Monthly Archives: July 2011

A focussed approach to photography

Around 68% of people buy based purely on the perception of your product and service. Take time to think about that, that’s a big number and it’s an even bigger number when you consider that in most cases you are not there personally to influence this perception in any manner or form.

In most of our cases we will not be there to talk the clients through the benefits of our products. We won’t be able to show off the quality or let them feel the materials used in the products construction. We won’t be able to point out the uniqueness of a service we provide.

To counter this we are going to rely on a photograph to grab their attention and intrigue them enough that they are going to bother reading what we are trying to tell them about what we are offering.

To put it another way, it’s the difference between them simply flipping the page in the magazine or throwing away the brochure without reading it.

So much rides on the photograph being able to talk for you and being able to give what you are offering a voice, so why then do so many companies simply go with the cheapest photography they can find?

Maybe this will shed some light on the subject…

I have recently been doing a lot of market research to try answer that question myself. The results have been very interesting and I will share some of  these with you by using an offering I have put together as an example.

Let’s take a look at the restaurant industry.

Recently we have seen many unexpected closures of some very good restaurants and the question that needed to be asked was why, what was it that lead to some surviving and some closing down.

There are factors like, food, atmosphere, service and management that definitely played a role but one thing that kept coming up time and time again was marketing. In general many of the restaurants I talked to or studied had no marketing, bad marketing or were simply taking a shot gun approach to marketing.

Some restaurants were making good use of platforms like Facebook and social media, some had no means of advertising other than hoping that you told your friends about them, some had made attempts but were failing miserably and others were flooding the market with material and discount vouchers that was costing them a fortune and bringing little profit back into the business.

IMO options like Groupon only benefit guys like Groupon and they will get you clients who are only there for the cheap meal. Personally I also think is conveys an element of desperation and personally I believe that you should be proud enough of what you are offering that you shouldn’t need to cheapen it.

The biggest mistake that is often made when looking to promote a restaurant is most probably the most obvious one.

Ask someone to take photographs of your restaurant.

To really succeed you need to turn your restaurant into a destination that people will be drawn to and to do this the photography needs to illuminate and focus on the factors that make the business extraordinary and unique in the market place.

Trust me this isn’t an easy thing because identifying what makes you unique can be quite difficult but it’s the single most crucial step in the process and I have made this an integral part of the offering I have developed. I would highly recommend getting someone who specialises in this to help.

Once you have identified what the unique factors of your business are, then it’s easy to put a shot list together but there needs to be more, what do you do with the images once you have them?

Some restaurants planned to put them on their menus, well that’s really not going to be very useful as they need to get more feet through the door and images on the menus are not going to do that.

Others said they will put them on their website and again that’s not going to do much because in general, unless someone is specifically looking for your website, you have more chance of winning the lottery than them finding you.

Getting the word into the market place  has to be part of the plan and you need to be looking at things like basic SEO (search engine optimisation) for your website and maybe even getting some bloggers to help you spread the word.

Finally the penny dropped…

After going through all of this I figured out why companies are going for cheap photography and in many cases are shooting themselves in the foot.

To pull off a successful marketing plan, the photography will have to be of the highest standard and great professional photographers know the value of their work.

Without a focused approach you are going to be shooting a lot more than you need to and that’s going to cost a lot more than it needs to.

To put it simply, many people are simply shooting too much of the wrong thing which costs more money than it needs to and as a result the rest of the marketing be it expensive printing, fancy websites etc. fails to deliver the returns that you are expecting.

Once you have your plan, you need to find a photographer who will sit down with you and help you figure out how to make it happen without compromising  what you were trying to achieve when you started out.

I have kept this as brief as I could because I can tend to waffle a little and I am allowed that indulgence as I am a photographer, not a copy writer. What is important to note is the same approach needs to be taken with and applies to any business that is looking for marketing and the single most important component is identifying the unique selling point.

If any restaurants are interested in seeing what I have put together you are welcome to contact me and in your case the offer has also been designed to really minimise your risk. I am more than happy to make time to sit down with you and share what we have identified.

For the rest of the businesses out there, take a look at your offering, figure out what makes it unique and then seriously think about whether the photography you have is giving it the voice it needs otherwise it could actually be costing you far more than you think.

Don’t get scammed when buying or selling online

Unfortunately we live in a world where there are people who will try taking our possessions and defrauding us, in fact someone tried to do exactly this to me this week.

I advertised a camera body last week and someone from JHB responded to my ad on Friday saying they wanted the camera body. I asked them to do and EFT transfer which they said they would. I am not sure what it was but something just told me to be extra careful with this one. By Saturday I had still not received an confirmation of EFT and when I called him, he said that it had been done on Saturday morning from Nedbank and that the conformation would come through but could I ship the camera to him in the meantime.

I pretty much realised at this stage that something was wrong and informed him that the camera would only leave here one the funds had cleared in my account. I decided to wait till Monday to see what happened but was pretty sure I knew what would happen.

Monday 12pm, like clockwork, I get a notification that a cheque has been deposited into my account and I notice it’s also for the wrong amount. I call him back and he has a story that’s it not a cheque, the EFT came from a cheque account that’s why it says cheque deposit.

I immediately contacted FNB, explained the story and told them to return the cheque and also to get their fraud squad to call me so I could give them all the details. The bank itself said they could only look at the cheque the next morning when they cleared the deposit machine. The Fraud division have still not bothered to contact me.

When the branch finally cleared the machine yesterday, they found that it was an ABSA cheque and it wasn’t the only one. He had deposited a number of the same cheques into other people accounts.  I asked the bank to make sure they notified all the other account holders immediately and warn them.

So what did I learn from this well firstly our banks don’t seem to care about fraud or intend to do anything to try prevent it. Secondly instead of going straight to the ADT machine and then discovering that other clients could have been scammed, FNB waited 24 hours, exposing those clients to a greater risk.

Secondly seeing the banks are not going to help us we need to protect ourselves from fraud and here are some suggestions on how to do it.

The safest way of getting paid these days is via EFT however there is even a risk with an EFT payment. Many of us assume that once we have gotten a confirmation from a bank via sms or email that the funds have been transferred.

Not true, it’s really easy to spoof both meaning that the only reliable method you have it to wait till the funds are in your account and check with the bank that it was infact an EFT and not a cheque deposit.

FNB do have a feature on their website, the rest of the S.A. banks don’t seem to have this, where you can verify an EFT confirmation but it’s still safer to wait 24 hours and check for yourself.

Once you see the funds in your account, check with the bank that they have infact cleared and you should be ok. If you want to be really safe, transfer the money immediately to another account. As Dwane pointed out, maybe wait two days before doing this…

The second option is insist on cash but this also has risks. Firstly there is some counterfeit money floating around and secondly you could end up carrying lots of cash plus you will be charged a cash deposit fee when you bank it.

If you are going to get paid a lot of cash, try borrowing a portable note scanner to check that the cash is real, taking someone with you and meeting in a safe public place. I know of people who have even met at their bank, deposited the cash and then handed over the goods in the banking hall.

Don’t accept cheque payments, it’s not worth the risk.

As a buyer people are often concerned that the goods may not be real and you may find yourself at either end of this.

Buying and selling locally and meeting to do the transaction, again in a safe public place makes this a lot easier but if you are doing either online you can take a few precautions to minimise the risk.

  • If selling, don’t jump at the first offer if it’s out of town, wait a while to see if anyone local responds and don’t let a buyer pressure you into a sale.
  • If you are buying from someone out of town, try get someone you know close to the seller’s location to go view the goods and transact on your behalf if you can.
  • Only buy through reputable sites and ask the seller if they can provided you references for previous purchasers.
  • Ask the seller to take a picture of the goods on top of that days newspaper and be willing to do this if you are the seller.
Some more tips kindly provided by Digital Depot
  • Use platforms that provide a layer of protection, as well as ratings from other buyers so you can see if they are trustworthy (eg. Bid or Buy)
  • When selling things, remember that platforms such as Facebook Marketplace can show you how someone is connected to you and you can then check with that person.
  • If the person selling claims to be a company- ask for their registration and VAT number so that you can confirm them.

Most legitimate sellers will understand that you would be concerned parting with money for goods you haven’t seen and if the get aggressive when you ask for anyone of the above just walk away.

At the end of the day buying online from private sellers is always going to be potentially risky and being able to show or see the goods in person is always going to be the safest option and if you are selling, don’t let the goods go till you have the money.

If you can think of any other good ideas and I am sure I have missed many, email them to me and I will add the great ones to the  list above and credit you.