1 week left until our regional Meeting in Atlanta! Meet us January 23rd!

Candid Color Systems® is going on the road! We are bringing staff members to you by hosting a series of regional meetings for CCS customers. Our next meeting is in Atlanta following the Imaging USA Expo on January 23rd!

These photography business meetings are a great opportunity for learning, discussion and networking offered to CCS customers at no cost! Join us to hear about new developments, best practices and industry trends that will help you grow your photo business. Each meeting will have time for an open discussion with topics selected by attendees. The meetings will be 9am-4pm and CCS will provide a light lunch.

LOCATION:

Twelve Hotel- Centennial Park
400 W. Peachtree Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30308
Tel: 404.418.1212

Click here to register for the event and to give us your input on the agenda.

Other upcoming regional meetings:

  • Miami, FL Wednesday, February 13th 2013
  • Austin, TX Thursday, March 7th 2013
  • Las Vegas, NV Sunday, March 10th 2013

Hotel accommodations: CCS has not reserved a room block at this hotel.

Please call or email one of our Customer Development representatives below if you have questions or click here if you would like to open an account.

How home security changed the photo industry

If you are like us, you have consumed a ridiculous amount of turkey and finally cleaned up the gift wrap. You may also be joining us in thinking hard about your upcoming year. What can be accomplished in 2013? There is infinite possibility!

Last week, we shared some of Jack’s holiday-inspired thoughts. In case you missed them, here is an important excerpt… We must constantly be in a learning mode.  When one stops learning – one soon becomes irrelevant.  There is a fine line between experience being your asset and experience being a form of baggage. 

The opportunities to learn are all around us.  We can find new information and skills from talking with others, from watching programs, from going to seminars, from going to trade shows, reading and much more.

For many, these comments seem like fluff. But it is with a heartfelt desire for constant improvement and a love for innovation that we share an example to illustrate the power of learning. Many of the significant advancements in every industry were right under the noses of those closest to the changes.

Here’s our story…

In the mid-eighties, a businessman visited a home trade show. The show contained all matter of impressive home-improvement projects including lawn equipment, windows, the latest in consumer electronics and home security devices (which all seem archaic now).

After making a few passes by a home security booth and seeing himself on the grainy black and white monitor used to display the feed from a security camera, he wondered if a user could print out the images from those cameras.

After speaking with the security booth representative, he learned that you could indeed print images from the security footage with the right set of hardware, cables and printer. Of course, the security expert warned, the printed images are rarely helpful because the security cameras are typically quite far from the subjects (hinting at what we now commonly refer to as poor resolution).

While not a good sell for the system as a security device, that conversation sparked another idea. Why not use this type of system in the photography world? Why not “record” a photography session simultaneously while photographing the client? How could this system allow clients to see their images?

The rest is history. This idea was soon tested for composite shoots. The idea was later adapted for portrait studios by synchronizing the video camera and screen with the film camera’s exposure (long before digital).

With a few other details and tweaks, this discovery eventually turned into the onsite proofing system that allowed Glamour Shots® to show images to their clients at the end of their photo session and receive an immediate printed proof. Viewing “video proofs” allowed the studios to have a sales session without the expense of printing proofs at a lab or requiring a customer to come back days or weeks after their session. It allowed the studios to take advantage of the excitement of the moment.

There was nothing new about this system in the security world, but it was industry-changing when applied to photography. Hundreds of stores and franchisees benefited from this simple application of an existing technology in a new way.

If you have been in the business world for very long at all you are keenly aware that change is the only constant. Open eyes and an open mind are the best tools you can arm yourself with. Let’s keep learning. Let’s make refinements. And as Jack stated last week….Let’s create and offer better products and services.  If we do that, the sales and profits will take care of themselves.  I truly believe that.

Here’s to a great 2013…with open eyes and open minds!

 

Happy Holidays: A letter from CCS President, Jack Counts Jr.

I hope you are enjoying the holiday season. The holidays are my favorite time of year and are a period where I reflect on my life’s many great memories and blessings.

The memories are bolstered by the many photographs I have around me in physical and electronic forms. Just seeing all of these images reminds me of the importance of what we do.

We truly add to the richness of people’s lives. Just yesterday, we were working on a new product, and my genuine thought was how cool it would be for the graduates and their families to have this product!

I am sure that kind of thought must cross your mind as you work in this memory business, too.

As we move into next year – let’s keep that thought! Let’s create images and products that enhance people’s memories – beyond what we do now. Let’s create and offer better products and services. If we do that, the sales and profits will take care of themselves. I truly believe that.

In order to do this, we must arm ourselves with better knowledge, new tools, and a positive attitude.

What we already know has value – but we must WORK to go beyond what we know now. We must constantly be in a learning mode. When one stops learning – one soon becomes irrelevant. There is a fine line between experience being an asset, or it being a form of baggage. That is the hard truth.

The opportunities to learn are all around us. We can find new information and skills from talking with others, from watching programs, from going to seminars, from going to trade shows, and from reading. I find SO much information from reading online and from traditional magazines.

Things change constantly. Some changes are big – but most changes are refinements or enhancements. And sometimes the small things can make huge differences – especially in business.

As we prepare to enter 2013, I hope that you will resolve to challenge yourself (as we do here at CCS) to never stop learning. If we are striving to learn, innovate and to do better for our customers, then we will all have a great year!

Happy Holidays,

Jack

 

The CCS Regional Meeting in Atlanta is less than 5 weeks away!

Candid Color Systems® is going on the road! We are bringing staff members to you by hosting a series of regional meetings for CCS customers. Our next meeting is in Atlanta following the Imaging USA Expo on January 23rd!

These photography business meetings are a great opportunity for learning, discussion and networking offered to CCS customers at no cost! Join us to hear about new developments, best practices and industry trends that will help you grow your photo business. Each meeting will have time for an open discussion with topics selected by attendees. The meetings will be 9am-4pm and CCS will provide a light lunch.

LOCATION:

Twelve Hotel- Centennial Park
400 W. Peachtree Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30308
Tel: 404.418.1212

Click here to register for the event and to give us your input on the agenda.

Other upcoming regional meetings:

  • Miami, FL Wednesday, February 13th 2013
  • Austin, TX Thursday, March 7th 2013
  • Las Vegas, NV Sunday, March 10th 2013

Hotel accommodations: CCS has not reserved a room block at this hotel.

Please call or email one of our Customer Development representatives below if you have questions or click here if you would like to open an account.

Candid Color Systems will be exhibiting at the Imaging USA Expo in January

We will be in two locations! Booth #1053 is our primary CCS booth showcasing our lab services. Booth #963 will be demonstrating our newest event photography and marketing tool called Select-a-Scene. Those of you who have attended a recent CCS meeting may have heard about Select-a-Scene which allows consumers to use their own camera phones to get amazing event or brand specific products. Learn more by visiting us in Atlanta this January!

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.

We are hosting 4 more regional meetings!

We are hosting 4 more regional meetings. We are heading to Atlanta next on January 23rd!

Candid Color Systems® is going on the road! We are bringing staff members to you by hosting a series of regional meetings for CCS customers with our next meeting being held in Atlanta on January 23rd following the Imaging USA Expo.

These photography business meetings are a great opportunity for learning, discussion and networking offered to CCS customers at no cost! Join us to hear about new developments, best practices and industry trends that will help you grow your photo business. Each meeting will have time for an open discussion with topics selected by attendees. The meetings will be 9am-4pm and CCS will provide a light lunch.

Click here (http://www.candid.com/knowledge_center/educate/regmeet_agenda.aspx) to see our tentative meeting agenda. Each topic will be covered for at least an hour. The exact meeting locations are to be determined, but will be posted soon!

Atlanta, GA Saturday, January 23rd 2013

Miami, FL Wednesday, February 13th 2013

Austin, TX Thursday, March 7th 2013

Las Vegas, NV Sunday, March 10th 2013

Please call or email one of our Customer Development representatives below if you have questions or need to open an account. You can also open a CCS account online today: http://www.candid.com/get_started/open_account.aspx.

Darwin Drake: darwind@candid.com; 405-951-7306 (direct phone) Bo Krogstad: bo.krogstad@candid.com; 405-951-7474 (direct phone) Kady Thompson: kady.thompson@candid.com; 405-951-7414 (direct phone)

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!

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