Fundamental to the success of your photography business is the concept of the sales funnel. The sales funnel is key in defining the strategies needed to find prospects and turn them into clients over time. It also defines an effective referral program that keeps people coming in at all levels of your business.
Basic Sales Funnel Structure
When you are building your marketing and sales strategies, your ultimate goal is to bring in paying customers. Yet in order to do so, you have various steps in order to accomplish your goal.
The sales funnel begins by capturing the attention of prospects out in the marketplace looking for what you have to offer. Some are intrigued and want to learn more. Some are just starting the process and have no expectations. Some are ready to book and become clients. And a little of everything in between. The purpose of the sales funnel is to allow a prospect to “drop” in at whatever level they are currently at and provide them with what they need to go to the next step.
By the end of the process the funnel has successfully captured the ultra-responsive customers who have purchased from you again and again, love what you do, and enjoy sending you other clients as well. This is where great businesses make the majority of their profits – they find raving customers that love what they do and are willing to promote you to everyone they know.
Let me show you how it works.
The Sales Funnel
If you’ve been online for awhile, or even studied marketing, you have probably heard of the sales funnel. It has a variety of ways of looking at it, depending on your industry and how you wish to attract clients.
When we first started our business, we knew we had to reach out to clients in a variety of methods. With wedding photography, very few brides and grooms think about wedding photography until the moment they become engaged; then they are thrown head first into a whirlwind of planning.
The top of the funnel isn’t meant to sell to a prospective couple; instead its meant to educate them. Websites are the perfect marketing tool because you can provide as much content as you can and leave it up to the couple to decide how much they need. Some will spend 10 minutes going through 10 pages; some will spend 10 hours going through hundreds of pages.
While photographs are great – you are a photographer, what else would a prospective client want to see – remember they are in it for the education as well. A prospective wedding client has never planned a wedding before. They might not be thinking about sunset times for their 7pm wedding in October – and how you really can’t capture detail when the ceremony is outside in the dark. That’s a perfect thing to educate them on.
Or how long it truly takes to photograph formals. If they have large families and want a lot of groupings, it will take far longer than if they rely solely on photojournalism to capture the moments.
Photographs are nice, but it’s the education part of your content that will keep them coming back.
It’s also what helps you develop your funnel. As they become more emotionally connected with you, they move to a deeper level of the funnel. And when they gain as much information as they need, they convert from prospect to client.
For many photographers, they assume that the point of booking completes the sales funnel. Yet in reality you are only about half way through.
A great sales funnel brings the people in, helps them buy more and more from you, and also provides a referral process that gives them the tools they need to send you more clients over the coming years. If you don’t build the full funnel, you’ll never reap all of the rewards.
Once you book a client, don’t stop the sales process. Your goal is to keep them excited about what is in the future.
With our wedding photography, many brides and grooms would book months, even years in advance. If you dropped the ball and never communicated with them again until weeks before the event, you are losing valuable time to build a great referral network.
There are all kinds of reasons to connect with a wedding client over the coming months.
- Show off your current weddings to keep them excited
- Give them planning tips for each step of the way
- Teach them how to make their photo sessions better
- Show them how to build large albums by showcasing current clients
- Offer suggestions on gift certificates for bridal showers
- Offer gift ideas for bridesmaids, groomsmen, and family members
Again, the list is huge if you put your mind to it.
Even if they buy a package deal, you can still up your sales by showcasing more of what you do. If their package doesn’t include an engagement session (and it shouldn’t – read to find out why), make that one of your offers over the coming months. It’s a great way to add several hundred dollars more to your final sales.
Once the wedding occurs and the bride and groom have purchased their final images, many photographers let this customer disappear forever. Even in other areas of photography, like portraits and commercial work, its common to never communicate with a client again after the sale is completed. Yet these people have friends, family and acquaintances that are in similar positions – they are your perfect referral sources.
If they are sold on you, love what you do, have the photographs they love and show off all the time, why aren’t you keeping them excited about what you do?
Many brides loved the feeling of being a bride and love seeing the current trends. They also have friends, younger siblings and people at work who are getting engaged as well. If she received information from you and still loves what you do months or even years after her own event, she will definitely be excited about showing them your work and referring you again and again to all that she knows. They become great referral sources.