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.

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 ….

    Photography

    $280.00

    Mileage

    $30.00

    Id’ing $12 /hr for 3 hrs.

    $36.00

    Data entry $12/hr for 2 hrs.

    $24.00

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

    $240.00

    Print costs (15%)

    $674.85

    CC Processing fee

    $153.87

    Hosting fee (7%)

    $315.00

    Order entry $12 /hr for 3 hrs.

    $12.00

    Shipping

    $22.00

    Total Variable Costs

    $1,787.72

    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

$69.60

Print cost

$76.95

Hosting Fee (7%)

          $71.81

Order Entry

$2.00

Shipping

$22.44

Labor $12/hr X 1hrs

$12

Total add’l costs

$254.80

$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

$59.89

Hosting Fee (7%)

$35.90

Order Entry

$2.00

Shipping

$12.00

Labor $12/hr X 1hrs

$12

Total add’l costs

$121.79

$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.

Graduations Are a Lucrative Market in Every Town or City

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Resources Available from CCS for Graduations

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

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

Booking School Portraits and Graduations

As graduation season approaches, many photographers are thinking about breaking into the graduation and school markets or expanding upon the business that they currently have. Graduations and school portraits are two markets that can be very profitable and fun to photograph. You can book both at the same time in a face to face visit to a school. No appointment necessary!

The time frame to book school portraits and graduations is generally February through early May. Visits can be made to the school throughout the year and they can be very successful, but keep in mind that if your target school already has a photographer, you are more likely to get a contract signed during this time period. That is generally when the decision is made.

Start your meeting with the principal when doing sales for schools and graduations. If they are not the decision maker, they will know who to direct you to. It is best to do a little research to find out who the principal or yearbook advisor is prior to your visit. Having the name of the decision maker will help you get past the gatekeepers.

Once you are face to face with the decision maker, it is important to provide them with the information that they are looking for:

  • High Quality Samples
  • Bid/ Pricing sheets for end customer
  • Rebates back to the school
  • Administrative products that you offer
  • Duration of shoot/ How many photographers will you bring
  • Information on your photography company
  • Recommendations from current schools
  • Cost to the school (if any)

You can also discuss things that you are going to need from them such as:

  • Names list of students (for marketing or sequencing)
  • Hanging posters or pre-marketing materials that you provide
  • Proofing of names on group images

It is best to discuss all of these details up front so that the administration is not surprised by your plan or needs later. When discussing the details of your shoot, be sure to only promise what you can deliver. This will help you keep the new business and keep your administration happy for the long term!

Winter Grads are Just Around the Corner- Are You Ready?!

Winter commencement ceremonies will begin taking place at colleges around the country in about a month’s time.  When well executed and properly marketed Winter grads can provide a great kick-off to 2012 with added income to start the new year, plus it’s a great way to prepare and train new photographer recruits for Spring grads.  With the time remaining before these winter commencements you still have some time to execute last minute details that can make the difference between being more profitable, or merely maintaining the same level of sales as last year. Here are some helpful hints that you can still implement in time for this month’s ceremonies.

Collect emails – Collecting “fresh” primary and secondary email addresses for each graduate is critical!  Don’t rely solely on lists provided by the school since as many as 15% of the emails provided by the college may be incorrect.  This is crucial for creating your email marketing. By sending emails you are guiding your customers to order via the Internet which cuts down on office labor and decreases print delivery time.  This process is as important as talking the photos and you must have a strategy for collecting as many as possible.  Whether you attend rehearsal and gather email addresses there, or collect them the day of the grad with employees that have been trained for such an exercise, the more you can collect the higher your sales will be.

Set up Email Campaigns prior to Grad ceremonies – Once it’s has been configured and the emails have been queued, the email campaign component in CORE software automatically transmits marketing emails periodically throughout the year. Marketing to your customers requires that you be proactive.  Our software is designed to help you reach out to your customers and doing this in a timely manner will get their attention and increase sales. It is a proven marketing method delivering a sales spike each time an email is sent to your customers.

Shoot Multiple Poses – By shooting several poses—handshake, flag shot, third shot, friends and family, etc.—the graduate and their family have a variety of pictures from which to choose.  This frequently leads the customer to purchase more than one pose, which can increase your average sale per graduate.

Substitute green screen for the second, or flag shot – We have seen grad sales as high as 33% more with green screen than without.  The upside is largely dependent on the availability of iconic backgrounds on campus and the quality of the photography of those backgrounds.  Any type of background, indoors or outdoors, can be substituted for the green screen.

Queue Email Campaigns – Queue email campaigns within 24 hours notifying your customers that their event is online. Getting your email proofs out within 24 hours not only impresses your customers, but sales take off on a much quicker timetable Be sure to check your email reports within 24 hours of sending out the first email to your customers.  Look for clues like unopened emails, bounce backs, or low activity from an email provider.

Upload images Quickly – Upload images and have them online within 24 hours after the graduation has been shot. If you can get them online with 6 to 8 hours, all the better.

Queue Paper Proofs – Queue paper proofs to print and mail within 48 hours after the shoot.

Deliver PR Images within 3 days – A great idea is to offer to burn a disk on site the day of the ceremony and hand it over to your contact before you leave the campus on commencement day.  But, if you can’t do that, make sure you deliver them in your contact’s hand within 3 days.

Make sure to offer Quick Retouching – Offer retouching services and advertise through your website and in the emails sent to prospective customers.  Your cost is $3.00 and you can retail this great moneymaker for $10-15.

Up-selling Options – Pearlized paper, retouching, and specialty products like plaques, statuettes, framed prints, collages, and holiday greeting cards can also add to your revenue stream. Frequently, customers will spend the extra money to have the best product possible.

Negotiate with the presenter – Negotiate with the presenter to face the audience and look at the camera with the graduate, as opposed to the old handshake shot which captures the back of the presenters head.  (CCS has a flyer that shows and explains this entire point.)

Keep the sequence cards in order – Get the card reader(s) at the ceremony to collect the cards from the graduates in the sequence they graduate, and string the cards on a fish stringer after they finish reading the names.  If the presenter is unable to help with this task, have a staff member do this. When done properly all graduates will be kept in the exact order in which they were photographed.

Shoot Party Pics®  - Before and after the commencement ceremony photograph friends and family.  Remember to distribute password cards so your customers can be directed online for further sales.

Time is short but some last minute planning can create some long-term results for months to come! To become a Candid Color customer and learn more tricks of the trade, sign up for a FREE account at candid.com or contact our Customer Development team today!

Booking Schools and Graduations 2011-2012

As graduation season approaches, many photographers are thinking about breaking into the graduation and school markets or expanding upon the business that they currently have. Graduations and school days are two markets that can be very profitable and fun to photograph. You can book both at the same time in a face to face visit to a school. No appointment necessary!

The time frame to book schools and graduations is generally February through early May. Visits can be made to the school throughout the year and they can be very successful, but keep in mind that if your target school already has a photographer, you are more likely to get a contract signed during this time period. That is generally when the decision is made.

Start your meeting with the principal when doing sales for schools and graduations. If they are not the decision maker, they will know where to direct you. It is best to do a little research to find out who the principal is or who you need to contact prior to your visit. This will help you get past the gatekeepers and lead you directly to the decision makers.

Once you are face to face with the decision maker, it is important to provide them with the information that they are looking for:

  • High Quality Samples
  • Bid/ Pricing sheets for end customer
  • Rebates back to the school
  • Administrative products that you offer
  • Duration of shoot/ How many photographers will you bring
  • Information on your photography company
  • Recommendations from current schools
  • Cost to the school (if any)

You can also discuss things that you are going to need from them such as:

  • Names list of students (for marketing or sequencing)
  • Hanging posters or pre-marketing materials that you provide
  • Proofing of names on group images

It is best to discuss all of these details up front so that the administration is not surprised by your plan or needs later. When discussing the details of your shoot, be sure to only promise what you can deliver. This will help you keep business and keep your administration happy for the long term!

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Reporting-Are You Studying All Aspects of Your Business

As Graduations, Sports, Parties and Events ramp up this Spring, the typical focus is on how to get enough good photographers; How to train those photographers,  how to field enough equipment, how to upload images to the lab quickly,  how to get proofs I.d.’d and posted quickly, and how to get manual orders input and to the lab.  All of these steps are certainly important and must be done early to insure good sales.

But the failure to keep score-the failure to know what are good sales at an early enough point that you can fix a mistake or not make the same mistake again-is equally important.
It is a well known business maxim that “what gets measured gets done.”  Conversely, “what isn’t measured often doesn’t get done.”

Monitoring reports and interpreting those reports is a key managerial function that all too often is not done.  I think the reason for this is that too many tasks are not done early enough in the season, resulting in a mad rush at the last minute which consumes all available time to the detriment of taking the time to view the reports.  The reports will not in and of themselves be a source of customer complaints or even bad performance.  However, the use of the reports can increase your profits and alert you to potential customer service or quality problems which can be corrected or avoided on upcoming events.

Candid Color Systems has, with customer input and direction, put together a host of reports to enable you to monitor your business.  We have provided you with all of the key indicators you need to know how you are doing from the time an event is posted or proofs are mailed.  This is more than half of the battle because if this service were not provided to you, you would have to 1) create the reports and 2) populate the reports with data.  These two tasks would insure that you would not have time to deal with reports.
Accessing Reports:
The CCS Reports can be accessed in several different ways depending on what program you are using to market images and prints.

1. In Core:
a. Select the Reports Tab
b. Select “CCS Web Reporting”
c. Sign in using your account number and Partypics Password
2. From the Web
a. Go to: http://reporting.partypics.com
b. Sign in using your account number and Partypics Password
3. From QP2 Administration
      a.   Sign in to QP2 Administration
                  b.   Select the Reporting Tab

We are going to focus on the two reports most applicable to graduations which we deem important although you could certainly benefit from looking at all of the reports.

The two we will focus on are:
• The Event Comparison Report and
• The Master Event Report
The Event Comparison Report
The Event Comparison Report allows you to compare two events sales at any point after the events.  So for example, you can compare the Oklahoma University College of Arts and Sciences for 2009 and 2010 five days after the event went live or two months after the event went live.  This is the most accurate way to evaluate how an event is doing compared to a previous event of the same kind.  If you do not have two events of the same kind, you could compare a similar event last year to a specific event this year.

Event Comparison Report allows you to compare sales and event attributes for one or more events.
• The sales data includes:
o Manual order sales
o Online sales
o Sales totals
o Average order size
o Sales per attendee
• Key Event Attributes available for Comparison
o Days since post
o # of attendees
o Number of images
o Distinct images ordered

The Master Event Report
This report is useful in the case you have not photographed the event previously.
It allows you to:
• Select an event date range and filter by market type
• Easily determine the status of an event’s sales
• View Event totals, such as sales, images shot and images ordered
o Number of attendees
o Number of images per attendee
o Number of distinct images ordered
o Percent of images ordered
o Number of orders
o Average order
o Lab cost sales prekey
o Subtotal Sales Online
o Subtotal Sales
o Subtotal Sales Per Image Shot
o Subtotal Sales Per Attendee
o Lab Cost        
o Total Profit
o Time to Post Images

It is important to place an order all the way through your online system and your proof system (if applicable) for every event to be sure everything is working properly.  This should be done as soon as images are posted.
When to view reports
Start monitoring reports within 24 hours of posting.  If sales are not up to last year or to a reasonable expectation, then dig deeper to check the following:
1. Quality of images (If images are sub par, can they be fixed in Photoshop and reposted?)
2. Number of attendees (Up or down from last year)
3. Percent of emails collected
4. Freshness of emails collected
5. Accuracy of email data input
6. Speed of posting images online
7. Number of addresses and freshness of addresses
8. Accuracy of spotting (Id’ing)
9. Offers (Same or different-More expensive/less expensive)
10. Were emails sent out? If so how long did it take?
11. Were paper proofs sent?  If so how long did it take?
12. Emails getting through and being opened?
13. Do all the links in the email work properly?
14. Website working properly?  Can customers get to the event?

If a serious mistake has been made in spotting, then respot, repost and resend proofs.
If images look bad, fix them as much as possible and repost.
If necessary, obtain help from the school administrators or graduates to help straighten out sequencing errors.  Do not accept defeat without a fight.

Post-Marketing for Winter Grads

Post Marketing for Winter Graduations

Graduation season is quickly approaching and it is important to follow some of the best practices of post marketing. The following tips have proven to increase sales. Follow these simple tips to make sure your business isn’t leaving any money on the table.

-Set up the Email Campaign prior to the Grad. The campaign automatically sends out emails periodically throughout the year once it has been configured and the emails have been queued.

-Upload images and have them online within 24 hours after the graduation has been shot.

-Queue Email Campaign within 24 hours notifying your customers that their event is online.

-Queue Paper Proofs and send them to print within 48 hours after the shoot.

-Make sure to offer Quick Retouching and advertise the service through your website and Emails. This costs you $3.00 and can be sold at retail for $10-15.

-Deliver PR Images within 3 days. Offer to burn a disk on site the day of the ceremony to give to the graduation staff.

 

Marketing to your customers requires that you be proactive. Our software is designed to help you reach out to your customers and doing this in a timely manner will get their attention and increase sales.

 

 

 

 

Preparation for Winter Grads

Preparation for Winter Grads

Winter grad season is right around the corner, so here is a checklist to make sure that you are implementing every strategy to have a profitable grad season. Following these guidelines will help increase your graduation sales and make your workflow run more smoothly.  
 
Shoot Multiple Shots- By shooting several poses—handshake, Flag shot, etc.—the graduate has a variety of pictures from which to choose.  This frequently leads the customer to purchase more than one pose, which can increase your average sale per graduate.  
 


          
Collect emails-Collect primary and secondary email addresses for each graduate.  This is crucial for email marketing. By sending emails you are guiding your customers to order via the Internet which cuts down on office labor and decreases print delivery time.

Rapidly Posting Images- It is essential that all proofs are posted by the time promised in your contract.  Getting your email proofs out within 24 hours not only impresses your customers, but sales take off in a much quicker timetable.  If you are also mailing paper proofs it’s important to get them out into the mail within 24-48 hours.    
          

Shoot Party Pics®- Before and after the commencement ceremony photograph friends and family.  Remember to distribute password cards so your customers can be directed online for further sales.
Upselling Options-Offering retouching, pearlized paper and the ability to crop photos can also add to your revenue stream.  Frequently, customers will spend the extra money to have the best product possible.  
           
Offer Specialty Products-CCS has exciting products in the Grad market.  Some of these include plaques, statuettes, Klingons, collages and holiday greeting cards. Offering products that aren’t easily produced creates a higher demand.    

          
Making the time to follow these guidelines will help your winter grad season not only run more smoothly but it can put more money in your pocket.  These proven practices can help you stay on top of your game in an ever increasing market.  
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

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