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Number One Business Priority- Stable Phone # and e-mail

April 14th, 2008

When you are in a business that consists of putting out your phone number and e-mail address to potential clients and trying to get them to call you, changing phone numbers or e-mail addresses is like hiding from your clients. Recently I got an e-mail from a real estate photographer telling me that his e-mail address was changing. This made me realize that not all photographers appreciate the importance of having a stable phone number and e-mail address or know how to keep them stable.Stable phone number: Now days with the ability to port phone numbers between phone companies a stable phone number is not the problem it once was. You can even port a land-line phone number to a cell phone and then go live in a different area code. This can be useful if you are in a geographic area that has several nearby area codes. Land-line phone companies won’t do this.Stable e-mail address: The first rule of e-mail in business is buy your own domain name and have your e-mail for a give business at that domain. This looks more professional than having an e-mail address like abcd432@yahoo.com or abcd432@mac.com. It’s inexpensive and easy. For example, at bluehost.com (there are hundreds of good hosting services but I use bluehost) for $6.95/month you can host a website and the domain name for it is free. Included in that $6.95/mo you will get the ability to have e-mail addresses in that domain. One of the domains I own is lohrman.com so I can use larry@lohrman.com or info@lohrman.com etc as e-mail addresses. Photographic hosting services like foliolink.com have these same kind of features for those that don’t want to build their own site but rather use a template site designed for photographers.How do I manage all these e-mail addresses? The problem a new e-mail raises is always, “I’ve already got an e-mail address that my friends use”. No problem, virtually all e-mail readers can be setup to read multiple e-mail (POP3 mail servers) accounts.After many years of using Outlook on a PC about a year ago I discovered Gmail (a free Google product). Gmail has some features that take managing e-mail and e-mail addresses to another level:

  1. Gmail’s spam filtering actually works. This is a novel concept after using other e-mail readers like Outlook.
  2. Gmail supports a feature called the IMAP protocol.

The IMAP feature of e-mail allows you to receive e-mail at more than one location and have each location synced with the other location. For example, I can send and receive e-mail on my Mac Book, walk over to my PC an bring up a browser and access Gmail with a browser and have access to ALL the sent and received e-mails (completely synced) that are on my MacBook or use my iPhone to look at the same set of e-mails when I’m away from my desk. This means I don’t have to filter SPAM on my iPhone because Gmail is doing it. Gmail also allows all my e-mail addresses to be aggregated into one inbox.

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5 Responses to “Number One Business Priority- Stable Phone # and e-mail”

  • This is very true. I am glad you took the time to point it out. We strongly encourage all of our web site customers to get their own domains for this reason.

    It makes me sad whenever I get a support request to change their email from realtor12@hotmail.com to realtor12@gmail.com. Or even realtor12@company1.com to realtor12@company2.com.

    The agents have spent THOUSANDS of dollars on business cards, hand-outs, flyers, pens, magnets, etc that all become worthless the instant this happens.

    Sadly, it continues to be a common mistake.

    Also, I’d point out that technically it’s IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol), not MAP. But IMAP does rock, for exactly how Larry describes it.

  • Larry,

    I have been using Gmail for about 6 months. I created an account so I could use it for business purposes only. Gmail is very powerful and has lots of great features. Google also has a product similar to Adobe Acrobat that allows you to share documents online. The cost is FREE. I also use GOOGLE checkout for all my credit card transactions. This is the best deal in the market place as far as cost to me and acceptability to the client. Checkout and the client do all the work. I never see credit cards and do not have the liability that comes with gathering credit card data.

  • I have been an Microsoft Exchange 2000 and 2003 Server Administrator and really any type of email server administrator for over 8 years in a professional corporate capacity. I see what mistakes people make and where they go wrong everyday.

    I have been using Gmail since its beta days, about 4-5 years of use, and I’m still at only 29% used of over 6.6GB of email capacity. I also see the dumb mistake of Realtors and changing email addresses. It is the worst mistake one can make. You miss emails that should have gotten to you. You confuse the already confused people who can barely LOGIN to their email to check it. And you then expect everyone to be able to update address books or auto complete areas. Not all people update there address books. And the cost of reprinting and what not is a ridiculous way to just flush money down the drain and lose business.

    Its also tacky to have numbers in your email address. Sticking with your.name@gmail.com, cjones@gmail.com or chadj@gmail.com is the best most professional way of having an email. Easier to remeber if your name isnt something super long or very hard to spell. Let people see your name as much as possible. Your email is a Digital Business card if you think about it. Leave the fancy soccerplayer46@hotmail.com to your personal and family type email.

    Another stupid mistake is using your ISP’s email service. This is like giving them the reins to keep you by your balls with their service. Then when you want to change from the horrible DSL you got from them, you have to lose your email address with them. I SAY NEVER use or give out an email address from your ISP. It is the worst mistake someone can make that is trying to run a business.

  • Another thing I do with Gmail is the use of the ‘+’ sign.
    If you add myemail+food@gmail.com you can filter by the “food” part of the email and filter/flag appropriately. You can also use this technique to find out who gave out that email address or where you put it in a web form. So if you start getting spam from a source that has sent you email to that address, you will then know that the site where you used that ‘+food’ tag shared your email and you can then start a complaint and black list the site. You can also then immediately modify that filter and move all email with ‘+food’ to the trash and you’ll never be bothered with that spam again. Smarter and Quicker solution to spam control.
    One side not on this. Sometimes web forms don’t allow ‘+’ signs so you cant use this technique all the time.

    Look at the GMail Help docs for the use of the ‘+’ sign.

    This can also be done with your domain name hosting. Have a wild card email where you can have any mail sent to any address go to one mail box. *@myphoto.com, So you can have info@myphoto.com and then also yahoo@myphoto.com for your yahoo ID account stuff for instance. That way you can control what emails are given out and stop spammers and people/sites who share your email address quickly and know who did it right away.

  • Larry, Kudos on this one! I am a big proponent of keeping the info the same. Smart phones of the day make it far easier to keep in touch and on the ball when it comes to clients calling, emailing, etc… I too use the iPhone, and find it the perfect all in one device to get calls, respond to emails, and get form data that is sent to me from my website forms. Address directions, maps, you name it, they are all there! There are many choices for smart phones on the market, but the bottom line is they really make life on the go a lot easier!

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