Tag Archives for " automation "

Would you believe a Post-It note automates my Productivity?

Productivity with a Post-It note

Productivity is a must as every Small Business Owner wear many hats: sales rep, customer service rep, accountant, ect. Fortunately there is a ton of great software to help us do all those jobs, but we still have to create all the digital assets necessary to use these apps, services and websites productively.

The Problem with Productivity

Setting up a digital workflow is only as good as the information you put into it and -especially when things get hectic- it’s easy to miss setting things up correctly.

In my workflow as a product photographer is use
Evernote to organize and store all digital documents – creative briefs, model releases, estimates, permits, notes, ect.

SalesForce is my Customer Service Management service of choice. It keeps tracks of accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities, expenses, ect. and links automatically to Evernote, Expensify and Trello.

I’ve just started using
Trello to give me a clear picture of all current projects and tasks and Expensify builds expense reports easily and quickly, that I then import into QuickBooks.

Solving the Productivity Puzzle

Productivity via Post-It notesHow do I remember to add a Note and Tag in Evernote, that will help you organize a new job? Then there’s the opportunity that I have to setup in SalesForce if I want a bin, that will collect and correlate all information I need to have at my fingertips; a new list needs to be created on Trello and the expense report need to be created in Expensify.

Don’t laugh, but a little Post-It note does all that for me. Automatically.

I use Evernote to get this process rolling:

  • Pink Post-It’s are leads. That’s potential clients who have reached out to me and are inquiring about having product photography and/or video creates.
  • Yellow Notes are opportunities. These are the projects where I’m meeting with clients, pitching ideas and creating estimates.
  • Green Sticky Notes are jobs. Deposits are, production has started and we’re creating amazing visual content.
  • (There’s a blue note as well, but I don’t use that for my business)

The yellow Post-It kicks it off

As soon as I capture a yellow Post-It note, Evernote saves it in my opportunities notebook automatically (Evernote lets you assign notebooks based on the colors of the notes). All I do is save the note named with the job number associated with this opportunity.

Zapier takes over

As soon as that note gets saved, Zapier takes over and creates a SalesForce opportunity with the job number (which it gets from Evernote), builds a new Trello list with the same job number, captures an expense in Expensify tagged with that identifier (I hope that soon it can create a report), creates an Evernote tag – which will be used to be able to search all documents about that job and finally sends me a SMS to my phone. Done. That was not hard.

At the end of the day one photo of this Post-It Note creates all the digital assets I use in my day-to-day workflow.

How do you solve your productivity puzzle?


[Wanna learn more about how I use apps, web services and applications to run a more productive small business?]
last year

How to convert prospects into hot leads in 60 seconds

Prospects to Hot Leads

You’re at a _________________________ (trade show, conference, business meeting, fill in the blank) where one of a few prospects hands you their business card.

You know that in order to turn prospects into hot leads you need to follow-up with them. Soon, which means you have to …

  1. enter their contact info into your address book, so you can email or call them later
  2. put their business card into your (physical or digital) Rolodex, so you can find it
  3. create a reminder in your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, so you remember to follow-up with them
  4. send them a LinkedIn invitation

… but who has time for all that, especially if you’re meeting a couple of new prospects.

Then you look at the card and notice, that is only has the prospects company name and website, a ‘info@’ email address and a phone number, but nothing else. You’re gonna tell me that you remember the name of all the prospects you met at the event, if you wait to enter their data until that evening?

Make your prospecting bullet proof

What if there was a way, where you could have the business card scanned and read by an app? That would be pretty cool. How about an app that could go and find the missing info (name, job title, personal email address, …) automatically? Now we’re talkin’, right? What if all this info is entered into your address book with a simple click? Still not good enough? What else would you like it to do? Make a LinkedIn connection? Schedule the CRM reminder? Put the business card into your Rolodex?

I’d pay good money for the ability to go back to the office and have all that happen automatically – you can’t get much better than that, right?

Hang on to your hats, ladies and gentlemen, it’s even better than that. I’d like to introduce you to Scannable, Evernote‘s smart scanning app. Not only does it do all this (well almost all of it), but it does it in real-time.

Convert prospects into hot leads with SannableBack to that business card you got handed to you by one of the new prospects you were talking to. Just this time you pull out your smart phone, launch Scannable and you’re pretty much done. The app finds the card in front of the phone, scans it, reads the information, goes to LinkedIn, pulls the missing information from the prospects LinkedIn profile, and places all the info into the right fields of your address book, which you can save in your address book and Evernote with a simple click. All this takes about 60 seconds and remember all you did was launch an app and hold the card in front of your phone’s camera.

While Scannable does all of this, I can go on chatting with the prospects, learning more about how I can help them create great visual content for the project they’re working on. I finish the conversation with one simple question “Would you mind, if I’d send you a LinkedIn request?” and thanks to Scannable, I can do that as they say “Sure, why not.

Oh, I forgot to mention the price of this service, although by now you’d agree that it will save you not only time, but also convert your prospects into hot leads (which is a little hard to put a price on): it’s free. I know, right?

I got my head in the cloud (along with all my data)

Cloud based business

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 when 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 a 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?

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

Def: Cloud based business, means that your data is stored in with an online service. That can be a photograph you are delivering to your client via Photoshelter, contact information for a prospect stored in SalesForce or your production book from the last job including all releases, insurance info and crew details in Evernote

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

Cloud based SalesForce CRMMy day begins with my head in the cloud (literally)

The 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

SalesForce leads the cloud based CRM space.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, 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. (Find a link to watch a real-time business card scan at the end of this post).

This photo lives in my Evernote cloud

a couple of years ago

Marketing Hack #17: Link your postcards to the cloud

MarketingHack 16: Postcards from the cloud

Probably the single most important reason to use Marketing Hacks, is to stand out from the crowded field of visual noise bombards our all the time. Social Media, Email campaigns, TV ads, junk mail, pop up ads, the list goes on and on all clamor for our attention – some are specifically focused on your target audience, others aren’t.

Shock and Awe marketing (with help from the cloud)

How do you stand out? You need a to fire a full broadside at your target market to be seen. A single email, blog post of Facebook status update won’t cut it. It has to be shock and awe marketing, but I’m not talking about content that’s designed specifically to be crude or offensive – I mean your content has to hit your audience on many channels at the same time – Here’s a sneak peek at cutting through the digital clutter from my upcoming blog post I wrote for the American Society of Media Photographers blog strictly business called “How to fire a marketing broadside at your target audience!“:

How do you compete against this onslaught? Go old school (with a twist): send a handwritten post card. Clients appreciate knowing that they weren’t part of an automated campaign, filled in their <FIRST NAME> <LAST NAME> and thanking them for the opportunity to bid on a photography job for <THEIR COMPANY>. A handwritten thanks gets noticed (…) So where’s the twist I mentioned earlier? [Spoiler alert it’s in the cloud] Well on the back of the post card is a link to a landing page on my website, that goes to a web page with the same image, …

You can read about one specific channel I’m using in greater detail now and if that image looks familiar to you you’re right! It featured in Marketing Hack #12 (and you just remembered another shot from my broadside marketing campaign.)

Postcards to the cloud

Connecting postcard to the cloud

I’m a commercial photographer – which means I only shoot B2B and I’m creating a postcard campaign for my business that’s targeted specifically toward small business owners and boutique creative agencies. I wanted to share how I’m automating my snail mail marketing:

This printed mailer is connected to the cloud via custom URL.

I’d specifically love to talk to you about what happens after my customer receives the postcard. Of course it has my URL on the front of the card – actually the face of the card (minus the tagline) is a copy of the front page of my website.

However the real magic happens on the back (which is where we connect to the cloud) – the normal elements are all there – my address, the award the image has won, copyright info – none of that is anything special, however the last paragraph is:

It includes a link to my blog (in human readable form – blog.depuhl.com/product-photo-story), which leads to a landing page specifically designed for this mailer (it also includes the real review that this client posted on LinkedIn):

See the form? It connects to the cloud.

Here’s what it does for my clients

That page is the link between the real world and my online presence. The page captures email address, first and last name, automatically adds those to my email mailing list and returns the client to my blog homepage and writes a personalized email series I wrote about this shoot, with links to these three posts:

– how I plan and estimate product photography shoots

– how I scout the locations for a product shoot

– how I actually photograph one of these productions

These posts include, bts photos, descriptions of apps used, recordings of periscope live streams, a short video of the shoot, ect. (I’m still working on building more content for this series). Ok so that’s what it does for my clients.

Here’s what it does for my business

On my back-end in the cloud, it automatically enters the captured information [email, first name, last name, landing page version] from my email list (MailChimp) to my Customer Relationship Management service (SalesForce) via Zappier automation, which also sends an SMS to my phone letting me know that someone has subscribed via this specific mailer.

In the end my customer gets:

  • the post card with my contact info
  • a personalized interaction with my brand
  • introduced to my blog that talks about photography, cinematography and marketing
  • a personalized email with links to content, that talks about how this image is created

I get:

  • a new subscriber to my list,
  • a new lead for my product photography
  • an alert that someone just signed up

The beauty of this is, that now that this is all set up, it will happen automatically every time a potential customer types that url (blog.depuhl.com/product-photo-story) into their browser and fills out their contact info. This campaign is specifically marketed to current clients I have, who hire me to photograph very simple product photography and need to think about creating photographs that actually tell a story and to small businesses and creative shops that don’t think of me as a photographer, who can create this type of imagery.

The post cards are ordered (VistaPrint is having their semi-annual 50% off sale – one thousand 4 color postcards with b/w print on the back, run about $100.-) the landing page and email auto responder are created and once the cards mail out, it’ll be interesting to see how this campaign performs.

If you want to experience what my customers will see, you can click-through blog.depuhl.com/product-photo-story, and take the journey.

I’d love to hear any comments about how this process worked for you.

 

3 years ago

Do you still use post-it notes?

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.

DepuhlCRMLet 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.

postcard to SF

I use SalesForce to link my postcard mailers with cloud based CRM – click on the image to learn how …

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.

8 years ago

The ultimate in automation!

I love the web. It enables me to be a very productive company. I have talked to you about SalesForce and the CRM that it enables me to do for under $9.- a month! I can track my leads (automatically – when you fill out my contact form on my website, the captured data is imported into my leads and SalesForce sends me an automatic email to my iPhone. I can convert my leads to accounts, track all the relevant contact information assign multiple opportunities to each account and track my customer contacts through SalesForce. Now thats a really nice, but I have to be in front of a computer to do all this – and I like automation.

SalesForce has a build in calendar – it has all events (that link to my customers) and all task, i.E. my to do list. My Mac has all that offline on iCal as well – but the two of them don’t talk – and I don’t want to be importing and exporting data between the two constantly I want this to happen as close to real time as I can. So here is how this works, bear with me it goes through a few steps:

1)  SalesForce maintains it’s calendar. I can sync it (automatically with Google’s calendar in Google apps) via Appirio’s calendar sync. So now SalesForce and Google calendars are synced. (Information entered in either calendar will update on the other).

2) My offline calendar on my Mac’s iCal can also sync with the Google calendar via Spanning Sync. So those two talk to each other as well.

3) The real beauty of this is that the Google calendar acts like a clearing house between SalesForce and iCal, updating information entered in either one to the other.

4) Last but not least, iCal updates the calendar on my iPhone via Mac’s mobile me cloud letting me not only see my SalesForce calendar on my iPhone, but editing and adding data to SalesForce on this path:

iPhone <-> mobile Me cloud <-> iCal <-[via Spanning Sync]-> Google Calendar (another cloud) <-[via Appirio]->  SalesForce (my third cloud).

A long way to get to automation, but once it’s set up, it will run and run and run :) Yeah for automation! (not to mention redundancy) and I can enter and edit data on my phone, my laptop and anywhere on the web. Oh yeah my iCal also publishes my calendar so that others (whom I select) can know what’s on my work schedule.