Case study: How to continue teaching photography during the corona crisis

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Let's start from the beginning

Galitz is the oldest photography school in Israel with four branches, over 45 instructors and a wide range of great courses that begin every week. At least that’s how it was before coronavirus cases exploded around the globe in March 2020. COVID-19 has changed all the rules of the game for many businesses, especially for those whose services require physical contact in meetings between people, which turned into a big no-no overnight. Intimate lessons, going out to take photos with an instructor, trips across the country and even just sitting in a classroom – all elements that make a photography course successful – became strictly out of bounds and Galitz, like many others, was forced to adapt in order to remain active during these strange times.

The long-term strategy required immediate changes to accommodate the new situation. And oh, how we love a challenge! We sat down with Galitz’s CEO and marketing manager (over ZOOM of course) to find some solutions. Here’s how the whole process went and the results of our work.

The obvious problem and the initial solutions

As the title of this sub-section suggests, it wasn’t hard to identify the problem. How could Galitz remain relevant during this time? How can they continue providing value and services to the photography community while complying with directives and addressing the concerns of their customers/students?

The first step was clear, and all the students who were still in the middle of courses were accordingly able to attend lessons with their instructors via live stream. There are a wide variety of live streaming solutions on the market, so we just had to introduce them to Galitz, including:

  • Teaching their team how to use the system
  • Compiling an organized explanation for students and providing technical support
  • Running a few tests before going live with the first stream

These kinds of changes within an organization usually take time – a lot of time. But here’s a little secret: that’s not always because it’s difficult, or because that much preparation is really necessary, but rather because there are usually a lot of barriers to significant change like fear, misunderstanding or a lack of urgency. In our case, time was an important element since we didn’t know at first how big this crisis would become or how long it might take for things to return to some kind of normal. If we didn’t do it immediately, it might not even be relevant much longer.

"Galitz is a trailblazer in all matters regarding photographic education in Israel and has been a leader in the photography community for over a decade. We had already recognized the need to provide quality learning material in a multi-platform model before the corona crisis and we prepared by adapting our curriculum to teach remotely without compromising on the quality of the course. Some material was already taught in a hybrid model that combined a physical classroom with remote learning, but with the outbreak of the crisis, all interactions became remote overnight. I believe with my whole heart that our ability to provide refuge from the daily news and to maintain a teaching schedule, leisure and social interactions during this crisis is of immense value in strengthening our resilience."

Ravid Barash, Galitz CEO

But the more time passed, the more we came to understand that this period of time wasn’t going to end anytime soon and other changes had to take place if we wanted to help Galitz stay active. In the end, courses currently underway would eventually end and new students would be wary of registering for new ones without any idea when they might reopen as normal. What might happen if the situation were to continue for months? We had to find additional solutions and think quickly about the next phase.

Where do you go from here? Thoughts, conclusions and implementation

Now you’re probably wondering: if the current courses could be completed digitally, why not open new courses digitally? That’s a great question with a few answers. While live streaming lessons provided a solution to the existing situation, it’s far from ideal. An intimate learning environment and teaching practical lessons outdoors are just some of the characteristics of the courses that make Galitz a prefered school for studying photography – they are simply a must. Additionally, some courses require trips outside of the classroom, like their landscape and concert photography courses. If you don’t have a window in your own house facing hills and mountains, there is no alternative.

The solution to this problem was divided into two parts:

  1. If Galitz has no services that are appropriate to this period of time, let’s create some.

Galitz has tools, knowledge and professional instructors, all of which are definitely enough to create courses that work in a digital format. All we needed to do was think big, give up the nostalgic attachment to the old course structure and think how we could adapt to create courses that are just as good under the new restrictions we have to live with.

"Online courses at Galitz are living and interactive. The learning material has been honed and refined over a decade and continues to improve from class to class. These courses feature active interaction with the instructor and a social learning experience with classmates, including our photography fundamentals course, Lightroom course for photographers, photoshop for photographers, advanced materials, food photographer workshops with a smartphone, technical photography workshops, and inspirational photography workshops."

Ravid Barash, CEO
  1. If we release new products to the market, we need to plan out a marketing strategy

One thing companies do not have right now is time. Everything needs to happen right now. Anyone involved in marketing knows that in order to launch a new product, you have to have a strategy. It’s not enough to shout out to the world, “Hey we’re here, come buy our product.” You have to plan out funnels and messaging, pick an audience, prepare a landing page, generate awareness, figure out how to target properly and other marketing terms.

So, as we mentioned above in #1, Galitz has the knowledge, tools and expertise to provide a lot of amazing content. People sitting at home are hungry for interesting content that will help them enjoy passing the time, so let’s give them exactly what they want (or even need at this point).

The school and its instructors have a reputation of professionalism and endless knowledge, and we just needed to take advantage of these factors correctly. The free and fascinating lectures from Galitz’s fantastic instructors gave us exactly what we needed to launch the new products. By promoting registration for these lectures, we managed to created a mailing list of over 4,000 relevant individuals almost instantaneously. And that’s not even mentioning the size of the audience we reached by sharing recordings of the lectures for everyone to watch after they were streamed live.

"Galitz leads a very broad audience of amateur and professional photographers in a community of over 27,000 graduates and more than 100,000 members of our composition groups, the school itself and our first and second-hand photography equipment advice group. Every year Galitz is one of the producers of the Israel Photography Conference, one of the largest in the world with some 2,500 photography lovers in attendance. This broad and unique community is thirsty for high-quality professional content that we can gladly provide without compensation in recognition of the path we've walked together, the loyalty and the appreciation we've gotten in return from the community."

Ravid Barash, CEO

And that wasn’t the end. Galitz continued (and still continues) to create amazing free lectures and other content even after having reached a respectable audience size that was relevant to their new products. In this way, we were able to situate the school as an excellent source of quality content greatly appreciated by the Israeli photography community. Galitz essentially made their mark in the world of digital lectures and made everyone understand that they provide content that’s just as good as ever, even under current circumstances.

The real-world results

The situation now stands like this:

  1. The concerns from potential students over the quality of Galitz’s content under current circumstances have disappeared. It’s clear to everyone that their content is great and the school is absolutely still capable of teaching.
  2. The name Galitz has reached a relevant audience as the source of quality content – one that provides lots of great free material and exists to provide value.
  3. They have a very broad audience of photographers and photography lovers in their databases who they can turn to directly or indirectly.

With all these barriers out of the way, we could announce the new products and offer the community we created the option of joining Galitz’s various courses. At this stage, we could already use any existing platform to reach out to the audience, and the results were quick to come: hundreds of views on each lecture, full online courses filled to capacity, new courses opening every week and positive feedback from satisfied students.

The most important conclusions from this whole long text

    1. Every business has a basket of tools and knowledge. Think how you can adapt this knowledge to the virtual space. Try to avoid stubbornly sticking to the way things were done in the past and think how your knowledge can manifest itself today.
    2. True, people are spending less money these days. But hey… people still need to live. Whether you’re offering educational services, mentoring, consultation or anything else that may be deemed appropriate under the digital category, you can find an audience that’s willing and prepared to pay. Don’t assume that to be false before you try.
    3. Value, value and a bit more value – this your chance to donate some of your knowledge to your audience, and not just because it’s the right thing to do as we all need to support one another through times like these, but because it will also help you expose more people to your brand and establish it as a quality authority in your field. In this way, even if you can’t sell your product or service today, you’ll be remembered well by your audience when this crisis ends.

    Any questions? Want some extra advice?

    Talk to us, we’re here to help… see #2 above 🙂

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