If you are a commercial photographer, it’s not surprising if you find yourself juggling a good half-dozen tasks. Spreadsheets may keep you organized to a certain degree, but Excel can’t send automated emails to your contacts, invoice clients, or remind you of meetings with vendors. If you are starting to feel overwhelmed, it may be time to consider using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool.
A CRM is an application that allows you to manage all the interactions you have with leads, customers, and vendors so you can run your photography business more effectively.
Jemma Dilag, a Wonderful Machine photo editor and consultant explains that many photographers don’t feel they have a budget for CRMs or are hesitant to learn a new program.
It comes down to your needs — a small photography business has very different needs than a large commercial studio. First, define your needs, then find a CRM that works for you.
Dallas, TX-based commercial photographer, and director Stewart Cohen has a staff of four as part of his lifestyle photography business and they use a CRM to keep track of all communications. He explains:
We use HubSpot to manage all our contacts, communications, promotions, and histories. It allows you to see the big picture in an easily accessible way.
The most significant benefit of using a CRM is managing customer relationships and tracking communication. Who was the stylist you used in the 2018 fashion shoot? How does today’s estimate differ from the one you submitted last year? A CRM can replace multiple programs and streamline your photography business by tracking communication history with potential leads, vendors, and longtime customers.
You need a CRM. There are many out there at different costs with a variety of features. Whatever you choose, make sure you can export all the information to have access to it if you choose to move to another CRM platform.— Stewart Cohen
Every good Customer Relationship Management software will allow you to keep track of people and companies in three main ways: fields, keywords, and notes. These may be called something different across individual platforms.
Fields are used to record contact information like names, addresses, and phone numbers — making it easy to search for someone specific in your contact database. Keywords allow you to categorize people and companies by type. For example, you can tag clients as publication, agency, or brand.
Finally, notes are valuable for recording your interactions with people over time. When did you last see them or work with them? What’s their favorite whiskey? There’s lots of information that may be useful to record. While calendars and billing are valuable functions of any CRM, the client contact database is the core feature.
You may not need to use every function of a CRM if you use programs like QuickBooks for financial management or if your agent manages your marketing. However, combining your scheduling, projects, and billing into one system can be more beneficial than working from multiple spreadsheets and calendars.
Let’s define the major components of CRMs and how they function specifically for photographers:
Many other features and the potential benefits will depend on which CRM you select — we’ll go over different types of CRMs for photography and small business in a subsequent article.
Implementing a CRM may be daunting because it requires learning a new platform and getting your information organized to create workflows. However, consider the time you spend on numerous spreadsheets, tracking projects, and scheduling. It may be better to implement a CRM while your business is still manageable and before you hit a growth spurt. Using a CRM can commit you to a long-term plan to grow your business.
Nutshell: What Does A CRM Do
Business News Daily: How to Set Up Workflows With a CRM
ConvergeHub: 3 Types Of Emails Which You Should Automate with Your CRM