Thursday, July 07, 2011

Business Day Thursday: Engage With The Engaged; & 72+ $2,600 Weddings

Good Afternoon Everybody,

Chuck Lewis Lots of goods things happening around here these days.  Yesterday I spent some time on the phone with Chuck Lewis, one of my first big influences in the photographic profession.  Years ago, I was the young photographer who volunteered to give Mr. Lewis a ride back to the airport from our state convention.  During the trip from Lexington, KY I asked him if he would mind coming by my residential studio and checking out my studio.  He graciously obliged and we made a quick stop.

What A Difference A Word Or Two Can Make!

I had only been in business a few years and was just learning the ropes photography-wise and sales-wise.  Chuck strolled through my sales area, my living room, paged through my favorite wedding album sample book and proclaimed that it was a $2,000 wedding album!!! I was blown away, I had just recently sold the album for about $750, far short of what Chuck had valued it.

Cheshire Cat At Chuck's seminar, he told the story about Alice meeting the Cheshire Cat at a crossroads in the classic story,  Alice In Wonderland.  Alice asked which way to go.  The Cheshire Cat responded with, "Well, where do you want to go?" Alice responded that she didn't know where she wanted to go.  To which the Cheshire Cat responded, " If you don't know where you're going, then how can I tell you which way to go?"

The story hit me like a bombshell - I was trying to be all things photographic and was spinning my wheels in many directions on most of them.  Chuck's story and his remark about the value of my wedding album did two things: First, it made me decide what I wanted to specialize in.  Like Alice, I had to decide which way I wanted to go if I was going to get there.  I chose to put all my energy and efforts to building my wedding photography business and drop all the extraneous endeavors chewing up my time.

The next thing I did was set a goal to do 50 weddings at $2,000 within the next 5 years. I set that goal in 1982. We hit it 4 years later by photographing over 70 weddings with a $2,600 average!  I owe a lot of that early success to the early influence and wise words of Chuck Lewis.

Anyway, that's the back story.  I had an interview with Chuck a few months ago for his Photographers Inner Circle group.  The interview was quite a hit with his members and he offered to return the favor by doing a sales webcast with me.  You do not want to miss this.  We've scheduled it for August 4, 2011 at 3:30 p.m. DST.  We're setting up the registration process as we speak.  I'll get the details to you as soon as we have them firmed up which should be in the next few days, so stay tuned.

PhotoWalks and Webcasts With Animoto

Combo4 And speaking of webcasts, LaDawn and I are heading to NYC in about 2 weeks for a little R&R.  During that visit I'll be doing a PhotoWalk for PPA Charities Operation Smile and for our good buddies at Animoto on the morning of July 23, 2011.  I'll also be doing a webcast from Animoto's World Headquarters on July 27, 2011 at 2:00 p.m.

We are just nailing down the plans as we speak. Look for all the details next week right here at DPT.  Looks like fun times in the city coming up ;~).  I hope if you’re in the area you can join me on the Photowalk and if you are within listening range you’ll be able to join me on the webinar.

Business Day Thursday: Engage With The Engaged

Jody and Zach Last week I mentioned that we attended David Jay's PASS Premiere seminar series in Indianapolis, IN.  It was a great program but our favorite speakers were Zach and Jody Gray.  These guys had their sales/marketing act together.  I promised to share a few of the tantalizing tidbits of their program with you.  That's the plan for today.

First of all, let me say that their approach to marketing is very personalized and organic.  They work at creating lasting relationships with their clients, relationships that will endure long past the wedding celebration.  The bottom line is that they want to give their clients  a great studio experience.  As Howard Schultz, Starbucks Coffee founder said, " We're not in the coffee business serving people. We are in the people business serving coffee."  Change the word "coffee" to "photography" and you get the drift of how they market themselves.

The Inquiry Phone Call

It begins with how they engage their clients during that first inquiry phone call.  Here are Zach and Jody's top 5 ways to engage with the client on that first phone call.

Happy -iStock_000002274405XSmall1. Smile when talking on the phone - it comes through in your inviting tone of voice.  Right actions lead right feelings.

2. Establish a personal connect with the caller - get them to talk about themselves.  Ask them to tell you their story. How did they meet?  When did they know he/she was the one?  How are their wedding plans shaping up?  Are their families just as excited? 

You get the idea - it's Zach and Jody talking about them and not Zach and Jody talking about themselves, at least not yet.  This is an important part of the engagement process.  It's about letting the client get comfortable talking with you.

3. Engage with the details - get them talking about things they enjoy.  What kind of flowers do they like?  Have they got they wedding menu sorted out yet - what are they thinking of? Have they been looking at gowns/tuxedos, what have they seen that they love?  Wedding venues - any big favorites?  Affirm their choices without recommending any of yours just yet.  Right now, you are being a good listener.  Remember, it's still all about the client - nothing about your studio (just yet). 

EarPeople enjoy talking about themselves, we all do.  Spend about 20 minutes or more letting them tell you about themselves and really listening.  That time continues to build their comfort level with you.

4. Now you get to move closer into telling them about you but first ask, "Tell us what your looking for in your wedding photography".  Hopefully it will be a good fit and you can continue to affirm that what they are looking for is exactly what you offer and maybe even more.

5.   Now its time to share about yourself.  Tell past clients wedding related stories. Relate with your own personal stories and experiences about your own wedding.  This helps strengthen  the relationship process you've begun in the first part of the phone call.

6. After they've told their story and you've told yours, it's time to offer your prices to them.  Give them your range from lowest to highest. Then ask the question, "Does this sound like what you're looking for?" And then be quiet!  This is called a trial close.  If the client is comfortable with you and your prices you may book the wedding right on the spot.

7. Getting to the objection.  If the client hesitates simply ask the question, "What is your hesitation?". Their answer gives you an opportunity to answer the objection and move onto the sale.  If the objection is price, throw in a variable.  That variable for Zach and Jody is a complimentary engagement session.  They are basically layering more value into their quoted price to overcome the price objection. 

Even if they don't close on the phone call, they set up an in studio meeting with the client at that time. The fact that the client is setting the appointment is a buying signal and will probably lead to the close happening during that follow up meeting.

Engaged The main thing I want to point out about Zach and Jody's philosophy concerning engaging the engaged is that the focus of most of the phone conversation is about the client doing most of the talking - telling their story.  And in doing so building up a comfort level with Zach and Jody.  The bottom line is this.  People like doing business with trusted friends.  It's up to us to build that trust with our clients and respect and honor that trust as we continue our relationship with them.  It's the perfect place to be if you want to enjoy success in any business.


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  I going to wrap up the sales webcast plans with Chuck today and nail down the details of our Animoto adventures in a few weeks.  Stay tuned.  Have a great rest of the day and I see you tomorrow for a short post.

See ya' then,  David


  1. Great post today. (seem to say that one a lot....could be why I stop by daily.)

  2. Thanks for sharing the love my friend! We need to connect and hang, so don't forget that we are coming your way in August! We will hit you up then!

  3. Great post! Sounds alot like what Dale Carnegie discovered a while back. People love to talk about themself! So, let em...but...listen. Thanks!