There are many different ways we communicate with our clients, but so many photographers forget that with every single email, call, or text that they have the opportunity to not only prepare their clients but also to sell to them.
I know, I know… the word sell invokes derogatory feelings for most people, but stay with me here. Because make no mistake – we are in the business of sales. We make our living from creating and selling both experiences and products.
Most of the problems that arise in our line of work can usually be traced back to a lack of communication. If you are prepping your clients from the beginning, and answering questions they have before they even know they have them, then you’re not only saving yourself time (and therefore money) but you are also planting the seeds effectively for the sales appointment.
Whether you hold in person consultations or not; whether you have a home studio like I do, or a retail store font like Pat and Jen; whether you communicate with your clients by phone or by email… none of these things really matter when it comes to being successful and making money. There are 50 ways to skin a cat; so what you need is to find your best method of communication and nail down your workflow so that it is streamlined and cohesive. The point is to understand the why and the purpose behind the communication, because what one person does may not work for you.
For example, I personally don’t call my leads – I would rather be skinned alive than be on the phone with anyone, so I fine-tuned my written communication skills in order to be more efficient (and so that I don’t have to be on the phone very often). I get many leads via my contact form that is embedded on my website, and they are automatically added to my ‘new leads’ category in Tave (which is what I use for my client management software).
When a new lead comes in I have an automation setup to send a ‘first inquiry’ email to that person right away. This email covers everything; but most importantly it sells me. I talk about who I am, why I do what I do, and why my clients love this experience – but in a way that is all about the client and not all about me.
I also include a couple of testimonials from both seniors and parents. I want the person who is reading that email to really get me… to know that I am far more than just a ‘picture taker,’ and that this is going to be an amazing experience that they will remember forever. I want them to see and feel what that actual experience is as well.
I also include my senior pdf with even more information that guides them through the entire experience. If I wanted to, I could add a “Ready to book?” link and have them reserve their session right then and there. There are some photographers who do this, but I personally like to add them manually after they respond with the type of session they want and we settle on a date.
The main point that I’m getting at is this: From the very first email (that initial point of contact) I am selling to them. I’m selling them on the experience – what it is, how it looks, how it feels, what aspirations of theirs it fulfills – and I’m telling them what they are going to buy when it’s all said and done.
The last thing I want is for a client to get all the way to the sales appointment and not know that they have a minimum order that they committed to, or to be surprised by my pricing. By the time we sit down together for the sales appointment, my clients have seen my ‘starting at’ prices at least six times via email. It’s also in the contract that they read through and sign.
My primary goal is to educate my clients so well that they are relaxed, and incredibly happy to be along for the ride. They should never have to stress or think about anything at all – that’s my job.
The key to effective communication is to be clear about things from the very beginning, and also to repeat things at every point of communication (clients will not remember if you only tell them once… or twice, or even three times). The ‘trick’ is to over communicate; you must be ready with answers before they ask the question, and most times before they even know they have the question.
All of this leads to a very smooth and remarkable relationship with your clients, as well as higher sales. I know, I said that word again! But here’s the thing – most of us came into photography because we are creative, and we were drawn to this as an art form.
I get it. But you will never be able to pay the bills with compliments.