I spend about 10% of my time actually taking pictures or shooting video. I spend more time as my own webmaster, SEO specialist, social media advocate, editor, sales person, janitor, shipping manager, equipment specialist, IT manager, driver, in short I’m chief cook and bottle washer. So it’s no surprise that things slip through the cracks once in a while – however when that crack swallowed two To Do items a few years ago (a client phone call I forgot to return and one client I called twice in 24 hours) I decide, that I need some help.
I have a friend that runs a studio with 160 employees – my studio is about 1/160th of that size – yup that’s right I am working by myself. I put together crews for productions, but I am a sole proprietor in my photography/cinematography business, so I don’t have a receptionist that can keep me on task. I started looking around and started reading about CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – in it’s simplest form it is a contact database, an email program and a calendar (so you could do it with mail and contacts and iCal).
I was looking for something that could grow with me over time and one of the biggest and most innovative names I
started hearing about was SalesForce. Some of the biggest companies use this cloud based CRM service, so I figure it will fit my growth requirement. I’ve been using it since 2008 now and it helps me keep track of my accounts, contacts and production opportunities I’m working on – now it’s designed for sales guys, so you need to learn a few terms, but it lets you automate a bunch of things.
Let me give you an example: The contact form on my website, for instance, auto populates my database with all the information a potential client enters online, immediately emails the client a personalized note and sends me a message saying, that someone just contacted me via my website – seamlessly and automatically. So it’s kind of like a receptionist, but I can grab the iPhone app to see all info I need to see on the run. Custom reports, email templates, reminders, … And so much more makes this a great way to help me run the office backend of my business.
SalesForce prides itself on having great security and privacy features and also has different levels of pricing (from $5 to $250 a month) and features to custom tailor to your needs. If you’re interested keep an eye out for some deals that they run once in a while, I got one of those when I signed up 6 years ago and am still paying the same price. Their customer service and support is out of this world and it makes me look a lot bigger online than I really am. And since I’ve used them I haven’t forgotten a phone call or called a client twice in a day.
Check out a short article I wrote on the American Society of Media Photographers ‘Strictly Business blog‘ titled “Automate” about how this automation works.
Pascal Depuhl is a Miami based product photographer and corporate documentary filmmaker. He filmed his first documentary film, “On Wings of Hope“, in Afghanistan 6 months after he got into producing motion work for his clients. It was awarded Best of ASMP 2013. He enjoys challenging still photographers to get into motion by teaching Move2Motion workshops. You can contact him directly through his website at www.depuhl.com.