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    Customer journey – do you know yours?

    customer-journey-creative-womens-circle-jes-egan-paperchap2

    By Jes Egan

    A few months ago I wrote a post about service design, and today I’d like to talk about an aspect of business that is closely related: looking at the journey a customer or potential customer might take with your business and ensuring you understand how to possibly maximise this space. Not necessarily just for sales, but to build your customer relationships and to ensure that they see and engage with your business at certain stages.

    When I first started working at a big ad agency in London I was told: “It is cheaper to keep an existing customer than to gain a new one”. To this day I still believe this to be true. There are many ways to keep a customer happy, but one way that I believe can work across many different disciplines, industries, products or services is to understand and get to know your customer and their journey that they take with your business. I’ve heard people say to think of it as your customer’s story, imagine they’re telling you the process they went through from when they thought they might need your product/service to how they made the purchasing decision and what happened after they paid.

    Putting together a customer journey map will help you find opportunities that are possibly not being used to their full potential. Simply, it is putting your customer at the forefront of your business, making you think about their needs and requirements in relation to what you do.

    So, where do you start?

    Getting to know your customer
    How well do you know your customer? This is a question that we should all ask of our businesses. Sometimes we think we know more than we actually do and it can be detrimental. We have to be careful of making decisions about our customers based on assumptions. However, there are many ways to get to know them through a little bit of research: look at your existing sales data, web analytics, social media followers – these are examples of things you can quickly review to find insights about your customers, e.g. where they’re coming from, what they’re searching, or what they are saying.

    Anecdotal research, such as surveys or asking questions of your followers on social media, are great ways to get a quick understanding about who they are if you don’t have access to other data. If you are lucky enough to have staff working for you, remember to ask them about their insights into your customer base too, as your ‘front line staff’ can be a wonderful source of information.

    Customer journey map
    A customer journey map is a map of the process people go through when they start to look for what they want, how they get to the purchasing decision, then how they deal with your company and what happens after that. Usually a customer journey map is best understood when displayed as an infographic or a table. There are many different ways to map the process (and there are even online tools to do this if you’re willing to pay for them).
    The following five channel phases are a guide and a possible place to start creating a customer journey map for your business.

    Awareness / Research
    How someone becomes aware of a product or service is something personally I find really interesting. Do they see it on someone they admire, in a shop or in advertising? Once aware of a product or service, it’s not uncommon for a customer to use the internet, Instagram, Google, Pinterest along with the traditional channels of stores, markets, etc to do additional research before they get to ‘buy’.

    The question for you, is: Is your business visible in all the places where people might look to find you or start researching for your type of product or service?

    Evaluation
    This is when a potential customer evaluates like companies / products, and weighs the the pros and cons between them (and this isn’t always about price), before making a decision on which one they like or are more suited to. This might be achieved by be looking at comparison sites or just reviewing a range in a shop.

    Question for you: How do you compare to your competitors in this phase? Is your USP (unique selling point) standing out in this stage? How can you stand out enough to ensure that you are the one they chose?

    Purchase
    The next phase is to understand where and how your customers make their purchase. Is it purely an online purchase? Is it through a third party supplier? Or do they buy it from you at a market, trade show etc? Another pertinent question here is also: where do they want to purchase? Not everyone wants to buy online, and often this decision depends on your audience and what you’re selling. Be where customers expect you to be, as well as want you to be.

    Delivery
    Think about how your customer receives what you are offering. Is it a face to face sale? Are you delivering a service personally or via online/telephone communication? Do they pick the item up or does it get delivered (by post or courier?). Question for you: Where is your customer when they get to this touch point, and what is the experience they are receiving?

    After sales / post purchase
    Once your customer has the product or service, consider if there is any further communication between you and your customer. Do they purchase again? Do they post pictures/comments on social media of their purchase, if they’re happy or not? Do they come back into the shop or write a review? Think about how you can be more involved in the process, become aware of their thoughts and reactions, and importantly, how do you respond to positive and negative feedback?

    Here is an example of how I might start to put together a customer journey map. Once I’ve got all the information I’ll then get it nicely put together in a digital version.

    Customer Journey Map

    Getting to know your customer’s journey is really important, there are many insights you can take from it if you get the information right. By acknowledging and mapping it you can see where you might be able to make tweaks or changes and help build a better customer relationship. It goes back to what I said at the beginning: It’s cheaper to keep an existing one then gain a new one, so it’s a great investment in your creative business to get to know the ones you’ve got.

    Jes is a ‘practical creative’ and a very busy lady, doing the business in a digital agency, being an artist, a university lecturer, and small business owner who can creatively be found cutting up a storm at paperchap.com. Follow Jes on Instagram and Facebook.


    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: business tips | Comments Off
    Posted on

    How to organise a photo shoot for your business

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    By Monica Ng

    As an online business owner, it can be difficult to juggle the different roles and responsibilities required to grow the business. We’re expected to not only be the designer, maker, marketer, accountant but also a photographer too. As an online business, it can be said that photographs are the window into your shop’s world, but the subject can sometimes be a scary one. ISO? Aperture? Shutter speed? Huh?

    Investing some time and money to create crisp, well-lit and creatively styled photos with a model can really help you to get your shop noticed and lead to more consistent sales. Poor lighting and composition and not showing the scale of your product could be letting your shop down. I’ll admit the the idea of taking some amazing photos for my online jewellery shop, Geometric Skies, paralysed me! But I quickly learned that help is available and I want to share my tips with you.

    Before you embark on this scary but exciting adventure of procuring help with your photographs, my first piece of advice is to talk to everyone you know. Yes, everyone! You never know who in your existing network might know someone who may be able to help you revamp your photos.

    Find a photographer
    Look to your network of friends or the creative community (perhaps even CWC’s Circle Database?) for a photographer. Peruse their portfolio to ensure their style is complimentary to yours. Usually photographers charge a fixed rate per hour for either a half-day (approx. 4 hours) or a full day ( approx. 7 hours).

    There are photographers to suit every budget. While not always the case, photography students or photographers starting out in the industry who want to build a portfolio may be happy to help you for free, trade or at a reduced cost. However, a photographer’s experience can do wonders to elevate your brand, so consider carefully the investment of a professional photographer (and for that matter, stylist, hair and make up artist, model etc) with the outcome you want to achieve for your photos and your business.

    Important questions to ask a photographer might be:

    • What is their hourly or day rate, and how many photos will you expect to receive in your final cut?
    • Are there any expenses that might be incurred on top (travel, post-production/image editing etc)?
    • What are the copyright/licensing restrictions that will apply to the final photos you are supplied with (i.e. how, where and for how long can you use them for your business?)
    • Are they professional, flexible and open to ideas to achieving your vision?

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    Find a Hair & Makeup Artist (HMUA)
    Beautiful hair and makeup can make the difference between stunning photos or mediocre ones. Some HMUAs, especially those who are starting off in the industry, may be open to a trade too if budget is a concern. Contact your local makeup academy and join online makeup forums and social media groups on your search for a hair and makeup artist.

    Make sure to have a look through their portfolio and have a chat about their previous experience and their future aspirations. If you like them and their work, it’ll make the experience of working together much more enjoyable. Other things you should look for are:

    • Does their portfolio demonstrate variety in their styles and experiences?
    • Are there any testimonials from previous people they have worked with?
    • Are they professional, flexible and open to ideas to achieving your vision?

    Select a Model
    Choosing the right model is important because they essentially become the face of your brand (or at least for the current collection!). If you don’t wish to approach a model agency, online forums or social media groups are a fantastic place to scout for a model.

    When it comes to choosing your model consider these things:

    • What type and how much experience does he/she have?
    • When you’re communicating with them are they responsive, professional, enthusiastic and flexible?
    • Does your model embody the essence of your brand?
    • Will your target market identify with the model?

    Ensure that you or the photographer provide the model with a Model Release to sign before the shoot begins (preferably days before), so that you can be sure he or she is happy for his/her face to be used across your promotional material now and in the future, and all terms are agreed upon.

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    5 other tips and tricks

    1) Use Pinterest or other shareable online tool to create a mood board for the photo shoot
    This will serve as inspiration for what you imagine the theme of your photo shoot to look like. This will help everyone involved to see what your vision is and what you’re aiming for.

    2) Do some location scouting
    Brainstorm some possible location backdrops and walk around to snap some pictures to add to your mood board to show your photographer.

    Some locations require permission for you to hold your photo shoot. Check with local rules and regulations for further information.

    3) Be organised
    It’s helpful to set up expectations with each person involved prior to the day, so everyone knows what is expected of them on the day of the photo shoot. On the day of the shoot, you might be a little nervous and it’s going to be busy. Print out a copy of a map of the area where you’re shooting and highlight the streets you previously scouted – it’ll come in really handy. And don’t forget to ask the photographer to bring a copy of a model release for the model to sign on the day of the shoot, or organise one yourself.

    Before the day of the photo shoot, compile a series of ‘looks’. Printing out hard copy photos may help you organise individual items into complementary looks. And while you’re at it, why not create a checklist of all the items to be photographed? Sometimes, you may forget that an item belongs in a specific look – if you have the checklist, you can double check and make sure everything gets photographed.

    4) Be nice and don’t be afraid to ask!
    If you have enquired with a photographer, model or stylist but you choose not to work with them, be cordial and nice in your decline of their services. Creative communities are small and you never know when you will cross paths again.

    Remember, it’s okay to not know everything – especially if photography or styling is not your field of expertise. If there’s anything you’re unsure of on photo shoot day, just ask and you shall learn!

    5) Be social!
    When the hard work is all done and it’s time to share all the creative work on your social media channels, don’t forget to spread the love and include links to the photographer’s, HMUA’s and model’s websites and social media channels too. Keep nurturing your new professional connections even after the photo shoot. If the photo shoot went well, you never know when there may be more opportunities to collaborate again.

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    Have fun and good luck!

    Behind the scenes photography: Monica Ng
    Model photography: Aaron Browning
    Hair & Makeup Artist: Dianne Murphy
    Model: Kristine Jensson

    Monica Ng left her accounting career at the end of 2013 to run Geometric Skies, her Etsy jewellery business, alongside her jewellery and object design studies at the Design Centre in Sydney. Find Monica on Instagram @geometric_skies or at her blog.

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    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: business tips | Comments Off