This story is a great lesson in what not to…
Intro by Skip Cohen
This post from Nicole Begley’s “Hair of the Dog” Blog is perfect for this time of year. We’re coming out of the slow season, and as business starts to ramp up, every photographer wants to convert every call and email inquiry into a paid session.
So the phone starts ringing and emails start coming in, but the minute you realize the response is turning questions into sessions you head over to the dark side of the business. You’ll start to worry about your prices, quality of work and if you doubt yourself long enough, you’ll even question your ability as an artist.
Nicole shares a universal point for ALL business owners to remember – not every person who inquires is your customer!
Years ago in my Hasselblad days, we tested a couple of ads in Popular Photography. This was pre-Internet, back in the days of the bingo postcards readers could send in requesting more information. On one of the ads we had the biggest response we’d ever had, but almost NO sales. Why? Because the readership wasn’t qualified to buy or for that matter had the skill set of a professional.
We had hundreds of high school kids interested in photography and dreaming about owning a Hasselblad someday – but they were young, and only a tiny percentage would grow to be our target customer.
So the next time you get a string of inquiries, and you start to get discouraged that they’re not booking you for a session – take a deep breath and step back and look at your total business; what created the interest in the first place, and remember not everybody is your target customer.
Then come back and read this post from Nicole!
It’s always a great feeling to open your email and see a new inquiry. Are you doing everything that you can to convert that inquiry to a booked client though? I’m going to share a few tips that will hopefully help you book more of those leads.
- It’s important to know that a very small number of leads actually convert into clients. We are talking about 5-10% or 5 to 10 out of 100 leads. Write that number on a big piece of paper next to your computer so that you can remember that! Don’t be hard on yourself and go to a negative place if many leads don’t convert. If all of your leads are booking, I would venture to guess that you may want to raise your prices!
- Pick up the phone! Call your inquiries back. I’m guilty of not always doing this and I can see the difference when I don’t. When you call you help create a connection to you and your business, you build value for your services. Often I end up leaving a message on voicemail and then just emailing them my inquiry email, but they still get to hear my voice and form more of a connection with me than the other photographers that only emailed them back.
- When you email them back what are you telling them? Are you keeping them in an emotional space where they will build more of a connection with your work or are you overwhelming them with complicated numbers and pricing? Here are a few topics I always cover in my initial inquiries:
- Discuss my signature products and what makes me different
- Give them an idea of what they can expect to spend on a custom photography experience.
- Discuss the digital file elephant in the room and the reason that you either do or do not offer digital files.
- Assume the sale, ask them when they would like to book their session and give them a few options for dates I am available.
I hope this helps you convert more inquiries to clients and remember, not all of your inquiries are your clients. It’s ok to let some of them go and it’s ok when people tell you that you aren’t in their budget. Don’t take it personally and don’t second guess your business if you have set it up for profitable sessions.