So you're new to the market?
Welcome! You’ve just purchased or built your first photo booth (or maybe you’re just gearing up to) and now you’re faced with the big question: What’s Next?
Getting started with your fledgling photo booth company doesn’t have to be hard, regardless of whether your goal is to build an empire or just to have a hobby that pays for itself. In my experience, there are four main areas you should focus on up front (and even to continue to keep a pulse on as you grow your business):
- Customer Experience
- User Experience
- Lead Generation
By customer, I’m referring to whoever hired you. For a wedding, this is typically the bride and groom or a wedding planner; for a corporate event this may be an events coordinator; for a branded event, this could be a marketing agency or someone from the brand’s marketing department.
Each type of customer will have slightly different expectations of what you will provide, not just at the event but also before and after. For a wedding, typically you won’t have pre-built assets that you can turn into overlays or watermarks, so you may have to build these yourself, while a branded event will provide logos and other assets and may even offer to design any creative aspects themselves. Similarly, a bride and groom will be most interested in receiving a Zip file of all the photos from their wedding, while a marketing agency or brand may be more interested in obtaining the contact information people entered to receive their photos (with appropriate permission, of course).
Different software packages provide different degrees of functionality for each of these use cases. For instance, ShutterPilot Photo Hub makes it trivial to download either a zip of all photos from an event or an Excel spreadsheet with all contact information and sharing statistics with a single click.
In this case, I mean the people who are taking their photo at the photo booth. Your goal here should be to make it as easy as possible for them to take their photo and print it or send it to themselves. Ideally, someone will spend between 30 and 90 seconds using the photo booth, so you want to make that short time count.
Many different software packages exist to provide the photo booth functionality depending on the hardware and equipment you are using, so try out a few and see which ones have the user experience you feel you would enjoy using. If possible, try one out at an event and watch people as they use your photo booth. Make a mental note of what areas they have trouble with or seem confused by (and likewise what seems natural to them). If you can change the confusing aspects within the same software package, do so. If not, try a different software package.
One thing that can really make or break any new business is reliability. If the product or service you’re providing continually has issues, not only will it frustrate your customers, but it will distract you and take time away from your ability to build and grow your fledgling business. Building a business is hard enough with all the aspects that are outside of your control; failing to control the aspects that are within your control is nothing short of crippling.
For photo booths, the whole process must be seamless. Obviously you want your equipment and your software to work flawlessly at every event, but your customers should also be able to have clear expectations of the lead-up and day of the event. Your attendant (or you) should show up at a previously discussed time prior to the event to set up, be professionally dressed (appropriately for the event), provide the expected level of service, and most importantly calmly and confidently address any problems that may occur as if he or she has seen and dealt with similar problems before. The more trust you can place in every part of your operation (equipment, software, personnel), the more reliable everything will be and the more time you spend focused on scaling your business.
Finally, it’s absolutely critical to spend some time and effort working on lead generation and on deciding what your target market will be and how you will find business. Many markets, such as weddings, have their own dedicated web sites, like WeddingWire and TheKnot. If you’re interested in providing photo booths at weddings, make sure to sign up as a vendor on these sites.
Other markets may have different methods of finding vendors such as social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. It’s also a good idea to leverage your existing networks, but keep in mind not everyone will be interested in your photo booth business and not everyone will be a potential customer. Always be authentic and respectful and it’s never a bad start to simply announce that you have recently started your own photo booth business. Such an announcement will not feel out of place on any social network.
Lead generation and more specific topics like content marketing could (should) very easily be articles in themselves. The important takeaway for now is that lead generation is important and it should be one of the things you should focus on both up-front and as you grow to ensure you start your business out strong. Always be generating leads (and take care of your leads once they become customers) and you will always have a steady stream of events to support your business.
And Now It’s Your Turn
These four aspects of your business are the four areas where I believe you should be focusing your attention when you’re just starting out, but they are by no means the only aspects of running a successful photo booth business. Feel free to post the areas you feel are important in the comments below.