Thursday, March 24, 2011

After The Wedding: Workflow - Part 6, Making The Sale Or How To Be An Order Maker, Not An Order Taker

Good Morning Everybody,

Room with a viewDSC00310We arrived safe and sound yesterday evening, got checked into our hotel which has a great view BTW. You quickly got the feeling that wedding bells were in the air.  Several guests are arriving today and we are getting fired up for this weekend's festivities.

For me, I'm planning to take it easy a few days, work on my programs for Photoshop World, and just soak up the blue skies and sea breezes of Sarasota, FL.  I'm also looking forward to checking out Lexjet's new world headquarters just a few blocks away from our hotel.

Anyway, how about without much further ado, we get on with today's Business Day Thursday post.  Here we go...

DigitalProTalk: Why The Twitter Feed

DPT Twitter RollI just wanted to give you an update on what's going with the Twitter feed in the right column of DPT.  I am now a regular Twitter tweeter.  Here is why this is important to our DPT readers.  I read a lot of content everyday thanks mostly to my iPad apps ZiteFlipboard, and my RSS feeds.  Hey, it's what bloggers do ;~)

What Twitter allows me to do is still point our DPT readers to content which I think is interesting and relevant.  I can't blog about everything I read but I sure can point you to the posts and blogs that spark my interest.

That being said, if I was a regular DPT reader, I would check out my tweet roll too. I know that I post quite a few gems over there.  Check it now and then and see if you don't agree.

After The Wedding: Workflow - Part 6, Making The Sale

OK gang, this is a pretty important post today.  It's about sales, it's about success, it's about running your business like a pro and maximizing the client experience and your profits for the energy and Artistry you've put forth in shooting the wedding.

A while back I posted how we do things for our portrait sales.  I‘ve paraphrased that article updating it to apply to our wedding sales process.  It’s an important read – I hope you enjoy it.

It’s Time To Be An Order Maker, Not An Order Taker

Last week we peeked at the beginning of the sales process at my studio.  Let me re-iterate here.  I do not just put the images up online so my clients can choose their favorite photographs.

I've been in this business for quite a few years.  And, I was lucky enough to learn early on that proof viewing, whether paper proof's or Internet proofs were sales killers. Ever since 1980 I have been proactively involved in the presentation/sales process with my clients. Putting the photographs up online neuters any input and influence that the photographer may have in the presentation/sale.

Follow my thinking. For an example, let's use Apple's iPad 2 which was just introduced. What have you read? What have you heard about the new iPad 2? Are you excited about its new features? Are you thinking about grabbing the new iPad 2?

iPad2aI'm trying to put my whole sales process in perspective. I happen to fall onto the group that may be thinking of getting an iPad2  for the first time. Why? Because what I read online and in the various trade magazines. The word on the street is that this latest release is supposed to be the best iPad ever.

It simply comes down to this. What I have read on the iPad 2 all these influences have been building my expectation of ownership of this very cool product.

It’s About Building The Expectation

That's exactly what we have to do with our own (photography) products – build client expectation and excitement about their ownership of our (photography) product.  You never build a strong positive expectation when the client views them online.

Wedding ProductWe need to build the client's (positive) expectation for the various wedding (photography) products – albums, extra prints, etc. It's really quite simple. Are our clients coming in just to select a few images for their album and maybe a few 8x10's and 5x7's for grandma? I think that all too often is the case for many photographers  running their business.

Too many of us are simply Order Takers – what we need to be is Order Makers! It's not just about selling the standard album and an additional 8x10 or 5x7. It's about helping the client get what they want. It's also about finding out what the client may want but haven’t the expertise to ask for it.

Order takers never go that extra step to find out what their clients may be excited about purchasing. They simply take the order for the standard album and a few extra 8x10's and 5x7's. Order Makers, on the other hand, know exactly how to make that happen.

Midnight Serenade2OK, we’ve got the clients excited about what we worked so hard to create for them.  We now just have to show them how easy it is for them to get what they want.  This, BTW, is why it’s so important to have the image presentation in person with your client.

As I said last week, they like about twice as many images as we discussed when I first met with them months ago.  Remember too, I mentioned to them that if I did my best job for them, and we always do, then they would love and want more than the amount of images in the originally selected coverage.  Now here we are months later with that reality.

Innocent EyesThe secret to making any sale is that the client needs to see value in what they are purchasing.  Years ago I found that I could only sell a few additional images at my regular price – that sale years ago went nowhere.  I was upset at the outcome.  I worked so hard to create this wonderful selection of images for my client and they only left with a very small sampling of my efforts.

The next time, I got wiser a lot quicker – I offered my clients 1/2 off the lowest regular prices for the additional images.  In effect, an image is no longer priced at, for example, $30.  The additional images were now priced at only $15, BUT the minimum order had to be an additional 50 images. If they add an additional 100 images that number may reduce to $10 for each additional image over their original package. OK, this looked liked one pretty HOT DEAL for my clients – and it was.

As you can see, I sell by the image not by the number of pages in an album. We touch each image and we don’t want our albums to look like a scrapbook of tiny images scrunched onto the pages.

Rockin' OnThe number of additional images they wanted to place into their album always exceeded the 50 image minimum so all we had to do was find a number of additional images they were financially confortable adding to their album selections. 

That usually meant that we made one more pass through the image selection.  Remember, they are liking 250-275 images.  On this third pass that number may drop to, for example, 220 images – still one mighty nice collection of images for their album. They did the math in their head and new the additional cost was “bugetable” which means that they could get what they wanted in their album at a deal and not have to eliminate any additional selections.

Pole Cam2At this point, I would sweeten the deal even more.  Of the 220 images they liked, I let them know that I would be using about 20 of those images as background images for many of the page designs in their album.  And, as such, we don’t charge for those images.  That meant that they would be getting 20 of their selected images at no cost! Now that’s even a better deal!

Wait there’s more – once I added an additional photographer to my jobs, I would occasionally show up in one of the reviewed images.  It was still a good image, I was part of that image since my assistant had me in the photograph.  Now our policy in my studio is that ANY image that includes me is “no charge” to the client.  I remember the first time I said this to a client, she said, “Well sure, we want that one for sure.”  We had a good giggle and eventually added a few more images with me as part of the composition.

DAZ in PicHey, call it a PR move – how many photographers can say they are in their client’s wedding albums?  I really believe the bride enjoys not only showing off her album, but still likes to point to the photographer who captured her wedding in a very special way.

As you can see, we spend the time we need to find out what the client wants and then help them find their comfort zone so they can get the gorgeous album(s) they want.  Because of this selling process we often sell the bride and groom multiple albums. LaDawn is our lead designer and she prefers to only include 200 images per album.

My goal is for the clients to have an album or albums really sharing their dream wedding celebration story. It includes beautiful details, the romance of the day, the fun and celebration of their reception, family, friends, laughter, joy and tears.

I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look at our studio sales procedure and I hope you can take some of these ideas and work them into your own sales process as well.  Remember, SALES is not a dirty word – it’s a wonderful fulfilling service we provide for our clients!


Hey gang, that's it for me today.  Everybody's getting really fired up for the wedding this weekend, especially LaDawn.  We're planning to enjoy some great times with family and friends in Florida the next few days.

I don't have anything special planned for tomorrow,  but knowing me, I'll try to get at least a picture post up and who knows - probably an update or two as well.  I’ve got weddings on my mind. Anyway, check back tomorrow and see what pops.

Later alligator,  David


  1. Very insightful post today. Always a pleasure to read.

  2. Very helpful with lots of practical ideas! Thanks David!

  3. Superb read David full of rich information. Thanks very much.