8) Winning raves. Transform your customers into raving fans and surprise them. We randomly package candy bars and other surprises in our orders. This is seasonalI don't want melting chocolate sent across the country only to sit in a hot mailbox and ruin the order. When we see graduation or new baby pictures, an added promo photo announcement card is randomly added to the order.
9) Be lean. Today's technology automates much of the photographic process, which enables a leaner staff.
10) Demos. Snap several digital pictures of your walk-in customers and show them how to upload their photo with a free demo of your web service. Your in-store photo ordering terminals should have Bluetooth connectivity for printing photos from camera phones and seamless transfers of orders directly to your digital lab.
11) Word of mouth. How do you let people know that you have an excellent product? Tell them! Use every opportunity to promote your website and photo business. Make sure that your e-mail reply signature includes your web address and links to important pages to promote your services. The signature should also ask for referrals. Confirmation e-mails for online orders should include a promotional offer for another service, such as year-round photo announcement and invitational photo cards.
12) Capture e-mails. Use every opportunity to sign up new e-mail addresses. Think of ways to grow your database, and always capture the e-mails from those ordering from your online service. An e-mail management service helps you comply with anti-spam laws for quickly enabling recipients to opt out.
13) Keep it simple and remove the barriers to access. Make it easy and nontechnical to order photos. Rather than investing in costly manufacturers' automatic photo kiosks, save tens of thousands of dollars by designing your own kiosks for a few hundred dollars. Beyond the cost savings, your customers will experience the same experience as placing orders online. The www.30minphotos.com website interface is the same in-store and online. Customers become comfortable using the same system, and this effectively enables us to have our photo kiosks on every computer across the nation just by logging onto our online service.
14) It's the sizzle that sells the steak. Although we market to a broad and most diverse customer base, typical ads use photos of moms with babies and testimonial quotes mentioning how they love our online ordering because it gives them more time with their children, and less wasted time and reduced frustration from printing at home.
15) Don't keep shoppers waiting. Whether it's an in-store or online shopping experience, we complete transactions in seconds. Make sure your website is direct, with few extraneous links. Get rid of any sign-up registration and order delays. Using Photogize from Graphx, my online service enables customers to easily press "Order All." Moments later, they receive a confirmation that the entire order was received, completed and is being packaged for mail fulfillment or is ready for pickup. Make all the pertinent information easy to locate, such as your phone number and an active e-mail contact. Provide educational, how-to links and testimonials, and never hide your online pricing matrix.
According to IntelliQuest, the leading reasons people don't buy online are because: They are concerned about fly-by-night operators (81%); don't want to hassle with returns (72%); fear using credit cards online (69%); think that ordering online will lead to selling their e-mail address and an influx of junk e-mail (63%); want to touch and see the product first (62%).
These are a few ways to exceed expectations and seduce customers into becoming raving fans. Being consistent, delivering value and always being on time are ways to score points. Note that nowhere did I mention in order to grow your business you have to succumb to price discounts to win.
Mitch Goldstone, president and CEO of 30 Minute Photos, Etc., also co-owns www.30minphotos.com. Goldstone is a city commissioner in Irvine, CA, and champions his dedication to promote the imaging industry. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.