Our Tip this week comes from a guest post from our friends at Zenfolio.
Photographer’s Corner: Maximizing profits with in-person proofing
Within many genres of professional photography, profitability comes not only from charging a fee for shooting but also from the sale of tangible products. Maximizing the product sales for your existing clients is the first place to start when looking to increase profits. Many photographers are finding that it is not enough anymore to send clients a link to an online gallery and then hope that they place a huge order. Bringing a high level of customer service, industry savvy, and good old-fashioned salesmanship to your clients’ purchasing experience can make all the difference for your bottom line.
It’s important to realize that the effective sale of images begins before any photos have even been taken. Seattle-based portrait photographer Laurence Kim describes the pre-session consultation as the most important part of his sales process. In his words: “How will your clients know what they want unless you help them?” Discussing your clients’ product options prior to their photo session is a great way to get them thinking in the right direction. As a professional, your clients are relying on you to guide them and help them settle on the products that are best suited for their needs.
For example, Laurence brings precut pieces of dark colored foam core to each pre-session consultation, usually in sizes 30×40, 20×40, and 16×20. He encourages his clients to walk around their home with these boards and hold them up over the fireplace, in the hallway, etc., to start thinking about what size prints they will realistically need. Prior to this process it is quite likely that they considered an 8×10 to be a large size. Read more about this from Laurence’s previous Blog post on the subject.
Remember that you are not selling a stack of prints. You are selling an experience, and the pre-session consultation allows you to start that experience in the best way possible. Most people are new to purchasing professional images. They may have had experiences with buying class photos or getting pictures taken with the local mall Santa Claus, but most have never worked with a top-notch boutique portrait photographer. Because of this Laurence brings samples of some of his best images to each consultation as high-end print products like gallery wraps, metal prints, albums, etc. By showing beautiful images he has created for others, his clients begin to see him not just as a photographer but as an artist creating lifelong memories that they will want to cherish forever. As Laurence explains, “In order to sell luxury products like portrait photography and get at least four figures per session, you have to create emotion — a desire for your photography. You do that by showing your potential clients your best work and telling them the stories behind it.”
Many photographers have found that in-person ordering is not only an easy way to increase their sales — it’s also another chance to have more positive interaction with clients. Minnesota-based wedding and portrait photographer Shelley Paulson explains that she had an aversion to selling face to face at first but has come to truly love ordering sessions. Going through images with her clients allows her to enjoy their happy reactions as well as hear valuable feedback on which images they like and why. Over time this has improved and enhanced the way she works and the images she produces.
This brings up an important dynamic to consider. When clients first see their images, this is when they are the most enthusiastic about them. So, have the ordering process when the excitement level is at its highest. Senior portrait photographer Jessica Edwards explains: “As time goes by, the newness wears off and clients tend to purchase less. People are more emotionally attached to images when they are new, and they spend more money when buying on an emotional response. This means that making a purchase when they first fall in love with the pictures is when they’ll spend the most money.” For this reason many photographers make an in-person sales session a requirement. As Jessica points out: “Having a scheduled time and location for clients to place their order makes it more likely that it will get done in a timely manner. If left up to the client, life can easily get in the way and make them procrastinate about picking out what they want to order.”
Another advantage of selling face to face is avoiding confusion. With most clients not having the experience of purchasing from a professional photographer before, it is easy for the amount of products and options they are faced with to seem overwhelming. In Jessica’s case she assists her clients by helping them compare images side by side, sort them into folders and offer her opinion on which photos bring out their best qualities and showcase a memorable moment. When sitting with a client she can explain all their purchasing options thoroughly and help them to find the right products to suit their individual needs. In her experience when you make the process easy, clients are less likely to have buyer’s remorse or, even worse, become overwhelmed and order little to nothing.
Click here to read the full article and learn more about the importance of having quality product samples on hand for your clients to get excited about ordering. Also, learn about how to deal with digital sales and why having an online, password-protected gallery can supplement your income as well.
And find out how Zenfolio’s iPad, iPhone and Android apps make it easy to show off your images, have clients select favorites and place orders. Click here to see more.