Photographer's Corner: A Pro Photographer’s Strategies for Selling Success
Establishing a beautiful website with amazing work, as many have found, is not enough to make your business soar. It takes an understanding of your chosen market to motivate your clients to go to your website, click Buy and complete their purchases.
There is no magic manual that explains how to establish a site that sells; it requires extensive research and experience to know what strategies are most effective. One way to do this is to change the relationship you have with your clients. Establishing a personal relationship with your clients and treating them as friends can only enhance your business.
We chatted with professional wedding photographer Evan Chung on how this strategy has helped his business. What we found was that it’s all about being Mr. Nice Guy.
The Pro: Evan Chung, wedding photographer
Evan, like many, came into the professional photography world via fine art with an interest in emotion and portraiture, which then translated into weddings. His wedding business has been thriving since 2007. In his words, it was the perfect union between portraiture and fine art.
To date, Evan has photographed more than 70 weddings. He received the 2014 Editors’ Choice Award from Two Bright Lights and has been featured in online publications such as Wedding Wire, Love+Wander, and much more.
When you meet Evan, you can sense that he sincerely is a nice guy. Being kind is the first strategy he embraces with his customers, and it serves him well. He explains more about this and other strategies for success.
People respond to warmth, consideration and care. So Evan’s rule of thumb is to embrace the client relationship and cultivate it. Here are some examples of what this looks like for him.
When Evan receives an initial inquiry from a customer, he responds the same day, usually within hours. He strives to keep up this timely responsiveness through the day of the event and beyond. This builds trust and lets the customer know you care.
Evan prefers to sit down with his customers face to face in order to get to know them and learn more about their wedding day. It also gives his customers the opportunity to see how he works and view some examples of what he offers. Together, they analyze the day and schedule of events. By embracing this conversation, he helps his customers feel confident that they are on the same page and that he understands their needs.
Personalize the Product
Because each customer is different, Evan sells sessions that are personalized for the client and strays away from selling predesigned packages. Creating packages that are tailored just for them allows them to feel that their needs are important and are going to be met… within their budget.
When his clients trust that everything will be handled well by their photographer they can simply focus on getting married, which ultimately leads to better photos.
Prepare for the Sale
Evan doesn’t rely on his website alone to sell the products he offers. During the initial consultation, he puts the products that are available to buy in their hands to touch and feel, so they can see for themselves what is available. When he does this, he is able to upsell many products and help clients overcome any hesitancy to purchase by allowing them to see how great they are in person. For Evan, in-person sales are crucial for helping his customers understand the products that are available on his website.
After the event is over, Evan follows up, and within a few days after the event he posts a quick teaser with a couple of photos in a blog post. He shares the blog post link with the wedding party and on social media to keep everyone excited about seeing the rest of the images.
In preparation for getting to know the guests at the event, (his new potential customer base), Evan creates cards ahead of time with his website link and info on how to get to the gallery. Knowing that images will not be available right away for his visitors, he creates a placeholder image for the gallery, using one of the teaser images with text that informs visitors that the images will be coming soon.
Creating cards for the event has allowed him to drive more sales through his site and generate more email interest from the guests. This strategy is also incredibly helpful when you have a photo booth at events because people love to come back and see all the photos taken.
Lastly, to capture his visitors’ information, Evan uses Visitor Sign In to collect email addresses of people who visit the gallery. Because of this, he is able to send out a detailed message to let these customers know when the images are ready. (This is not spamming; it’s giving customers specific and relevant information. Nice guys don’t spam.)
People love discounts, and even more than that they love the word free. This is why it’s important to think carefully about how you price your work and include room to offer discounts. This is the strategy that Evan embraces, and he creates a price list padded with margins so he can start high and give things away.
Evan also uses coupons to reduce prices and drive sales. The newly married couple gets a coupon to use within the first three months after the wedding. He also posts general coupons seasonally on his homepage, in his blog, and on social media for all guests who come to the site.
But it doesn’t stop there. Evan also motivates people to purchase a specific amount of prints with a delicious carrot. For example, he may have a price of $400 for all edited high-resolution images. However, if a client spends this amount on products, then they get the images for free.
The bottom line is that you can motivate your clients to buy a certain amount of products by offering a special carrot personalized for them. This may be labor-intensive, but it’s definitely worth it.
An old saying still holds true today: “The customer always comes first.” It’s helpful to remember that your clients continue to be the most important people, long after the event. This is because photo-worthy, major life milestones don’t stop happening after the big day. People are always getting married, having a baby, throwing a party, etc. If you are personable, approachable and friendly, you are more likely to connect with these people and be able to share your talent since referrals are one of the top ways to get new business.
With this in mind, Evan strives to continue cultivating the relationships he has with his clients by sending out gifts after the event. Case in point: He sends newlyweds a gift for their one-year anniversary, such as a vivid metal print from MpixPro. The clients can see the value of this product by going to his website and seeing his prices and will fondly remember their big day and further appreciate him as the nice person he is.
The Added Benefits of Gifts
Sending gifts also gives you the opportunity to thank your clients for their business and reminds them that you still exist. Lastly, having a beautiful print on your customer’s wall ensures that your work is being represented in the best way possible, not only as a representation of what you create, but for others to see and appreciate. So, when your future client-to-be walks by that gorgeous print, then stops to say, “Hey, who took this photo? I love it and need a photographer!”… a new relationship is born. Don’t you love a happy ending?
Keywords: Photographer's Corner, Zenfolio, coupon, discount, galleries, marketing, photo, photographer, photography, portfolio, printing, prints, professional, professional photographer, professional photography, promotion, sale, selling, selling strategies
This is all well and good, but deals with wedding photography or studio photography with a client base. My work is not client based but is creative art from photography.
My site is well developed and I promote it through social media, business cards, brochures, articles written for publications, links from other websites, and offers of discounts.
I have zero sales through my Zenfolio site in my first year. I hope that time and continued efforts will change this.
Thank you for the link to my Products gallery mentioned in the Editor's Note section of this blog. My Products gallery is a big work in progress. I have lots of product photos still to go through and will be re-designing product pages and creating a flip book for clients. It has taken a lot of time over the years, and will continue to take time researching products and labs, design work for wall art and products, purchasing the samples, taking photos of the samples, and designing product pages for clients to see. But my business is about having tangible items for clients to showcase in their homes and to have a quality product that will not only last but can be passed down generations. I have been a product based photographer since the very beginning of my business approx. 3 years ago. I can't imagine if I was a photographer that just only offered digitals and after a session handed them over to a client only to have to say "good luck". It leaves the client with an unfinished process- not knowing what to do with them, no design work, having to get them printed at consumer labs which ruin the work and leave them with a product that won't last. Unfortunately I see some digital only photographers shoot their session as if every image will just be an 8x10 so there is no need to worry about having the editing style coordinate, skin tones of each subject matching from photo to photo, etc. So when it comes time that the clients want to take those images and group them together to build a wall gallery for their home, they are going to look like crap because each family member will have different skin tones and multiple editing styles from photo to photo! (note: Keep your pitchforks away, I'm certainly not saying all digital only photographers do that.)
My clients do get watermarked images of their purchased images so they can share them on their social networks and also a digital album for their phones and tablets. The wanting to share their purchased images is really the only reason they even bring up wanting the digitals or it is for archival reasons. I do sell my digitals so that they can hand them down to their children or store them in case of fire, etc; however, wall art and products have been my client's first priority for buying. They want to purchase products after I've educated them about quality products versus consumer products and they get to see and touch the differences in those products themselves. I don't have to "sell" my products. They sell themselves by the client picking and choosing what they want. Some prefer prints with frames, some prefer canvas, some prefer wood, some prefer albums, and some prefer metal. Most prefer a little of each.
Your children won't remember your photos on your phone, tablet, or laptop while growing up. They will remember what was on your wall in your home that they saw on a daily basis and they will feel appreciated every time they see it too! They will remember sitting with you going through the album that sat on the coffee table through the years. The album that at holidays, family visiting would view the album as well laughing and talking about the subjects in the album, telling family stories. Then when family members and pets pass away, they will appreciate that they received a quality tangible product that not only preserved those family member images, but will be able to be passed down to generations.
Thank you for this blog! I have enjoyed reading Evan's insights and the strategies recommended.
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