Archive for January, 2011

We’ve been asked a lot of selling related questions by our photographer members over the past few years. The perception we have is that a lot of you are eager to sell your photography services but that you believe you are less talented on the commercial end than on the photography end…which is not surprising at all considering you are photographers.

This FAQ is a result of the communication we’ve had with many of you. Our goal is to present some points that have come up in our discussions in a concise and organized fashion. Please note, however, that this FAQ is not a substitute for a good sales training course – something that we’d recommend to anybody serious about selling their services.

Who is this FAQ for?

The FAQ is intended for any 360 Cities member who would like to leverage his / her VR photography skills in order to generate (more) sales and make (more) money.

How can I make this FAQ better?

You can send your questions, suggestions and feedback on this FAQ to selling@360cities.net

What is meant by the term “sales process” and why is it relevant?

As any good salesman will tell you, there is more to selling than just making a sales pitch or presentation. There are multiple steps involved in selling, which are often referred to as the sales process or sales cycle. The sales process is made up of a number of parts and we address each of them individually. Please note that we refer to potential customers as “leads”:
1. Identifying leads
2. Approaching leads
3. Qualifying leads
4. Tracking leads
5. Closing the sale

How to identify leads?

It’s important to keep in mind that the success rate of converting leads to sales might be quite low, but that sales always result if you contact enough leads. In general, you will probably find that a relatively small percentage of identified leads will end up hiring you. Of course, this will depend on who you approach and how you approach them. In your case, the highest barrier to sales has nothing at all to do with the product. The 360 Cities member base consists of some of the most talented VR photographers on the planet and are acknowledged as such. 360 Cities would never have made it to the photos layer in Google Earth without the spectacular photography.

That being said, lots of leads will still not be convinced at first to invest in VR photography. The key here is not to be discouraged. Business clients have a lot of vendors approaching them regularly trying to get them to purchase various marketing related solutions. It’s necessary to have a “thick skin” and not take rejection personally. Here’s an interesting fact: good sales people thrive on rejection – they see each rejection as a step toward each new sale.

When working with leads, we strongly recommend that you keep track of leads in some type of system – even if it is only a spreadsheet. Better yet, familiarize yourself with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool. There is a plethora of free online systems available. CRM systems are extremely useful in bringing discipline to the sales process.

Think of selling as a series of steps starting with identifying leads, following through on the leads to making (or “closing”) the sale, implementing the project, receiving payment and providing after sales support. Imagine a funnel that is big on the top (leads) and gradually narrows to a much smaller number on the bottom (sales). The idea is to move leads through the funnel – i.e., the stages of the sales cycle. Most of your leads will fall out along the way, but some will make it all the way to success and to even more sales.

One thing we can tell you from lots of experience: although bars and restaurants are obvious candidates for photography services, selling to them is tough. You will need to speak to lots of them – and take your computer with you so you can show examples. In the some cases, you may decide to tasty barter arrangements with them :)

Stay tuned for Part 2 – Coming next week.

Here’s our Editor’s Picks for the first three weeks in January 2011. Click the images to open interactive versions.

Wales: Conwy castle old suspension bridge

Panoramic photo by Bernd Kronmueller.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

A lot of people come to visit the castle in Conwy. Not so many actually take the little path which leads to the old suspension bridge. It is one of the bridges build by Thomas Telford and it is one of the first road suspension bridges built to span the river Conwy. The interesting thing on this bridge (and on Menai Bridge for that matter) are the huge chain links made from iron. In 1826 manufacturing steel cables hadn’t been invented but they needed something flexible and strong. So they came up with these massive chains with each chain link about 2 metres long, 20cm high and 5cm wide. The longer and wider Menai Bridge, also built by Telford has even more impressive chain links which I hope to show in some other panorama.

Vietnam: My Son Sanctuary – USESCO World Heritage

Panoramic photo by Tetsuya.Y.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Between the 4th and 13th centuries a unique culture which owed its spiritual origins to Indian Hinduism developed on the coast of contemporary Viet Nam. This is graphically illustrated by the remains of a series of impressive tower-temples located in a dramatic site that was the religious and political capital of the Champa Kingdom for most of its existence.http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/949

tibet: the Tibetan Prayer Flag on Biri Sacred Mountain Nyingtri

Panoramic photo by yunzen liu.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Prayer Flags are inscribed with auspicious symbols, invocations, prayers, and mantras. Tibetan Buddhists for centuries have planted these flags outside their homes and places of spiritual practice for the wind to carry the beneficent vibrations across the countryside. Prayer flags are said to bring happiness, long life and prosperity to the flag planter and those in the vicinity.There are two kinds of Prayer flags (sutra streamer): the standing type and the hanging type. Sutra streamers of the standing type are generally called sutra flags.  The highest one could be tens of meters. On the top of the flagpole there are decorations such as the gilded Treasure Vase. Five-Colored Canopy, extails and so on.The hanging type sutra streamers, which are hanged on the long ropes, are commonest in the places of sacred mountains and saint lakes. The longest one could be hundreds of meters. Every family hangs this kind of colorful sutra steamers on the top of door or the roof of house.

Brazil: capela menino jesus de praga

Panoramic photo by Jorge Santos.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Santuario morada de DEUs

shandong: Jinan Qianfoshan-Poke Holes-2

Panoramic photo by jacky cheng.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Thousand Buddha Cave of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Northern foot of the mountain, September 30, 1992 was officially opened. Show line up more than 600 meters, set in China “Moga Collection”, “Dragon Essence,” “outlook Maiji Hall”, “Yungang blend of” famous four famous cave in a hole, through the art of concentration, reconstruction, and shaping the Lord Buddha , Bodhisattva, disciple, King, Book 28,888, the largest reclining Buddha 28 meters long, outside the cave imitation Leshan Giant Buddha 15 meters high. The smallest is only 20-30 cm. Buddhist art spread to China from the Eastern Han Dynasty. Absorbed by the working people try to figure out the essence of the long-term, has formed a special style of the Chinese spirit. These features, in this fully realized. Bringing this to a Northern Wei, Tang, Song of the statues of the period style.

France: Mellow evening at the beach of Etretat, Normandy, France

Panoramic photo by Vil Muhametshin.
Click the image to open the interactive version.
Panoramic photo by David Mariotti.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

The Gothic Room at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum is the lounge from the steamer, City of Detroit III, which was scrapped in 1956.  The room serves both as a display and as the lobby of the building.
Panoramic photo by Rahim hamada.
Click the image to open the interactive version.
Panoramic photo by Vil Muhametshin.
Click the image to open the interactive version.
Panoramic photo by Andrea Biffi.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

The Imperial Fora consist of a series of monumental fora (public squares) constructed in Rome over a period of one and half centuries, between 46 BC and 113 AD. The forums were the center of the Roman Republic and of the Roman Empire. The Imperial forums are located relatively close to each other. Julius Caesar was the first to build in this section of Rome and rearranged both the Forum and the Comitium, another forum type space designated for politics, to do so. These forums were the centres of politics, religion and economy in the ancient Roman Empire. Imperial Fora on Wikipedia
Panoramic photo by Vil Muhametshin.
Click the image to open the interactive version.
Panoramic photo by Martin Hertel.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Winter night at the Brandenburg Gate in the heart of Berlin.
Panoramic photo by Andreas Brett.
Click the image to open the interactive version.
Panoramic photo by Konstantin.
Click the image to open the interactive version.
Panoramic photo by John Austin Roberts.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Long-leaf pines tower over the Florida National Scenic Trail as it passes through the Juniper Prairie Wilderness, part of the Ocala National Forest of central Florida.  The first portion of the Florida Trail was established within the Ocala National Forest in 1966, with the current trail stretching from the Everglades to the western Florida panhandle. The Ocala National Forest was itself established in 1908 with the Juniper Prairie area designated as wilderness in 1984.
Panoramic photo by Heiner Straesser.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Outside of the Güzelyurt (= nice homeland) there is the Yueksek Kilise on the top of a rock. From here you have a great view into the area around. In the background one can see the Mount Hasan (3260m), which is one of the volcanoes responsible for the tuffstone, that had covered the area.

Russia: P1140991 50159 6pipslogo

Panoramic photo by Timofey Osipov.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Panoramic photo by Marcio Cabral.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

A fazenda Boca da Onça está localizada na Serra da Bodoquena, no município de Bodoquena, a 300 km de Campo Grande e a 55 km de Bonito, no estado do Mato Grosso do Sul. Está situada num planalto, com a escarpa voltada para o Pantanal, a uma altitude média de 400 metros, que se desenvolveu sobre rochas carbonáticas. O relevo é caracterizado por feições de dissolução como cavernas, rios subterrâneos e cânions. A existência de carbonato de cálcio dissolvido na água, junto com o depósito de algas e de material orgânico ocasiona o crescimento do material carbonático que se desenvolve nas formas mais criativas e belas. Seus diversos formatos deram origem às denominações: tufas calcáreas, travertinos, estalagtites e estalagmites. Quanto mais vida nos rios, mais calcário nas cachoeiras: por isso se diz que “na Serra da Bodoquena as cachoeiras crescem”.
Panoramic photo by Sergej Esnault.
Click the image to open the interactive version.
Panoramic photo by Thang Bui.
Click the image to open the interactive version.

Dân làng kể rằng trước đây đường làng Cựu toàn lát đá xanh, bây giờ thì lát ximăng, chỉ có các ngách nhỏ vẫn dấu vết ngày xưa.

We launched the PRO accounts back in May last year and are pleased to see such an enthusiastic response around the world.  The overall geographic diversity has been a pleasant surprise.

Here’s the complete list in alphabetical order:

Brazil
Bulgaria
Canada
China
Colombia
Czech Republic
Ecuador
Egypt
Faroe Islands*
France
Germany
Greece
India
Indonesia
Iran
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Netherlands
New Caledonia*
New Zealand
Portugal
Saudi Arabia
South Africa
Spain
Switzerland
Turkey
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom
United States

*We have no intention to promote political controversy by including in the country list  :)

FLAT PHOTOS ARE BORING

Flat photos are boring. It’s far better these days to offer an immersive spherical panorama of your store, restaurant, event or business. Flat photos hide stuff, and don’t really allow you to see fully what is going on. If you are like most businesses and entrepreneurs, you want to show EVERYTHING you’ve got including those awesome little details that you are so proud of. And you want to be transparent and honest. You get what you see in spherical panoramas. And that’s the way customers like it.

CREATING PANORAMAS IS AFFORDABLE

Creating immersive spherical panoramas is affordable these days.  You don’t need to purchase expensive equipment. You can take any camera, go out there and capture a panorama. Expensive stuff is for high-end professionals who need all the extra features, but it’s not really needed to create attractive content. You really can get away with a $300 camera and a $300 lens and create breathtaking imagery. Some people even use camera phones if you are ok with moderate quality .

360 Cities Image Page

360 Cities Image Page

PANORAMAS DON’T NEED YOUR TIME

These days, it’s a sin to spend time at a computer when the software could be doing the work for you. And it does. There is a myriad of tools available that take your images and with a single click of a button make all necessary adjustments for you. For some ideas, look at our guide on How To Get Started on Panoramic Photography.

So, here are top three reasons why you, too, should start creating immersive spherical photography and sharing the results on 360cities.net, the largest panoramic photography website:

1. PRO account members upload immersive panoramas for their clients

360 Cities allows you to view your images at their best, including on iPad, iPhone and Android phones. Many photographers who use our PRO account use this bonus in their sales pitch. In fact, in many cases, it’s the mention of publication on 360 Cities that gets many of their clients going. One of the reasons is our high SEO ranking.

>360 Cities Profile Page

Panoramas of a business on 360 Cities often rank better in Google than the business’s own website. Where this is the case, we simply recommend placing a link to the business’s homepage in the description of the panorama :) . This magic-seeming SEO optimization is actually the result of the hard work of our developers and constant tweaking every month.

2. Show your 360 Cities profile page

Your profile page shows all your exclusive content globally – in other words, it’s your own personal portfolio on 360 Cities. For an example, click here. Some photographers even use this page as a redirect from their home page. This is all a big time savings for you and helps you to create nice panoramas to add to your collection.

Our platform completely automates the process of publishing panoramas to the 360 Cities world map. It does everything from creating many different image versions and sizes on the fly, to placing the image properly on the map while giving you many controls and settings to adjust if you need to. And the results are presented attractively on your profile page for potential customers of your services to see.

360 Cities on iPad

360 Cities on iPad

3. Take an iPad to meetings with their clients

Most pages on 360cities.net, including our homepage, image pages and photographer’s profile, can be viewed in the iPad’s built-in browser. That means all you have to do is to navigate the browser to a specific panorama you want to show to your client, and hand them the iPad. Believe it or not, clients love this.

The iPad is an awesome device to show your work and to show examples of panoramas you can make for them, even right from where you’re standing. The beautiful iPad display makes your panoramas look their best!

Finally, we have picked ten winners of the first London Gigapixel Treasure Hunt. These skillful folks combed one of the largest 360º panoramas ever made, and found ten clues. For that, they win an awesome bag from our sponsor, Crumpler.

Update January 17th: We now finally have the list of 10 winners and we’ll be sending out prizes beginning this week!

The WINNER – Clare Croker wins Crumpler Muffin Top Full Photo Bag

Russ Aubin wins Muffin Top 4000 Bag (9/10 answers correct)

Adam Dreller wins Muffin Top 4000 Bag (8/10 answers)

Volker Neumann wins Jimmy Bo 400 Cross-Shoulder or Waist Bag (8/10 answers correct but received after Adam)

Neil Watkins (seen here enjoying a cocktail at Glastonbury Festival) wins Jimmy Bo 400 Cross-Shoulder or Waist Bag (7/10 answers)

Thomas Re wins The PP 70 Camera/Phone Bag (7/10 answers)

Robert Powell (who, apparently, happens to work for the Empire, but I guess we’ll send him a Crumpler bag anyway) wins The PP 70 Camera/Phone Bag (7/10 answers)

Vladislav Shushakov wins The PP 70 Camera/Phone Bag (7/10 answers)

Stanislav Valter, 7/10 answers, The PP 70 Camera/Phone Bag


Lucia Ďuríčková, 6/10 answers, The PP 70 Camera/Phone Bag

It was not an easy treasure hunt, but hey, it wouldn’t be a “hunt” if it was easy, would it? :-)

Here are the answers to the clues:

1. Fat Boy Slim’s Chair – This one, I thought, was fairly easy… It’s a chair that says “Fat Boy Slim”. A few people sent in a chair on a roof that was double-size – a chair for “fat boys” one could say. Sorry, but that one wasn’t accepted. Here is the chair (there is another chair a few meters away from this one which we accepted as well):


2. Freddie Mercury – This one was a bit cheeky. Way down near the bottom of the panorama. Just across the street from where the panorama was shot, in fact. It’s a musical called “We Will Rock You” and outside the theater is a huge golden statue of Freddie Mercury.

3. Mechanical Spiders

Ok, I’m sorry – this one was a bit too difficult/vague…

The “mechanical spiders” that I had in mind were these 8-pronged things. By the way, if anyone can enlighten me about what they really are, I’m curious to know (it seems to be some kind of panoramic security camera!)

Only one person did find these. And even I had trouble finding them again!


So, as a result of my buffoonery over this clue, we have decided that it is only in the spirit of fun to accept other mechanical spiders. Even if they don’t have eight “legs”… since the creatures above dont’ really have legs to speak of at all but rather prongs, or something…

This is what many people submitted, and we did accept it as sufficiently spider-like:

4. Topless olympic torch – This clue had probably the most different guesses. By “topless” I did mean the mammary organs of a woman (boobs) combined with an “olympic torch” – not an olympic stadium, or a giant (extinguished) torch (although it was tempting to accept this clue also – as it stands, it wouldn’t have affected the winners).

5. One leg purple, one leg green – See her?

6. Spiderman’s basement – Peter Parker, as everybody knows, is Spiderman. And here is his subterranean abode:

7. Washing up – There were also a couple views of only dirty dishes, which was ok. Here was the clue I originally had in mind:

8. Who you will call when you are trapped inside of a washing machine – This was my favorite clue. A definite “WTF” clue, until you see it, and then it is really obvious:

9. British passport – There were two acceptable answers to this: the giant image of a passport in a window, and the coat of arms on the facade of Buckingham Palace.

10. Victorian milk – This was tricky. But again, once you see it, it is probably quite clear.

Congratulations to the winners!