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I Got My Head in the Clouds (Along With All My Data)

[by Pascal Depuhl]

How much more productive would you be, if you could…

…automatically answer every online contact request with a branded, personalized email from your company and get an alert to new inquiries via text, email and SMS from the cloud?

…enter each business card you’re handed into your cloud based address book and automatically pull in data from the card owner’s LinkedIn profile?

…see the last activity you had scheduled with that person, the client account associated with him or her and have the personal contact info from your cloud based client database on your screen whenever you look up a client on LinkedIn?

…automatically trigger the creation of a digital job folder,  add a customized to-do list (based on how you go from prospect to client) to your calendar and create an blank production book in the cloud when a client sends you a job request?

…store all emails, call notes, marketing efforts, past invoices, payments and briefs pertaining to a client account in the cloud, accessible from anywhere in the world?

…control image delivery to your client from your smart phone?

…create an expense report in the cloud just by photographing a receipt?

Sound too good to be true? Welcome to your business in the cloud.

There are lots of systems you can choose from.  Here’s how I use mine…

My day begins with my head in the cloud (literally)

SalesForceHome-300x188The first tab that opens in my web browser is my SalesForce Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System: the heart of my cloud business. It aggregates all client info – some automatically, some from other applications or web services – into one place.

More than just a calendar and address book app, it links everything together, so my client’s personal cell phone number from last year is at my fingertips and I can easily see the last estimate I sent them while I’m on the phone talking about our upcoming project. The digital documents don’t have to be stored in SalesForce – in my case, I use Evernote.

SalesForce – the center of my cloud universe

Here are three channels I use to capture new leads into my SalesForce client database:

The contact form on my website.
When a prospective client fills out the contact form on my website, they are actually entering their data into SalesForce, which then sends them an automated personalized email response and notifies me that I have a new lead. All this info is accessible via the web interface or an app on my phone (Read more about it on this Strictly Business article: Quick Tip – Automate).

The subscription button on my blog.
I use a MailChimp plugin on my WordPress blog to send all subscriber information straight to SalesForce. That plugin also sends email updates to my subscribers when I publish a new blog post and maintains my mailing list. All day, every day. Don’t have to think about it.

Business cards.
I take a photo of the card and Scannable reads the card, saves it to the address book on my phone (pulling in any information that’s not printed on the card from the person’s LinkedIn profile) and adds my new contact to SalesForce. All in about 30 seconds. Don’t believe that’s possible? Watch a video of a card read in real time.

A low-tech look at cloud based business


© Pascal Depuhl. Click on this image to see a shared Evernote page.

My Moleskine notebook goes everywhere with me. It’s full of notes, sketches, location info, phone numbers–the list goes on and on. Paper is still incredibly convenient, it’s fast, needs no power and there are studies that show you remember you handwritten notes better than those you type.

Actually this picture of my Moleskine lives in the cloud in an Evernote digital notebook, which makes the text on the page searchable even though it’s in my handwriting. That’s the power of using the cloud.

These tips barely scratch the surface, but I hope they give you an idea what’s possible when you run your business from the cloud.

Pascal has been using cloud based business apps for the past 7 years. If you want to learn more about how SalesForce works together with other apps like, Evernote, Asana, MailChimp, Zappier, IFTTT, and many others, subscribe to Pascal’s newest blog series “Solving the Productivity Puzzle.”


By Pascal Depuhl | Posted: November 24th, 2015 | No comments

Case study: The Nuts, Bolts and Hazards of E-Commerce

[by Harry C. Thomas]

ASMP member Harry Thomas recently contacted ASMP after discovering how limited the protections offered to photographers accepting credit cards really are. He shares his experiences in this post in the hopes that it may help others avoid getting burned.

I accepted an assignment from a Fortune 100 company with whom I had no prior business relationship. Lured by their last minute need for a photographer, I hoped this would be the start of a long-term relationship.

The assignment seemed straightforward: the client needed a photographer to shoot portraits of the key customers with a celebrity PGA golfer during their golf invitational event. Since this was a shot gun start with everyone beginning at 12:00 pm, the PGA golfer and I would have to capture from hole to hole to capture him with each foursome. The biggest challenge was the client’s need to have 120 prints ready for distribution before their banquet commenced at 5:00 pm.

To achieve their goals, I told them I would have to connect my printer and laptop to the Wi-Fi network in the Club House and hire a Digital Tech to help manage the files so everything could be completed in time.

To minimize my risk, I amended my usual contract to limit my liability in the event of circumstances beyond my control that would prevent me from completing the job. I also told the client I would need to set up my equipment in advance of the event to make sure everything worked properly. I was fairly comfortable that I had covered all key elements of the assignment including being paid in full upfront by credit card.

Unfortunately, the client rejected my request for early access, assuring me that they had Wi-Fi and the staff to cover any eventuality, but when the Wi-Fi network connection in the Club House disabled my printer during the shoot, despite my best efforts there was no way I could deliver the prints on time.

The client demanded a full refund. All of my attempts at diplomacy fell on deaf ears. I finally had no choice but to leave it that since I could prove that the failure stemmed from circumstances beyond my control as stipulated in my contract, there would be no refund and I considered the matter closed.

E-Commerce and the fine print

Shortly thereafter, my financial service card processor informed me that the card issuer reversed the entire payment amount in favor of the card member, my client. I was offered the opportunity to challenge the dispute if I could provide supporting documentation.

This is when I learned how the dispute process really works. The credit card company/issuer and the credit card processor have a symbiotic relationship; they benefit financially from doing business together. The card processor assigns all resolution decisions to the card issuer and only represents the merchant (me) in presenting his or her case. It is up to the card issuer to resolve the dispute and their decision is final.

This process offers no objective incentive to award a decision in favor of the merchant regardless of the weight of evidence presented. Not only does the process itself invite favoritism to the benefit of the card holder, but the card issuer also offers more lenient conditions for their card member to dispute the challenge:

1. Card members are given a variety of options to use as a dispute.

2. If the dispute is settled in favor of the merchant, card members have the option to re-open the dispute with a different challenge after 60 days., Decisions awarded in favor of the card member, on the other hand, are final.

Moving forward, I’ve decided to accept credit cards only for low risk over-the-counter type of business and not for more complex production assignments. This may inconvenience some potential clients, but I feel it’s worth the effort to follow best practices for the benefit of your business, your client and our industry. Trying new ways of conducting business in this internet consumer playing field can yield benefits and should be embraced. However, convenience is not a substitute for solid old fashion best business practices.

Harry Thomas is a Philadelphia based photographer, educator and writer. He aims to use light as a paintbrush to reflect both reality and drama, to capture the surreal and warmth of a portrait, to reveal the beauty of a building and its interior, to change night to day, clouds to sunshine and freeze time.


By Editor | Posted: November 23rd, 2015 | 1 comment
Get Connected

Photographers Helping Photographers

On Thursday and Friday, those of us in the United States celebrate our Thanksgiving holiday and our contributors will take a well-deserved long-weekend.  During this short week, we celebrate the spirit of giving that is one of the defining tenets of ASMP.

By Editor | Posted: November 23rd, 2015 | No comments

Why You Should Stop Worrying About How to Market Yourself on Social Media

[by Anna Dickson]

I’ve spent several days trying to figure out how to boil down social media from a buyer’s perspective to 400 words.  In the past I’ve talked on various subjects from the frustration that photographers have with copyright and decreasing fees for image rights to marketing strategies on social and new avenues for revenue via social for photographers. I don’t think any of those things are really what we should be talking about.

Social Media isn’t just another place to post your work and market your business.  It’s not simply a way to connect with friends or family and share your personal stories.  Social Media, hand in hand with mobile, have fundamentally changed the way we produce, consume and distribute content.  What that means is that now, understanding social media, is no different than understanding media.

We, as photography professionals have to understand that our role within the industry is changing.  In order to be successful in this world of new media, be it social, digital, mobile, virtual reality or something we haven’t discovered yet, we need to do more than figure out how to market our existing services to these platforms.  It’s helpful to understand the bigger role visuals play in the media.

In publishing, photos have almost always been there to support the story.  The job of the image has been to pull the reader into the story and/or support the text.   With so many things floating around the social mediasphere publishers started to look at social to find stories.  In a world where everyone is connected all the time, regardless of where you are, one of the only things that transcends language are images.  Trending photos, like the migrant boy on the beach, become important images that help change the way we see the world. You also have stories built out of photos that are less serious, trends people participate in or stories built out of a single event and posted to social.  The signifigance is that all of these stories are built from images and they’ve been consumed through social media.  In fact, some have actually stemmed from social media.

In 2013 there was an eye-opening image comparison between the 2003 introduction of Pope Benedict and the 2013 election of Pope Francis. Unlike in the past, the photos became  the entire story and the words were simply there to support the image.

So, what does this mean for photography professionals?   It means that the world is communicating visually.  Yes, there are cameras everywhere.  Yes, clients are looking for a different style of photography to help tell their stories.  And yes, people aren’t paying as much as they did 10 years ago for a photo shoot.  As publishers and advertisers try to figure out how to navigate this world where we’re no longer just pushing content to users but instead pushing AND pulling content, we need to consider the publishers’, advertisers’ and audiences’ needs a bit more.  There are no quick or easy answers.  Visuals are becoming more important than ever before and our job as photo professionals is to be experts in that language.

Anna Dickson is currently the Photo Lead for the Content & Community within Google.  Her previous experience includes The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, iHeartRadio, Rolling Stone and Popular Photography.  


By Editor | Posted: November 20th, 2015 | No comments

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