Marketing is all about how you communicate your value to potential customers.
Think about the visual front you present. Does it represent your brand, products and services? Does it entice your potential customers to think, “this looks like an inexpensive option, let’s find out how cheap we can get it”, or, “wow, I wonder what cool and unique things they can do for my event?”
If you can’t properly communicate your value to consumers, why should they choose you?
Think, now, about the most effective way to communicate. Words are, of course, a large part of your communication and marketing. But words aren’t the first things to catch consumers’ attention.
Up Your Photography Game
Great photos are some of the most important components of an email blast, advertisement, website home page…In fact, photos are so important that they play a dominant role in every social media platform out there (think profile picture!). Even Pinterest was born on the idea that people want photos more than anything, and it’s one of the fastest growing social media sites of all time!
Here are three ways to get great photography to sell your catering services:
1. Hire a Professional Photographer
It’s not unrealistic to hire a photographer for one day to take photos at three or four separate events. Plan this on a day when you have events that are going to represent what you can do (at venues that are somewhat nearby each other). This way, you get a variety of photos, you will own the rights to each one, and you can ask the photographer for specific photos, such as close-ups of food, photos of guests enjoying the food, centerpieces, décor, the waitstaff, etc. By doing it this way, you can get the most from your photography budget.
As a subset of this idea, if you are near a college or university with an arts program, there are probably many amateur photographers you could hire at a less expensive rate to take photos at your events.
2. Ask the Event Photographer for Rights
Often times, hosts will hire their own photographer, which is especially true for weddings. By contacting the photographer or the hosts themselves, you can ask to use some of the photos in exchange for a link back to the photographer’s website. This is a very popular way to get professional photos.
3. Have Your Team Take Photos
This route is definitely not as likely to get good quality photos to use in your marketing pieces or on your website, unless you have a really nice camera and someone who is experienced in photography. However, there are some companies fortunate enough to have someone on staff with this skill, in which case, he/she should be out on multiple jobs every month capturing high quality photos of your food presentations and your staff in action!
How Photo Management Will Help Your Business
We know photos are important. They sell your value by showing people your events and catering in ways that words simply can’t.
But what good are photos if they just sit on memory cards and in random folders on your hard drive?
Proper management and maintenance of your photo collection is just as important as having quality photos in the first place.
So now what?
2016, like any other, brings the promise of a more organized year, and we would like to help you translate that into your photo management. Make this a resolution, because it truly will help your business in the following ways:
- You will know exactly where your photos are when you need to use them for things like:
- Marketing pieces
- Website and content updates/posts
- Social media posts
- Client proposals
- Showing event staff a certain setup
- Replicating last year’s or past events exactly
- Documenting a venue layout
- And more!
- You can tag photos with a string of keywords, such as “Hot Hors d’oeuvres” or “Cocktail Reception” so that you can retrieve them immediately when needed for that specific purpose.
- You can save photos based on the date, month, year and venue of the event so that you can reference the event quickly when needed.
- You can categorize folders based on the type of event, such as “Weddings” or “Holiday Parties.”
- And you can do so much more (in so much less time).
Photo Management Options
When it comes to managing your photos, you can imagine that there are countless options. Here, we discuss four of the more “popular” ways to store photos, which methods you should try and which ones you can skip.
We love Flickr because you can do so many things within it, namely organize the photos by whatever works best for you (i.e., by type of event, date of event, name of event, etc.).
Plus, you can tag each photo with multiple “tags” so that when you are in need of finding a certain photo (or photos) of a “food station,” or even more specifically, an “Asian fusion food station,” you simply have to type that in your search bar and every photo with that tag will pop up, regardless of what folder in which you’ve stored it. With the option for multiple albums and a variety of ways to organize based on how you want to use the photos, Flickr has a lot to offer a catering company.
Good things come from Google, and Picasa is no different. Picasa allows you to edit and share your photos easily. You can also easily group photos together into albums, which isn’t quite as simple as tagging in Flickr, but you can have the same photo in multiple albums, so it is essentially quite similar to tagging when it comes to the retrieval process. You can also protect your photos with a password should you want to keep some photos out of marketing material (if, for example, you don’t have permission to use them). You can also “star” your favorite photos as a way to indicate to others which photos you might prefer for your website or which photos you approve of for next month’s newsletter.
Hard drive folders
Saving solely on your internal server or on your computer’s hard drive is the old-fashioned way of managing photos, and while it still works for some companies, we don’t recommend it. There are so many other systems that allow you to do more with your photos that this way seems basic. It’s also very difficult to find what you need quickly, especially when you have a large collection, because you only have the option of saving the photos in a single folder. That gets time consuming (and frustrating) when you go back into your photos to retrieve ones in contention for your marketing.
Let’s be clear about Dropbox; we think this is a great way to share information and larger files such as photos. In fact, we use Dropbox to receive photos from clients, but we never keep the photos there. We always transfer them to another photo management system, tag them appropriately and save them elsewhere. Dropbox is best for file transfers and sharing, not organizing for frequent usage.
How to Use Flickr for Photo Management
Essentially, Flickr stores photos in the cloud, but it also gives you the option to use so many tools to help the organizational process, and even more so, the retrieval process when you’re in need of a certain photo for one of your projects.
Here’s how to use Flickr in four easy steps:
- Go to flickr.com to click and sign up. Then fill in your information in the appropriate fields.
- Once you’ve confirmed, keep your phone handy, because they will text you a code to complete your sign up. Type in that code and submit.
- Congrats, you’re on Flickr! You just have to confirm a few things with your profile, including a username and contact email address.
- You’re on! Either drag and drop your photos from other files on your computer or select the files to upload manually.
To learn the ins and outs of Flickr, including navigation and all of the great tools you can use, we suggest visiting the help desk.
Tagging Photos in Flickr
Once you’ve uploaded your photos, you have the option to organize and tag them all, which we highly recommend. After all, each photo will showcase different things from the same event, so tagging the photos become extremely important when you want to revisit and use those photos.
Here are some tags to consider when tagging your photos on Flickr:
- Event Type:drop-off, corporate event, special event, wedding, picnic, etc.
- Client/Event Name
- Venue Name
- Month/Year: for example, September 2015
- Elements Involved: food, décor, centerpieces, entertainment, activities, grilling, indoor/outdoor, etc.
- Orientation of Photo: portrait or landscape
- Type of Meal: breakfast, lunch, dessert, passed hors d’oeuvres, cocktail reception, etc.
- Type of Service: buffet, food stations, plated, passed hors d’oeuvres, sweets table, etc.
- Food Items: for example, Chicken Champagne or Bacon-wrapped Scallions
- Season: spring, summer, fall, winter
- Photographer Name (if applicable)
- Holiday (if applicable)
- Color Schemes: for example, red & blue or black & white
- Type of Shot: close-up, panorama, action, candid
- Website Worthy: ‘five-star’ photos perfect for website sliders and pages
- Whatever else seems appropriate!
We know 2016 is going to be a very organized year. Besides photo management, what else are you looking to organize next year? Whatever the case, there is probably a system that has an answer for you, and maybe we can help with another step-by-step article,so let us know in the comments below!