professional photography

Top Tip 18: Keep Following Up on Enquiries

AWESOME PHOTOGRAPHERS, CAN YOU GUESS THE ANSWER?

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HOW MANY TIMES SHOULD YOU FOLLOW UP A PHOTOGRAPHY ENQUIRY?

Do you know the answer? Is it twice, three times, six times or not at all?

Well quite simply, it’s until they book or tell you they have booked someone else.

I know from a lot of research I’ve carried out over the past few years that 90% of photographers are not following up their enquiries and what’s worse is they are responding to the initial enquiry in completely the wrong way.

The key to turning those enquiries into bookings is persistence. It’s not done by hounding the client into submission or reducing your price quote until they take the bait, it’s done by building up a relationship with them from that initial enquiry and showing interest in their need by keeping the conversation open using questions they will respond to.

For example, most potential clients first ask you for a price quote telling you the date and venue for the wedding, commercial shoot or an event. The first stage to your reply before you even talk about yourself and your photography is to ask questions. If it’s a company check them out and compliment them on what they do and ask what type of clients they are trying to attract.

If it’s a bride compliment her on her choice of venue. If it’s a venue you’ve worked at before then tell her that and mention something about the venue that can lead to a conversation. For example; “Wow I just love Newton Hall, it’s one of my favorite wedding venues, the staircase is beautiful for photography and the food is just amazing, have you eaten there yet?”

If you are responding to her via Facebook Messenger or Text this is a great way to get the dialogue going and build a relationship with her in short, friendly, open messages. Remember people buy from people they like.

Once you’ve asked a few questions of your potential client about their needs you then need to format your price quote. Again, don’t make this just a standard copy and pasted reply. You need to personalize it as much as you can, adding details about your service that will reflect to exactly what they are looking for.

For weddings and portraits, you MUST reply with a very well written emotionally driven price quote. This is the real key to selling the benefits of your wedding photography and creating a real desire in her mind for your services, NOT trying to win her over with special offers or price reductions.

I can’t overstate enough how important an emotionally driven price quote is to turn an enquiry into a booking and so many photographers don’t even bother. They just send a bog standard crappy impersonal reply the same as anyone else does. This is your time to shine and really stand out. Remember most brides are not going to book on price alone, especially if it’s a mid-priced to the premium wedding venue. She’s not looking at budgets she’s looking at what you can do for her.

Likewise, with commercial clients, they aren’t looking for the cheapest photographer they are looking for a one that can offer a solution to their needs. A restaurant isn’t just looking for pretty images of their dishes, they are looking for amazing photographs that their clients can almost smell and taste in their Facebook News Feeds - they look that good. These photos will lead to bums on seats and money in the till, tell them that in your responses.

Make sure that you end your price quote by thanking them again for their enquiry and tell them to drop you a message if they need any help or advice and that you are only too happy to help.

Give it a few days then follow up with a friendly message to see if they had a chance to read through your price quote and if they have any questions or they’d like a more bespoke offer for their exact requirements. It’s often a good idea to offer a free top tips guide for commercial clients on how best to use images for social media or a guide to taking better photos at work from your I Phone. Go that extra mile, your competitors won’t be. Give them something for free and they’ll feel that you’ve given them value even before any services have been booked.

When speaking to brides looking for wedding photographers try asking how the wedding planning is going and if there’s anything else you can do to help or if she has any questions. Quite often a bride will tell you that she’s just in the process of gathering quotes, which is fine you just need to be the photographer who is at the forefront of her mind. Keep building the relationship and keep the conversation open. I have a great little “Guide to Booking a Wedding Photographer” that I send to my bridal enquiries if they haven’t booked after the second follow-up message (I’d be happy to share this with you if you drop me a message). Remember don’t be pushy, be helpful, friendly and informative. The chances are your competitors have stopped contacting after the initial response.

I once had a bride thank me for following up about 4 weeks after her initial enquiry, she’d just been in the process of moving house and it had slipped her mind that she needed to book her wedding photographer. Sometimes it’s just a good idea to remind a bride how important it is to secure their wedding date early on, especially if it’s a summer wedding. If you get another enquiry for the same date as hers then drop her a message offering her first refusal, this is often a good way to close the booking without putting the pressure on or sounding too salesy.

As always if you have any comments please feel free to share them with me and let me know how you get on with formatting your emotionally driven replies and follow up responses. If you need any help drop me a message.

Thanks for following guys and happy photographing, Jeff.

Top Tip 9: DOUBLE YOUR PRICES

WOULD YOU LIKE TO DOUBLE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY PRICES

When I work with photographers on My 6 Steps to Success Program one of the biggest concerns they have is increasing their prices.  Many photographers, possibly yourself included, limit their true worth because they don’t feel their photography can achieve a higher price.

I say let your clients be the judge of your work not yourself, remember our customers view photographs differently than we do.  Our customers are NOT photography critics they do not have degrees in photography and they are not dissecting fine technical details of your work.

If you receive an enquiry through your website or social media page then it’s a done deal that your standard of work appeals to that potential client, so get over the self-critical shit and be confident about your pricing and your true worth.

To double your prices you don’t need to take a Masters in Photography or win a loads of photography awards or spend shit loads of money on expensive kit you don’t need, but you do need a brand that reflects the higher prices you are charging.

There comes a point when your brand will reach its value limit and your clients will feel that your prices are not worth the investment because you don’t have the brand or the image to back it up.  This can be changed and very fast, you can even out-source your design costs on sites like Fiverr.com or drop me a message I know a few great and very reasonably priced designers myself.

Supermarkets are great at using branding and design to allow them to charge more for certain product lines, it’s a known fact that these product lines are very profitable to produce.  Just look at any of their “Exclusive, Especially for You, Taste the Difference and Finest Ranges and you’ll see how the packaging wording and design are all aimed to project a premium and luxury feel to the range.  You’ll gladly part with your money because you convince yourself it’s a real treat.  You’re getting the best of the best, only the finest ingredients, but most of the extra production cost goes on the packaging and not the product inside.  Yet despite this people will reach for the often more expensive items time and time again because the branding cleverly represents its worth.

So instead of copying another photographer take a walk down to your local supermarket and notice how they do it, you’ll spot a theme straight away.  The fonts used are very contemporary, the colours are often golds, silvers and purples, the colours associated with luxury plus the wording on the packaging is an art.

Notice how the fine dine restaurant menu use enticingly and often lengthy worded descriptions for their dishes with the price in a reduced size font because they are selling the product not the price.  By contrast the 2 for 1 meal deal type restaurants often have a very brief description of their meals with the price in a bold or larger font as the price is the selling part of their offer.

Start thinking how you can improve your brand to increase your prices, if you need any tips or advice feel free to drop me a message I’d be only too happy to help. 

Check out my You Tube Video below for even more top tips and don't forget to subscribe to my channel for regular free marketing hacks and advice.

Top Tip 8: BE DIFFERENT

STOP COPYING OTHER PHOTOGRAPHERS

Its all to easy when setting out or upscaling your business to just copy the competition but copying the competition is just diluting your own brand and adding another “Same As The Rest” Photographer to the already over saturated market.

Think differently, we all have something unique and personal to offer and that might just be your fun and friendly personality.  If you’re a wedding photographer and you build your brand around your fun and friendly personality, making this your USP (Unique Selling Point) then you could be onto a really winner.

To really succeed you need to specialise and be different, aim for a target market or a client and then give them exactly what they want and service them better than anyone else can.  Make sure your USP fits perfectly with what your ideal client is looking for, this will allow you to charge a premium for your services.

For example, imagine you are learning to drive for the first time at the age of 65, you are looking at websites for driving instructors but you are nervous about the whole learning to drive idea at such a late stage in your life and wished you’d just done it years ago.  Then you come across a website for a driving instructor who specialises in helping older more mature learners to pass their tests, his website is filled with photos and testimonials from older drivers recommending his services and praising his calming and patience nature.  Yes, he may be slightly more expensive but the service fits your needs perfectly because he has built his brand around you.

If you’re commercial headshot photographer and the competition offer a ‘by the hour’ or ‘by the headshot’ package, then be different and offer a Social Media Solution Package.  This type of package may include 3 poses with 2 backgrounds and one business lifestyle headshot, maybe at the person’s desk on in front of their premises.  Images are then sized for 2 different social media channels and includes a branded social media cover image too.  This package is cleverly devised to offer a solution to the clients’ needs.  It’s not priced on time as the competition, so its easy to charge more because you are offering a solution to a need directly and it can’t be compared to an hourly rate.

People assess an hourly rate as exactly what it is, your time for an hour.  Often clients will relate to this as expensive because it maybe higher than their own hourly rate.  Charging by a “solution to a need package” does away with this objection.  This then becomes your USP, you offer solution-based packages because you know what your clients really want and base your service and USP around their needs.

What makes you different, what can you offer that the others don’t or can’t?  Maybe your USP could be your style or type of photography.  Imagine there are 100s of wedding photographers in your area, then you realise that 90% of your weddings are undertaken at country houses.  So, you rebrand yourself as The Country House Wedding Photographer.  To anyone getting married in a country house venue in your area you now appear much more appealing, you specialise in creating bespoke luxury wedding storybooks for couples tying the knot in an intimate country house setting.

Start getting creative, don’t copy, create your own…

Hope you found this inspiring, it’s your uniqueness that will develop your brand and put you on the road to success.

Check out my You Tube Video below for even more top tips and don't forget to subscribe to my channel for regular free marketing hacks and advice.