Sunday, January 23, 2011

What Does Customer Service Mean to You?

First I just want to say how cold it is outside.  Dang!  Spring anybody?

My last post was about marketing and how can I market my photography.  Well it turns out I already do.  When I do the Art Shows I am marketing my work and myself.  So I had better know my stuff and look good doing it too.

In my business I sell 90% of my photography at Art Shows.  So I am in direct contact with customers.  Some returning, most new.  So I had better have some good customer service skills to keep them coming back and to buy at that time, because I may not see them again.  Traveling from Art Show to Art Show you just never know who will come or not come.  So you had better put on your best show without being pushy.  Oh my goodness you definitely don't want to be too pushy! 

One thing I have learned at previous jobs is that presentation is everything. When your booth display looks good and you look good then customers are more likely to stop in your booth and look around.  Keep it neat and clean.  I know sometimes weather can make things a little difficult, but give it your best.  Once your booth display is all set, then you need to be neat too.  I'm not asking you to put on your best suit, just look presentable.  The reason your booth and you need to look good is because you are representing you and your product and people respond better to a nice presentation.  Many times I have seen booths that could use a serious makeover as well as the artist.

Now to the topic at hand Customer Service.  What kind of customer service do you expect? I expect courteous, friendly, informative, clean service.  There is one thing I won't do is get right in my customers face.  Kinda like those car salespeople (sorry car people).  A simple greeting at first "Hello, Good Morning or a Good Afternoon" (smiling) acknowledging the customer and then I kinda watch the customer to get a feel of if they are approachable, what they might be looking for.  Some people have a idea of what they are looking for some are just out to shop.  I observe the photos they are looking at.  I see the name of the photo on the back and when a customer shows interest in the photo I jump in and tell the story behind that photo.  Their first reaction is "how did you know what photo I was looking at."   They must think I have x-ray vision or something.  But I do...  not.  I always like to greet every customer that comes into my booth for 2 reasons to let the customer know that I know that they are there and if  BIG IF anything is missing at least I know who was there.   It is kinda a 2 fold thing.  I am acknowledging my customers and protecting my product .  Unfortunately things do get stolen at Art Shows so you always have to be on the alert.  At the Art Shows I do strike up lots of conversation with various customers and sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn't, but I know they walked away first with my business card and second having a nice conversation with one of many artists.  Sometimes they comeback to buy.   Sometimes they will ask if I have something like a moose photo and this is something I don't have I will recommend them to another artist who has what they are looking for and I have noticed alot of times they actually stop and look at my work and on a couple of occasions they have bought from me then continue on to the artist I recommended.   Because I recommended another artist to them they take a moment and look at my work even though I didn't have what they wanted.  I have no problem recommending another artist to my customers if I don't have what they are looking for.  Customer Service can be a fine line.  Everyone has their way of dealing with their customers.  This is my way.  I like to think I have a good customer service skills and I know they are not perfect.  In fact far from it and there is always room for improvement.
So keep you booth display neat...You stay neat...and keep Smiling.

FYI (for your information) I just finished reading "UnMarketing Stop Marketing. Start Engaging." by Scott Stratten.  I very much enjoyed the book and I got alot of good information and pointers from the book which I will be implementing this year.   

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Marketing


I don't know really why I photographed this Sea Skate.  I just found it interesting.

So now the topic at hand.  The other night out of boredom I sat in my favorite recliner turned on the TV.  After I had scanned all the TV channels there was nothing of interest to watch.  So I sat there reclined closed my eyes and started thinking about how can I market myself.  I am a Fine Art Photographer.  I sell my photos at Art Festival throughout New England, but mostly in Maine.  My marketing in that respect is business card, sign up for emails for e-newsletter,brochures and word of mouth.  When I am not at a show I use Facebook and Twitter and my Blog and I also have a Website with Photoshelter.  Like alot of photographers out there they have side jobs either regular jobs if you will or they do portraiture, weddings, or commercial work to help pay the bills.  I have nothing against those fields I just don't have equipment for them and renting in Maine is a little tough.  Then I realized I have my cookie business The BlackHorse Cookie Company.  That is my part time job.  Helping to support my photography.  I sell my cookies at local Farmers Markets in Maine.   That is another venue for marketing my photography since I am allowed to sell some photography at these markets.  Which is a good thing.  So when I am not doing Festivals or Markets January through early May, how do I market my photography?
My goal with my photography is...I really love doing the festivals and traveling to them (photo opportunities on the way), I also would love to see sales from my website.  My SEO for my website is around 80 which I understand is good, but I know could be better.  I admit that last year was a tough year for me and marketing was minimum.  This year I am adding more to my agenda.  Which in turn should be more marketing.  But I feel there is more.  I just can't figure out what.  I am a self taught business woman and I know I have tons more to learn, I am just having a hard time finding out where or who I need to market to.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Vivian Maier, street photographer and nanny



Last night while I was tweeting I noticed this post from Dianne about the above video.  I was awe stuck!  It was a wonderful, but sad story.  I found it sad, because this amazingly talented photographer didn't share  her photos for whatever reason. Now this gentleman has the opportunity to share her photos and tell  her story for everyone to see.  Does she deserve to be one of the many iconic photographers from our history?  I think so.  How many more talented photographers from yesteryear are there?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Experimenting

Hi everyone.  I am playing around with my  Photo elements (can't quite afford Photoshop yet) to see what I can come up with.  Your input would be greatly appreciated.  Good or bad I can take it.  Thanks!

This Week......

This photograph was taken at Rocky Neck State Beach in Niantic, Connecticut using an old Agfa 35mm camera.
Well this past week I have managed to accomplish getting some local taxes done and getting the federal taxes ready for the accountant.  I have sent out 2 show applications-1 in Mystic, Connecticut and the other in Niantic, Connecticut.  Both are new shows for me this year and I am very excited to do them and to visit my old neighborhood.  I have also printed several photos in preparation for reteaching myself to hand color using pan pastels.  It will be a challenge, but I am up for it.  I hope by Christmas I will have some hand colored photos on the website.
I have also decided to trade in my Canon S95 for a Canon 24mm lens instead.  Why, well I thought that with this camera being it's smaller I would carry it everywhere and I would be shooting more landscapes and such, but the reality is that what I need to do is to bring my camera with me and leave early enough to wherever I'm going so if I want to photograph I have the time to pull over.  I usually plan my photo shoots, but this year I will change that.  I will still have planned photo shoots, but I will bring my camera everywhere I go so I won't miss that great shot.  I will also be doing more cityscapes and abstracts.  I just have to get up the courage to go into the city alone.
I have added new photos and a slide show to my website check it out and let me know your thoughts.
I also would like to thank all the people I am following on Twitter.  I have been truly inspired by the photos that I have seen and have learned a get deal since I started tweeting a couple of months ago.  Thanks!  A special Thanks to all who are following me! 

Monday, January 3, 2011

ReDiscovery


This photograph was taken in Scotland about 3 weeks before 9/11. I went to Scotland with a friend whose husband was in port there with the Navy. We had a great time there. When I got back home and into the darkroom, and I saw the negative, I just had to print it right away! The photograph struck awe in me! I just looked at it and was captivated by it. It was drawing me in. I personally got a spiritual feeling from this photo.
When I started my business I wanted this photograph to be the first thing people see when they walked by my booth. I matted and framed it in a 16x20 format so it would stand out even more.
Since my first art show in 2006. My Keyhole Window has attracted the attention of many people and is still my #1 selling photograph. I have had the great pleasure of seeing people's reaction when they see the photo. I use this photo as my logo, because when people see it they automatically remember me.
In my last blog post I was trying to figure out my niche. For years I have photographed what ever catches my eye, but it didn't seem to be enough. So after reviewing I have recognized that Black & White and Hand Coloring is what captures me the most. I have also wanted to learn to do better landscapes and seascapes. With that said, 2011 will be the year I master Black & White, Hand Coloring, Landscapes and Seascapes Photography.
This week I will start sending out show applications. I'm excited about that, the only thing is waiting for the "your in" response, which you usually don't hear until March or April, sometimes not until May. That is why you have lots of projects during the winter to keep you preoccupied.