I did my first customer interview recently. I met a professional photographer and talked to him for an hour!
First, this is how I arranged this meeting. I tried to call kindergarten photographers before with disastrous results. People were convinced that I was an telemarketer from India trying to sell them something.
So I changed the tactics. I asked one of my friends if she had her children photographed in kindergarten. As it turns out yes, a photographer came to day care and took photos of her son. Even better she agreed to help me to get an appointment with that photographer. Together we devised a plan.
My friend knew the head of day care centre so she called her and asked about photographer. The manager told her the photographer’s name and also gave his number. She told my friend to mention her name when talking with R. Armed with that my friend called R. and explained that we have an online service for photographers and that we need his help. And R. graciously agreed to meet me for a coffee.
R. explained to me that he mainly does preschool and kindergarten jobs. He also does lots of dance studios. He plans to expand to primary schools. He has his own printing lab. He has 5 photographers working for him.
R. has high turnover. In the last two months he processed 35,000 photos.
R. was using SmugMug but now he is transitioning to a custom WordPress website that was developed for him. SmugMug was good but didn’t let R. to sell photos and print them at his lab. It allows using their lab only. So he was using SmugMug to let people view photos. For ordering, he asked parents to write down photo numbers and send to him by email which was cumbersome.
When selling photos to parents hard copy is important. R. creates proof sheets and gives them to parents. It serves as a reminder (parents put it on the fridge). Web gallery is just an additional component. R. said that one day all sales will be digital in Australia but not now.
One year R. tried to sell photos using web gallery only. It was a disaster – only 30% percent of parents ended up buying photos. Next year he changed back to hard copy with much better results.
R. used to sell photos by printing 5×7 album and giving it parents. It worked well and most parents would buy the album to keep it. Recently though people started scanning photos and returning them back without buying.
For bank deposits it is important to reconcile payments because there are so many of them. Parents should put order number as the reference.
It would be great if each child would get an unique password but it is hard to categorise photos. R. has a custom desktop application that helps him to categorise by dragging photos from the list to children faces on the right.
R. knows a software developer that helps him. He works on facial recognition. It would help greatly for ballet photos where each child stands still facing camera and is properly lit.
R. has an idea of storing photos in the cloud. This would serve as a backup storage.
This was great, I’m going to try to get more customer interviews next.