One of the biggest issues for many wedding and portrait photographers is the sales process. We’re photographers, not salespeople. We want to take beautiful photos and make art for our clients, but it is still a business, and we still need to make sure that we’re able to survive off our work.
So we need to sell, and we need to sell well. Every sales process is a negotiation and the best outcome of any negotiation is for both parties to be happy with what they’re getting. I don’t think pressuring your clients into purchases is the best approach purely because your relationship with your clients should be a collaborative one. You’re more than likely having these sales meetings with clients before their wedding and the last thing you want is a client resenting you before you’ve even had a chance to really work with them. Not only that, but they might be less likely to recommend us to friends and family and we’ll find ourselves having to get out there and do even more selling.
Luckily for us there are lots of ways for us to do business that will benefit both photographer and client. We’re going to outline five areas that have helped us sell more albums while keeping everyone happy and without being too “salesy.”
1. Structure Your Packages
First, structure your packages properly. Most of us will have a “base” package that is likely just individual photos on a USB, and then a package above it that includes an album. Don’t make the only difference between the two the album. Instead, perhaps offer a slideshow or another type of extra in there as well. Adding more value to your packages will incentivize your clients to choose a package upfront, rather than decide to potentially buy an album after the wedding.
You should definitely offer an album as an optional extra too, but your price should be higher to reflect the extra time you’ll spend putting together an album for a wedding that has already been processed (more on that in a second).
Some (mainly the previous generation of) photographers like to organize “presentation” meetings after the photos are complete, but these exist pretty much solely to push prints and albums onto their clients. They’re also at a disadvantage doing this because couples often don’t budget for things after the wedding.
It’s much easier for both parties to lock in an album ahead of the actual wedding. Clients can make sure they have the budget for it, and you as the photographer can know on the day what you’ll be producing for your client. As you get more experienced with album design, you may even find yourself shooting specifically for album spreads. Designing the album as you’re processing the photos after the wedding is also easier (photo sequences, black and white treatments, etc), and the client should receive a “package” price for this point alone.
2. Choose a Quality Album Manufacturer
Secondly, make sure you choose a quality album manufacturer. Don’t try for a 500% margin by choosing a cheap foreign manufacturer that produces a cheap feeling book. We favour heavy, hard cover, thick-paged albums because they feel premium. It’s also because they are premium.
There are a lot of options out there for clients these days who want to make their own albums. You shouldn’t be offering something a client can get themselves without your margin tacked onto it. Add value to the process and try to delight your client at every opportunity.
Find a manufacturer that works specifically with wedding and portrait photographers. Make sure they use archival paper for books that will last forever and look amazing for your clients’ grandkids.
3. Bring a Sample Album to Your Sales Meeting
Once you’ve found an amazing manufacturer, get a sample album printed and make sure you bring it to every sales meeting. Many manufacturers will also provide a discount (sometimes up to 50% off!) for “studio sample” versions of albums specifically for this purpose.
You can’t describe in words how amazing some of these books look and feel, so don’t try. Let your clients feel the pages, ogle your amazing photography, and experience what could eventually be theirs. This is all about making sure everyone is on the same page (excuse the pun) with what will be produced, as well as allowing the client to imagine what their own photos will look like in the album. Let them dream a little.
Better yet, get a few samples with a few different types of weddings or sessions. That way you can be sure your clients will find something they like.
4. Design More Spreads Upfront
After the wedding, design more spreads than are included in your package. If your package includes 20, then design 35. Designing them upfront speeds up the entire process and allows you to provide your creative eye as an extra service to your client. Asking them to choose the photos before designing a single spread will add months to any process. Believe me.
Designing extra spreads gives your client choices but also encourages them to spend more with you. Of course, there’s no obligation for them to purchase the extras if they don’t want to. You will find some clients stick to the original package number, but it’s more likely that they’ll see your work and decide the small cost of extra spreads to be within their post-wedding budget.
An online album proofing tool will allow you to upload all the spreads you’ve designed and then have the clients include/exclude the ones they want. Automating the process as much as you can will save you huge amounts of time. Check out Bulletproofs as a fast way to collaborate on album design with your clients. Sign up for a free account here.
5. Be Collaborative
Finally, every step along the way should be a collaborative one. Include about three rounds of changes from the initial set of spreads to make sure you’re telling their wedding story the way they want. This isn’t likely to make you more money with this client, but you want to leave every client delighted with their experience with you.
Delighted clients will be your fans for life — they’ll interact with you on social media, they’ll recommend you to their friends, and they’ll be happy, and isn’t this job about making people happy?