Where it all Began
Can you imagine a time before e-commerce was a daily part of life for professional photographers? An era before the term e-commerce was even coined? Maybe. Maybe not. What you may not know is that our ubiquitous online economy sprung to life with the sale of a single CD. That’s right. In August of 1994, a man named Dan Kohn sold a Sting CD to a customer through his website NetMarket.
That $12.48 exchange marked the humble beginning of our current and booming e-commerce economy. Now, all these years later, pro photographers are left with one burning question: “How can I find an e-commerce solution that builds my business—instead of taking me away from the viewfinder?”
To answer this, let’s return to e-commerce’s origin. It kicked into high gear the next year when eBay began as a platform for people in the Bay Area to buy and sell items. Fast forward to today. Internet giants like Amazon present turnkey solutions to businesses big and small. They can warehouse, list, sell, ship, and collect money for nearly any product. All a business owner must do is pay their hefty fees, and of course, live with the (very real) risk Amazon will copy their item and intentionally bury the original product in its listings.
Worse, despite so many critical advances in e-commerce over the years, photographers have been left behind. Many pros still use internet business models and e-commerce solutions that would be considered relics of the Dark Ages by today’s tech gurus. Waldo Photos set out to change all this.
Push vs. Pull Marketing
At the core of Waldo’s model is a fundamental shift in how the proofs are discovered. To understand just how powerful the platform is for today’s pro photographer, it’s useful to first summarize the difference between the two basic strategies of marketing, pull vs. push. Professional photographers have relied on pull marketing for decades. Whether you offer paper order forms for school or club sports, send out links via email to proofs in online galleries after an event, or have an on-site tent and kiosk at the event, you’re subjecting the discovery of proofs to a lot of friction. Today’s consumer expects paperless. Email is a perilous spam medium. And making consumers work to view their product is unreasonable given short attention spans.
Technology has a funny way of creating the problem and then in turn coming up with the solution as well. This is what we’ve done at Waldo as we’ve reimagined the workflow and supporting technologies to enable a paradigm shift from a “pull” to a “push”, made it mobile-centric, and then solved the mobile conundrum of how to protect the images while also making them easy to assess for quality.
Waldo’s approach to “push” marketing also enables you to cut through so much clutter in your customers’ lives. This can boost your sales—while affording your customers’ easy access to pictures documenting their most cherished moments. It starts with an AI-based system utilizing facial and, in the case of sports, jersey recognition, to automatically sift and sort through thousands of proofs and then automatically “pushes” the right handful of proofs to the right prospective customer. Waldo’s system is then supported with a state-of-the-art mobile optimized web experience and a smart texting bot all making purchasing seamless.
Mobile-Centric Push Marketing
This mobile-centric push approach to making proofs more visible requires a new approach to copyright protection in the increasingly brazen social media post-happy world we’re in. Every professional photographer has seen his or her images splattered across social media with their traditional watermark. For golfers, it’s like finding a range ball on the course. It’s just a head scratcher but not one Waldo felt professional photographers could leave to chance. This is where Waldo’s patented FaceBlocker tech comes in. FaceBlocker is a clever and powerful approach to the mobile photo sales world. Waldo has an advantage in that it knows where the face of the intended purchaser is in every proof it delivers. So, Waldo capitalized on this for the benefit of its professional photographers by developing a system of obstructing the viewing of the face with the Waldo logo. Upon tapping the screen, the logo vanishes and allows for evaluating the quality of the face in the photo but while depressed the rest of the image is blurred. Push marketing is much more proactive, but it has nothing to do with being pushy. In push marketing, you are in control of your business’s messaging and how it will be received by customers. When photographers embrace push marketing powered by Waldo Photos, your business can prosper while delivering a delightful experience to your customers that will have them raving about your business.
Breakthroughs like those outlined above couldn’t be more needed nowadays. The sad fact is that most approaches to marketing your photography can get lost, whether in a sea of spam emails and/or traditional paper outreach. If you email proofs and offers to customers, even if your email doesn’t get caught up in the spam filter and it is lucky enough to get to the inbox, it will likely join thousands of other unread emails from companies begging for attention. Likewise, paper flyers given to kids or mailed home often never reach their intended target.
Waldo’s approach differs, and it drives positive results, namely higher sell-through rates and less labor. How does it vary from conventional tactics? Waldo ditches emails and paper forms, saving a tree or two by marketing your proofs where customers will see them and take action—their smartphones via text messages. When someone receives an SMS message from Waldo Photos, linking them to proofs, they can order in a couple of taps. Immediately. One simple and elegant clickstream, available on both mobile devices and laptops, grants customers access to all relevant proofs in one central place. There is no time-consuming hunt and search to find the right pictures!
Pro photographers working with Waldo find this approach to be a true differentiator for their business long after the date of the event. Unlike traditional pull marketing techniques, like hosting a retail space at an event or mass mailing proofs following a photo shoot, Waldo’s push approach helps you to stay in touch with your customers long after. Most likely you’ve had a customer return months—or even years later—hoping to buy photos. Instead, what if you could occasionally remind them via text of photos still available for purchase? Waldo Photos’ solution makes this a frictionless reality by enabling you drip text messaging to great effect. Such campaigns can reap phenomenal returns, especially from customers who have “tuned out” traditional marketing techniques.
Ultimately, Waldo launched with the idea it’s long past due for e-commerce to aid pro photographers like it has benefited so many other industries. Waldo’s approach is to remove needless labor so you can focus on taking the best pictures, the reason you got into photography in the first place. To learn how you can sell more photos in less time by harnessing Waldo’s AI-driven platform, contact Waldo today and see how you can grow your business while needing less labor.