The wedding photography business can be a challenge, make no mistake, and if you’re looking for photography business ideas on how to get that all-important wedding booking then I hope you find these two big tips that I’m about to share with you useful.
You don’t need to be in the professional photography business very long before a prospective bride comes back to you with something like this:
“I have an old friend who wants to get into wedding photography and has agreed to photograph my wedding for a really great price…“
How can we reply to this? Is there anything we can do to win this client back? Or, is the sale lost forever? Perhaps more importantly, can we rescue this bride from the inevitable danger of working with a non-professional?
This is definitely one of those times when we really wish we knew “what to say when…”
Prevention Is Better Than The Cure
Probably the best solution is trying to avoid it in the first place, by being proactive and dealing with it before it happens. Preventative methods can include educating our prospects through our website content and marketing about the reasons why it’s a good idea to hire a professional rather than a friend or family member.
Even then, after we’ve done all we can to try to educate them, if the bride does come back with the news that a friend or family member has offered to photograph their wedding, is there anything we can say to counter that?
The one trap we really need to avoid is competing with the other photographer on price – it’s a battle we can’t possibly win most of the time. For example, I’ve seen photographers make the mistake of turning it into a price issue by offering the bride and groom a big discount in order to try to win back the sale.
Just as importantly, we don’t want to make the equally bad mistake of criticizing the other photographer’s work, no matter how amateurish it might be. Reducing ourselves to that level really does our own image no good at all.
If The Fight Is Worth It – Go For It
If you genuinely feel that this bride is a really good fit for your wedding photography business, and that you really want this wedding booking, then you need to do something!
It could be that she’s simply making an innocent mistake (probably because she doesn’t want to hurt her friend’s feelings), in which case there are ways to persuade her to come back into your camp.
The key is to re-emphasize those unique points that truly set you apart from the “friend of the family” photographer, and which make the choice of working with you much more beneficial to the client.
- Your personal unique factors
- Your money-back guarantee
- Your commitment as a full-time professional wedding photographer
- Your legal status (proper business licenses, sales tax registration etc.)
- Your liability insurance coverage
- Years of valuable experience in the business
- Membership of professional bodies (PPA, WPPI, RPS etc.)
- Your policies on timely delivery of the finished photographs
- It’s easier for them to be honest with you than with a friend in the event they’re unhappy in any way
- Your backup equipment
- Assistants to help out on the day who know what they’re doing
- Access to professional labs for finished prints
- Professional backup of the finished images
Will this strategy work every time? As photography business ideas go, it’s a good plan to follow, but it’s never guaranteed. However, it might occasionally save a wedding booking that would otherwise have been lost. Better still, you will have helped your clients make the choice that’s right for them and saved them from potential heartache after the wedding.
I’ve also heard of another interesting tactic that can often work really well. Ask the bride if her photographer friend would like to assist you on the day, so that they can learn more about how the business works and pick up some technical tips along the way. This way, everyone wins, and you get the opportunity to educate someone and make them a better photographer into the bargain too.
FREE Learning Opportunity
Before I forget, I do want to make sure you don’t miss this recorded teleseminar and Q&A call with Chris Cummins:
This 90 min. call contains some really great tips on how to build meaningful and engaging relationships with your bridal clients, for even more bookings…
We Need To Talk…
Our next obstacle in getting that wedding booking is just as tricky to deal with, and even more commonly encountered…
The wedding photography business is not easy – we really have to work hard at attracting prospective clients before we even have a chance to try to book them. Bridal shows, website SEO, advertising, marketing strategies, and many more avenues, all demand a huge effort just to get brides to even notice that we’re there.
Then the really hard work starts.
If we’re lucky enough to get an actual living, breathing, talking bride on the telephone we have the chance to find out as much as we can about her wedding plans, the kind of client she might be, and whether or not she would be a good match for our business.
Eventually, we arrive at the end of the conversation and suggest that she and her fiancé meet with us for an in-person consultation, only to hear the following response:
“I really love your work, but I need to talk to my fiancé and parents about it, and then I’ll call you back to set up a time…“
The trap at this point is to accept that she means it when she says she really likes you and your work, and to reply with, “Oh, okay, no problem. Talk it over and then call me back. I look forward to talking to you again soon. Bye…”
And we never hear from her again…
I’m Not Sure I Trust You Yet
Like many other wedding photographers, for a long time, I really thought there was no solution to this problem without coming across as too pushy. I assumed that I was being nice by not pressuring the bride, and that she really would talk it over with her family and call me back.
Unfortunately, I was a little naïve as a wedding photography business owner!
Little did I realize that what the bride is really saying is something like this:
“I like what you’ve said so far, but you haven’t established a real connection with me or convinced me that I should hire you. There’s also another reason why I’m not sure, but I don’t know you or trust you enough yet to tell you what it is, so I’m going to make up some excuse just to get off the phone…“
If you just skimmed that previous paragraph, stop and read it again carefully, because it contains within it the secret to fixing this issue.
Knowing a little of what she’s thinking when she tells us she wants to talk it over with someone else before committing to meeting with us, we can now see that the fault is entirely ours.
Who Was In Control Of The Conversation?
Maybe we didn’t take the time to build enough rapport with her, or perhaps we forgot to find out what the most important thing about her wedding is.
Did we educate her about the factors that separate us from the other photographers in the area, without just reeling off a bunch of reasons?
Did we ask enough emotionally-charged questions? Did we show true interest in her and her wedding? How excited and passionate did we sound? Did we take the time to find out what the most important buying decision is going to be for her?
It also comes down to who was in control of the conversation.
Usually, that’s the person asking the questions, which should be the photographer. More importantly still, listening and responding appropriately to her answers is a key factor.
It’s a well-known fact that successful sales people spend more time listening than talking, and when they are talking it’s usually to ask another question.
So, when asked to meet with you for a face-to-face consultation, if she responds with, “I need to talk to my fiancé or parents about this and then I’ll call you back to set up a time…“, there are ways to find out what she really means…
For example, we might reply with something like, “I understand how you feel and you do need to make sure everyone can attend. But, if you don’t mind me asking, how do you feel they’ll respond when you talk to them about what we’ve discussed today?”
This then gives her the opportunity to voice whatever real concerns she might have.
- The investment is outside her budget…
- You don’t offer something she really wants…
- She’s looking for something very specific…
- She’s not really ready to book yet…
- She could be unclear about something you talked about…
It could be that she is, in fact, totally sold on you and genuinely wants to talk to her family to find a suitable and convenient time for them. In that case, I would suggest penciling in a date with her, and then fixing a time to check with her to make sure they can make the appointment.
Having at least asked the question, and kept the conversation alive, you have a chance to either address the problem or let them go based on the fact that they might not be qualified clients.
Personally, I’ve come to the conclusion that every phone consultation I have should either result in a definite face-to-face meeting or a mutual agreement that I’m probably not the wedding photographer for them. This eliminates the frustration of waiting for people to call back, or having to chase them up with fruitless phone calls that waste everyone’s time.
These photography business ideas and suggestions for dealing with telephone sales can be implemented without resorting to aggressive sales techniques or being pushy. Simply talking to the client, asking appropriate and emotional questions, caring, and listening to the answers are really all it takes
Remember, though, that we can’t hope to work with every single person that calls us. We must be prepared to send some people away for one reason or another. Just knowing that we don’t have to score 100% puts us more in control of things and takes away some of the often unreasonable pressure we put on ourselves for business success.
Share Your Thoughts And Questions
There are so many ways to handle these types of situations, so the photography business ideas that I’ve outlines here are certainly not the only way to go about it.
I would love to hear your thoughts on these issues, and any experiences you’ve had that can help others.
Don’t forget to go listen to the recording of our free teleseminar and Q&A session from Thursday May 10th 2012 where we discussed these topics in much more detail:
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the recording!