Thursday, July 14, 2011

[B]Business Day Thursday: The Engagement Continues…

Good Morning Everybody,

Chuck Lewis I want to kick off today’s post with some great news.  A few month’s ago I did a podcast with my good buddy Chuck Lewis. Chuck was one of my first major influences in photography back in the early days of my career.  You can find the story in last week’s post right here.

Anyway, the podcast was received with rave reviews and Chuck has offered to return the favor by doing a webcast for all our DPT readers at no charge!  I’ll be sending an email out on the specific details shortly but in the meantime you can get all the info right here.  It will be a great time, I promise!

OK, time to get on with today’s post.  It’s always about the client all the time.  This week we continue where we left off last week.  Please read on.

Business Day Thursday: The Engagement Continues…

Gray Photography Last week I began a sales series entitled “Business Day Thursday: Engage With The Engaged” [link] based on the seminar I saw a few weeks ago presented by Jody and Zack Grey [link], two successful, energetic, young guns from Nashville, TN.  Jody and Zack really have it figured out when it comes to building client relationships.  In fact they're approach is so refined that, in spite of the fairly short time they have been in business, they managed to acquire the depth and breath of knowledge that most photography businesses take years to acquire.

Last week I covered how they deftly handle phone calls turning inquiries into bookings right on the phone.  Once again, you can find the post right here.  This week I’d like to share with you a few of their strategies in how they conduct the client interview.  Again, some solid sales information.  Here we go…

The Client Meeting:

When I heard their suggestions, I was thinking that they were signing to the choir, or had been to a few of my seminars;~)  Here is the their list of suggestions to follow when interviewing your clients.  See how they ring with you.  For me, every point was ‘dead on.”

1.  Show that you value photography with photographs, big photographs of yourselves and family members.

As I look around my studio I see several studio samples but I also see several photographs of LaDawn and I together. We even have a family album on the coffee table that our clients (and we) enjoy looking through.  Why is that? Because we value photographs and what they represent.  That’s important, if you want your clients to value your work.  You better show your clients that you value photographs as well and that photography is important to you. 

It’s not about vanity or pride – it’s about the fact that you enjoy having photographs of you and your family around.  Those beautiful images bring back the memories of the times shared when they were taken.  They show that you value your relationship and your spouse and your family.  You emphasize those feelings by displaying your photographs. You are implying the same for your clients.

2.  Food smells - make cookies, brew coffee.

Cookies vs SaurkrautThis was always a BIG one for me.  Since I first opened my residential studio doors for business, I never wanted any strong food smells in the house.  Many readers, including me, continue to operate residential studios.  Can you imagine your clients’ reaction upon entering your studio and getting a big whiff of that pork and sauerkraut cooking on the stove.  Hey, unless its a big German wedding, they just may leave running screaming in the other direction;~)

OK, maybe I’m exaggerating  a bit with the food smells, but as Jody and Zach suggest, don’t you think fresh coffee or baking cookies would offer a much nicer “sensual” experience for your client?  I think so too. 

Spahgetti DAZ NOTE:  For photographers operating a residential studio and who have small children around the house, the “food smell” challenge is a tough call.  I was a single father raising two small children back in the early 90’s.  I really disliked having regular cooking food smells around the house if I had clients that evening – in fact it drove me crazy!

What did I do about it?  Easy, the kids went hungry the nights I had appointments – just kidding!!!!!  My real solution – no more evening appointments – problem solved. Granted, photography is my full time profession so I was available to see my clients during normal working hours.

Let me say, I’m really not trying to treat this lightly.  I talk to young photographers all the time that want to look professional to their clients but want to be good parents too.  Sometimes, it is a challenge to avoid the food smells in your home near dinnertime.  And you know, sometimes it’s OK too ;~)

Anybody hungry yet ;~)

p.s.  I think this especially applies to pet odors/hair as not ALL individuals feel the same emotion as you may about your darling dogs and cats.

3. Hide the sample books till they’re comfortable with you and your surrounds.

During our client interviews I think it’s important to begin the conversation easily with the client to build that trust.  In my studio, just as in Zack and Jody’s, the wedding albums need to be shown.  But, we usually didn’t show the albums until about an hour after we began our visit with our client.

That is not to say that the albums are not close by – they are.  They need to be within arms reach so you can easily move into that part of your sales presentation without hesitation.

4. Keep the sales choices simple.

ZookbooksThis is another BIG piece of advise.  I remember visiting with photographers that showed about a zillion album cover samples all on the same size books.  I’m thinking what's the sense in that?  Album cover choices do not make me any money at all!  It’s the size/page count of the finished album that determines the success of the sale. 

You need to build that expectation with your clients.  You need to show fewer but LARGER albums instead of several same size, multi- covered small albums.  We currently show three albums in my studio.  ‘Nough said, I agree with you Zack and Jody!

5. Give a gift to your clients before they leave.

Most important year Zack and Jody have me on this one.  We always let the meeting end with a handshake and a smile, sometimes even a hug as we instantly became connected.  I like the idea that they give the client something to leave with.  What is it?  It’s a copy of the book, The Most Important Year In A Man’s/Women’s Life.  In this book the authors share their experiences and advice with couples in that make-or-break first year of marriage. 

What a nice way to let their clients know that they are rooting for their relationship.  And, it’s one more thing that helps build a strong client relationship.  BTW, I purchased two copies during Zack and Jody’s program – one for LaDawn and I and one for LaDawn’s newly engages niece, Chelsea.

That wraps Zach and Jody’s top 5 tips.  Each and everyone of them can help you build stronger client relationships.  You may also be interested in a post I did a previously here on DPT.  It was entitled “20 Pointers For Running Your Business Out Of Your Home - What You Need To Know”.  Here is the link right here. Enjoy the read.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  Things are pretty much back to normal (or is it the abnormal) around the studio, so the posts will fall back into their regular morning time slots.

Have a wonderful day and I’ll plan to see you for a short visit tomorrow.

See ya’ then,  David

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