In this Squaretalk special, we sat down with Alex Davidovich, co-founder and CEO of Squareshot, to recap the passing year 2021 and discuss the company's ambitious journey in 2022.
From the launch of new studios to a complete sales cycle redesign, explore how 2021 has shaped Squareshot's near future.
[0:10] – Looking back on 2021
Opened 2 new addition studios, in Austin and LA. Current studios now cover a huge chunk of the US market.
Doubled in company size (team), revenue and almost doubled in the amount of orders.
[2:00] – Brand Focus
“I believe all of the margin is in the brand. Paid advertising is just not sustainable way to build a company and client source”. Brand, for me is not a logo or identity, it’s more of a culture and values the company shares – not only in-house, but with clients as well. Rethinking the established processes, if required, is all related to brand so now, entering this new year, it’s time to develop those values so that we know what services we’re strong at, and what should be avoided. How to rethinking the whole process of working with clients.
Before we clarify is to the world, we have to clarify it to ourselves.
[4:55] – Developing the visual brand identity
We clarified our positioning, and started building the brand based on positioning. Any company that wants to build a logo, identity, culture or values – first of all you have to validate the idea and build positioning, why you’re better than another company, why your clients should pick you and why you’re different. Positioning is clear understanding of why we’re better and what we actually do and why we do the things we do.
Going to visuals, I don’t like things that don’t have any sense. I can’t explain to you what the logo stands for right now, so the goal is to bring more sense into the logo to express the idea behind the symbol rather than the symbol itself. And we have it right now.
One of the issues while working with content was that we had so many different outlets but they all had their own identity – the medium would dictate its own style. One of the things that we really wanted is to be able to recognize Squareshot from any platform and identify the consistency in our visual style. We are now slowly approaching the moment where it’s going to be like that.
New website – not only a story of visual identity and functionality.
[8:15] – The difficulty of simplifying and upholding consistency
Had to restructure our services and pricing model. We even had to rethink the way we communicate our services to our clients. As an example – moving from subscription to membership. We had to get rid of everything we don’t use or whatever doesn’t work on the website. Now, our new website, will have much less pages and more structure.
How consistency relates to brand – brands should have consistency not only in a visual sense, but also in their workflows and processes in-house and working with clients. If we serve 10 clients in 10 different months, we have to deliver the same process and same quality with the same turnaround time. That’s what we’re working on right now.
Simplicity is not as simple as it sounds.
To achieve simplicity you have to go through a lot of steps in order to crystallize what’s important in a product that has so many moving parts and complicated processes. Setting priorities.
Every single brand has to value client’s time, and not overcomplicate the processes vital to the company’s vitality, especially when it comes to asking questions that they do not need to be asking.
What’s the most important piece of information you need to move forward? It’s hard because right now we’re asking so many questions before the order is placed, that it really devalues the time of our clients. That is definitely first priority.
Finally going from squareshot.co to squareshot.com! Eradicating the confusion and preventing mistakes. It’s all about simplifying the user experience and removing boundaries for communication.
[14:48] – Operational changes to make things less overwhelming
Re-imagined the way we should sell our services. The way our clients should place an order and how much information we should get before we start. Right now, we will have a much less complicated process. Alex spent almost a year on changing the workflow because now a lot of clients are unhappy because they cannot track the orders in real time and they have some concerns regarding the stage at which stage their orders are.
We want to bring more transparency into the order process and make it less complicated. We will ask less questions and more proactive. Send a proposal where we list all the services you think you need because we have an extended amount of experience based on the volume of products we’ve worked with.
Based on your budget, brand and target audience – you will receive a proposal in less than 24 hours where you will see the angles we will apply to the products, the budget, turnaround time, how many deliverable and when you’ll get them, and the location of the photoshoot will be.
It’s also important to underline that nothing will change in terms of workflow for existing clients, we’re only taking a proactive stance where it’s necessary.
[20:42] – The $300 minimum
The amount of communication regardless of the size of order was completely equal. We have to be focused on our clients and sometimes when we have a lot of small ordrrs, we hav eto do a lot of things manually and have a lot of communication simultaneously with a lot of clients, it becomes much more complicated to deliver the best value on the market. The mechanism has been reworked, so now it’s not such a scary prospect to approach Squareshot with a smaller order, but it is advisable to wait a little bit to get to the 6 image minimum to start the work that would prove to be essential.
The final operational change of the year is something we’ve wanted to do for quite some time. The current state of the locations is, we’re able to cover a much larger area for clients and still sustain that under 8 day turnaround time for under 150 images that we promise.
[24:10] – Proactive approach to content
Going into video. Within the last 6 episodes, we had the opportunity to speak to a lot of different people with a lot of different perspectives. Really important conversation about essential topics like content and e-commerce at large, and it’s so important for that information to be available, and video is the best way to consume that content. The goal is to revamp YouTube and put a lot of emphasis on shorter, but dense videos that will help you better prepare for working with Squareshot, but also to be able to expand your DIY skillset.
It’s a monumental challenge to have people think about Squareshot not only as a product photography service, but also a place where they can learn about content, why they need that content and how content works, how to create better content and how to work with talent from all over the world to ensure you’re getting exactly the result that you need.
The goal is to make sure that when you go on the Squareshot website, you leave it with more information and you became much more knowledgeable about content producing which directly impacts your brand.
[29:23] – More services
First one, and most important one, is model photography. You have to show your product on a model, it’s simple as that. A lot of clients only have a few photos on their websites that include flat-lay or ghost mannequin type photos related to the product. The rest relies on model photography, and that is the absolute best way to showcase your product. The challenge lies in the fact that a lot of model talent works on daily and hourly rates, so it’s hard to set a fixed price for our clients. Once everything is polished and in shape to be launched, the model photography service will cost $150 per image. We provide the model that you could pick out during your order process, you provide the details you want to follow. The target release date is the second quarter of 2022.
We also want to introduce style guides to the repertoire of services. A lot of clients want to build a content strategy for their catalogue photography, so everything starting from this point will be consistent from collection to collection.
The goal is to have Squareshot as the final destination for all content production needs, as well as make a move towards social content which is much more fast paced content for social media.
[35:46] – Opening a studio in Europe
Our most popular category is clothing, and Europe is the capital of fashion. It has always been. A lot of brands are located in Europe and the way they produce content and the way they perceive the content quality is just on a whole other level, and we think we can bring a lot of value to the European market.
[37:47] – Flow conference in LA
Alex is still in the process of picking a topic, but it would be of great value to speak to studio owners on the topic of how to serve a long tail of customers: pros, cons, opportunities and obstacles of serving a long tail of customers. Small to medium companies need this help – they don’t know how to produce high quality content, and they probably do not have the resources to produce that content. At the same time, they have to compete with bigger names and brand and all of them have in-house photo studios and they produce thousands of content pieces per day.
[41:20] – Shifting dynamics and adaptability (and why we’re excited)
[43:07] – Squaretalk Season 2
[44:35] – Outro