Data capture for the photographer

Data.  Essentially one of the most important factors in your business.  In fact in any business.  Where the data comes from, what you do with it, how you use, clean it, market to it, are all crucially important – but often overlooked factors.

Do you even have a plan for data capture?  If not then perhaps is now the time to be thinking about it.  Lets take a look at the most obvious group here.  Existing customers … they are the bread and butter of your living, however do you have the ability to send them all an email update at the same time?  If not, then why not?  If you can, then are you able to send them a nice well designed email? Or just some random text?  How often do you keep in touch with them?  Do you have their mobile numbers, landlines, and addresses?  Can you mailshot them all in one go?

Existing customers are one of the most positive sources of repeat business and it’s far cheaper to market to this group than it is to generate new business.  Yet many photographers are failing to take advantage of this set of people.  With the ever advancement of technology it has become easier and easier to target different customer groups and to really send a unique message.  There are plenty of choices when it comes to contact management.  From the like of Microsoft’s Outlook to Sage’s ACT software.  These are both very affordable entry level options that will give you the basics in terms of staying in touch with customers and helping to manage your data.  I’m not going to go into how often and the timings of sending your messages – I’m just looking to prompt you into thinking about it.

On another note what are you doing to generate new business?  Do you go to wedding fairs? do you advertise locally? do you run competitions in the local press? do you send press releases?  If so then how do you get data from customers?  Do you incentivise them into giving you their details?   What reason do you give them that makes it worthwhile them staying in touch with you or your brand?  Do you try to help them by giving them valuable free advice or free information that’s GENUINELY valuable to them?  Do you get their business cards? If so do you immediately put them into your database and send them an email straight away, so they have all your contact details????

In the era of the internet another company is just one click away.  Do you want them to drift off or have forgot about you by the time they come round to making a buying decision?  I doubt it … and that’s why this is important.  We stay in touch with customers on a regular basis … it’s one of the most important parts of our marketing plan.  We have email on all our phones, and multiple email accounts.  We have access to key staff email accounts and across all our different brands.  We make use of new technology where possible to make it easier to work … in fact we make it easier to work less – by working smart, as well as hard.

I actually like that slogan “Making it easier, to work less – by working smart, as well as hard”

It’s a timely message and one that I like to remember, because alongside those months where we have to put in the hours, we need to balance it out with months where we get extra time off.  Time for living and time for fun.  By taking control of your business, and being proactive you have a chance to achieve that.  If you let things happen around you, then you end up working more hours, as your data isn’t well managed, sorted, and utilised.  The result is that you have to put in a lot more hours to generate less business than you would if you were using your data effectively.

You may think that the technology is outside your budget .. but it’s unlikely.  I’ve just bought a few Blackberry Mobile phones … on T-Mobile (Even tho all our phone and comms kit is usually with Orange).  Unlimited phone, email, internet and a free Blackberry 9700 for £35+vat per month.  I can keep all my emails on there, contacts, social networking access and I’m connected no matter where I am – for £35 a month.  If you’re a photographer you will already have a computer … go out and invest in the software.  Google CRM .. google Outlook or ACT … look at the choices available and choose the one that best fits your needs.

Just writing this brief commentary I’ve thought of another great way to make use of the data we already have!  So thank you for helping me come up with a new idea 🙂  That’s exactly the thing that I’m talking about – through trying to give a little back to others, it appears I’ve benefited myself.  To use one of my least favourite phrases of the 90’s that’s definitely win/win!!!!

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2 thoughts on “Data capture for the photographer

    • Hi Brenda. Thanks for your comment. It is certainly true that good data management is key to any business. We run a number of business’s with fewer staff and lower overheads through clever use of marketing and data management. It’s important at ANY time but as you mention, in the current economic climate – even more so! It may seem like a long slog at first and one that for a while appears to not yield any results, but in the long term the benefits of the time and money invested pay off handsomely.

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