Customer Development – We’re Here for YOU!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you been wondering how to book that soccer league you’ve had your eye on but don’t know how? Have you been trying to think of ways to boost your online sales? Do you wish you had a few samples to present on your booking calls?

If you’ve been asking yourself these questions and others, our Customer Development staff is here to help! The Customer Development department is a unique team of experienced consultants, who are well versed in photography techniques, booking and executing events, marketing strategies and much more. With a combination of over 70 years of experience in the photography and photofinishing industry, this department is an incredible asset for your growing photography business.

Here are just a few of the many services offered by the Customer Development department:

  • New customer packets and tutorials
  • Coordination of product samples and marketing materials
  • QuicPost software training
  • Photography techniques and equipment advice
  • Suggestions for product offerings and pricing
  • Topic-specific webinars
  • Advice columns and success stories
  • Updates on the latest Candid products and services
  • Operational best practices
  • And much more!

From the day you set up your new account, a Development representative is assigned to your account and ready to answer any questions you may have. This person will be your point of contact every time you call the Development department to ensure consistent service and reliability. Jaime Seymour Newton, a customer from Palmetto Bay, Florida appreciates this relationship:

“I wanted to let you know how nice it is working with my representative in Customer Development. We have spoken several times at length about my business, ideas on how to grow and what other successful photographers are doing with the Candid product lines. Who does that anymore? Service like this is hard to come by in this day and age. I just love working with Candid Color Systems.”

Do you need some assistance? As a Candid Color Systems customer we don’t want you to miss out on the support you can receive from the Development Department. Feel free to give the department a call at 1-800-336-4550 or dial one of the following extensions:

Brian Speers, ext. 251

Darwin Drake, ext. 306

Bo Krogstad, ext. 474

Sara Wilson, ext. 134

Kady Thompson 414

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

The Importance of Presentation for Youth Sports Photography Businesses

Regardless of what business you’re in, first impressions are everything. A great first impression and a professional look can help a youth sports photography business book more business, and increase its sales on every job.

Presentation when booking the shoot

You will need to adapt your dress and presentation for different situations.

If you’re approaching a coach before a practice, you’ll want to dress more casually (khaki pants or shorts and polo shirts) than you would if you were meeting with league or school officials.

It’s also a necessity that you have professional looking business cards on hand to leave with the person/people that you’re meeting.

Business cards should look professional, not printed at home on card stock, and have a simple layout with all your relevant information clearly visible (address, phone number, email address).

Also, try putting your picture, preferably a nice business portrait, on your business cards. It’s much harder for someone to throw away a business card with a picture on it and it also reminds that person of you.

One mistake that youth sports photographers make when trying to book new business is that they put down their competition. Never be negative about a competitor. This makes you look unprofessional and can cost you the shoot in the end.

Don’t assume that the coach/organization is unhappy with their current photographer. You want to expand upon what your competition is doing and present yourself as a better solution to their needs.

Some other important things to consider:

- Continuity is important. Everything should be branded with your company name and logo.

- No tobacco use in or around school property or the meeting area. Also, no visible tattoos or unacceptable piercings should be showing.

- Smile! Be a cheerleader for your business.

- Have a professional way to show samples. Presenting your samples electronically, on an iPad or Laptop, perhaps even with projector, will help you save money on physical samples. However, you will want to have physical samples of any specialty products that you offer.

- When making your presentation to a group of people, be sure to have copies of your presentation to pass out. For a one on one meeting, having a single page flyer that outlines your services will suffice.

- Know your products and offers thoroughly. Have pricing available that will fit people and areas from all walks of life.

- Have a calendar and scheduling agreements with you, in case they want to book with you on the spot.

- Everything is about expectations. Make sure that your expectations regarding a shoot line up with theirs. Do what you say you’re going to do when you’re going to do it.

Your professional image says a lot about you and your business and it can mean the difference between booking a shoot or watching your competition collect the sales.

Tips for a Successful 2012

As the New Year begins, now is the time to create new resolutions to improve your business. Here are a couple of ideas that will help you achieve this goal.

Market to the customers that are currently satisfied with your services

While a growing business needs to constantly 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 and clients rather than maintaining the customer relationships they already have. Before you spend your time and money searching for new clients you do not have a relationship with, consider the following statistics:

-   Repeat customers spend 33% more than new customers.

-   Referrals among repeat customers are 107% greater than non-customers.

-   It costs six times more to sell something to a prospect than to sell that same thing to a customer.

As you can see, increasing sales to this group of customers is easier because they already believe in you. It is crucial that this group is constantly aware of how much you appreciate them. Customers can detect indifference and insincerity and they simply will not tolerate it. Build long term relationships by treating your customers as if they truly are your business lifeline and show them that you truly care about them. Keep this group of customers informed and stay in front of them as much as possible. Update them on special offers, product improvements, and policy changes. Stay consistent with tracking phone calls and emails, making sure this group of customers is never ignored. Ask these customers if they know anyone that needs your service. These customers can be an excellent advertising tool for you. Word of mouth is one of, if not the best, form of advertising. Remember them so they remember you.

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

To get ahead and to continue to grow your business, focus on the parts of your business that bring you the most profit. Of course making sales is always necessary, but determine which accounts are the most profitable and what the characteristics of these accounts are. Review the demographics of these accounts. What steps have been taken to have such great participation for their events? What marketing tools such as advertising, product samples or email campaigns have been used? Determine how the high dollar amount spent per participant was achieved. Was it because of posting the pictures quickly after the event? Fair pricing representing a good value? A user friendly website with a well designed offer? Were there up-sells attached to certain products that contributed to the success? These are the areas to concentrate on to duplicate success. Make it a goal to increase this part of your business. Try to service and maintain every profitable customer again this year. Discover your cash cow and feed it.

Review your business plan and make adjustments

As they say, 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. There are several areas to concentrate on when reviewing your plan. Here are a few ideas of where to start.

Evaluate your staff

Communicate with your staff and let them know the company goals for the year. Examine your photographers and their work. Determine which ones are performing and which ones need improvement. How is their personality when dealing with customers? Are they shooting good quality pictures? Are they taking enough pictures? Upgrading and coordinating your staff is crucial. You are only as strong as your weakest link. Having your entire staff moving in the same direction with a clear vision of the company’s goals is necessary for success.

Out with old; in with new

With this being a slower time of year for most, take inventory of your equipment. Retire old equipment, repair broken equipment and purchase what needs to be replaced.

Read your reports

Analyze your data and reports through CCS software. Which products are the most popular? Which products are the most profitable? Which events are worth booking and which ones are robbing time, money and energy? What steps can be taken to improve these events and make them profitable to shoot?

This review will reveal great opportunities and ideas for improving your business. Adjustments to your business plan will also allow for better decision making and goal setting.

Create a contact quota

Establish a realistic number of new prospects to contact per week. Prepare a list of the top prospects and develop a sales strategy to reach them. Build stronger relationships with the use of an effective CRM (Customer Relationship Management) program. Keep track of your efforts and record the information you discuss with each prospect. Review this information each time before contacting the prospect again, so you are up to date on your last conversation. Get your marketing materials updated and organized. Feature unique or creative client solutions on your website and newsletter to showcase your company’s talent to the marketplace. You only get one chance to make a first impression; make it as positive as possible. Discover ways to differentiate yourself from your competition with over the top service, unique products and competitive pricing. Organize a referral list and testimonials of satisfied customers. Stay in touch with your prospects and of course follow up, follow up, follow up. Here are some interesting facts about the power of follow up:

48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect

25% of sales people make a second contact and stop

12% of sales people make more than three contacts

-  2% of sales are made on the first contact

-  3% of sales are made on the second contact

-  5% of sales are made on the third contact

-  10% of sales are made on the fourth contact

80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

Creating and using a follow up system is a guaranteed way to grow your business.  In fact less than 52% of all sales people follow up with their prospects. Following up will not only grow your business but will make your company stand out amongst your competitors.  Remember 80% of sales are made in the fifth to twelfth contact. If you are in a market with heavy competition, you can eliminate your competitors by simply following up.

Provide excellent customer service

Make sure doing business with your business is easy. Respond to questions, take orders, and fill orders according to specifications. Maintain the capacity to serve customers. Make sure your capacity fits the lead times and requirements of your customers so that you can deliver when promised, as promised. In some cases, you may need to expand facilities, hire more staff, get more equipment, or outsource production. Quality should be embedded in all of your processes. Poor quality will obviously lead to returns and claims but, more importantly, will result in losing customers forever. Train your staff to interact effectively with customers and to keep up with trends of the industry leaders.

Candid Color Systems can provide you assistance in your marketing and booking efforts. We have training presentations, newsletters and custom marketing materials. If you need advice about booking and shooting any kind of event, Customer Development is here to help! Call 800.336.4550 to receive even more valuable information that will lead you to a successful 2012.  It’s a brand new year, make it a great one!

 

 

 

 

Bo Krogstad – Customer Development Specialist


 

 

 

New Year, New Pro Photo Lab

As you wrap up 2011, you may find yourself searching for a new professional photo lab. While you evaluate the qualities you desire from a lab, consider these qualities that set Candid Color Systems apart from other labs.

 

We Support Our Customers

Our company motto recognizes that “We exist solely because of our customers and we are only successful when they are successful.” One thing customers are consistently amazed by is the quality of our one-on-one customer service. We have three departments solely dedicated to customer relations:

1)      Customer Service

-          Free order tracking and order assistance

-          Customer assistance for your end consumers

-          Accounting and lab services

2)      Technical Support

-          After-hours emergency technical support

-          Free, one-on-one software training

3)      Customer Development

-          Free learning opportunities, such as webinars and personal trainings

-          Free consulting on sales and marketing strategies

Guidance on industry trends and products

 

We are Innovative

One of the strengths of Candid Color Systems is our ability to innovate and inspire. Our staff is coming up with new products and processes constantly that are engineered to excite you and grab the attention of your end customers. Here are just a few of the great things we’ve been up to:

 

Products

-   Attitude Panos- We were the first in the industry to offer these dynamic team panoramic prints. You shoot, we do the rest!


Level Two- The new generation of posed action shots with cutting-edge graphic backgrounds.

Virtual Groups­- A brand new concept for large group portraits using green screen.
Processes

E-Commerce Solutions­- We have the lowest fees in the industry!

Email Campaigns- Choose from over 17 carefully marketed emails and the ability to send single emails to your event’s customers.

Green Screen Solutions- We offer a collection of 400+ green screen backgrounds- completely free of charge.

 

We are Knowledgeable

Our business is to help your business succeed. With over forty year in the photo finishing industry, we have the knowledge to help you grow. As a Candid Color customer, you will have many opportunities to improve your business processes, offer great products that sell and learn from other experienced photographers. Here are just a few of the things Candid Color offers:

-          Marketing support and materials

-          Comprehensive business reports and customer reports

-          Free webinars, training and weekly articles

-          Business development techniques and advice

-          Free annual seminars and workshops

 

We would love to give you more reasons why Candid Color Systems is a good choice for your pro photo lab. Give us a call at 1-800-336-4550 or visit us at www.candid.com to learn more about our company and what we have planned for the coming year.

Reports That Can Help You Run Your Business: Event Sales Aging Report

Candid Color Systems has developed a new online report called the Event Sales Aging Report.  This new, beneficial business tool displays a sales cycle for specific events or market type over a defined period of time.  This data can be compiled from any online event orders placed across multiple CCS software platforms and can be filtered in a variety of ways.  The Sales Aging Report presents information on:

- Total Sales
– Sales within the first 7 days
– Sales 8-14 days after an event
– Sales 15-30 days after an event
– Sales 46-60 days after an event
– Sales 61-90 days after an event
– Sales 90+ days after an event
                                                                                                                                                           

What is a sales lifecycle?

The sales lifecycle is commonly defined as the interval between initial contact with customers and the final purchasing decision. For our purposes, however, we will define the sales cycle as when your sales occur, relative to an event, and how often sales occur thereafter.
                                                                                                                                                              

Why It’s Important

Understanding the sales lifecycle is a critical part to a successful business. By getting a good grasp on this information, you can better manage your time and resources and gain insight on the following factors: 
   – Cash flow management
           o Budget planning
           o Forecasting revenue
   – Compare sales from year to year
           o Track successes and failures
   – Managing your staff
           o Hiring new employees
           o Salary adjustments
           o Downsizing
   – Adjust marketing campaigns
           o Re-orders
   – New product/service innovation
           o When to introduce new products/services
           o When to retire old or outdated product/services
                                                                                                                                              

Marketing Implications

In addition to the items listed above, understanding your sales cycle can also help you determine what your most effective marketing strategy is. If you create an email campaign, you can see which are effective in generating sales and which you should replace. If you are mailing paper proofs or postcards after your event, you can see what immediate affect this has on your sales. This data will allow you to adjust your marketing plan in order to find the most effective way to get your customers to order, and ultimately increase your business in the long run.
                                                                                                                                                         

How CCS can Help

To take advantage of our sales tracking report, please contact Customer Development at 800-336-4550.

Spring Sports: It’s Never Too Late to Begin Booking New Business!

 

Spring

Spring

The calendar puts us squarely on the cusp of a new year with initial spring sport shoots scheduled to begin in as few as eight weeks from now in some regions of the country; and as many as twelve weeks for the rest of the country.

Perhaps, if your spring line-up of leagues and teams is looking a bit lean at this time, take the time now to create a potential list of clients for the upcoming sports season.  If you think it’s too late to start booking, think again.  We have found that often leagues re-sign with photographers that have done a poor job because no other photographer even attempted to contact them.

Where to begin?  Start with where you want to do business.  Do you want to work in a 10, 20, or 30 mile radius from your home; or are you willing to scour the landscape to travel 50 or more miles from home?  Making this decision will help you define who you photograph, and what teams or schools are within your selected area.

image

Next, if you decide that middle schools and high schools are your photographic prey try subscribing to the Clell Wade Coaches Directory http://www.coachesdirectory.com/  for the most up-to-date listing of school athletic directors and coaches—by state—that you can obtain for a very nominal fee.  This directory will save you hours of time that you would have taken trying to amass a list like this.  But having a list is just part of the equation.  What do you do once you have the list?

Well, your first instinct may be to call, write, or email potential clients and that will get you—well, maybe nowhere! We strongly suggest and recommend that you make personal visits to each of the schools on the list that you have created.  Athletic directors and coaches will not return voicemail messages or emails from someone with whom they have no relationship.  So start a relationship by visiting in person, meeting with the decision makers, and leaving samples of what you do! It is a lot harder for them to blow you off in person than it is via phone or email.  Make 10 sales calls per day and you’ll be surprised when you begin measuring your effectiveness and the results.

Some of you may only be interested in pursuing youth leagues and with an average pre-pay buy rate of around 80%, they are very lucrative. Don’t assume anything!  The only assumption you should make is that no one has booked a photographer—yet—and that you will make every effort to book your share of the business.  In the past few years several websites have emerged that provide listings of teams in all spring sports all over the country.  Some of these are www.eteamz.com; www.bluesombrero.com; and www.active.com.

You will spend some time fishing through these sites, drilling down by state to snare contact information.  But in the long run it will allow you to pinpoint the person you need to speak with in order to make a presentation.

Finally, church leagues are often overlooked but many CCS customers have had great success with Upward, www.upward.org. These are church leagues that are highly organized, have excellent participation, and are, as a rule, an entry level sports experience for first-time athletes.  Because of these three factors the buy rate is close to 100%, and Upward supports three or four different sports per calendar year.

Your Spring season can change with a little hard work and planning.  Your booking time is limited, but a true effort will reward you with business you never had before.

Spring

Search Engine Basics for Your Photo Business

Can your business be found at the top of the page in Search Engines?  If not, there are a few things you can do to increase the visibility of your business name in the 3 major search engines: Google, Yahoo and MSN/Bing.

There are 3 ways your business can be found in search engines.types of search

1. Local Map Listings – this service is free in all 3 search engines.
2. Organic Search – this service is free in all 3 search engines but requires changes to your website.  If you’ve had someone else design your website you may incur costs to change your website.
3. Paid Search or (PPC) – this is not free and there are a number of factors that determine the price of the ad.

Let’s start with Local Map Listings.  It is vital that you claim your business information in each search engine so you can control what it listed about your business.  There is a lot more you can do with the local listing tools in all three search engines than just list your business name, address & phone number.   You can publish your hours of operation, list the products and services you provide, display photos & videos, create coupons and most of it is free!  The more information you provide the more content the search engines will have to find your business.

Google:
The link for the Google Local Business Center is: https://www.google.com/accounts/ServiceLogin?utm_medium=et&utm_source=us-en-et-bizsol-0-biz1-all&utm_campaign=en&continue=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Flocal%2Fadd%2Flogin%3Fhl%3Den_US%26gl%3DUS&service=lbc&hl=en-US&gl=US

google local business

Google’s Local Listing allows you to provide contact information, basic information, link to website, product & service information, display photos & videos and create coupons.
 
Google now offers a reporting dashboard in the Local Business Center that gives you the ability to learn where your customers come from and what they search for to find you.  You can use these search terms to fine tune your listing by placing those search terms in your information.  For example, if people are using the search term “photography Oklahoma City” you may want to add a line in your company information that says “Candid Color Photography has been a leader in special events photography in the Oklahoma City area for over 30 years.”  You will also be able to use this information to update your website for Organic Search and PPC.

 

Yahoo!:
The link for Yahoo! Local Listings is: http://listings.local.yahoo.com/
yahoo local

With Yahoo you have 3 options:
1. Basic Listing: this listing is free and you can provide contact information, basic information, link to website, product & service information, and up to 5 category specific information fields.  The category specific fields allow you to tell Yahoo in which search categories you want people to find your business. 
2. Enhanced Listing: includes all of the Basic Listing plus a company logo & tagline, up to 10 photos, and more detailed business description.  This type of listing costs $9.95 per month.
3. Featured Listing: includes both Basic and Enhanced features plus premium placement, guaranteed placement, and broader exposure.  This listing costs $25.00 per month.  You may want to use this type of listing if you are in a major metropolitan area with a lot of competition.  This will guarantee you are listed at the top of the local listings.

 

MSN/Bing Local:
The link for Bing Local Listing Center is: https://ssl.bing.com/listings/ListingCenter.aspx
bing local

On Bing you can provide contact information, basic information, link to website, and products & service information.  You also have the option of selecting the categories in which you want your business to be found.

I’ll discuss Organic and Paid Search (PPC) in the coming weeks.

Facebook Basics for Photographers

Over the last 7 to 8 years the nation has been gripped by the ever growing phenomenon that is social networking. With over 300 million users worldwide, Facebook is by far and away the largest of all social sites.  Never before has it been so easy for people to connect with one another. Likewise, it has never been so easy for businesses to connect with current and potential consumers. Every business, whether it’s a major brand name like Coke or your photography studio, should have a Facebook Fan Page. The chance you get to interact directly with your customers, to get feedback and let them know what your business is doing is a can’t miss opportunity that many businesses aren’t taking advantage of.

 First, you need to know a few Facebook basics. There are two types of Facebook profiles. You have your personal profile page where all of your personal friends and information are located. There is also your business or “fan” page, where people go to find information and learn more about your business. You can have both a fan page and personal profile if you want, but Facebook no longer requires you to have both.

 A business fan page may be required if your business name is something other than your name.  Facebook has strict guidelines that require personal profile pages to only have names of people (not businesses) associated with them. As an example, the Glamour Shots® portrait studio could not have a personal page with first name “Glamour” and last name “Shots.”

  If you have a personal profile you can get what is called a vanity URL. A vanity URL is essentially a tag at the end of facebook.com that will send people directly to your profile without the need to search. Fan pages can also have a vanity URL, but Facebook requires that you have 1,000 fans or more before they allow you to get one. For example, the Glamour Shots “vanity” URL is facebook.com/glamourshots. 

 There are also two types of people on Facebook. Friends are people that you know personally. If people know who you are they can request to become your friend and vice versa. Fans are those people whom you don’t know personally, but are possibly a customer or just interested in learning more about your business. This is where having a personal profile linked to your fan page comes in handy. If your personal profile is linked to your fan page you can request that the friends you have on your personal page become fans on your fan page. With the click of a mouse you can send invites to all your friends to become a fan of your business page.

 There are several other ways to build up fans for your business page. Advertising your business or “fan” page is a great way to get fans. Facebook creates an ad based on the information you provide.  Anyone interested in your company can click the ad and become a fan of your page. Advertising on Facebook is also relatively inexpensive. You can select your target demographics (where you would like your ad to appear). You can also choose how much you want to spend on advertising per day.

 To garner more fans, besides inviting friends and advertising, being interactive is the key. If someone writes a post on your fan page wall, write them back! Let them know you are actively monitoring your page.  You also need your business page to be as interesting as possible so that fans will keep coming back. Start a dialogue with your fans by posting updates about your business on the fan page wall, upload photos to albums and so on. It is a great idea to put a link to your Facebook page on your web-site and in any emails you send to clients.

300 million people are out there waiting to hear about your business. Don’t keep them waiting for long!

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