Friday, January 9, 2009

Beginning the New Year

So the new year has officially started, and I'll tell you what - I'm pretty excited about it. Here, at, we've been coming up with all sorts of different ideas, experimenting, discussing, planning...and now it's time to get things moving.

First, we're going to start featuring this blog in our monthly eNewsletter. To those of you who arrived here by clicking on the link in our eNewsletter, Welcome to our blog! We're excited to have you here and look forward greeting you in your inbox each month! :o)

In addition to that, we've got a whole bunch of other ideas cooking. Many of those ideas stemmed from lessons we've learned working with our Ambassadors.

This will be our first full year with the Ambassador Center up and running. For those of you who don't know, the Ambassador Center is a space on our website dedicated to helping our customers spread the word about and also thanking them for their efforts. Click here to visit the Ambassador Center.

The Ambassador Center went live in July '08 and it's really taken off. Our list of Active Ambassadors grows by the week and we continue to be thankful for customer participation.

Our Ambassadors do a great service to us all. By spreading the word about through word-of-mouth, our Ambassadors allow us to focus our energy on creating high quality prints and slides and improving our services, instead of spending time (and money) on advertising.

Besides helping to spread the word about, our Ambassadors also give us great insights on the customer experience by trying out new services and giving us detailed feedback on the ordering process, shipping methods, and of course the prints themselves.

My favorite benefit, which isn't quite as obvious, is that through the Ambassador Center we really get to build on that working relationship that we seek to foster with each and every one of our customers.

As stated in a previous post, at, "we see ourselves as having a working relationship with our customers. So instead of treating each order as an isolated commitment to produce a certain number of prints and collect a certain amount of money, we treat each order as an opportunity to build on that working relationship."

The most important first step in fostering any working relationship is establishing a clear and open line of communication. We try to do that with every customer interaction, but the Ambassador Center allows us to work with our customers one-on-one outside of the ordering process. Those interactions, when we aren't answering specific questions about placing an order, are where we really find out the good stuff - we find out about what our customers need to succeed as artists or pro-photographers, what they like and dislike about, and what products and services are on their wishlists that we may be able to help with.

Because all of this is so very valuable to us at, we're going to put a whole lot more energy into the Ambassador Center and social networking types of programs this year. If you'd like to get involved, start by visiting the Ambassador Center and please feel free to contact us with any suggestions, comments or questions.

We're really excited to start the new year with you and look forward to all that it brings.

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