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I know myself, if I had a one of a kind treasured photo, the last thing I would want to do is send it through the mail to a complete stranger. I believe that is the biggest impediment to this kind of business being online. Think of it, would you think it smart to mail the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Declaration Of Independance to someone you don't really know? It's the same for peoples personal treasures. They are no less valuable to them as antiquities are to a nation. So I guess it's nothing less than I expected getting into this. I figured if I did get business from the site it would be e-mailed copies to work from mostly.
Does 0 + count?
I have put my two cents worth in on this in other threads but want to add a thought or two here.
We average only 2 to 3 inquiries a month through the site so the amount of business is not even something to consider. Although it's listed in all the yellow page ads - people just call and don't usually bother looking us up on the web.
I'm using it (the web) a little different I suppose. I want it to satisfy people that I'm a highy qualified professional, not satisfy anyone with answers about the ins and outs of photo restoration.
If they happen to find the web site first, I just want them to call ...however, from time to time we also reverse that as well.
When someone is on the phone and asking if we can do this or that, I'll ask if they are on a computer - and if so, direct them to the web site. That's my reason for not using sample after sample, I don't want to distract them or lose the opportunity. just convince them that we can handle whatever job they have in mind.
For the little old lady who turns on her computer and goes on to AOL - it's fun - after you explain how to get to the web through all of AOL ads and get her to type in TIMEMARK.COM usually the response is "Oh my, did you do that!"
I intend to expand it in the next few months - but not with more and more photos - I want our little Photo Conservation Showroom to to become a "destination" for people coming in from other parts of the country. I'lll start with the unique exhibits that we have on the photo restoration arts and sciences ...then expand it to other historic sites that you can visit while you are here. Oregon City is fairly well known because of tens of thousands of "End of the Oregon Trail" games that are in the public schools - so it's a logical for us and, hopefully, something that will be totally different from other "restoration" web sites.
I think you have some good ideas for your site. I've read that it's a good idea to add something for "free", be it info, tips, etc., that might encourage someone to return to your site.
I should do that, but can't seem to devote the time to the task.
I apologize, but I still don't see what the problem is, with having numerous examples on a web site. How could that possibly be a hinderance to business, if a customer is specifically searching for this type of service? What would you consider to be a sufficient number of examples?
Last edited by Vikki; 01-24-2002 at 04:00 PM.
Going from A to Z - the question is how?
Vikki Visualize being in the Real Estate business ...you show a photo of a house in an ad - I mean a photo of the ENTIRE outside of the house. Someone looking for a Ranch Style says - "not for me I don't like Colonial" ...someone looking for a Colonial says -"not what I was looking for, the lot looks too small" - and neither of them contacts you.
Now let's say for this example that it has a knock-out dream entrance - and one of your competitors shoots a close up photo of just that entrance for his ad. (that's the "sizzle") The same two people that you turned off like what they see (same house same business don't forget) and they call your competitor.
You lose because you didn't even know you turned them away BEFORE you could make your presentation.
Your competition wins because he or she is now calling them by name and knows exactly what they want in a house - lands them as clients, works everything out for them. They like him and go back the next time they are in the market and you'll never know why he's driving a Caddy while you are driving a Ford.
Other old sales adages, like knowing when STOP selling and listen - as well as a few I can think of regarding wearing clothes fit in here but I think you get the point!
The idea is to take your customer from A to Z ONE step at a time - when you try to make people take a "leap" from A to Z - like saying "here are 20 samples and my price list, click here" - you won't sell much of anything. The web has not changed any of the basic rules of selling!
Last edited by Jim Conway; 01-24-2002 at 06:59 PM.
I'm beginning to understand why I've never been comfortable in sales - in fact I'm not even comfortable in any situation where I'm being sold to.
I'm just starting my business. I've only had a few paying customers so far, but I've had lots of interest and the more interest, the more business down the road.
Scrapbooking is one of my hobbies, so I joined a scrapbooking group and am using the time there to make a protfolio album for my business. The members of the group are intrigued as I add more photos every week.
I'm also working on an ethnic/family history and have had some contact with a geneology group - good suggestion to become more involved.
Doug, I like your advice about not becoming so overwhelmed with work that you lose the love of what you're doing.
I find myself in the enviable position of being retired from my former job/life and with enough cash to buy a few toys of the business and not feeling behind the 8-ball when it comes to drumming up business.
When retirement was approaching I knew I would still need to find something to keep me occupied - I'm glad I found PhotoShop and soon after that I found this group.
You might not realize it, but your scrapbook group could bring you business as well as the genealogy groups. I think just about any group is worth joining, simply to get to know people. When they find out what you're doing, and they see you fairly often, things have a way of moving from there.
marketing this and that from a non-marketing person
I just started reading this thread and thought I'd give my point of view.
Margaret, I agree with Ed you've got two great sources of clients there. I've provided preservation information to the writer of a scrapbooking magazine for a preservation section....and I've had many many geneologists that either want something scanned, digitally restored or conservation done. One recent one that comes to mind is a document that was faded and needed the hand written parts enhanced to be readable.
My thoughts on website advertising. This is certainly not going to be the bread and butter of your business but it is a nice addition. I surf the web all the time but I have to say there are very few web businesses that I've dealt with straight from their web site, without knowing more first....I like to read a recommendation or hear from someone else that that's what they use and so on. I think most people are the same way, they like to have a connection and feel like this is the right place to take their most treasured photos to be repaired (etc.) not just any Joe-blow off the internet (no offense to anyone... I'm a Joe-blow myself! ).
This said a web-site is a great way for people to get to know you a little better.
For example a frame shop recommends me to a client and hands them my business card. They can go home and look me up on-line and see what I do, some examples and maybe learn something they didn't know. In the end they feel more comfortable and give me a call. (this happens all the time)
The key is trying to make the potential client feel as comfortable working with you from an on-line store front as they would if they walked into your real store front.
For example: When someone walks in off the street into your business. You want to make a good first impression. You want to make them feel comfortable about leaving their photographs with you and having you do the work. You do this by a clean/tidy business appearance, answering their questions, and speaking with them and handling their work appropriately.
The same goes for a web-site. The layout and images should be clean and tidy, and the format simple and easy to navigate. You need to know what their questions are (this can be tricky but think about what people normally ask you on the phone) and answer the most common ones (through words and examples). Provide a way for them to get more information if the answer isn't there... phone, e-mail, in person. Make them feel comfortable.
I think examples and free advice are essential to on-line business. This is the internet after all and that's what people use it for...to learn more. That's why we're all on Retouch-Pro!
I get turned off by the one-page web-sites that give me little information other than an address and phone number. I can get that in the yellow pages and their local (no mailing hassals). How do I choose a business to patronise from twenty web-sites?? I'd pick the one that gives me more, that shows me that they know what they are talking about and doing. One that proves to me that they are going to do what I want.
My point is you are going to get a lot more busines from word of mouth, other businesses refering you, and groups like the geneology and scrapbookers than cold calls off the internet....but you will get a few and in addition the web-site can be a good tool for those that want to learn a bit more and for those that want to feel more comfortable before making that call. In addition I like to give back and educate so I love the fact I have a question and answer section. I've had many people e-mail thanks for having the information they were looking for.....and yes, Vikki I believe that if you give them something for free they will come back or at minimum suggest you to someone else.
Ok well that's just my opinion, I'm not saying it's right but it works for me!
Cheers to all! Have a great day.
Much of what you say relates to the way I choose a service vendor even in my own locality. After obtaining a list of potential businesses from the Better Business Bureau's website (preferably no complaints and at least 3-5 years in business), I look at those companies who have a business website first. I won't make a final judgement as to which I'll hire from this process, but I often reduce my list of businesses to contact for estimates by determining from their websites whether they "appear" to be proficient, efficient, and at least a bit "friendly".
I don't use my websites to sell retouching services. I have 4 sites now. One is the site that represents my major source of income which is graphic design and multimedia services. Another sells artwork, which I do on the side. Another sells printing services and gives free marketing advice and articles for self-publishing artists which grew out of my graphic design company. And the last, which I am working on now will be a forum for immersive photography that focuses on the business aspect of that medium.
Interestingly enough, although I have order forms on my sites, none of these sites generate much business directly. All of my work comes from my selling my services face-to-face. I use my sites mainly to service my existing customers and associates (ftp service, newsletters and articles, forum, portfolio, review works-in-progress).
My retouching work comes form being in the business for 14 years and people just seem to know to call me. I cater mostly to advertising agencies and graphic design firms and printers that I've been working with for years.
It takes a while, but if your persistant and consistant, you'll do well.
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