Thursday, July 22, 2010

Business Day Thursday: How I Sell My Wedding Services

Good Morning Everybody,

Top Secret LR - Fotolia_526571_Subscription_XL Things are pretty exciting and very busy since returning from our vacation. We are working on a very special project which will launch next week. Most of the "i's" are dotted and the "t's" crossed and I can't wait to tell you what's up! Please stay tuned - you won't want to miss it!

I also had a nice meeting with one of my favorite clients yesterday morning who is putting together a wonderful collection of images from her son's Bar Mitzvah celebration. Somehow we need to have the album accommodate over 280 images! Add to that 3 family albums and some additional images for family and friends - yep, it’s going to be a nice order.

I've got to get back to work on our BIG project, so how about we get right on with today's post. Here we go...

How I Sell My Wedding Services

Last week I did a post [link] about how I cover a wedding mentioning that we NEVER leave till the end of the event. The post garnered quite a few comments and debate. The secret with us NEVER leaving a wedding till the end of the party has to do with how I sell my photographic services to my clients.

Levels LR - Fotolia_10542269_Subscription_XXL The quick answer is that we SELL the level of coverage appropriate for the event. Notice I said level of coverage, not packages. To be honest with you, I have never sold package pricing. I've always sold our services ala carte - purchase the level of coverage and add family albums and extras on on top of that level of coverage.

Let's talk about levels of coverage for a minute. We have always had five levels of coverage ranging from 2 hours of coverage up to unlimited time. Yep, we put in a few 14 hour days now and then too.

Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.

Here is how we have our levels of coverages set up.

Level One

Level One includes all day coverage as needed. This level of coverage includes 100 images bound in a beautiful Zookbinders leather album. It also included a $200 credit toward a wall portrait, or one of our Treasure Boxes. Our Treasure Box has always been a very cool way for our clients to display a select group of 12 -  5x7 most often B&W images.

Level One also includes an image enhancement package, too. That means that we make everyone look like movie stars. And lastly, it includes a casual portrait session of the bride and groom. Total cost - about 3 times more than our least expensive coverage.

A typical sales close would go something like this for a client booking a really BIG event. "Mary and John, for the type of wedding you're planning, I would not recommend anything less than our Level One coverage."

Level Two

Level Two is our second tier coverage. It still includes unlimited coverage for the day and 75 images bound in a Zookbinders leather album. It does not include the image enhancement package or casual portrait shoot of the couple. It is still a nice coverage for the client wanting to save a few dollars and still have complete coverage of their event.

A typical close for the Level Two coverage may go something like this after Mary and John tell me that Level One is beyond their budget. "OK, Mary and John, let me tell you about our most popular coverage." And then I tell them what's included.

They're saving a substantial amount of money with Level Two and it gets them much closer to their budget. The second thing the closing remark does is gives them approval for choosing the next lower coverage. Heck, it is our most popular coverage, which it is, so they feel perfectly comfortable making the same buying decision so many of our other clients have made.

DAZNOTE: Both Level One and Level Two coverages also include a second shooter who does the peripheral coverage of the event. Level One and Two comprise about 95% of our booked coverages.

Level Three

Level Three is our first coverage with a time limit associated with it. The coverage includes 6 hours of coverage and 50 images bound in a nice album, but not a leather album. Leather is a modest upgrade cost.

The secret to my sales success is how I present this option to the client. I let them know what this level of coverage is designed for. It goes something like this. "Mary and John, yes, we do offer a smaller coverage but it's really reserved for a smaller wedding - say for example 75 guests in a much smaller venue that what your planning. I would really recommend our Level Two coverage for your event."

Now if the client is planning an engagement party which typically run about 5 hours long with the preliminary family groups, cocktail party, and then dinner and dancing, Level Three is the perfect coverage for that type of event. Again, I'm selling the level of coverage to fit the length of the event. This coverage is then added to a Level One or Level Two event.

Level Four

Level Four is a 4 hour event which includes 35 images in a nice album, but not a leather album. This kind of coverage is perfect for very small weddings of approximately 25 close friends and family. This coverage is also perfect for Rehearsal Dinners, Birthday Parties, Special Occasions, Anniversary Celebrations and Corporate events.

Level Five

Level Five is our smallest coverage - 2 hours of coverage and 20 medium size images in a smaller album. Again, it's reserved for smaller corporate events, Luncheons, special events at the client's residence.

I hope as you read through these coverages you see how we are selling each level of coverage to accommodate the length of the event. If any of the events booked at the smaller levels of coverage run over by a short amount of time, say 30-60 minutes, we are still going to stay till the end. It's just no big deal.

Average Order

I would be remiss if I didn't tell you that our clients NEVER end up with the contracted number of images. If I've done my job right, they will want many, many additional images and ALWAYS do.

I've mentioned this several times at DPT, we sell pro-actively with our clients. With our clients making a personal visit to our studio in order that they can "fine tune" their album selection from the images they saw on-line. Our typical album leaves the studio with the client's choice of 200-250 images bound in a beautiful leather cover and looks stunning.

In Conclusion

Anyway, I hope you get an idea of how we present our coverages to our clients always stressing the proper coverage for the event. Once that is settled we can move on and show them the other products and services we offer.

Granted, digital has changed the way many photographers are offering their services, many photographers not even offering albums but just burning all the images to a CD. One of the more creative album delivery methods I've heard recently is about the photographer who delivers his images on the new Apple iPad.

Things are changing and they are changing fast. Those of us who have been in this business for several years can never rest on our laurels or be blind to additional creative ways to enhance the photographic experience for our clients and remain profitable ourselves.

The right way to do things is the way that leads to a successful outcome for the business owner and has the client thrilled with the result!


Hey gang, that's it for me today. I should be able to give you a peak at our special project in a day or two, so stay tuned.

Everybody have a great rest of the day and I'll see you same time, same place tomorrow.

Adios, David


  1. Very insightful as always. Thanks so much Dave; your blog's value cannot be measured!

  2. I like the concept of your levels. As a new shooter, I am working at the lower level of your series. It would be inappropriate to ask your specific fees but could you identify your level prices using the '$' sign. Would lower levels fall in the $$$ range? Of course, your reputation might imply otherwise using simple common sense. For most newbies like me, that range might be a good starting point for the lowest levels.

  3. It would be nice to know what each level prices out at.

  4. If you don't feel comfortable giving us the cost of each level, please give us a range like Rusty is suggesting. Thanks.

  5. Great post.
    I agree with the previous comments.
    Even something like
    Level 5 = $x
    Level 4 = $1.2x
    Level 1 = $3x
    would provide a wealth of information that scales to any market without revealing too much of your personal info.

  6. Awesome stuff David! Certainly some new stuff think about!

    To Guys above comments:

    I think you should be able to work out your own pricing for such a system. Add all your costs together, mark them up a bit, and then add some more money for the time invested, and then think about where your skill level plays in i.e. best photographer with lowest price, or worst photographer with highest price. I don't think you'd want to be in either of those spots... cheers.

  7. David,

    I would love to hear your thoughts on price progression for a new startup. How do you think a new company should price themselves on startup and then the increase per number of years or number of weddings done? What the markup percentage should be etc.

    I do a type of levels pricing structure but don't know when to increase or by how much. We all can't start out at £1000+ :-)


  8. David, so funny...I just finished my new pricing structure as we relocated to another state and my packages are including an iPAD loaded with the images. Darn! I thought my idea was original!

  9. Something doesn't compute... Level 3 and 4 are the same price (2x level 5), but you have 50% more time, and roughly 50% more images in the album. So the value here is 50% more, but the price is the same?

  10. I don't get the iPad thing...aren't iPad's locked to a specific user's iTunes account? So the minute your client wants to use it for anything but viewing images, it erases the iPad, right?

  11. Well David...I have to say you NEVER cease to impress are one of the GREATS, what you’re doing here for us green horns is so more than valuable! Thank you so much for your time and the effort you put into this post DAILY! You really LOVE your job and it shows, I only hope that one day my passion for the art of photography is 1/10 of yours...THANK YOU!