Your sales funnel- small changes having a HUGE impact on your bottom line.

It is not uncommon that photographers focus intensely on the best ways to book business. We see courses on it, make materials to aide in booking and even go on sales calls with some of our customers. But we are rarely asked, “How can I maximize what I am already shooting?”

Booking and photography are frequently focused on to the exclusion of the other steps needed to run a profitable business. To maximize the business you shoot involves selling the most products to the most people possible. Studying your sales funnel will help you accomplish this.

The reality is that a relatively small percentage of potential buyers in a given situation will actually make a purchase. It has always been that way. But you can increase sales by getting more people to buy and/or getting a higher average sale per buyer.

A few examples of buy rate:

At college graduations about 50% or participants buy their picture.

With an average order of $60, this means you average $30 per graduate shot.

If 400 graduates are photographed then your sales would be $12,000.

For stadium fan photography, about 10% of pictures are purchased.

With an average order of $25, this means you average $2.50 per image taken.

If 6,000 images are taken then you can expect sales would be $15,000.

In both of these examples there is a huge opportunity to increase the number of buyers (or maybe even participants in the case of fan photography).  There is also an opportunity to increase the average order. Both can have a big impact.

Let’s look at an example of our ONLINE business funnel.



We lose potential buyers at each step. Here are a few reasons why we lose potential buyers:

  • not photographed because they were not aware photos were being taken
  • not photographed because they did not know when photos were taking place
  • can’t be contacted to view images (no email collected)
  • lose the password card they are provided at an event & can’t find their images
  • don’t open their emails
  • don’t click on the email to view the website
  • looked at images, but did not buy
  • don’t have a good pose to choose
  • did not see an appealing product
  • “Borrowed” our images instead of buying
  • Built an order /created a cart but did not check out

 A relative few become actual buyers. But think about the opportunity that brings! Let’s shoot for a very attainable improvement of 2 percentage points in the number of buyers.

An improvement of 2 percentage points in the number of people actually buying can have a huge impact when only 10% buy now!

If only 10% order from an event now – a 2 point increase in the number of buyers is a 20% increase in buyers and sales!

Simply reduce the non-buyers from 90% to 88%. That doesn’t seem too hard.

Since many costs for a given shoot are fixed – this can mean a 46% increase in profit.

Let’s look at a simple example for Shoot A:

Current sales of $10,000 (on a large event with 3K images. 300 or 10% purchasing)

Assume fixed costs of $4,000

Travel                        – Cost of booking

Photographers        – Equipment

Sending out proofs – Office overhead

Assume variable cost is 30% or $3,000

Profit of $3,000

$10,000 – $4,000 – $3,000 = $3,000 profit

If we increase the participants in Shoot A who make a purchase by 2 points:

  • That’s 20% more buyers and sales (move from 300 buyers to 360 or 12% purchasing)
  • $2,000 more sales – sales now $12,000
  • But only $600 more variable cost at 30%
  • Profit goes up $1,400
  • Total Profit now is $4,400 versus $3,000
  •  That is a 46% improvement in profit

        How do we get this 2 percentage point increase in buyers?

We study the places we lose buyers and we improve at each point.

Understanding the math…..

Book and schedule an event/opportunity. Here are some numbers to think about.

  • Photograph 75% of all available subjects
  • Have a way to communicate with 75% of them
  • 75% of them open our emails
  • 75% then click on links and view their images
  • 75% of them are honest and don’t “borrow”
  • 75% of them create an order and cart
  • 75% of them actually complete their order!
  • Only 13% of original prospects actually buy!
  • (75% x 75% x 75% x 75% x 75% x 75% x 75% = 13%)

To increase the number of buyers, we must improve at each point in the process.

If you made a 5 percentage point improvement at each step this gives you a much bigger increase than 5%

Check this out !

80% x 80% x 80% x 80% x 80% x 80% x 80% = 27% buy

Now 27% will buy versus 13%!

You will DOUBLE your sales!

You will TRIPLE your profit!

Small actions that impact a lot of people=big change. Think about all of the steps in your process and how you can improve at every turn.

That small 5% difference is why some people make a lot more money than others “doing the same thing.”


Spring clean your business- analyze and revamp

Spring is a great time to take a good look at your business plan. A spring cleaning, if you will. Take the steps now that will ensure your business does well the rest of the year and beyond.

Market to existing customers currently satisfied with your services

While we constantly need to gain new customers, the focus and priority should be on satisfying your existing customer base. Businesses spend 80% of their marketing dollars going after new customers rather than maintaining the customer relationships they already have. Consider this:

– Repeat customers spend 33% more than new customers.

– Referrals are 107% greater than non-customers.

– It costs six times more to sell to a prospect than to sell to a customer.

Increasing sales to existing customers is easier because they already believe in you. Build long-term relationships by showing your customers they truly are your business lifeline and that you care about them. Track phone calls and emails, making sure you keep in contact regularly. Word of mouth is one of, if not the best, form of advertising.

Focus on the parts of your business that bring you the most profits

Review which accounts are the most profitable and why. Why do they have success at their events? What marketing tools, product samples or email campaigns have been used? Determine how the high dollar amount spent per participant was achieved. Do they post pictures quickly after the event? Do they offer good value? A user-friendly website? Were there up-sells that contributed to success?

Be sure to service and maintain every profitable customer again this year.

Review your business plan and make adjustments

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Reviewing your business plan will allow you to see what is working and what is not. This can be the single most important contribution to your company’s survival and success. Use these important steps when reviewing your plan:

•Evaluate your staff

Examine your staff’s productivity. Are they performing and which need improvement? How is their personality in dealing with customers? Are they shooting quality pictures? Are they taking enough pictures? Having your entire staff moving in the same direction with a clear vision of the company’s goals is necessary for success.

•Update equipment regularly

Take inventory of your equipment. Retire old equipment, repair broken equipment and purchase what needs to be replaced. It is also a good idea to standardize. This will make training easier.

•Analyze your events

Do you have a plan in place to review your events’ success or failures? Which products are most popular? Which products are most profitable? Which events are worth booking and which ones are robbing time, money and energy? How can you improve these events and make them profitable to shoot?

•Create a contact quota

Set a realistic number of new prospects to contact per week. Research top prospects and develop a sales strategy to reach them. Track your efforts and record the information you discuss with each prospect so you remember your last conversation when calling them again. Differentiate yourself from your competition with service, products, pricing. Create a referral list and testimonials from satisfied customers. Stay in touch with your prospects and most importantly, FOLLOW UP! Creating and using a follow up system is a guaranteed way to grow your business as 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact! Less than 52% of all sales people follow up with their prospects. If you are in a market with heavy competition, you can eliminate competitors by simply following up!

•Provide excellent customer service

Make sure doing business with your business is EASY. Train your staff to respond to questions, take orders, and fill orders according to specifications. Make sure your capacity fits the needs of your customers so that you can deliver as promised. In some cases, you may need to expand facilities, hire more staff, get more equipment, or outsource production.

Spring clean now and let business bloom for summer, fall and winter months!

“Found money”- a remarketing success story



Prior to the holidays, our local retail operation offered a 30% discount (via email) on digital downloads. This offer appeals to those shopping procrastinators and anyone else that enjoys the immediate gratification of a download.

This special resulted in nearly $4,000 of found money!

Now, if one were to look at the percent who ordered they may not be particularly impressed. The nearly $4,000 came from less than 2% of those who were emailed. We had sales of almost $.10 per email sent. This is not a large number in itself, but this example serves as a reminder that everything is a numbers game.  Little efforts can add up! I think everyone could agree that $4,000 was worth the effort to create this email!

One thing is certain, you will not make any incremental income without collecting email addresses or having some way to re-market to your customers. If you begin building an email database (and keep it fresh by using it to send at least periodic updates to your customers) you can reap ongoing rewards from this effort.

Keep this in mind during all of your spring shoots. Don’t miss the opportunity to make more money in the future by failing to collect emails from your customers.

You could even try a special using digital downloads this spring or summer. Here are some other ideas to get your started:

  • Tax Day, Monday, April 15, 2013- Get a break!
  • Cinco De Mayo, Sunday, May 5, 2013- $5 downloads on 5/5 or $5 off
  • Mother’s Day,  Sunday, May 12, 2013-
  • Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2013
  • Flag Day, June 14, 2013
  • Father’s Day  Sunday, June 16, 2013- Downloads are great for digital frames.
  • First Day of Summer, Friday, June 21, 2013
  • 4th of July- $4 downlaods or $4 off. Celebrate the sale!
  • August – Back to School – Downloads for school projects!

Happy marketing!



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.

Holiday Re-Marketing

Now is the time to prepare for holiday sales! The goal of all marketing is to attract interest in, build desire for, and generate sales of your products or services. Why not do this several months (or even years) after a shoot? Your images are still valuable and can have new life breathed into them with re-marketing. And email is one of the most cost effective tools to achieve your re-marketing goals.

Remarketing with emails-Reasons Why

Emails reach your audience fast and are inexpensive to create. Depending on your email and image hosting providers*, you may have little to no upfront cost in creating your holiday re- marketing campaign other than your time.

Consider these 5 good reasons to email your customers this holiday season:

1. Email to alert customers that their images are online for re-orders 2. Email to remind customers their images are still online 3. Email to advertise seasonal items (ex: holiday cards and ornaments) 4. Email to give customers gift ideas for the upcoming holidays (ex: iphone, cases, canvas wraps, mugs, etc.) 5. Email your customers to alert them about a sale or “special” you are conducting (ex: consider suspending any late fees as a way to get more participation!) Remarketing with email-Where to start

Mark your calendar with some of the key holiday dates including: Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Consider making your offer available for a specific and limited amount of time which will drive your customers to a purchasing decision. Holiday order cut-offs should take extended holiday shipping times into account.

Make sure to use an email program that will allow you to track your success in order to make future improvements. Make sure to include these details in your holiday re-marketing email plan:

1. Test subject line effectiveness by comparing open rates (consider an A/B test) 2. Test graphics, layout & offers with click-thru rates, and more specifically, the clicks per link in your email. 3. Personalize the email whenever possible (drop in one of the customer’s images if possible (But don’t give away too much! You may want to use a watermark) Take advantage of these ideas and prepare your own re-marketing plan. Other upcoming holidays to consider as re-marketing opportunities include: the Fourth of July, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day. All holidays are eligible for a promotion!

The proof is in the pudding-Re-marketing with email success!

One colleague recently put email re-marketing to the test. He shoots several large annual events and collects emails at these events. He rolls his email database over year-to-year because many of the attendees are the same among his events (while making sure to remove unsubscribes and bad addresses that occur due to regular list churn).

He ran a Christmas e-mail promotion to a year’s worth of his events and exceeded $28,000 in extra sales! These sales occurred on roughly 10,000 emails meaning he collected about $2.80 for every email address. (a strong case for collecting emails even when you are shooting pre-pay events!)

He then designed a Valentine’s email campaign with a couple of creative marketing strategies. The promotion was for a limited time only and advertised a 50% discount off a digital download. The perfect gift for procrastinators and for images where you have already sold prints and gifts! His Valentine’s promotion exceeded $12,000 in sales in just a three week period. This promotion used the same set of email addresses which had generated so much additional revenue at Christmas just a few weeks prior.

Email is a great way to test all of your holiday re-marketing ideas and is a wonderful tool to collect additional revenue. Design your email plan today and have a Happy Holiday season!

Emails, the Super Tool

Emails. They’ve become such a part of our daily personal and professional lives that we hardly think twice about the influence they have on us. We use them for everything, from staying in touch with friends to sharing important information among contacts. However, emails also have a hidden power you may not be aware of: when using them for your photography business; they can improve your event sales significantly! [Read more…]

What Do I Do Now? Remarketing After Grads

Remarketing after the first thirty days of a graduation is an integral part of creating additional sales. Remember that the only costs associated with remarketing are prints, hosting fees, credit cards fees and mailing costs. Your other costs are already covered. Hence, you have a very high profit margin on the sales resulting from remarketing.

There are several ways to reach your customers after May that will increase your sales as well as profit margin. This will maximize your profits on graduation shoots.

Remarketing can be done many different ways. Additional emails and postcards are two great ways to reach your customer. Below you will see examples of what these additional efforts can mean for your sales and more importantly, your bottom line. Your total profit on an event can be increased by as much as 22%!

  • This example uses a 300 student graduation with two shots:

    Sales: Let’s assume ….
    Participation/buy rate of 42 % = 126 orders
    Selling price of $7.95 per 5×7 and $14 per 8×10
    Order average of $35.71 (without shipping)
    Sales subtotal $4499
    Gross sales $5129 (with $5 shipping)

    Variable Costs: Let’s assume ….





    Id’ing $12 /hr for 3 hrs.


    Data entry $12/hr for 2 hrs.


    Proofs at  $ .80 (including mailing) each X 300


    Print costs (15%)


    CC Processing fee


    Hosting fee (7%)


    Order entry $12 /hr for 3 hrs.




    Total Variable Costs


    Total costs $1787.72
    Gross sales $5129.46 (with shipping)
    Profit $3341.71 or 65%

Maximizing the event with remarketing

Now, let’s assume that we are able to increase sales 20% using cost-efficient postcards!
$6155.35 or an increase of $1025.89 (with postcards)
NOTE: Additional sales include a $5 archive fee for each order
22.44 orders at $45.71 each with archive fee & shipping

NEW Variable Costs: Let’s assume ….

Postcards at  $ .40 each X 174


Print cost


Hosting Fee (7%)


Order Entry




Labor $12/hr X 1hrs


Total add’l costs


$1025.89-$254.80 =$771.09 Net Profit after postcards
75% is pure profit on the additional 20% of sales


Increasing Sales with email marketing

Now, let’s assume that we are able to increase sales 10% using emails only!
$6155.35 or an increase of $512.95 (using emails only)

NOTE: Additional sales include a $5 archive fee for each order
11.22 orders at $45.71 each with archive fee & shipping

Variable Costs using emails: Let’s assume ….

Print cost


Hosting Fee (7%)


Order Entry




Labor $12/hr X 1hrs


Total add’l costs


$512.95-$121.79 =$391.16 Net Profit
76% Profit on the additional 10% of sales


The Results
The original profit on this graduation event was $3341.71.  Adding the additional profit with extended email marketing and postcards of $1162.25 = Total Profit of $4503.96.
A 34% increase in profit!
You now have 87% total profit now!
These additional sales account for 17% of your total sales! They also account for 26% of the total profit!


Candid Color Systems is now hosting your images for five years. As a photographer, you should take advantage of remarketing your events as well as having a five year marketing plan on all of your events. To discuss your remarketing efforts, please contact Customer Development at 800-336-4550.

What You Need To Know About Facebook Timeline

If you’ve been paying attention to your Facebook page recently, you’ll have noticed it has a new look! That’s because on March 30th all Facebook pages were changed to the new timeline format. With the design change have also come some functionality changes as well as some new features that previously didn’t exist. So what’s changed?

Cover Photos

Probably the biggest design/aesthetic change for your Facebook page is the addition of a cover photo. The photo itself is essentially a giant banner located at the top of your Facebook page like the one below.









It’s really the first branding opportunity you have when someone visits your page plus it’s a great way to make a good first impression. Be sure it accurately expresses the personality of your business, but be aware that there are some conditions when it comes to your cover photo. Your image can’t contain any contact information, prices, calls to action (“like this”) or any arrows directing people to certain parts of your page. Violating any of these terms could get you in hot water if Facebook ever found out.

No Default Landing Tabs

While Facebook hasn’t gotten rid of tabs entirely, they have begun to start shifting the focus of pages away from tabs and more towards an immersive user experience in the brand and its story. Before timeline, businesses could direct people who had not liked their page to a default landing tab filled with some kind of branded content. Now this is no longer the case, at least for people who come to your page organically. If you advertise your page with Facebook ads, you can still direct people who click to certain landing tabs with branded content.

Post Enhancements

While the act of posting hasn’t really changed, Facebook has added some new enhancements to make posting more interesting to someone engaging with your content.

  1. Pinning to the top – You now have the option to pin a single post to the top of your Facebook page, where it will remain for seven days no matter how much new content you post. This is great if you’ve got something important to tell your fan base and you don’t want it to get buried underneath future posts.
  2. Highlighting Posts – With Timeline, your posts will now appear down your page in two columns instead of just one, alternating from left to right. Instead of having a post appear on just one side of your timeline, you have the option of highlighting it – which makes it stretch out over both columns. This can come in quite handy if you have something important to say that you want to stand out, yet you don’t want to pin it to the top of your page.
  3. Milestones – A lot like highlighting posts, Milestones will highlight important events in the history of your company. This is a great engagement tool that can help immerse people in your company’s story and show them where you’ve been and where you’re going!

Timeline is a great new layout for your Facebook page that includes a lot of new and interesting tools to help your business reach and engage with your followers. Use it effectively and watch your presence on Facebook grow! For other information on how to grow your sports photography business, contact our Customer Development Department at 1-800-336-4550.

Why is CCS More Than a Sports Lab?

Candid Color Systems’ focus is different than most Pro Photo Labs.  Most labs focus on creating lab products and providing those in high quality at a reasonable price and a reasonable amount of time to their customers.  Those are noble goals and we certainly aspire to them.

However, CCS has always been about marketing.  Marketing is providing the mechanisms and materials to attract customers and to convert them into buyers of your products.   We are one of the few professional labs that have a marketing department in house.  We are also one of the few labs that operate a full blown retail operation which is also a marketing laboratory in which to test and refine our products and processes.

Hence, we are constantly thinking about how our customers can obtain permission from an event gatekeeper to photograph that event as well as how to market the pictures to the event attendees. We also strive to provide the methods and products to achieve the highest participation and sales average per order from each kind of event.

We have our own Software Development department which allows us to swiftly innovate and implement new products, which allows our customers to be more competitive.

The software we develop allows our customers to match names with pictures and email links to those pictures, which has proven to be twice as effective as simply throwing the images up on line and passing out webcards.

The overriding focus is to help our customers book more business and to make that business profitable. 

All of these advantages are available in all of the markets which Candid Color Systems supports. These include sports, graduations, races, groups, party pictures, portraits and weddings, and Glamour Shots®.  So, don’t think of CCS as a Sports Lab but as your source of information for marketing and support to help you grow your business.


Dan Hays

Chief Operations Officer

Who’s Viewing You? A Guide to Website Analytics Companies for your Photography Business

So you’ve got a website for your photography business, it looks great and functions perfectly. But how do you know it’s getting visited by potential clients? Enter analytics, with several options to choose from, it provides you with loads of valuable information regarding the people that visit your website, ranging from how long they stayed on your site to how they got there. With this information, you can track what marketing efforts work the best and adjust your strategy accordingly. But there are several different companies you can use to track people who visit your site. Which ones should you use? Check out the list below for some great info on the most popular sites you can use!



Google Analytics

Easily the most popular analytics site, Google provides very powerful and easy to use tools that even the most non-tech literate person can use. Google Analytics is able to help you track info such as how many page views your site receives, what websites referred traffic to yours and even what browser the people that visited your site were using. You are also able to set “goals” which are web pages that users reach once they have completed a specific action on your website, i.e. booking a photo session.


Quantcast is an excellent free analytics website that provides more info regarding who is visiting your site rather than how many people and for how long. After you “Quantify” your website, Quantcast will track information regarding the people who visit you. For example, Quantcast is able to track the most likely age of visitors to your site as well as what level of education they are likely to have and the most likely household income. Based on this data you can see whether or not your marketing efforts are targeting the people you want coming to your site and if it’s not you can adjust accordingly.


Is another great free site that allows you to track the numbers you get with Google Analytics as well as some of the data about the users that visit you. While not as comprehensive as the other two it is still a free option that allows you to track which keywords are driving traffic to your site as well as your relative search ranking within those specific keywords.

This is only a small sample of web analytics tools you can use to monitor your web traffic online. There are several other paid and free examples that we didn’t mention here and don’t forget that you can use one or more of these services at the same time to get all the relevant info you want! Want more help understanding how to market your photography business using search engines? Would you like to know which bits of data you need to pay attention to most when monitoring your traffic online? Become a CCS customer today and we’ll show you how! Please contact Customer Development at 800-336-4550 to sign up for a FREE account.  


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