I’m not a “meeting” person, so how do I have a business if I hate to meet with clients? I don’t meet my clients in my office. We meet at restaurants, bars, coffee houses. We meet on a social level, instead of meeting on a business level. I call this social selling. All the old school advice about selling tactics, selling scripts, etc. are a thing of the past (or they should be). Nowadays we know people we’ve never met. We know them through Facebook (for example) and everyone knows everyone. The six degrees of separation has really dropped down to three degrees of separation. Take advantage of this my friends!
With social media, we can pre-qualify like we never have before. Here’s an example email I received:
“I’m getting married October 20th of next year and want to inquire about your packages, please email me.”
We’ve all received this email, but can no longer reply with a canned response and attached price sheet. You have to make it personal.
Learn About Your Potential Client
Learn about the potential client with a quick cross reference of the email address on Facebook or Google search.
In the earlier example I found 4 photos about this potential client and concluded she is artsy, hippy, likes to travel (Costa Rica photo), went to UNC Chapel Hill (Facebook bio) and likes micro brewed beer (camping photo). So my impression was that she wouldn’t be into a whole big glamour wedding. I was able to obtain all this on her about page and by a few images on her profile pics. Wow, now I have a conversation starter.
Meet Face to Face
Below is my reply that pushes for an informal face to face connection:
Congrats on your engagement. I’d love to shoot your wedding! Below is a slideshow that features a few images from 2010 and 2011. And attached are a few recent images that are some of my favs!
Can you meet sometime in the next couple of weeks over pizza (I know a cool spot) so I can share come cool vendors and money saving tips?
Also forward this email to your fiancé… definitely want him to see my style…
Keep in mind; I don’t want to mention that I checked her out on Facebook, so I made no mention of that.
Leverage Client Interests in Sample Photos
But the photos I included were right in line with her interests:
- a wedding photo of the bride and groom in sandals and his shirt unbuttoned her laying in his lap sort of laughing
- a wedding couple that got married on a farm
- a bride that wore a little makeup, or in other words a simple bride
- destination wedding photo from Italy
What I wanted to show her photos that she might like or relate too. I got a reply back almost immediately, within 30 minutes:
We’d love to meet with you!
We meet at the awesome pizza place in town because they have great draft beer (an interest I found from the Facebook photos).
You Don’t Have to Talk About Photography
In the meeting we talk about everything from wedding details to family. That’s important because I gotta know the drama. There isn’t a wedding without drama right? We also talk about hobbies and where they went to school. The point here is I’m adapting to who they are. Photography doesn’t have to be the focus. No mention of pricing or packages at this point.
All of this social communication establishes that they can depend on me. I am their friend. I put their mind at ease as just not a photographer but someone she can depend on – someone that will make her smile. I will absolutely take wonderful photos, but that doesn’t always win me the sale. Client relations is often times more important than quality work. You can’t just be the business person making a sell. It goes way beyond that. It’s establishing a relationship from the beginning. It’s adapting to who they are inside.
When she asked me about bridal portraits I paused a hot second and said, “You gotta bring your mom. I’d love to meet her.” You see, bridal portraits isn’t just about the photos, it’s also about the bonding experience between bride and her mother (she’s gonna tell her mom I said this).
We as photographers have the opportunity to bring everyone together and create a memorable experience. You’re hand holding sort of during the whole wedding process and it really starts from the very first email.
Notice I’ve talked little about the money aspect. They let me know their original budget was $1,500 but that increased to $3,000 when they understood how I could take their photos to the next level. They trusted me and booked me on the spot.
Photo credit: Stacy Rhodes, Columbus OH