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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Weddings & Other Family Events Talk 
Thread started 09 May 2012 (Wednesday) 20:37
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Selling Yourself: Why do your clients pick you?

 
mirrorrim
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May 09, 2012 20:37 |  #1

Two close friends are getting married in November. I'd be attending the wedding as a guest/"uncle bob" (dont want any bad blood between friends!). I'm just getting started in my own wedding photography business, and I offered to give them some insight about hiring a wedding photographer when the time came.

Well, they hired a photographer on their own. I know it's difficult, if not impossible, to make clients see the difference between "good" and "great" photography, but frankly I'm a little surprised with who they chose. The company's photos are fine, uninspired, look like they were taken in 1990, and they use a ton of outdated photoshop tricks--with poor execution to boot. Of course, I didn't say any of this to my friends, but I did ask what made them choose the photographer. This is what impressed them the most:

-they are a husband and wife team. Because there are two people, you will get twice as many photos
-they have lots and lots of equipment. They bring two pairs of cameras per person and have all kinds of lenses so we can take lots of cool photos: fisheye, camera-on-a-stick to get high above shots, telephoto, primes...
-you will be able to download all your photos for free from our website the day after your wedding, in addition to getting a DVD
-you get an album and an engagement session with the package

As you can see, not one of the points that sold my friends was picture quality! They interviewed 3 photographers, and this photographer basically sold them on things that are pretty standard among photographers here. This has really opened my eyes to the phrase you hear all the time about "successful photographers are great marketers, not necessarily great photographers".

Is this in line with anyone else? What sells your clients on you? Is it really about all the "specs" and very little focus on the images?




  
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Mark1
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May 09, 2012 21:58 |  #2

It can be all about the equipment. To the non photographer top equipment meant top gear. Why else would they have it if they are not that good.

People are often impressed that I used to own a PRS guitar. Its a $2300 guitar. Why on earth would I own it if I was not good. But the fact of the matter is I never learned more than 3 cords. I bought it as it was actually a payment/lucky hapenstance. It had nothing to do with knowing how to play.

The same with photography. If I walk in with 4 bodies and 8 lenses.... of coarse I have to be good. The truth may not even be remotley close to that fact. But nobody goes to a sales meeting and admits to being a half a$$ed photographer. They skirt tha fact and wow with gear.

But also.... A good sales man sells on themselves, not their product. They can get pictures from anybody, But they can only get you.... from you. More sales have been made of on aparent enthuasiasm than skills.


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Mark1
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May 09, 2012 22:06 |  #3

Another example.... I was a vendor at a morgage broker "pep rally" (lecture)for the lack of a better term. The speaker made the point that to be sucessful you have to sell yourself with your product. Customers can get the same interest rate from every place in town. So why would they want to get it from you? You have to be your own "deal sweetener". You have to give then the attention they want. Make them feel special about you, and what you have, and will do for them...etc...etc...

This is how you get loyal customers. Not because you do top knotch work. Sure it helps, no denying it. But if you love to go see mirrorrim at any chance you get. You will go rather than even look at going somewhere else.


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PhotoMatte
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May 09, 2012 22:13 |  #4

I always assume it's my body of work that gets me hired but I do sometimes get asked odd questions from prospective brides that really have nothing to do with image quality. Here is a list of questions I received in an email this week:

What type of files do you use to save your images and how/how often do
you back your files up?
Do you outsource your file processing?
Do you have liability insurance?
Have you ever sold or would you sell wedding images to a stock agency?


These are not questions I normally receive, especially in the initial contact phase!


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dho81
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May 10, 2012 00:11 |  #5

PhotoMatte wrote in post #14408136 (external link)
I always assume it's my body of work that gets me hired but I do sometimes get asked odd questions from prospective brides that really have nothing to do with image quality. Here is a list of questions I received in an email this week:

What type of files do you use to save your images and how/how often do
you back your files up?
Do you outsource your file processing?
Do you have liability insurance?
Have you ever sold or would you sell wedding images to a stock agency?


These are not questions I normally receive, especially in the initial contact phase!

I think a lot of times brides not sure what to look for find lists from theknot or other wedding vendor sites of "questions to ask" and so they ask them. I've had that happen to me in an in person meeting and more often than not, it doesn't even matter what the answer is.... sometimes I start describing technical stuff and they just go, "you lost me but you sound like you know what you're doing!"

Anyway, back to the topic--the people that have approached me have almost all been interested in my body of work and style of shooting. I get a few non-starters here and there of just generic inquiries, but the ones that seem like they're really interested will start with telling me how much they love my work and what they love about it.


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Phil ­ V
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May 10, 2012 03:14 |  #6

As others have said, I don't think the answers they gave you were their actual reasons - as you said, lots of photographers would give them the same answers there* .

What they bought was 'the photographer', it's about empathy, personality, enthusiasm and being someone they think they'll enjoy working with. The same as any job interview. I can tell if we're not 'gelling' with a couple within minutes of meeting them, they're already lost, but I still try - just in case.

*not sure about having images available the day after, that smacks to me of a low end service - I usually spend the day after the wedding doing little more than a cull, backup and initial WB etc. Delivering hundreds of images just hours after taking them is a big ask.


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mirrorrim
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May 10, 2012 10:04 as a reply to  @ Phil V's post |  #7

The same with photography. If I walk in with 4 bodies and 8 lenses.... of coarse I have to be good. The truth may not even be remotley close to that fact. But nobody goes to a sales meeting and admits to being a half a$$ed photographer. They skirt tha fact and wow with gear.

This makes sense. I guess being on the other side, it would be more obvious for me to wonder why they have all this great gear but crappy photos.

What they bought was 'the photographer', it's about empathy, personality, enthusiasm and being someone they think they'll enjoy working with. The same as any job interview. I can tell if we're not 'gelling' with a couple within minutes of meeting them, they're already lost, but I still try - just in case.

They didnt say why they didnt like the other 2 photographers, but I'm guessing it's this. The photographer's website really is a whiz-bang of marketing spiel and energy.

*They have an in-house photo editor, which could make the day-after photos feasible...but it looks more like sloppy actions were used than good photo editing.

I thought the "proof was in the pudding," but perhaps I need to become an enthusiastic chef instead. This has taught me a lot about how to market my own business.




  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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May 10, 2012 11:17 |  #8

I don't "sell" myself... clients "buy"... there is a difference.

All my package/pricing information, availability and portfolio is on my website. For reviews they can see my website or Facebook page. By the time an enquiry is made most either are wanting to book there and then or look at an album first and then book. There is no sales pitch, I simply tell people what I do. If a potential client is undecided/inclined not to book I do nothing to try and change that. They either want me or they don't.

Given the amount of weddings I get from referrals it would probably be more in line to say I don't sell myself.... My ex clients do the selling for me.

Anyone asking "red flag" type questions I simply wouldn't respond to. If I get a bad vibe... I won't take a booking.


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scorpio_e
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May 10, 2012 12:45 |  #9

Generally I get referrals. If it is not a referral, a client is looking at my portfolio and we usually do a consultation.


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nicksan
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May 10, 2012 13:18 |  #10

mirrorrim wrote in post #14407632 (external link)
-they are a husband and wife team. Because there are two people, you will get twice as many photos

Not a bad reason to choose them. Perhaps they got the impression that they are a well oil machines since they ALWAYS work together. That's certainly a selling point.

mirrorrim wrote in post #14407632 (external link)
-they have lots and lots of equipment. They bring two pairs of cameras per person and have all kinds of lenses so we can take lots of cool photos: fisheye, camera-on-a-stick to get high above shots, telephoto, primes...

Pretty important IMO, so yeah, another good reason.

mirrorrim wrote in post #14407632 (external link)
-you will be able to download all your photos for free from our website the day after your wedding, in addition to getting a DVD
-you get an album and an engagement session with the package

Check, check, and check. All good reasons to pick them.

mirrorrim wrote in post #14407632 (external link)
As you can see, not one of the points that sold my friends was picture quality! They interviewed 3 photographers, and this photographer basically sold them on things that are pretty standard among photographers here. This has really opened my eyes to the phrase you hear all the time about "successful photographers are great marketers, not necessarily great photographers".

Is this in line with anyone else? What sells your clients on you? Is it really about all the "specs" and very little focus on the images?

So this is the real issue and I agree, it's rather unfortunate. It is true that marketing is what ultimately sells. At least that's my opinion.

As for why my clients pick me? There are several reasons, not in any particular order:

  • My style
  • Referral from others.
  • Pricing always is a factor.
Actually, that's about it. They almost always start off with "I love your style and I was wondering if...".


I'm not too crazy about clients starting off the conversation with price and I usually don't end up closing the deals on those.



  
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memoriesoftomorrow
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May 10, 2012 19:03 |  #11

nicksan wrote in post #14411319 (external link)
I'm not too crazy about clients starting off the conversation with price and I usually don't end up closing the deals on those.

My stock response is "I don't discount".

One thing I have found though is that having my availability detailed online means that people can see how busy I am and realise that if they don't book someone else will. The Majority don't bother asking about price as a result.


Peter

  
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picturecrazy
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May 10, 2012 23:28 |  #12

I'm gonna guess their budget was on the lower end than the higher end.

The lower budget couples tend to buy the steak and not the sizzle.

The higher budget crowd go for the sizzle.

Your friends totally bought steak. That's either because the photographers they met were crappy salesmen/women, or they only met photographers who sell solely on steak and not sizzle.

I've done a lot of sales and am reasonably familiar with selling techniques and deficiencies. Basically, you want to sell the sizzle, and you want people to buy sizzle. Buying steak isn't exciting for you or them.


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caught14
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May 14, 2012 15:05 as a reply to  @ picturecrazy's post |  #13

For us, it comes down to our interaction with the clients that sells us more. Good images certainly play a big part in getting ourselves "qualified" with a client. However, we book nearly 100% of couples after meeting with them vs. 20% of couples who just send out requests online and interact through e-mail.

What's the difference? In both cases the couples see our work, but when we meet for a consultation the couples also see us. (Not saying we're awesome or anything, but just saying that is the main difference for us.)

The referrals then come from having a positive interaction and experience with our clients.


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brokensocial
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May 15, 2012 07:52 |  #14

It seems to be an intersection between who we are and how much we cost, since we're quite cheap right now. We're hoping to emphasize ourselves more when we raise prices this summer.


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May 15, 2012 10:13 |  #15

People pick me for the price point relative to the type of lighting and processing I provide. If I offered the same services at a higher price point I would not be able to differentiate myself from others in my price range.


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