1. Business
  2. Marketing

Are You In a Booking Rut?

Intro by Skip Cohen

There’s so much great content on the Internet, but sometimes you have to do a little mining! Justin and Mary Marantz never slow down, trying to help photographers build a stronger business. They shared this post four years ago, and it’s just as valid today.

The seasonality of the fourth quarter is ramping up, but there’s still time to make a few minor changes to make your business stronger. And, if nothing else, be ready for bigger improvements at the start of the new year when things typically slow down!

But I want to expand on a couple of the points they made in this post.

  • In terms of cleaning up your galleries – make every image a “wow” photo. That means it’s so good that you’d only have to show the one image to get hired! Come on, you know which images of yours are stellar versus what anybody’s “Uncle Harry” could get. So, dump them – and only share photographs that leave your customers wanting to see more.
  • Your pricing isn’t just about the value of the finished photograph or album. You’re not selling photographs, but the experience. Work to build a relationship with every client and build trust. And remember – you’re not selling an album, but the first family heirloom of a brand-new family!

Justin and Mary were writing about getting out of the rut if you’re slow on bookings – but there’s more to running a successful business than just their three points. Success in photography is about relationship-building, combined with excellent skills as an artist.

If you’re in a little bit of a slump – take some time off and step back. You can’t create images that tug at people’s heartstrings if your own heart isn’t in it!

By Justin & Mary Marantz

  1. Your website has old & inconsistent work on it. We see this at pretty much every mentoring session we do! I’ll go to pull up the website and people will say “well that has only old work on it, let’s go look at the blog” But here’s the problem with that: now you are counting on a potential client to a) just assume that your work has gotten better than what they see on the website (not likely to happen, they’ll most likely assume that what they see is what they’ll get) and  b) to do the work to go to over to the blog, click through the categories and actually find it.

Even then, they won’t be seeing the best of the best of your work….just your best work at one wedding.

How to fix it: set aside an afternoon (this afternoon!) and go through the work on your site with a machete. Get rid of everything that’s old, inconsistent, and not working. Replace it with only amazing stuff. I can’t stress this enough. Your website is your storefront. If people don’t like what they see there, you likely will never get a chance to meet with them in person.

  1. Your brand is not working for you. Whether it’s old, cheesy, bad font, a bad logo, inconsistent colors and fonts or something that just doesn’t feel like you at all….we need to get that fixed fast! A good brand builds TRUST.

It says to the people seeing it that this company is legit. They have been in business long enough and are invested in it enough to put a polished face to the world.

Justin & I just had to hire contractors for some work on our house recently and a huge deciding factor for when we were doing our research was how the website looked. A polished website & brand told us that these guys weren’t just doing this halfway or on the side or under the table. They were really IN it with their business. And whether it’s right or wrong, we FELT better and like we could trust them more when they had their act together brand-wise. And how people feel is a huge part of how they buy.

How to fix it: I think the number one mistake here is to say “well I’m going to save up to do a custom brand” someday. A custom brand is awesome (we obviously LOVE ours!)….but what happens in the year that you’re saving up and then the six months to a year that you’re working on finishing it? You lose all those potential clients in the meantime, and you really lose steam in your business. You need to pull people in with a beautiful brand and trust.

  1. Your pricing is off. When it comes to pricing, it doesn’t matter how talented you are or how much better you feel you are than someone else, if your demand isn’t there. Pricing is a basic economic principle that says, “does your demand match your supply?”

On the basic supply-demand curve, as you increase price the demand falls off. So the LAST thing you want to do is to keep increasing your prices just to keep up with so-and-so if you aren’t hitting your booking goals. Increasing prices is not a booking fix.

How to fix it: Repeat this mantra over and over: focus on what you’re MAKING, not what you’re CHARGING. For all you know, that photographer in your market who is charging more might not be booking where they need to be. Or they might be charging more but including so much product to justify that price that they are actually making less per wedding than you. Put on your blinders. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing. Do what makes sense for you and your demand.

Now re-focus that energy that you were wasting on keeping up with the Joneses to love on your clients, vendors & other photographers like crazy and make your DEMAND go up. Because when demand goes up, the price naturally follows. And so do the bookings!