The IPPA Blog | The Blog of The Irish Professional Photographers Association

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A guest blogpost by Business Coach Linda Ryan of LR Coaching.

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Being any kind of artist especially a photographer has become increasingly challenging over the last year. With the development of smartphones and everyone and their mother taking better photos it would seem difficult to sustain a living from the art of capturing the moment.

Selling photographic services is the name of the game and like any other professional depends on the money people have to play around with.

The recession means that the public don’t have disposable income to buy great photographs or indeed hire talented photographers. Being undercut by cheaper competition and those who have developed their hobby is a regular feature of what is happening out there right now.

Taking photos and being creative are great stress busters in themselves but what happens when this has become your business and your business is not functioning. A non-functioning business means no money and no money means stress and exasperation.

The stress of the recession is affecting nearly every sector. How can we maintain an effective outlook while coping with the unsettling circumstances we are living through today.

The basics of stress management are good food, regular exercise, regular rest and time to reflect. Along with these there are other factors which can help when we experience tension and anxiety.

How much control we have over things needs to be assessed honestly. Realising that we can do something about our situation and then acting on that can go a long way to dealing with our stress levels. Likewise realising that we don’t have influence over things can bring relief and free our energy up for areas where we can be more effective.

Fear of branching out or looking at other options will only keep us in a stuck and restrained position so don’t be afraid to challenge your thinking and view point to see if some other avenue opens up and would benefit you at this stage. Reflecting on what holds you back from looking at this might help to shine light on potential improvements one could make that would be positive rather than staying in the same situation.

I have heard of photographers fall into the trap of taking photos and providing services for little or nothing so being in business for the artist in general can be a challenge, what must it be like when a recession has us by the neck.

Is it time to set new goals and if not what is your present strategy going forward. Have you got one and if not why not? Do you need professional marketing assistance, do you need to get social media savvy, have you got an up to date website that is mobile device responsive that shows off your amazing photos and lets people know where you are and what you cost? Would it help to be challenged by a coach to see what your next step could be. Start checking out potential professionals who could help. Doing something is better than doing nothing and there are tonnes of great advice and assistance on the internet and a lot of it for free!

Self-awareness is key to managing our stress so ask yourself where and what tends to make you most stressed and then see what your options are.

Linda Ryan is a coach and stress management consultant. Her website is lrcoaching.com

Linda Ryan is a business owner and coach. Over the last number of years she has specifically been working with employees, managers and executives in such areas as performance breakthrough and work/life balance, along with areas like stress and anger management.  She holds an Advanced Diploma in Personal and Executive Coaching, and is approved by the British Psychological Society for Personality and Occupational Psychometrics.  She has also lectured and been a trainer at Griffith College Dublin on their personal development programs which she designed and assessed. She holds an MA from Dublin Business School and has worked in the sports, corporate and hospitality industries.

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This article is reproduced with the kind permission of Cormac O’Kelly & Social Media Management

 

“Digital Darwinism” is a phrase that has been appearing more and more. This simple idea basically links digital marketing with natural selection. Simply put, “Those who evolve will survive”.

Whether you like it or not digital media is here to stay and has taken over. Everything has gone digital; radio has gone digital, TV has gone digital and even print has gone digital. What this says to those who have yet to engage or those who have resisted change is that there really is no choice but to engage via these channels. Once the media channels you used to use  move to a new platform, you no longer have the choice or are able to resist. Any business, whether it’s business2business or business2consumer, needs to reach their customers and potential customers.

Why you don’t have a choice:

  • Your customers are nto paying attention to where you currently are
  • Your customers cannot find you where they are looking
  • Your competitors are using these new(er) digital tools to sell there products and services more efficiently and in turn steal your customers.

You are probably saying, “Not in my industry”! If you are, you are wrong! Every single industry out there is being disrupted by new technologies. This applies to the way the industry works and functions and to the way they reach their customers.

What should you be doing? Here are some steps you should be taking.

Digital Presence

If you don’t have any real estate online you’re in BIG trouble. Your website has the ability to be one of the most powerful sales tools in your arsenal. The bad news… Just being online isn’t enough. Your website from 5 years ago isn’t going to live up to the modern expectations of your customers and is most likely going to make them angry. You need to consider everything from the user experience to the functionality and especially the design.

SEO/Local SEO

Phonebooks are now commonplace holding open doors and propping up ‘wobbly’ tables and stuff. When people need something, they Google it. If they don’t Google, they use Bing or Yahoo!. If you haven’t put much work into optimizing your digital presence for the search engines of the world, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. If you’re business covers a wide geographic space, you’re going to have some more intense competition. If you’re covering a small local area you have a big opportunity, but it won’t last. Simply put … The sad truth is that if you don’t show up in the first page of the search results your customers will move on.

Customer Retention Plan

This needs to be a well thought-out process involving multiple forms of media. Everybody has a shorter attention span than ever before and are a lot less patient. This means that when we need something we need it NOWand that we might easily forget about the things we like or want. There are a million options out there and the perfect plan for your company will depend on how your business operates, who your customer is, and what they need from you. A few of the options would include

  • Ongoing and creative newsletters or email campaigns
  • Digital customer service
  • Customer rewards program

… but there is lots more besides.

Content Strategy

Most of the time the content on your website is static, meaning it doesn’t get updated often (if at all). This is bad for many reasons. One being that you aren’t giving your customers a reason to come back to the site. Twobeing that the search engines tend to favor the sites that are updated often. Another trend online right now is that brands are creating and sponsoring content that their customers will enjoy and hopefully find valuable. Instead of an advertisement trying to persuade the consumer to buy, they’re providing entertainmentinsight or value through content creation. This is being done through editorial format as well as through audio, video and images. You can build a loyal following of brand followers with the right content strategy… alternatively you can waste your time with the wrong one.

There’s a lot of adapting and “evolving” for businesses to take on right now but the list above should get you started. If you have any questions or need any help, contact me.

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  1. The most important order you ever get from any customer is the second order.
  2. Understanding and adapting to consumer motivation is not an option. It is an absolute necessity for competitive survival.
  3. Know the power of repetition. Your message must be consistent.
  4. The two most common mistakes companies make when using the phone is failing to track results and tracking the wrong thing.
  5. Marketing activities should be designed to increase profits, not just sales.
  6. It costs five times as much to sell a new customer as an existing customer. Get out that customer list!
  7. Selling what your customers need, instead of what you think they want, will lead to failure.
  8. Don’t think that product superiority, technology, innovation or company size will sell itself.
  9. Don’t neglect or ignore your current customers while pursuing new ones.
  10. People don’t buy products, they buy the benefits and solutions they believe the products provide.
  11. The average business never hears from 96% of its dissatisfied customers.
  12. 50% of those customers who complain would do business with the company again if their complaints were handledsatisfactorily.
  13. It is estimated that customers are twice as likely to talk about their bad experiences as their good ones.
  14. Exaggerated claims produce inflated expectations that the product or service cannot live up to, thereby resulting in dissatisfiedcustomers.
  15. Get to know your prime customers—the 20% of product/service users who account for 80% of the total consumption of that product class.

Hope it helps.

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Marketing Options

Whether it was putting an ad in a newspaper, recording a jingle for the radio or shooting a commercial for television, marketing campaigns used to require a lot of cash. While those methods still exist, the Internet has opened new avenues for businesses to market their products and services for free.

Here are seven ways to promote your business without spending a dime.

 

Facebook

As the most popular social networking site, Facebook gives businesses a free outlet to reach millions of potential new customers. Similarly to how individual Facebook users can create personal pages, businesses can set up their own dedicated page on Facebook to help grow their venture, build brand awareness and develop relationships with consumers. Besides providing all the business’ vitals – including name, location, phone number and Web address – the Facebook page gives businesses a forum to speak to their customers about company news, special promotions and new products. Many businesses also use their Facebook page to run contests and free giveaways as a way to attract new shoppers.

 

www.strikingimages.ie

Twitter

The popular micro-blogging site Twitter is also a way to reach new customers without the expense. Twitter offers businesses a platform for connecting their brand with things people care about. The social networking site bills itself as a canvas for telling engaging stories, broadcasting content, connecting directly with consumers and driving transactions. The site provides businesses with a unique opportunity to see what their customers are saying, ask them questions and respond to their concerns. Businesses can also use Twitter to run special deals and promotions.

 

Local Listing Services

For many consumers, the Internet is the first place they look when searching for a business. Since local search entries are often the first choices given in a search query, businesses can easily attract new customers and clients by simply making sure they are listed on the sites. The local search listings offer businesses an easy way to highlight their location, hours and contact information. The most popular local search listing sites are Google Places, Yahoo! Local and Microsoft Bing.

 

Press release websites

Getting a little free publicity from newspapers, radio and television stations and blogs is a great way to attract new business. One way to catch the eye of the local media is to send out releases touting new products or services, as well as company news and special promotions. In today’s digital age, many journalists search through press release websites for new and interesting story ideas. A number of websites, such as Free Press Release, PR Log, 24/7 Press Release and I-Newswire, offer the opportunity to post press releases on their site for free. In addition to exposure on the site, the releases are distributed to major search engines, making their reach even greater.

 

Online video

Few things create buzz for a business more than a great viral video. While not every video will become a huge hit, they do provide a more engaging way to get information to consumers. While a normal ad won’t do the trick, businesses can use creative videos to build new interest in their company. Examples include videos of company parties for those who were unable to attend, how-to videos for consumers looking for more information on using a product or service, and video confessionals of happy customers and clients. While posting videos on YouTube remains the most popular route, small businesses also can take advantage of other sites like Viddler, Vimeo, Dailymotion and Ustream.

 

Pinterest

While it is true of all social networking sites, using Pinterest successfully requires more than just cramming products and promotions down consumer’s throats. Pinterest gives users their online pin board, where they can “pin” up links and photos to things they like and are interested in. However, businesses only posting pics of their products on the site won’t find many new customers. In order to be successful on Pinterest, businesses must think about the type of content their customers would be interested in. Instead of just sharing images and links to existing product pages, blog posts and websites, businesses should share content that other users will love sharing. A bakery, for example, might use Pinterest to post cupcake recipes, frosting tips, party ideas and other topics for followers.

 

Instagram

Similarly to Pinterest, businesses using the photo-sharing site Instagram must be more creative than just posting picture of products if they want to win customers. It requires building a following of users that want to see their point of view, whether they’re selling something or not. When posting promotional photos, they must be creative. For example, restaurants might show photos of people eating their food, while fashion retailers can post pictures of customers wearing their clothes. The site can also be used to host fun contests that involve customers posting their own photos of them using a business’ product.

 

Hope it helps!

 

Cormac

 

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Wouldn’t it be great to be able to studio shoot and have clients look at those pictures regardless of where you are. No need for a Wi-Fi network. Just seamlessly being able to transfer your pictures from your camera directly to your iPad, in the hands of clients across the room, across the car park, in fact on any location. Seconds after you have click the shutter, the image appears in your iPad or even better, their iPad!

I had read about this idea recently but it did involve the ‘jail breaking’ of your iPad and that was something that I was not really keen on doing. Now though it can be done without the jailbreak.

What do you need? Well an iPad (obviously) and a camera with an SD slot. Then the final purchase is either a Pro Eye-Fi card or the cheaper version, the Connect X2 Card. which you can get from Amazon.

This video from the guys at Fstoppers takes you through the process.

Eye-Fi released an update to their iPad app which includes some pretty helpful updates.
New features:
– Landscape mode support in the gallery view
– “Add network” button to automatically add the Wi-Fi network to the iOS device even when the Direct Mode network is not broadcasting
– Directly transfer from iOS device to computer when they are on the same Wi-Fi network (requires the user to set the computer destination for the iOS device in Eye-Fi Center again to enable this feature)
– Email up to 5 photos through the native mail app

User Interface:
– Show icons for items pending transfer and actively transferring
– Icon in the tray to indicate when connected to a Direct Mode network
– Added Spanish and Italian languages
– Double tap to zoom into a photo (only on iPhone4 and iPads)
– Smoother transitions when swiping through photos
– Single tap to dismiss the navigation elements in single photo view
– Provide feedback when card is not paired to device on a Direct Mode network

Other:
– Stability improvements
– Turn off video transfers from the Eye-Fi Card to the iOS device if the video type is not supported by iOS
– Screenshots are now automatically uploaded

If you had a little extra money, you could buy the ShutterSnitch iPad app as it has many more professional features and the new version is extremely stable.

All of this information is from a great website that you probably already know about, Fstoppers.com. I’m sold and have the card on order.

So now if you don’t have an iPad, at least you can justify getting one!

Hope this post was useful.

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