The Baby Plan Structure
Structuring a baby plan and developing a product line are really two of the key components of those seven steps that I outlined earlier, so when you structured one of the first things you want to do is kind of figure out hey, how many sessions should ideo right, how many? What stages should I shoot? And kenna said earlier that she was kind of taken with the idea of stage rather than a jj and that really is true because you want to be ableto shoot something that that's predictable, you know, you don't want to just come in at three months or four months and say, okay, we're going to shoot this and the baby, not be developmentally be able to handle what you want to shoot because every child does develop at a different rate and sometimes they'll be four month olds. I mean, I've had a had a four month old set up by himself three months olds do that I had a three week er smile at me on command ones like when I say on command, I mean, like he would tickle earned she would smile like it was ob...
vious that she was smiling at you because she was happy s o like I said, different babies develop and progress motor skill emotionally mentally, a different rates so it's all about stage rather than a jj okay, the structure really is one of the big keys to maximum profits, I think because if you do too many sessions, you're going to be doing more sessions at a lower average. Okay, now you can try to get the client to spend more on each session but then you're everything has to be elevated so the more sessions you have the customer service, the communication everything's needs to be so elevated and your client used to be so in love with photography that it's harder to win over does that resonate follow through? We have just the right number of sessions you're going to capture the first year take a mom from being mother to mom but the same time have enough to produce a year on product well the same time each session is profitable and that's what's important each session has to be profitable because if one sessions a dud and the next one's good it's not getting you because you do just as much work for that first session as you did for the the second one correct. So which ages in stages how many sessions should you include? Who will be photographed? Are you gonna allow family in that session or not and what's the session fee for it there's a couple schools of thought on that and you need to decide what's going to work for you so let's look at the stage okay. Thomas jefferson said death and taxes, but I forget who's told me who's, not me, but who said? Uh nothing is this constant has changed, but it truly is. So these air kind of the different stages maternity, newborn, smiling, sitting, standing okay. And these air, the general ages that we look at these two things. Okay, so for example, maternity, you want to shoot somewhere between the thirty four thirty five week mark? Thirty six weeks gestation in the belly er, newborn, obviously five, ten days old, smiling or what we did this morning. I generally say that that's around four to five months, some people like to shoot sessions at three months. I honestly think they really can't do a welcome hunk of a lot of three months and the session ends up being kind of a dud. So I encourage photographers toe wait until at least four months. But really, what? It comes down to a stage, not aged. Can they do the tummy time? Can they do that? Many push up. Are they smiling? Well, yet are they able to grab their feet? Okay. And these are things that you're gonna have to ask mom in the pre consultation sitting is around seventy eight months now some babies can do it in six months. But I also like to do and I'll show you this tomorrow when we do the seven this is like the funnest session, in my opinion, is that seventy eight month session because they're just starting to self feed as well they're learning to take a spoon and put it in baby food and put it in their mouth and hallelujah, can you get cute stuff with that? Um, I kind of like it it almost to the cakes mash where at seventy eight months I will have mom bringing in one of those little peel away things of organic baby food in a fun color, I don't recommend green, it looks like vomit and you don't want it just looked like your baby vomited everywhere so you choose like applesauce or or carrots or something that a little bit more of a benign color to it and give him a spoon and let him have at it on the scene was paper and it's such a fun session, you know, at the very end after you've done your hair looks on your set ups and it provides another product to shoot for okay, so the sitting stage, like I said, they can sometimes get up it's at six months, but you want them to sit unassisted that's the key a lot of parents will say, yeah, my baby sits up, no problem but wait do they set up by themselves without you having to hang on to him oh yeah for like five seconds okay that's not gonna work this morning's baby was typical of a baby that's not quite ready to sit up yet she khun do it but it looks a little awkward she's not quite you know I want him really sitting up unable to sit there and be happy and giggle and smile and laugh of me ok now some babies at this stage are starting to crawl so you need to keep that in mind on but one year the standing space stage they are crawling okay and they're quick sometimes but that's another component of what you capture at that standing stages them not only pulling themselves up but also the crawling so this is the big question should you include maternity and newborn sessions into the baby plan what do you guys think of some of the pros and cons of that what's good about it so if you think about it from a consumer's perspective it's everything was like the maturity newborn six months in one year was all in one package what would you think as a consumer what would you like about that girls you can do it you don't well it would be easy it would be easy isa consumers pay one time and have it all done ready to go yeah great what if some other ideas of why doing maternity and newborn in the baby plan would be a good a good thing. Yeah, you could put it all together, okay? And maybe just work with it and do the cells that way I'm confused. What do you mean by putting it all together? So maybe towards the end of the whole year, you khun sell them up cell on more, but having so many sessions, you can create more of a story. Is that what you're saying? Yeah, that's a good reason that's also, what about you were kind of thinking the same line and to expand on that? If you're starting with maternity you, khun start with the same props and fabrics and build on it to show the time lapse, said annual product. Yeah, how the annual things growing from mother tio mom? Exactly. No, I think that's a that's, a that's, a great reason to do it and a lot of parents do look att photographers who have that kind of in a full on annual plan from maternity through one year as a benefit and it but it's a beginning when mom is pregnant and spending a lot of money on that nursery and getting all these presents and stuff on a shower it's really enticing. It's like, wow, that would be so cool. Like they think that that's amazing. However, as you get into the process, and once that baby is born there, life changes so much on their eggs sauced it, and the money is flying out the door with the hospital bills, etcetera, etcetera. All of a sudden you start getting to the four months and six month session in the hit, like just weary, you know, they enthusiasm for the process definitely begins to wing thea other kind of a school of thought on this is the concept that it kind of locks people in from the start like you as a, including material a newborn means you can get him in early in the lock him in and that's a good thing, right? I mean, that's a that's a positive, but considering that after baby is born and parents mindset changes a little bit about this whole process, it's a lot more work to keep them engaged with the entire process. Okay, so if you know, of course, more sessions means more revenue in most people's mind the client perceives more value with it because they feel like, oh, I'm getting more for my money, we're getting five sessions instead of, you know, three or whatever your brand is more about the first year and family then about newborn does that make sense so like I don't include the maternity newborn session and I'll explain why here in a minute but if I did then that would brand me more as a child baby and family photographer rather than specifically a newborn photographer so if you don't do newborns as a regular thing then maybe you might want to consider doing all the sessions in one baby plan to provide that value in your client's mind and tio kind of lock him in so you can have that client with you for the entire year but let me tell you if your customer service doesn't live up to it you'll lose him okay if you're customer service slacks at all during that year you're going to end up having just lacks a physical client at the end is that you can see why right so um I don't necessarily put them in because it takes away from your newborn session revenue it really does the newborn session is the peak of the birth experience maturity sessions are never high period end of statement at least not for me I know some amazing attorney photographers out there who specialize in maternity and do amazing things okay they have segmented and niece into a very unique segment of the population who loved being pregnant who see the art in it etcetera etcetera that is not me number one, I hated being pregnant s so I really have no connection with that. And number two, my judgment has clouded my idea of what I want to do in my business. Does that make sense? I didn't like being pregnant. I didn't want a huge screaming portrait of myself pregnant on the wall, so I have that mentality in my head. So of course, my clients are going to have that to write, but I'm okay with that. I don't do a ton of maternity, I will shoot maturity, but, you know, nine times out of ten, my clients just want that keepsake of the maternity. They aren't going to spend a lot of money at the maternity and that's fine, I just do them attorney to get the baby it's pretty much why I do maternity. Ok, but that newborn session to me to die brand as a new born photographer and it's the peak of that whole, becoming a mother experience that it's so timely it's like getting married, it's, it's never gonna happen again kind of thing, there's there's so much that goes with it. They're willing to spend more at the newborn session because it's at the peak of that emotion, so my newborn averages are like in the thirteen to fifteen hundred range and my baby plan averages right around a thousand so baby plan definitely drops a little bit, but I'm I'm okay with that since they are coming to me throughout the entire year, but if I put that newborn session in the baby plan, I'm going to lose fifty percent of my revenue or at least thirty percent of my revenue in my newborn sessions. Does that follow? So I liken it to the new born session are the baby plan can really kind of take away from the newborn session in terms of revenue? Greatly if you're not careful, but again, I think it all depends on your brand and what you put out there as who you are as a photographer. If you're a child and family photography and don't specialize in newborns, then doing a baby plan with newborn six months when you're in it might be a wise choice for you. Okay, um five sessions, at least for my client is too much they can't spend that much, and they start to lose interest quickly. And like I said, if you're customer service lax at all, you will quickly lose the enthusiasm of your client's it doing a baby plan requires much more work in terms of relationship building now it's something I don't mind doing because I love to see my clients grow and that's my my little baby clients grow and that's my passion and I and I'm enthusiastic about that and I have systems in place for it but the communication it takes to run a baby plan is more significant than a regular session because they're with you so much throughout the year and you have to keep them motivated to keep doing the plan okay um your product line has to be larger and more unique when you have maternity and newborn in the baby plan I think that's pretty clear and you can't pre qualify potential clients okay, I do pre qualify my baby letters and if I have a client who comes to me and I'll mention the baby plan the very beginning we always do with every single consultation that calls in for a newborn I'll mention a baby plan the beginning and how exciting it is it's in some of our literature and it's in our prep we have like a whole new born booking system that we dio and we have phone scripts and stuff so we just we just we mentioned the baby plan throughout that process but then when they come in if I don't like working with him I do not talk to baby plan up at all like I will totally pre qualify this client and I will not mention it I will not I mean yes, we have images of babies on the wall but I don't get enthusiastic or push it nearly as much if I think that client isn't qualified or if I don't like working with them or if I don't think they're going to be able to commit to that and spend that kind of money now do they have to be wealthy no but I know means they just have to love what I do in love photography and appreciate the moment you can feel it I think you guys all know you feel like when I clients a good client don't you you kind of know oh man these people are cool I really liked him you know it's not about necessarily the average all the time I've had plenty of clients out there who spend the minimum but I love them so much because they're just sweet people like all we've saved o year to come see you you know and they spend like the absolute minimum but you love him you don't care because they appreciate what you do so much that sometimes more important than the average okay so one of those of course one of the divisions its advantages that prequalification factor and you have to work harder for less profit you know and to me that's never a good thing in my opinion and sister kale in my opinion it's easier to maintain a probable, efficient, unpopular baby plan if you don't include the maternity and newborn but I say that with the caveat of this is particularly true if you brand yourself as a new born photographer. Okay, if you are family and children's photographer, then there's nothing wrong with doing that. Just be prepared for sufferance session averages to be lower in your baby plan than they are in your other sessions and that's. Okay, as long as you're making your number, who cares, right? Yeah. So the heart, the heart part of maternity to twelve month is the cost might be more shocking to the client they might spend slowly, but the large cost is hard. So, have you encountered that as well? When I say your average is a thousand dollars per session totaling three thousand dollars over the years of them here, if you were to say that, plus your thirteen, like, forty three hundred dollars for a year, have you found that that was charlene and I think that's, one of the reasons why I don't include the baby plan there, the newborn attorney session with see baby plan, because it, like, separates it in the client's mind and money spent is money gone. So I think that people come in, they book the newborn session, they do the newborn session, they love what they're doing, they and they fall in love with us and the customer service that's the key when and so that is part of what entices them to join baby plan because we saw the experience, right? So when they come into the maternity and newborn more often the newborn, like I said, I only do maybe a dozen miffed at the most a dozen maternity sessions a year. I'm not huge into maternity at all. That does not to say that other people shouldn't be it's, it's, awesome and it's amazing, but most people book the newborn session, and then they come into the newborn toward sales appointment way get an average of thirteen, fifteen hundred or so on that and that's when the baby plans being discussed and talked about, and the experience with the newborn session is good enough. Well, I hope it's better than good enough, um, to make them fall in love with the process and experience, and they realize how important the images are. They realise how important you know we sell from our y and our purpose, and they're like, yeah, we've got to continue doing this. It almost like it sells itself. It sells the baby plan gets sold because of the newborn session. Now, that's not to say I haven't had people who join the baby plan without doing any more session, it's happened. A very small number of times, but you still market to those segments of the population who haven't necessarily done a newborn session with you, especially those of you who don't do a lot of newborns you like how do I get those baby playing clients if I don't have along newborn sessions well, there's plenty of places you can mark it to do that of course, getting baby models in your studio is way easier in the first year than it is to try to bring newborns in, so if you build a good baby plan that will probably help you develop your newborn clientele as well. I think I wandered off in topic there but doesn't answer your questions important because I think a lot of us would then go if where we want to get them for this whole thing and so if we have them in the door let's make sure we get them for the whole thing so thinking about it a little bit more strategically in these ways yes is awesome and that's what I do is I mean, you know, I'm a strategist I think about things in terms of what's going on affect the customer the most in the way I needed to affect them strategy and structure yes, exactly strategy and structure I do have one more quick question for you just to clarify somebody had asked what does pre qualifying a client mean, pre qualifying a client means you're basically judging them, you're pretty much I mean, for lack of a better word, you're kind of deciding if they're your client, can they afford you today? Like what you do, do you enjoy working with them? Are they easy to work with? Are they high maintenance? I have several clients who are challenging and I don't really like to work with them, and so when they call, I try to be booked, you know, and and I know that sounds bad, but there are difficult people in the world and, um, you know those and, like, I think I told the story of one woman a few years ago who her house is white, and we did her first baby in all white, and it was like I was seriously good luck with that, you know, you're having a toddler in a white house that's fantastic in the back of my mind, I was saying that, but, you know, she's her issue was trust she was a college, she was control freak, and her issue was trust she didn't trust that I would do the job she wanted me to dio and so when she figured out that she could trust me, it worked out shannon being a very nice client, but in the beginning it was a frickin nightmare to work with this woman because she was just nit picking at me constantly. You know, you gotta do this. Go do that. I don't know anything that went wrong. She freaked out on. Okay. Well, in january last year, she called me and said, I'm having a baby. Oh, great, but oh, so may great. I have to accept you. You know, I think one of the things we like shoot my schedule is not that booked out, so I took her for the second baby, but the second baby was so much easier than the first, like she's. Now an amazing plan. I would totally take her back, but it was because we had built this trust factor that she I realize that it became a good relationship. So she just had to kind of get over her kneading control and she wants she trusted that I was going to do what she had hoped for and that it was not a value. She was fine with it. But it was my original point. I'm sorry I got off track here. We're talking about pre qualifying. Thank you, don. So I guess when it comes down to is some clients will surprise you and they may be really great to work with but you don't know that until you get through with them on and then some clients you know we're just going to be duds and you don't wanna work with him again and there's a few clients who they were you know, kind of so so in the in the newborn session and I just don't really know if I want to see him again three times in the next two years so I I just don't really push it that hard and a couple of them don't you baby oh yeah uh but now I'm going to the point where I have tio were kind of debating on whether I should cut it off and say, well, you know, we're only accepting two new baby plan clients among you know, that kind of thing just because it really does over old does if you push it and it starts to over when your schedule it's wonderful in times of a low like when there's not a lot of newborns coming, we all have it. You know, the last couple months have been lost I've only done like five babies each month, which is low for me before too low for us newborns but the baby planners air filling the sketch schedule because there have been planned for a year now and so they're filling up my empty time slots when I have a little in my business and that's I think one of the beauties of having a baby plan is that they can do that for you, but pre qualifying essentially when you have a newborn business and you bring clients in from that newborn business, you're allowed to work with him first before you decide if you want to spend a whole year with him, where is if you plan your structure, your baby plan so that you have maternity, newborn six months you know you do it all in one shot you're stuck with them, whether you like it or not and I'm kind of picking out I don't always want to work with somebody that makes sense, okay, my mother. So the question becomes, how many sessions do you really need to offer every single stage, every single age? Okay, they're here are some ideas on how to structure it. You could do it as a four session structure with, you know newborn for months, seven months, one year you could do the five sessions structure with maternity newborn for months, seven months, one year. You can also do for session structure with four months, seven months when you're eighteen months and this is kind of complicated here, but just bear with me hopefully you can all see this on the slide here or you can do with three session structure where you do, newborn seven months, one year or four months, seven months, one year or seven months when you're eighteen months, so you can kind of spread it out. How you, how you wish, what are the advantages and disadvantages of both? Well, I think we've talked a little bit about having too many sessions it can lower your average is for each one, you do lock him in the beginning. So these kind of decisions that you need to make, I think in your own how you work best. Some people don't like to sell the baby plan while a person is a client, they're not it doesn't sit well with them. Some people prefer to do it all up front and get the maturity newborn get all those sessions in one year. I tend to like toe while a client with great newborn session in customer service so that they want to keep doing the baby plan and they want to stay in their relationship with me because it reaffirms to me that they are my client and that they really do love what we do. You mean, it gives me that sense of self confidence and information that this is someone who's really going to be a long term client? Who really wants to be with us throughout this entire process and those are the kind of people that I want so kind of breaking up the new border maternity as their own entity helps to do that so how um we do it is the three session structure and I actually give my clients the choice I used to just do four months, seven months, one year but then I'll show you a graph in a few minutes about kind of client enthusiasm and how that works I discovered that the four month seven months one year it was a lot for a client to take on and my gut I have not done research on this but my gut tells me four months is too early after the newborn session and the parents are still adjusting they're still trying to like oh my gosh I have a new child there's still sleepless nights babies not sleeping through the night and and it's you know if the child has colic at all they are just escaping the colleague stage at four months so and now you know that doesn't happen that often two newborns but it is a factor and so doing for months someone's when yours was a lot for my clients so I now give them the option of doing seven months or the sitting stage we kind of skipped the tummy time stage altogether we do seven months one year and then a free family session anytime in year two okay, now we just implemented this I think don us who wasn't asked about outdoor sessions earlier was it felisha this we're just now starting to get to our first round we just change this about a year ago so maybe a year and a half ago I'm just getting to my clients who want this free family shushan in year two and I have given them the option to do either indoor or outdoor now my clients who have not latched onto the whole concept of a kn annual product because I do have some clients who just want to order what they want to order and not do an annual product and that's fine so the clients who don't want to do an annual product tend to want to go outside for that session so all of a sudden it's a whole fresh family session it's almost kind of not even related to baby plan it isthe but not really but then there's the folks who are doing the annual product and we do in studio seven months one year in eighteen months to create that whole idea of annual product I'm going to get into that much deeper here in the next hour to okay so I know it's kind of hard to talk about this stuff because you're trying to do six sequential steps don't worry I'll tell you more I'll tell you what I feel bad, I like I promise I'll get there I guess it just makes you interesting you stay engaged in the class, right? I guess that's the good part, but now I kind of give my clients a choice and what's interesting is that I would say seventy five percent of them are choosing this because coming in at seven months kind of gives them time to recover from the newborn experience. Do you know what I mean? And then they want to be part of it. It's exciting, but you also have to understand their state of mind. They are over friggin whelmed, you know? I mean, you're just you're not getting any sleep if your baby's not feeding right, and you're trying to decide if you want to keep breastfeed or not, we should give up and go to the ball. The emotional stability of your hormones is all over the place you're not sleeping. It's a really trying time, so kind of coming in at seven months is almost done, like pressing the reset button. Oh, fuck again! You know, like having a baby is great. So I have found that it to be much more successful to go to seventh, and I actually enjoy shooting a seven month session better than the four months just cause they could do so much more. There's. More personality, you convey last a little bit longer. Um, of course, you have issues like separation, anxiety and stuff like that, but for the most part, that session it's. Super fun. Okay.