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The Business of Photography: Friends With Benefits

By David Valentine on April 9th 2014

Sales isn’t only about an exchange of goods or services for money. Moving others to influence decisions is what we all do now. Long gone are the days of business silos: operations department, service department and sales department. We as a team, business, professionals, are all in the same realm of influencing others.

In my previous article, we dug into the importance of being remarkable and building a fan base. Painting the picture of what a successful photography business looks like and how it operates.

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Friends With Benefits

Once we have our remarkable service identified, we start to build momentum with our raving fan club. This is not the only way to grow a photography business, but it is organic in its growth. Of course, there are other ways to find clients. One such way is by networking and building partnerships with other professional businesses that tie directly into the photography industry we focus in.

When I talk about networking, we all know what comes to mind- everyone wearing an enormous sticker name tag that reads “Hello, my name is ______” at a local cocktail party thrown by the local chamber of commerce. People dishing out business cards that are extravagantly done, as if they were handing out candy to kids on Halloween. These relationships last no longer than the time it takes for the business card to go from hand to pocket to trash. This would be an astounding NO-NO. I am talking about real authentic relationships with partners in the industry you can help, encourage and potentially partner with. Successful photography businesses build relationships, give willingly to others and form beneficial relationships with partners.

Going out and building relationships at local events and tradeshows is a great way to partner up. However,  going out and tuning into the “WII-FM” radio station is not an effective way of going about it. For those of who haven’t heard about that radio station, it stands for “What’s In It For Me?”- corny, I know. Constantly trying to partner up only to leverage people will never construct a true relationship/partnership. This toxic habit will carry over into our business with clients. If we can’t build authentic relationships with clients, why would they want to help us grow our business?

Clients = Business Growth

Now, the foundation is laid. We have devised a plan to build an awesome brand and deliver remarkable service. We started partnering up with a few local business professionals, our website is up and running. Then bam! The phone rings, it is one of your partners and they have a potential client for you! “Yes!” You’re thinking, “my first client!” Almost, now comes the fun part (as if it hasn’t been fun all along). This is the time to get that persuasion hat on. Since we did the business process right, we built a remarkable business and do work that we are truly inspired provide. Which means, we do not “sell” our services, we talk about our photography services with such enthusiasm and conviction to the potential client, the transference of energy will inspire him/her enough to become a raving fan!

Flickr Creative Commons

Tim G. Photography/Flickr Creative Commons

The Step-to-Step Process to Booking an Appointment

1. Get the Info

Collect the referrals information: email, phone number, location, or any other information you deem necessary (Obvious, but it needs to be said).

2. Communication Preference

Find out how the referral prefers to be contacted, it is important to some people and can make or break a deal. Some prefer to be text messaged, some prefer an email, if you’re like me a phone conversation would be ideal. Some clients prefer email or messages, make sure to put your personality in your messages/emails to clients and potential clients. You are the reason your business is remarkable, and it is vital to let that shine through all forms of communication.

3. Contact Immediately

Now it’s time to reach out to the customer, while it is freshly in your mind and theirs, because they must have just recently talked to your partner regarding your photography services. I personally have been in sales many years and sold a variety of goods and services. When I was a sales manager for a prominent fitness company, I preached the importance of making contact immediately upon receiving a referral’s information. Upon receiving a referral at the gym, I would immediately find out how the person prefers to be contacted and I would do that immediately. If the referral preferred a phone call, I would call the minute I got it. The likelihood of converting a referral to a sale increases due to the excitement of both the person delivering the referral and myself. The longer we wait the worse our odds get. Thus, it is imperative to make contact immediately to ensure your success at converting referrals to clients.

4. Set the Appointment

The goal of contacting the referral is to set an appointment. Remember from my previous article, we outline the sales process. First we get a potential client, then we book an appointment/meeting with potential client to present our services. Preferably face to face, show them your studio and your work. Even meet at a coffee shop if you don’t have a physical studio, just make sure it is somewhere where you are comfortable and your potential clients will feel comfortable. The main focus of a meeting is to build value of your services that may not always be portrayed on a website or over the phone.

Taking It Home

Here are some questions to ponder on. Think about them and implement them immediately. Business it’s not a race to think of new ideas, business is a race to execute the good ideas already stockpiled in your head.

  • Who are some potential partners in my industry I could help? How would I help their business?
  • Where can I meet people that I can build lasting authentic relationships with in my industry?
  • If I were to make a phone call to a potential client, what would that phone call look like? What would be said? How would I say it?
  • How does my email/message look and sound to potential clients? Does it represent me and my brand?

In the next article, we will go into depth on how to effectively schedule meetings/appointments and presenting your remarkable services to maximize new sales at those meetings. The road ahead is promising and we are on the first leg of this journey. Make sure to join next week as it is a very important topic and crucial for your business growth.

Until next time,

David

David is a business and sales expert who resides close to the beach in Southern California. With a knack for sales and marketing, he has consulted with many organizations ranging from car dealerships, door to door sales, and fitness gyms. When not selling or a running a business, he can be spotted on the beach with his dog, Goliath, any restaurant that will take him far from his trainer approved diet regiments, or Las Vegas.

4 Comments

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  1. Rafael Steffen

    Thanks for expanding and explaining how to develop real business relationships and not just to hand business cards during cocktail hours.

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  2. J. Cassario

    Great advice David, and some really good points that can make a big difference.

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  3. Kishore Sawh

    “The likelihood of converting a referral to a sale increases due to the excitement of both the person delivering the referral and myself. The longer we wait the worse are odds get.” – good point, David.

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