Are You Missing Your Most Obvious Customer?

Every week you attend a networking meeting. Every week you go you talk about what you do. Every week you say hi to “Joe” and chat about the weekend.

Then one day you decide to meet Joe for coffee. After a ten minute conversation, he says “sign me up”.

Wow. That was easy, right?

Yet in many cases, that scenario plays out all over the world time and time again.

Why?

Because we simply fail to reach out and connect with the most obvious person that can use our services: the people we know best.

This happens for two reasons.

1. We get busy and don’t take the time to connect on a personal level with those around us.

2. We don’t go into enough detail when explaining what we do.

Connect

To solve the first problem is easy. Think about all the people around you. People you network with on a regular basis. People you run into when you’re dropping your kids off at school. People you worked with at the last event you attended.

This week – right now – pick out one person and call them up and invite them out for coffee. Don’t try and sell them. Simply meet them for coffee and talk about anything and everything. Get to know them on a more personal level.

Then when you’ve had coffee with that person, think of another. Call that person up and invite them out for coffee in the next week. Get to know them on a more personal level.

And so on. [Read more…]

12 Words That Will Change The Value Of Your Photography

1 Little Secret That Can Help You Bring In More Photography Sales

What if someone offered to teach you one thing that could improve your average sales, would you be interested?

What if you could start using it immediately – on the next client that walks through your doors, even if that’s just five minutes away? Who wouldn’t want that?

And what if this one little secret made your clients love you so much, they started referring their friends and family to you over and over again. That’s pretty powerful stuff, isn’t it?

By now you’re probably asking, what is it, what is it? And that’s the point. The point is in the questions.

Within sales, there is a simple technique called sales tie downs. They help you improve your sales process by getting your customers to agree with you in small steps along the way. You begin getting them to understand and resonate with you long before you whip out the contract and have them sign on the dotted lines. There is less friction, less questions, because they already understand what you are doing. Are you following me?

Sales tie downs are short questions you add periodically throughout your sales presentations to get your customers to start saying yes along the way. When they are used to saying yes, the final yes is that much easier.

Too often, sales becomes an automated process where you walk through your presentation without focusing in on what the prospect is thinking or doing. You have your set sales pitch and you plod along no matter what, just trying to get everything in order. It doesn’t work. If you lose your prospect and they don’t engage, they tune out. They begin thinking of other things – other photographers that may be doing things better. [Read more…]

How Many Photos Is Too Many To Post

You just finished a great portrait and are excited to share your images with the world.

You created around 100 images during the portrait session. When you look through and edit them all, you have around 25 that are extraordinary – they really are your best work to date.

Two days after the portrait, you place 25 images on Facebook to showcase your newest work. Your client is super excited – she LOVES them. She starts tagging them, sharing them and talking about them with all of her friends.

Then comes ordering day – the day she is supposed to come in to order her prints. She calls in the night before and cancels – something has come up.

You finally get her on the phone three weeks later and set up a new date. That too comes and goes with no client orders.

And so on. And so on.

What happened?

They were your best work yet? You really thought this client would be different and want the images you created. They were your best work to date. And you’ve booked several other new clients just by showing off these images. They were great! So why no orders?

Let’s step back and analyze the situation.

When is a client most excited for their images?

At the time you take the images.

She’s worked hard to get the portrait sitting on the books. She’s shopped for the perfect clothes. She’s motivated her family (if it’s a family portrait) to be looking and feeling great. Everyone is at the top of his or her game that day.

If they walk away from the sitting without seeing their images, life settles in. Things happen and they move onto new thoughts and ideas. The water heater breaks. The car needs new tires. Registration opens up for the kids for school – books and uniforms and signups for sports. The money flows to different areas.

And when they log onto Facebook two days later and see 25 of the best images. Wow! They get to see the best of the best … for free! What could be better than that? And what they really wanted was wallpaper for their computer, a few images for their iPhone and iPad, and a way to blast the latest portrait around to family members around the world. You accomplished that for them – they simply shoot a message to their family and friends to check out Facebook.

Now you’ve eliminated the two things that motivated them to buy – excitement for seeing the images, and timing to spend their allotted budget on images.

How do you get around this? Put the two motivation items back into your selling routine.

First, learn to sell ten minutes after you shoot. If you’re out on location, sell through your laptop in a coffee shop or back at the clients home. If you’re in your studio, have them wait in your sales room while you do a quick edit and put a presentation together. Either way, this is when they are most excited about their images. This is when they will buy the most. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by.

Second, never, never put images on Facebook before the order takes place. Use Facebook to entice them to buy – never to release the excitement ahead of time. If you really want to entice them, one image with a “wait till you see the rest…” is more than enough. Make your Facebook (or blog, or SmugMug, or whatever you use) a part of your package – you get the online images after your order has been placed. To do it before hand is sales-suicide.

Social media hasn’t killed the photographer; not knowing how to sell has killed today’s photographer.

Take back the way you sell and you’ll quickly find your business thriving.

What Will You Do With Your $100,000 Check?

One of the reasons you may be having trouble believing you will ever have a six figure business model is because you can’t “see” yourself with a $100,000+.

What if you had a $100,000 in your hands? Would it change the way you look at your business?

Then its time to do something about it.

Pull out your check book and write yourself a check. Make it out to you – and make it for $100,000. (You can change the amount if you have something else you are striving for. Just make sure it’s a worthwhile goal.) Date it for some point in the future that gives you enough time to put your plans into action. Then keep it for motivation.

It may sound crazy, yet a lot of people do it.

Jim Carrey wrote himself a check for $10,000,000 when he first arrived in Hollywood.

Jack Canfield took a one dollar bill and modified it (via magic marker) into a $100,000 bill. He taped it to the ceiling of his bedroom so it was the first and last thing he saw every single day.

Yes, I agree. It may sound a little silly to go through this act. Why not just make it a goal instead? [Read more…]

You Have 30 Seconds To Sell Me On What You Do … Go!

You jump in an elevator and hit the button for your floor. Someone jumps in along side of you. As the doors close, he asks what you do.

As the elevator quickly climbs to your floor, you know you only have a few seconds to describe your business. What would you say? What is the most important thing about what you do that would make this person say “WOW”? What would make him want to get to know more about your business and invite you into his office for coffee?

Yep, that’s the premise behind an elevator speech. Its putting together words in a magical way that will allow you to quickly and effectively say what you do AND gather attention from the party you are speaking with.

Maybe you’ve heard of the concept of the 30 second elevator pitch. But have you ever truly thought about what you say in the first 30 seconds you meet with someone? Can you quickly motivate them to want more? Or are you more of a rambler?

An elevator pitch is more important today than ever. Not only is it important to make a good first impression, people have less time and more on their minds than ever. Meaning you have a small window to make a good first impression … or lose it forever.

If you have a networking function coming up, or just want to have your elevator speech in place for your next meeting, here are a few things to consider as you are creating it.

Write down what you do

As quickly as you can, write down what you do. Now write it again, only from a different perspective. Do it again. And again. Try writing it 15 to 20 different ways, all without editing. Don’t think about it, just write it from different perspectives. The goal is to get as many ideas as you can down on paper. [Read more…]

The Dumbest Questions You Can Ask Your Photography Prospects

As a new business owner, your mind is filled with every last detail of your business. And with so much to learn, you probably don’t spend a lot of time mastering each piece. In many aspects, that comes along the way.

So you jump right in and do things as they happen. When a prospect comes in, you have an honest conversation. You tell them your opinions, your attitudes, and how you really feel. You ask questions and provide the answers you think you would like to hear? What’s wrong with that?

Yet in sales, if you ask the wrong questions, you may not only turn a prospect away, you may alienate future customers as well. Here’s why.

Smart questions build up the relationship you are forming with a prospect. Dumb questions fill a customer with doubt and self-questioning.

Smart questions make a prospect think about the answer and how you fit into it. Dumb questions leave everything open, guaranteeing they will turn to someone else for solid answers.

Here are the dumbest questions you can use to bring in photography clients and why they are dumb. [Read more…]

If You Are Selling A Photograph, Tell Me You Are Selling A Photograph

Have you ever been a part of a leads or referral group? Leads groups are different than networking groups. In a networking group, you simply visit on a regular basis, hang out with the people there, and chat with a variety of people to hopefully find someone to do business with. With a leads group, you meet regularly – usually once per week – with the same people from different industries, provide your “1 minute commercial” over and over again, and hopefully build strong relationships with the members so they will find referrals for you. Leads groups are more time intensive, yet the rewards can be phenomenal.

We’ve belonged to a leads group for close to 10 years now and love the results.

Yesterday I attended a meeting and one member in particular stood out.

She got up for her 1 minute commercial. For one minute, she talked about having a Facebook page and how they are trying to build up their fan base. She asked if everyone in the group would friend her and possibly drop a testimonial on her wall.

1 minute.

She never said what she did. She never asked for any type of new client. She never stated how she’s looking for new business or what we can do to help her.

In 1 minute of time, she spoke to 30 other members and a handful of guests, asking them to follow her. Then the other 30+ got up to do their 1 minute commercial.

How many people remembered to friend her on Facebook? How many did it?

Yep, I’m betting the answer is zero.

A more effective 1 minute commercial may have been: (we’ll assume she was a photographer)

“Have you seen the spring trees and flowers? How would you love to incorporate them into a family portrait? If its been years since you’ve photographed your family and the photo hanging on your wall shows your now 17 year old when he was 10, its time for an update.”

That motivates you. It allows you to “see” something and think of who fits that description. Or maybe you could say:

“Who here knows a high school junior getting ready for his last year of high school? Senior portrait season is from May through September, and the best dates go fast. If you know a high school junior, send them my way.”

Again, its specific. We know exactly who you are and what you are looking for. It also allows me to quickly go through my list of contacts and think about who I know. Images can quickly come to mind and I can easily pass along the information. [Read more…]

Is This What You Are Doing Wrong With Your Sales?

Are you wondering why sales aren’t where you think they should be? Are you wondering how you can get more people to your site who won’t just look, but will actually buy?

Its hard not to fall into the trap of entitlement. If you look around you, everyone talks about the overnight success stories, and the businesses that have grown from $0 to $1 million in a matter of days. Just yesterday I was emailed a story about a company that is now making $600k a month, though they were almost bankrupt a mere six weeks ago.

Entitlement is a part of our culture. We watch a show or movie and we movie from concept to solution in under two hours. Entire serial killer mysteries can be played out in less than one. So why shouldn’t we be able to build a business in a matter of weeks? We’re entitled to it, right?

The problem with entitlement within our business model is we lose site of what is truly important. Our thoughts drift to:

  • I have the most amazing product/service ever
  • My services deserve attention
  • Nobody is doing anything like me
  • I’m charging less so I should fill up twice as fast
  • Its [insert whatever you choose] fault, not my own [i.e. the economy, my parents, my spouse, my lack of education, etc]

Yet none of that is the real problem. The real problem is we bring all of our focus internally instead of placing it where it belongs … on the consumer.

A few months ago I chatted with a woman who lost her job and was trying to build up her photography business to replace her income. Her goal was to build up a portrait business that consisted of boudoir, maternity and baby portraiture. She had some great work and had a huge potential to make it grow. Where she was lacking was in marketing and sales.

So we began talking about the best way get her work out there into her community. After a little work we decided her best bet would be to get her work on the walls of a local doctor’s office. She sent off a letter and after a week … nothing. To say she was put off by the whole experience was an understatement. She was ready to throw in the towel on the whole project. Until I asked her a few questions. [Read more…]

Focusing On The Wrong Question Could Cost You Millions

Let me ask you a question. If you could ask five million-dollar business owners a question about making your business succeed, what would you ask them? I’ll bet its something like this:

How do I make more money?
How do I find more clients?
How do I get my website more traffic?
How do I make Facebook work for me?

These are detail questions. And while they are important in the overall success of your company, they are leaving out one very important question that most struggling businesses haven’t deciphered yet.

You see, most people start out a business knowing they love what they want to build their business around – photography – yet haven’t thought the entire business strategy out yet.

Facebook. Pinterest. Mobile media. Email campaigns. Search engine optimization. Shopping cart systems. Hosting. Tablets. Smartphones. HTML. WordPress.

I could go on for hours with the buzzwords that can literally leave you breathless and overwhelmed at the end of each day.

But the key with each of these is they are details. There is no way you or I will ever be able to conquer and stay current on each of these items. As soon as you start using one, another jumps on board. Or changes. Or morphs into something new. [Read more…]