Sunday, September 18, 2011

Who Really Sees Your Facebooks Posts? What Message Are You Really Sending?

It's a funny thing. A few years ago, many folks were very leery of signing up for an account on the new thing called "Facebook" because they didn't want the world to see what they were doing or be able to pry into their personal lives. Yet a few years later, it seems as if the best possible app that could be developed would be one that warns social media users when their personal filters are completely off.

For example, this post appeared in my feed over the weekend.

It took me by surprise that quite clearly the photographer posting this update failed to remember that the client for whom they had photographed the wedding is one of their friends on Facebook. Yes, the client saw the feed (as evidenced by the comment.)

So . . . what message did the photographer send to the client? Was it a warm fuzzy "wow, I had an awesome time photographing a wedding this weekend" or was it more along the line of "I'm driving home from my stupid out of town wedding and now I'm going to be inconvenienced because I'm running into traffic"? While the photographer did not specifically state either thought, the tone of the message is one that could easily give the client the wrong impression.

Of course, I make it a habit to not use profanity around my clients or on my Facebook page. To me, it sounds unprofessional.

When making Facebook updates, it's a great idea to ask yourself this: if the person was standing right there, would the same words that you're typing on your keyboard be coming out of your mouth?

Of course there's another rule that may even fit much better. Sometimes, when you're angry or frustrated, the best and safest status update is none at all.

- David Grupa

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Are You Unknowingly Referring Your Clients to Your Competition?

Recently in one of the many Facebook groups in which I participate, I was walking one of the members through a somewhat involved process. It got to the point where it was just going to be easier to pick up the phone and talk them through it rather than try to type out line after line of instruction in messages. I clicked on the person's profile and followed the link to their Facebook business page. Since there was no contact information listed, I located the website link and clicked through to that.

Beautiful work. Awesome images. But how do I find them? Oh, here . . way down in the bottom corner, a tiny "Contact Us" button. I clicked on it and all it lead me to was an email contact form. No address or city . . . what time zone are they in? Is it too early/late to call? Ehhh, doesn't matter . . . no phone number listed, either. 

I went back to FB and mentioned this to the individual and left my phone number so they could at least call me. When they called, one of the first questions I asked was "Why don't you have any contact information listed?" The reply? "I don't like to be bothered on the phone. I just want to deal with people through email."

Bothered? Really? Isn't this your business we're talking about? Aren't clients the reason we even have a business? Without them, we don't have much of an income.

If you are running a photography business and using your home or mobile phone as the business number, why not just leave a professional sounding message that identifies your business, thanks the caller for their inquiry and invites them to leave a message so you can return their call at your earliest opportunity? That way, it doesn't sound like they've called a personal number and gives them the impression that you as a businessperson care about them as a client. While a contact email does essentially the same task, it does not offer the personal voice contact that happens during a phone call.

It started me thinking about other ways that people unknowingly drive business away. Beautifully designed postcards, websites, product brochures . . . all lacking easy-to-find contact information.

If you look at product catalogs you receive in the mail (let's say Victoria's Secret, but any mail-order catalog works) what is on each and every page?  

Website. Phone number. 

So . . . now you've gotten them to your website. If it's a national chain, what else is prominent on the first page? Yup it's a . . .

Store locator. 

Why? Because customers want to know where to find you! Even though many of us do not run retail establishments, prospective clients still want to know where to find us!

Think of it this way . . . if you were going to invest serious money in any product or service, don't you feel better having contact information? A phone number to call and an address to visit all instill confidence in a prospective client. To me, a website with nothing other than an email contact form conjures up visions of a photographer wearing dark glasses and a trench coat with a camera and a laptop in a graffiti-filled alley whispering "Psssst . . . over here. Wanna buy a CD of pictures?" 

It amazes me to see so many websites without as much as an address or contact phone number. Sure, some people will fill out an email contact form, but what about those who want to talk to you and are in the market for your product or service RIGHT NOW? You know what happened to them, don't you?

They went to one of the other websites in their search results; one with full contact information listed.

Yup. They called me. 

- David Grupa

PS - Thank-you for the indirect referral!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

When Was YOUR Last Time?

As if I don't already have enough on my plate, I was flipping though Facebook friends today and looking at their profile images and it got me thinking . . . 

We invest a lot of effort and energy (not to mention $$) into convincing our clients why they should use a professional photographer, but what about us?

How recent is your last family portrait? Do you actually have a large print displayed in your own home, or is that just something we show off on our studio walls to help convince clients it's something they* need?

Better yet, when was the last time you updated your own professional headshot? What's the image displayed on your Facebook profile? Are your clients viewing a quality photograph of yourself, or are they seeing something that doesn't accurately reflect your professional reputation?

Everyone knows another photographer that you can pick up the phone and call. Maybe it's time you plan a "play date" with that person and update each other's images. It not only improves your appearance, but puts you in the client's position and gives you an opportunity to see how someone else works!