Monday, February 22, 2010

Step 3: Launch Your Program

In previous entries I have described how we work with you and your organization to define your business needs and design a program to meet your goals. With our communication plan already developed in Step 2, we need to implement.

Scheduling a Portrait Appointment
Part of your communication plan will be distributing a dedicated toll-free number your team members will need to call to schedule their portrait session. This number is manned by our B2B Portraits customer service representatives, trained in the needs of business customers and who understand your program. They will identify the closest studios and help select a time that fits your members’ schedules. With over 3,000 studios nationwide, most open 7 days a week, we are sure to have an appointment that works.

Your team members will receive an email confirmation with their appointment date, time and location.

Program Tracking
With your appointments entered into our secure database, we can help you track program compliance and maximize effectiveness. We can supply you with participation reports and help with forecasting to adjust the communication strategy to ensure overall success.

Next up I will discuss the portrait studio experience.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Introducing Adam Truesdell

My name is Adam Truesdell, Account Executive at CPI Corporation’s B2B Business Portraits.  I’ve been with this group for almost two years now, and I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by!  I’ve really enjoyed being part of such a dynamic working environment.

I began my sales and customer service career about eight years ago as a Sales Associate for a national office supply retailer.  I’ve also worked in the mortgage industry, and other service industries.  About a year ago, I made the decision to pursue my MBA and have been taking classes part time at local Saint Louis University.

Over the next couple of blog postings, I’ll describe some of what we discuss with clients when we help design a successful portrait program.

Define the Target
Your target market will be an important factor to consider as we develop your portrait program.  Who are you attempting to reach, and with whom will your employees actually be communicating? We consider factors like the nature of your industry, your geographic location and distribution, current communication strategy and your business goals when defining your target audience.

True understanding of your core audience will lead to successful implementation of your business strategy.  Whether you are utilizing a push or a pull marketing approach, a business portrait can greatly expedite the relationship building process.  It’s important to consider the current perception your target market has of your business, and then to define clear goals for the future.

We work with you to design a program that complements your overall strategy, while enhancing your employees’ ability to communicate effectively with your target audience.    

Be sure to check out my next post, which will outline some of the specific ways that minor variations in lighting, background and posing can alter the message your portraits deliver.

Step 2: Creating a Custom Program

In the previous entry I discussed how to get started on your business portrait program. Now that you have your proverbial ducks in row and have defined your needs and goals, we can start creating a custom portrait program. To help you in this next stage of the process, you are assigned a dedicated B2B Portraits Account Executive. Your Account Executive can pull from our team all the expertise necessary to create a portrait program that will meet your business goals.

Each portrait program is as unique as the client, but here I will describe four of the most critical common areas: Communication, Photography, Delivery and Billing.

Communication – The key to successful implementation of any new program is effectively communicating the benefits and details to the participants. We will work with you to develop a communication strategy to inform your employees about your new business portrait program.  We have helped clients develop with intranet, direct mail and email communication programs.

Photography – Our photography experts will help design the perfect portrait to match your communication strategy. We offer a wide variety of backgrounds, posing styles and image options. Styles range from a classic bust pose on a traditional background to full-length black & white portraits. In addition, you are not limited to just a single pose; many of our clients have several different poses taken during their session for use in a variety of marketing vehicles.

Delivery – We offer several convenient portrait delivery methods. For fast, secure delivery to a central location, we offer each B2B account access to a secure FTP site. If you would like your employees to receive their portraits at the time of their portrait session, we either can deliver portraits in our partner studios on CD or printed on traditional photographic media.

Billing – Your program can accommodate a number of billing options. Select from monthly invoicing, which includes listing of members who have participated in your program for a specified timeframe, payment in the studio by your employees at contracted rates, or prepaid certificates redeemable at partner studios. Our team will help you determine which plan is best for your goals.

In my next article, I will discuss launching your program.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dressed for Success

We’ve all heard the old adage, “The clothes make the man (or woman)” and selecting the correct clothing for a business portrait can have a big impact on your overall impression. Most business professionals would agree “competent, warm, friendly, trustworthy and sharp” are descriptions that would be desirable in a business portrait. And we all have pictures of ourselves buried in a drawer somewhere that do not contain any of these attributes. Let’s look at some simple guidelines to help you make sure your next portrait is your best portrait.

The goal of any great portrait is to draw the viewer’s attention toward the face. Suits in solid colors such as blue, black, brown and gray are best for both men and women. Suits tailored from structured fabrics such as wool and linen work well and single-breasted suits or jackets tend to lay better when you are sitting for a portrait. Accent your eye color with your shirt or tie choice. This will help draw your viewers’ focus to your eyes. If you are looking for a more casual look and will be in a shirt, go with long sleeves and solid, classic colors. Avoid colors that are similar to flesh tones such as pinks, tan, peaches, beiges or yellows.

Fit is also very important; the camera will reveal whether your clothing is too tight or drapes poorly. If you have fit questions, ask a good tailor to alter your clothing for your portrait.

For women, v-necks are flattering provided they aren’t exaggerated in style. Avoid bulky cowl neck sweaters that completely hide your neck. Avoid busy patterns or large amounts of white or very bright colors. Stay away from trendy fashions. This year’s fashion trend is tomorrows embarrassing flashback.

When wearing accessories, metal jewelry works well. Necklaces should be short and go with the neckline of the blouse. Earrings need to be separate from the hair.

Your wardrobe is important, but don’t overlook the other elements in your portrait. Plan a trip to the hair salon one week before your portrait. And this is not the time to try a new hairstyle. Men should be well groomed and if you have a beard or mustache, keep it neatly trimmed.

The use of makeup will affect the look of your portrait. Even if you prefer a natural look, a good foundation can smooth out skin tones, and a little lipstick and mascara can bring out your features. Color added to the cheeks or lips can enhance your appearance and help minimize any imperfections.

Finally, the big question we hear from nearly every business client is “Should I smile?” A good guideline is to go with the look that best represents your personality. A small smile with no teeth showing is better than an expression-less blank stare. Your employers’ preference and your profession may dictate a more serious look, so follow corporate guidelines.

When choosing the best portrait from several poses, remember this is a business portrait not your Facebook page, so choose accordingly. I recommend asking yourself “If I were my client, is this someone I would trust with my business”.

Thank you for reading my blog.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Getting Started – Step 1 Define Your Business Need

Let me begin by introducing myself, I’m Tom Perez and l am a Senior Business Manager with B2B Portraits.
Over the next few weeks, I will discuss the process B2B Portraits uses to create a customized program for our clients. We have used this straightforward formula for everyone from start-up companies to Fortune 500 corporations.
First, the part that makes everyone nervous – getting started. You understand the importance of using professional portraits in your business and it’s time to get everyone else in your organization on board. It’s not a simple task to launch a new program, regardless of your company’s size and the larger the organization, the more people and departments that need to be involved. This can include marketing, legal, human resources, IT and finance in addition to your company’s marketing/advertising agency. You have to navigate your company’s silos without stepping on toes or creating additional effort for everyone-no easy task.
Now the good news, we can help. We help you identify the groups involved, learn their specific requirements by interviewing key stakeholders. Then, utilizing a team of experts in photography, business and marketing to evaluate your immediate and long-term goals we develop a business portrait strategy.
But that’s Step 2…

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Introducing Karen Driskill

Let me introduce myself, I’m Karen Driskill, account executive at CPI Corporation’s B2B Business Portraits.

My sales and customer service experience began more than a dozen years ago while managing advertising clients’ broadcast programming. From there I moved into advertising sales earning my ‘road warrior’ badge along with many frequent flyer points.

Happily, I found my way to CPI’s Business Portrait division (B2B Portraits) combining my love of photography with my sales and marketing background. As part of my new position, I needed a portrait. 

My co-workers were matter of fact when they mentioned that my business card portrait would be taken the following Friday afternoon. It had been many years since I had my portrait taken and I’ve never been a fan. Must be my past photo sessions in school, where you were herded into a room, seated, the photo was snapped and you were whisked away. No wonder the school pictures were a gallery of surprised and stunned looks.

I chose Sears Portrait Studio for my portrait. They are one of B2B Portraits partners and are located close to my new office. My portrait session began with a very assuring photographer who immediately made me feel at ease explaining the process and allowing me to relax making for a more natural pose and smile. The immediate ability to select my preferred image at the time of the ‘shoot’ was a huge time-saver. Creative options were also possible like soft focus or black and white. Once I selected my favorite pose, it was immediately sent to the printer with my business card order, the very same day.

My experience was a pleasure and for that brief moment, I felt like I was the center of attention. Something we can all use once in a while.

A professional business portrait goes a long way in conveying to your audience: customers, co-workers, and staff, a sense of trust in your abilities. With electronic communication replacing face-to-face interaction, a portrait places a ‘face’ with your proposal, conference call or Web meeting. I use mine on business cards, in emails, PowerPoint presentations and any other customer facing communications (like the company blog). We’ve all heard that people like to do business with people they like and the professional business portrait helps move your interaction in that direction.

Next, I will walk you through my trip to a Portrait Studio. Tune in.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

About B2B Portraits

The provider you choose for your business portrait needs can make all the difference in terms of quality, consistency, and convenience. B2B Portraits has been a leader in the portrait photography industry for more than 60 years and our network of 3,000 high-quality professional studios is the largest in the U.S.

As the first and largest all-digital portrait studio, B2B Portraits and its partners can offer high-resolution versions of your image via your choice of a secure FTP site or a CD, which you can take with you the same day as your session! A copyright release is available so that you may use the image as needed (e.g., business cards, brochures, websites, annual reports, etc.).

Also, we have experience working with third-party printing and marketing vendors. B2B Portraits has the knowledge and technology to set up your image specifications, coordinate the transfer of your images to any designated provider, and develop specialized solutions for a variety of business portrait needs.