by John R. Hartman, M.Photog.Cr, CPP, A-ASP "Just because you…
Acquiring clients is only the first step of marketing and selling professional photography; successful studio owners know that satisfactory selling requires interaction with consumers prior to the portrait session. Without it, clients will never understand why one photographer charges more or less than another, and they are destined to make buying decisions without adequate information.
If your studio provides top-quality portraiture, along with the high level of customer service that makes that quality possible, you should not expect to charge a profitable price without engaging in a consistent client education process. In today’s overcrowded market, clients can always find a photographer who charges less, so many consumers will be satisfied with spending more only when they understand and appreciate the value of quality photography.
A good reputation, built upon consistent and compelling marketing, can go a long way in addressing the value quotient, but there is no substitute for the value that is added when you spend time in a face-to-face meeting with your clients prior to the portrait session. Doing so allows them to become part of the creative process, thus making clients far more satisfied with the portraiture you create.
The portrait consultation or planning session is the cornerstone of educating clients about the value and benefits of portraiture. This pre-portrait-session meeting allows you to:
• Personally show clients examples of your portraiture as you prefer your work to be showcased.
• Determine your client’s needs, wants and expectations.
• Educate the client about the elements that go into creating fine portraiture.
• Increase the client’s involvement in the upcoming session concerning important decisions such as clothing and setting selection.
• Personally explain the portrait selection process so that it is viewed in the context of additional service to the client.
In effect, this planning session allows you to “reset” the client’s expectations about the product you create so that he or she is likely to favorably compare your process and product to that of other studios. Studio owners who adopt this process find that it is the first step toward greatly increasing sales as well as the client’s satisfaction with the portrait experience.
Try Marathon’s Client Education Brochures.