to the specific needs and desires of the customer. Listen and take note to the problems and complaints they’ve had in the past. Ask questions to discover the expectations they have for the photo shoot and the photography company they hire. When discussing their experience with your competition, stay positive and listen to what they like and dislike about them. Gaining this information is the key to satisfying their needs. Remember two ears, one mouth.
  • Start and finish on time. Coaches are pressed for time. Having an efficient, organized, to the point presentation is what they desire. Respect their time by staying on track. A printed copy of the agenda for everyone attending is an effective way to accomplish this. Show gratitude towards everyone attending for taking the time to meet with you. Prepare your presentation allowing enough time at the end to answer any questions the customer may have.
  • Leave a lasting impression. One step in the marketing mix that many ignore is the power of a hand written thank you note. This is an excellent way to show your character to the customer. With all the quick digital ways of communicating today, a hand written note is a unique tool. It shows special effort which the client will remember. Make it a habit after every appointment to send a follow up note thanking the client for the opportunity to meet with them.

Maximize the benefits of technology – Although face time is the best way to book business, the use of the following technologies allows sales people to reach clients in several ways.

  • Collect Emails – Collecting the email addresses of all of your accounts will create a database that is a very valuable marketing tool. Also, collecting emails from prospective accounts is another step in the right direction. Use email technology to maintain your relationships with your accounts. Constantly stay in front of them with the simple click of the mouse.
  • Emails are also a great way to keep your buying customers informed about new promotions, products and specials. One of the most powerful uses from the collection of emails is the ability to remarket old events. Remarketing through emails is a great way to raise revenue.  Sales from these past events have a high profit margin because most of the overhead cost has been covered.
  • Web Presence – In today’s marketplace almost every business has a website.  Obviously in the photography business, the graphic design of the site is extremely important. A website is a great place to showcase your work. However, sometimes so much time and effort is given to the look of the site, that the objective of the site can be ignored. One of the main objectives for a website is to introduce your products and services in a positive way. If your website is difficult to navigate through or is to complex, customers can become overwhelmed and frustrated. Having a website that is easy to understand and navigate through will maximize your opportunity of capturing a new customer. Keeping your site clean, simple and easy to use will be a pleasant experience for visitors keeping them coming back. Websites are also a great way to capture emails and other contact information of interested visitors. Make sure your site gives them plenty of opportunities to do this.
  • A good business is built on good relationships. Social media, facebook, twitter etc. are all about building and maintaining relationships. Use social media technology to keep your customers excited and informed on what your company is doing.  Use this technology to introduce new services and products. Social media is a great form of the best advertising, word of mouth. Provide exciting information that will get people talking. Be sure you get the Facebook address and the Twitter address of all the people you talk with so that you can request to become a friend or follower with them.
  • Be Reachable – Never forget the power of a personal telephone call. At times your telephone is your business life line. Nothing can frustrate a customer faster than having their calls ignored and being forced to leave several voicemails.  At some point in most selling situations a telephone conversation will take place between you and your client. Customers are calling you because they want to talk to you on the phone, not through email or through texting. Make it a common practice to answer all incoming calls.  Be sure to use this powerful tool correctly. Customers will always recognize and appreciate the fact that every time they call you, they can reach you.

Maximize your sales – Making sales is always necessary, but determine which accounts are the most profitable and the characteristics of these accounts.

  • Focus on being profitable -Filling your calendar with lots of business is exciting. Landing those accounts you have been working on for months or years is a great opportunity. Sometimes the excitement of getting the new account can distort the focus from being profitable. Good sales are profitable sales. Review and pay close attention to your offers and price points. Keep track of your overhead expenses and compare them with your sales after each event. Determine your profit from each event. Focusing on this and staying consistent with this practice will inform you which events are worth shooting and which ones need to be replaced. Discover which products are most profitable such as Attitude Panos, statuettes or Level Two products and always include these in your offers. Keep your offers simple and not over whelming. A complicated offer can frustrate your customers. This confusion can result in smaller orders with smaller sales. Another way to stay profitable when prospecting is to seek all sports opportunities in a designated area. Scheduling several appointments in the same geographic area will maximize your sales efforts and minimize your expenses. Make it a goal to execute your photo shoots with minimum overhead and maximum efficiency.  After each photo shoot, take notes of the positives and negatives of the shoot. This will help in shooting the next year. Stay organized with your equipment from start to finish. This will make your shoots more efficient, allowing you more time to book more business. Yes, we always need more sales, but keeping your focus on making them profitable will eliminate frustration and add to the bottom line.
  • Repeat business & New business - One of the most profitable parts of the photography business is repeat business. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to concentrate only on gaining new business. Repeat customers are currently satisfied with your services and spend more than new customers. They will refer business to you. Focus on this group and keep them satisfied. With new prospects, make the most of every appointment. Hopefully, you will be successful and book the event. However, even if they have already booked their photography, this meeting introduces them to you and the services of your company. Always remind them if they ever need a backup photographer, you are ready and willing. Also, this first meeting with them will make things more comfortable when approaching them again the following year. Don’t miss any opportunities, stay in touch!

Become as effective with the marketing of your photography business as you are with photography itself and the sky’s the limit!

Candid Color Systems can provide assistance in your marketing and booking efforts. We have training presentations, newsletters and custom marketing materials. If you need advice about booking and shooting school sports, Customer Development is here to help! Call 800.336.4550 and become a customer today.

 

Booking Dance Schools: Now’s the Time to Generate Bookings!

If you are seriously considering venturing into the Dance school market, or, are already reaping the rewards in this very lucrative market, there is no better time than right now to force a sales effort, and here’s why.


If a dance school/studio had a bad experience with their current photography company during their Spring recital season—typically, from April through June—the pain of that bad experience is still fresh in their mind.  Poorly executed images, child-unfriendly photographers, slow package turnaround, long waits in line, a lack of preparedness, and a shoot schedule running nearly an hour late are just a few of the issues with which some dance studios may have had to contend.

Right about this time of year, most dance schools/studios are planning their summer hiatus trying to recover from the chaos and long hours that occur annually with Spring recitals.  All the more reason why you should be striking while the iron is hot.

Keep in mind that a dance studio is more similar to a league than a team. A dance school of 250 individual dancers can quickly double the number of individual photo sessions.  How can this happen you may ask? Costumes. By photographing individuals in multiple dance costumes you have the opportunity of selling more photographs of each student. I’ll bet you’ve never had the opportunity of photographing a baseball team in three different uniforms!  But it happens in dance!

In addition, the school director may have had to distribute the finished prints to angry parents and listen to the same lame customer service story over and over again.  This is no way to treat a client!  So here are a few tips to consider when marketing your services to a dance school:

Speak only to the studio owner

Spinning your wheels and wasting time with a studio manager or a dance instructor is not time well spent.  If your initial visit doesn’t include a conversation with the school owner then get their phone number and set an appointment.  Don’t waste time with someone that isn’t the decision maker.

Show them your specialty products


Attitude Panos, Level TwoTM products, and graphic designs created by CCS just for the dance market are all available to you in QuicPost and CORE.  Recognize that these products—and others—will open doors for you, and create conversation encouraging your client to listen to what you have to say.  Most have not seen products like this before, especially for dance.  At one school that our retail division photographed, an additional $1,379 was taken in just on Attitude Panos of “dance company” members.

Also, the recently introduced acrylic products available from CCS make a great presentation and give you the opportunity of displaying a high-end product that will help to raise the price of an average order.  Acrylic products are singularly different than anything currently offered in many different photo markets.  Make a splash by bringing these products to a formal presentation.

Finally, the newly introduced Freestyle Collage Pano is a great supplement to the bread-and-butter products offered in your basic packages.  This new product allows the end customer to create their own Panos and collages using CCS designed backgrounds and graphics.

View First: Your distinct competitive advantage

Using the CCS View First marketing system, with multiple images of each dancer displayed online, you have several advantages that you can sell.

  1. It’s a no-hassle system – No envelopes to be handed out; no money collected up-front; and all orders are shipped directly to the end customer’s home. You couldn’t make it any easier for those involved with the shoot.
  2. CHOICE of Poses – Parents prefer the idea of purchasing photos AFTER they’ve had a chance to view their child’s images.  With a pre-pay system parents are frequently stuck with photos they don’t like.  In View First they get to see ALL images of their child whether it’s individual images, as part of a dance team, or even buddy shots.  Typical sales averages for dance school using View First range from $48-$52 per order, with 30-65% ordering.
  3. Email campaigns – Once you’ve photographed the dance school you can now use the email addresses collected at the shoot (or provided by the school) to remind parents about ordering online.  It’s been proven for years that every time an email is transmitted to potential customers there is a spike in sales.  An email campaign that spans a six or eight month period does the best job of keeping your name in front of your customers; it also creates the best opportunity for increased sales over a period of time.

CCS Dance Marketing Materials

To aid in your booking of dance schools CCS has created some booking flyers.  One version mentions giving the dance studio a commission; another version does not. We have also created flyers to help promote your products and Photo Day. You can find those materials on Candidnet.Candid.com under Marketing/Business development > Marketing Materials> Dance School Flyers.  For more information contact Brian Speers at 800-336-4550 ext. 251.

Obscure Sports Can Make Money

 

Breaking in to a Middle School or High School that has a long and/or close relationship with a photographer can be challenging. But often the established photographer will neglect the smaller or more obscure sports teams. This opens up an opportunity for you to showcase your abilities as a sports photographer and to gain credibility in a way that no sales call to the major sports coaches can accomplish.

Cross Country, Field Hockey, Golf and Tennis are examples of obscure sports. These are typically smaller teams that are not aggressively pursued, creating an opportunity to introduce your business. These teams are excited to be photographed and can be profitable undertakings. If executed correctly, they can not only improve your bottom line, but they can be the bridge to the bigger sport programs. These teams don’t require a great deal of time to shoot and rarely require extra labor.  If possible, attempt to schedule these smaller teams all on the same day. A sports photo day will lower your overhead and will make it easier on the coach. Maximizing time and labor is critical to making these smaller team photo shoots profitable.

Make a great first impression

One of the major goals of photographing these smaller teams is to gain future business. After you schedule the booking, take advantage of this opportunity to showcase the highlights of your business. Show them how your company is better than the competition by meeting all scheduled timelines and delivering products when promised. Offer a unique product line and price them fairly. Send a follow up card, thanking them for their business. When you succeed in these areas, ask for referrals from the coach you are working with.  This can be the key to future business.

Get to know your new contact

Coaches network with each other constantly and if you are successful with their teams, they can be your best advertisers for new business. Discover what tournaments or summer camps they participate in. One successful photo shoot can lead to many others. A coach of one smaller sports team may be a coach in a different season of another larger team. He will also know a number of coaches at his school and at other schools. Last, he may move from one school to another. All of this interconnectivity between coaches provides an opportunity for you to break into a school whose football coach says he is happy with the photographer he has been using. If your products, service, photography, logistics of the shoot and communication “wow” the coach, he or she will most likely tell others. This can lead to you booking all of the sports in that school.

Although the profits from these smaller teams may be less than the profits from a larger team, one benefit to consider is you have gained a new customer that can lead you to bigger profits. This new customer can be added to your portfolio and referral list. This is a great advantage when seeking new business. Marketing obscure sports can be profitable and a great way to grow your business.

Candid Color Systems can provide assistance in your marketing and booking efforts. We have training presentations, newsletters and custom marketing materials. If you need advice about booking and shooting school sports, Customer Development is here to help! Call 800.336.4550 and become a customer today.

Spring Auctions: Cashing In and Growing Your Business

Nearly every school and many under-capitalized charity organizations are always looking for new ways to create new revenue streams to supplement decreasing contributions.   The popularity of auctions—both live and silent—are great vehicles for fundraising, and provide a fun time for guests that attend these types of events.

The organizers of such events spend hours on the phone enlisting the aid of retailers that have a product or a service to donate as an auction item.  Photographers are usually included in the variety of service providing companies that participate in these fundraising auctions.

Typically, photographers donate a photo session for a family or individual photo session, and offer a complete sitting with a minimum bid at around $50 to $75. Eventually the winning bid will top out at around $125 to $150; the entire amount bid going to the fundraising organization.  The session usually comes with a time limit such as a one or two hour session. The organization sponsoring the fundraiser takes 100% of the bid amount and the photographer, theoretically, does a great job and sells a lot of prints while creating buzz about his/her super photography skills and personal service.

In this particular model there is a serious shortcoming for both the photographer and the fundraising organization. Did you spot it?  There is only one bid package to sell.  In other words, when the bids close the photographer only gained one new prospect, and the school/organization only received one donation for that service.

Let’s look at it another way.  What if the photographer, instead of having his services auctioned off and bid upon, had a fixed price session that was offered multiple times.  Creating a basic photo package for $25 and selling it multiple times—instead of an auction— generates more customers for the photographer and more income for the fundraising organization.

One CCS customer in California who described this newest “auction” model to me maintains that she will frequently sell more than 50 sessions at a fundraiser, and that this type of business helps to propel her spring portrait business while putting her business name in front of a larger segment of the community.  Selling fifty sessions at $25 is $1,250 and benefits everyone.  Auctioning one session at $125 is extremely limiting for all parties.

Fundraising events, as described above, are extremely popular at this time of year.  If no one is asking you to participate, perhaps you should be asking them!  Plant the seed and grow your business.

 

Graduations Are a Lucrative Market in Every Town or City

Graduations can be one of the most lucrative photo markets.  Best of all, Candid Color Systems® has all of the know-how and systems to help you be competitive and profitable in this market.

The photography is relatively easy but requires detailed preparation and back up equipment.  Once graduations start, they rarely stop until all graduates have received their diplomas.

Booking can range from easy to very hard depending on the size of the graduation, the amount of competition, and the school itself.

Why bother with doing this if you are a portrait, school or sports photographer?  Because, minute for minute, you will probably make more money photographing a graduation than any other kind of event.  A 300 student high school graduation can yield sales of up to $6000 with a $3000 to $4000 profit when best practices are followed.  A 300 student college graduation can yield sales of $10,000 dollars with profits upward of $5000.  The actual shoot will require you to be on site two hours early to set up and will require about one to two hours of actual photography.  For the 300 graduates in our example, the post production work will require about 10 hours to identify each graduate, type in names, addresses and emails, merge images with names, send out emails and print and mail paper proofs.

If you want to start small and work your way up, start with a Middle School graduation (also called Bridging Ceremony) or a Vo-tech or Community College.  These are generally easier to book and less stressful to shoot.  The sales from these events are usually somewhere between those of a high school and College.

If you live in an area with a College or University, then the person who is usually in charge is the Registrar.  If it is not the Registrar, then the Registrar should be able to inform you as to who is in charge.  Just because one school or college within a university is being photographed, doesn’t mean that all of the ceremonies are.  You may need to check with each different school to see what the situation is.  If someone is already photographing the university, scout the graduation to see what improvements you could make when you try to book it the next year.

If you are in a town with one or more high schools, then you definitely need to make an effort to book the graduations.  Many are not being photographed at all or the photographer is only photographing those students who opt for the service in advance.

The program CCS recommends  photographs every student at least twice (two different poses), sends the graduate and /or  parents an email link to the proofs, and follows that up with a paper proof mailed to the graduate’s home.  There is no charge to the school or university for the photography.  The students/parents order only what they want in the privacy of their homes, after looking at proofs online or paper proofs sent to the home.

A wide variety of products and packages are offered which cover a broad price range.  There is something for everyone.  Pictures ordered online through CCS are mailed directly to the graduate’s home within a few days of ordering (usually within 3 or 4 days).

Candid Color has webinars available on all aspects of booking and shooting graduations.  Also, our Customer Development Staff stands ready to help answer all your questions and to mentor you through the entire process.

We have 40 years of experience in this market and process half of all the graduates’ pictures at the high school and college level in the U.S.   If you already have contacts in your local high schools or colleges, leverage those contacts to assist you in booking the graduation.  You will be happy you did.

Resources Available from CCS for Graduations

  • CCS Green Screen Best Practices Guide and CCS Graduation Best Practices Guide posted on Candidnet.candid.com under the “Best Practices” section
  • CCS Webinars (7 scheduled in the next two months)
  • Grad Events-April 10th, 3:30 P.M.  See schedule at Candidnet.candid.com (need user name and password for your account). Schedule is also posted in Developments and Snapshots.
  • Webinar schedule also listed on Candid.com
  • Past Seminar and Workshop Presentations on Graduations posted on Candidnet.candid.com.

For assistance, call your Customer Development Representative who can guide you through the materials and mentor you through your first booking and shooting of a graduation.

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