This week I returned from a short break in Airlie Beach, the gateway to The Whitsundays in Queensland, Australia. While there I bumped into the charismatic Russ Benning, who I travelled Colombia with last year.
It turns out, Russ is now living the dream. With a close friend he has started a digital imaging business in one of the most beautiful parts of the world.
I interviewed Russ to see how RandR Digital Imaging does it, in another Innovate or Die exclusive.
What is RandR Digital Imaging all about?
RandR is about providing top quality imaging to our clients, whether it be design, photography or video, with our own creative touch to ensure 100% satisfaction.
Every time we take on a new job/client we always meet in person when possible and make sure we know exactly what they are after for the final product, and we also remain fully contactable during the process.
All of our products are fully scalable and have the ability to cater to all markets.
Why did you start RandR Digital Imaging?
We’re still convinced the Universe was trying it’s best to make sure RandR came together perfectly. I arrived in Airlie Beach within two days of Ryan and we knew of each others existence solely through a mutual Facebook friend.
Ryan was heading back to Australia after the completion of a UK work Visa and chose The Whitsundays quite randomly as a change of pace from Melbourne. I took a photography job in the region after spending the better part of a year shooting around the world. However, when unforeseen circumstances had my job redundant after a couple of weeks, we knew what was about to happen but could never have foreseen how quickly and famously the business would bloom.
Where did the name “RandR Digital Imaging” come from?
The very first name thrown into the mix stuck at the very genesis of RandR; day 1 in fact. Russ and Ryan became RandR and Digital Imaging tells the story of who we are and what we do, as digital photographers as well as digital artists and marketers
Who does your business cater for and what is special about them?
Starting off primarily as a still photography company we quickly transformed and grew into offering video and digital design, including motion graphics.
We mainly cater for the Mackay and Whitsunday regions but also have a strong online presence and will work with anyone who finds us and appreciates our work.
We primarily shoot nightclubs and events, model portfolios, and are the sole photographers for a local magazine, but we delve into all areas including family portraits, real estate, 360 panoramas, pets just to name a few.
What are you doing at RandR Digital Imaging that you consider innovative?
RandR began by analysing our competitors; what they were shooting, who they were shooting for, and how they were charging. We came up with a business model that took none of our competitors business, essentially creating our own market.
But what turned the most heads and consolidated the most business was our pricing and delivery policy. We began charging set fees, instead of per image, and delivering either via email or personally via USB, instead of via hard copy. This consolidated a lot of first time jobs and when our clients saw our product they had us booked for their next job on the spot.
We have also recently started running Model Training Retreats in partnership with a local and very talented model. We offer accommodation, professional hair and make-up, expert model training by a Zoo Calendar model, and then an all-inclusive portfolio shoot in multiple locations. Being the first to do this in the area, we are glad to be turning heads.
How are you marketing RandR Digital Imaging?
As well as having a strong presence online with website and social media, living in a relatively small community has it’s advantages. Word of mouth and making the right contact early on has created the strong foundations of RandR.
We also do a lot of headhunting for business, i.e. recognising holes in the market and businesses in need of new promo materials.
What has been the best part of starting RandR Digital Imaging?
Easily the best part of starting RandR has been watching our client base and reputation grow in such a short space of time. It’s a buzz to hear people talking to us about ‘the guys from RandR’ before they realise who we are!
What has been the hardest part?
Dealing with the increased workload since we started is the biggest challenge we currently have. This has become even more of a challenge since the introduction of video to our services, as well as shooting for a monthly magazine. Keeping up sometimes catches us off guard and we get reminded how much work is involved in building a new business.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received?
Not so much a piece of advice, rather a point of inspiration, was being told by an established local photographer that there is no room for new photographers, and anyone coming to town with that intention are wasting their time.
It prompted us to come up with our current business model which is different to what anyone else is doing, and gave us the motivation we needed to succeed.
What’s next for RandR Digital Imaging?
As creatives and marketers we are constantly asking ourselves this question. In the foreseeable future we see a steady increase in our current environment plus some expansion to the two closest cities.
From a marketing point of view we are also always experimenting with new QR links and are currently designing our new Augmented Reality venture. Plus we have a few secret projects under wraps…
Finally, what is one piece of advice you would give to someone wanting to start their own business?
Establish a point of difference. There is more than one way to skin a cat. Work out which way works best for you and will be best received by your target market and go for it.