How to Conduct a Client Meeting
Pricing out my first wedding okay, so that leads up the story to around two thousand six still starting the business and that was the first real it's real legit businesses a decision I had to make and the decision became am I going to take them the cheaper route and start shooting for volume or am I going to try to brand myself early on as like a mid range photographer at three thousand dollars and be selective with my clientele? Well kristina my bride came and made the decision for me I then opted to shoot my l a gear pump wedding right? Okay, so this is where we're at now I'm going I'm going to insert a section here because I think it makes sense if this is not it is it didn't work chronologically like this for me, but I'm assuming that people this door people usually meet with clients before they get booked so I'm going to talk about conducting a client meeting as if I hit if I am booking a wedding now ok I didn't meet with christina she ended up booking me online she had been readi...
ng the block up until that point and david james endorsement was enough for her to trust me great awesome perfect I understand it doesn't work like that for everybody so let's move in teo conducting a client meeting I feel like I can talk about conducting a client meeting now because I learned the process early on because I didn't know what I was doing so again this is not the right way it's simply how I learned how to do it if you like it that's great if you like one thing or nothing it's still okay with with me so conducting a client meeting now the main thing that I want to reinforce is thie idea that you want people to know as much about you as possible before they show up that would be the best ideal scenario because it becomes then a less of a sales meeting then it does um just a conversation so we're gonna jump into that and then I totally thought you were doing this you know why I was like we were saying how my word had his pen up and I was like really do it's too early to be flashing that maybe that's our gang sign oh yeah j sarge it's ok how it works so how does a meeting for me work? Um the process that I go through now is still very much the same as they did in the very first time I met with a client because I really is the first time I met with a client it once really well so if the eight broke don't fix it I will say my approach has become a little bit more home because I've done it a lot more and instead of waiting for them to ask me questions and you know these questions usually come from like a magazine print out the twenty five questions you need to ask your photographer listen the twenty five questions usually are all the same and how tired was I here? So what do you wear to a wedding? I don't want people to ask what I wear to a wedding, but what I do is I show people what I wear to a wedding and how do I do that posting pictures on my block the out takes from us shooting behind the scenes me too shooting with my camera about like oh here's a random block post and oh here's a picture that j d took a silly picture me jd that j d took of me shooting it's very intentional not only am I showing other photographers what I am doing working also showing pacific prospective brides how I look on a wedding day so I don't have to say this is my outfit everybody look you know so it has to be a lot more strategic about this. A lot of times people are asking me early on that what's your style if somebody's asking you what your style is, you're doing a poor job at showing what your style is before they get there so as you approach a client meeting, try to approach it in a way that you're doing everything you can in advance to answer any type of questions to alleviate the idea that it's going to become a sales meeting one because I don't think that I have I'm not a good sales person I hate hard sales and in fact I don't even really like when clients want a painting on the spot I request for me to send them an email I'll send them the contract that's what I request because I never want anybody to get in their car and feel they had like the car salesman experience like I like the car but god it just gonna saut like never if you want me I want you to like let it so again I understand that that is not everybody's approach it's just mine when people asked to pay on on site I'm usually like hate let me shoot you my my address you can send me a check um stuff like that I just want him to marry me it about it and I haven't lost a wedding from a client who said I want to pay you now versus all of a sudden they go home and you know what we thought about it we don't want to book you anymore so I think that is the wedding to put you then they will be ready to book you later but it's a it's jet you're setting the tone for the experience I'm gonna get into that a little bit okay so now we're gonna move into initial contact I made mention of this yesterday but I'm gonna reinforce it because I was clowning on you before the cameras turned on how well you guys were like in your zone you guys were taking extra long six okay, so I'm gonna tell you about this section the initial contact the first time a client is finding me she's only finding me through one of two locations my website and on my block and on those two locations there is oh, an over abundance of me not because I think I'm cute not because I think I'm cool I'm trying to give her a distinct idea or feeling about what I want her to feel about me what I want her to think about me now it is not one hundred percent always good I understand that distinctly I will push a certain client away I absolutely positively get it but it is intentional and it is done with the utmost respect for the client listen I know who I am and it's my job to show you who I am so we could avoid a mismatch later on down the road that is what the initial contact will be by the time she's contacting me were corresponding the email by the time I find out where her wedding is groom's name all that good stuff I'm sending her a contract and on the contract it has my phone number but at that point if she wants to have a conversation I'm scheduling the conversation so I'm establishing this is when I will be available I can color on my terms or we could skype on my terms as well. I mean as long as it's mutual for her I just never want to pick up my phone randomly and not be prepared sit in front of my computer to email her anything she needs to email her links like if we're skyping you know we're chatting and she's like oh, I just wonder if you shot here yes I have I can go to my block, pick up a link or center slideshow here it is I could send it through skype that to me is being in control that's my cyber storefront that's the type of interaction I want tohave during my initial contact. Now this all goes back to branding and marketing now here's the thing a lot of times and even seen on twitter people like I'm so excited here's hasn't talked about branding I have a branding workshop but I want to clarify by coming to the workshop you will not leave with the brand if that's what you think I won't sorely letyou down the reason why people are paying to come to the workshop and I'll say this again and again and again if you get personalized attention for your brand we gotta have a conversation we get a sit down all day I talk about what are the eight steps I did to build my brain and sometimes I have to believe maybe somebody's let down because they thought by coming they're going to walk out with a package brand that will never happen what I do is I show you and a lot of times people think that's too easy people actually want the struggle if you think about it if you're not being able to accomplish brain in yourself now you would prefer to say well look at all these things that I'm doing and it's just not working instead of me saying listen your brand is prompt email responses your brand is taking care of the clients your brand is letting them know you care and people are like no but it isn't it investing like nine or ten thousand dollars to get branded we'll know because that's to somebody else painting you but that's just the facade there's no tricks here so when I talk about building the brand these are the first steps like literally can you engage with the client and email or or if if if you're really good at phone if that's how you do it great do that these are the first steps to rounding out an overall experience and that was what the brand is and we'll get to that so by the time this happens, we are then moved into a client meeting. Now I will say that a book around fifty percent of my clients sight unseen we might have a phone conversation, we might skype, but basically this is just them just feeling like they know me and quite honestly, I am totally okay with this notion. I actually feel I'm more profitable on those weddings because in order for me to get to a client meeting it, taking about forty five minutes to get ready when I would prefer to be working at home in like sweats and a t shirt, so I take a shower after, but my makeup on forty five minutes, it took me fifteen minutes to get to the studio and I get there fifteen minutes early that's already an hour and a half roughly set everything up. The client comes for meetings forty five minutes or an hour, then I'm fifteen minutes back home, that's roughly about two hours and fifteen minutes, two hours and a half, sometimes from start to finish four client meeting that's two and half hours and I'm tacking onto that wedding, and if I were to break up the hourly investment into the amount that I spent for that wedding, I'm now two and a half hours less profitable because of it, I'm okay with it, this is the name of the game but if somebody wants to book me um side and saying over the web I'm totally okay with that in fact I actually love skype interviews you put in position and what am I wearing sweat pants, gentle bottoms I looking at, you know, business on top party on bottom you know? So we're ok with that? I like that too either way, but four client meeting that's functions that now I'm going to meet with a client people ask where did you meet with your client's forever? I met in starbucks I'm talking about almost three years into the business I was meaning at starbucks excuse me two, two and a half years think that's gonna be like the real number two to two and half years and it wasn't until I got to a point where it started charging fifty, five hundred for my collections when I realized something has to change because if I'm charging this much people are buying into the notion of a brand or an experience. It's and I knew that now in orange county is very difficult to get property I mean even like even just the basics of basic of basic nine hundred square foot candice knows nine hundred square feet studio no bathroom in it completely unfurnished exposed ceilings cement floor like you're looking at somewhere in the ballpark of like twenty five hundred dollars for that space and then I started doing the math and we would have to redo everything and the cost that it would take for me to get in there and I'm really on lee ever meeting with clients twice a month maybe and I like working from home so if I divided up the rent per meeting I'm paying close to a thousand dollars to meet with a client that's not even the costs of it takes for me to decorate the studio it just didn't make sense I'm lucky so fortunate there's these amazing videographers and orange county called elysium productions they have this beautiful studio and not only did they have a whole work hub in the back for all their editors that this beautifully meeting spot I walked in and of course what I suffer from oh jealousy uh gosh and so we were just going out for lunch and they're like hey swing by the office and then we'll leave from here so I went by there studio and this is so beautiful we're talking and I spoke to julie and she's like hey yeah like just meet with your clients here you know we'll swap referrals and um that was it I was like wait what we ended up negotiating so all like kind of sub let because I'm not I'm a firm believer no homie hook up because things get weird listen, I'm going to pay you for me meeting there but I'm only there twice a month they have a studio manager I emailed the studio manager is the office available? It is can I needed this time? Usually it is because julie and alex are international videographers you have a high end clientele it's so nice to meet in the studio where every guy is looking for geographers great julie's here julie recommends um brides to me too that's a win win you can ever find those types of situations and it makes me very happy and it targets a clientele that's where I meet my clients now yes, christy yeah. Oh, god oh, yeah wait, what was that? You know espresso for alan and you're like yeah, my collections, right? Yeah. Uh, yes, I took a laptop and when I had I had one simple album for a very long time so I took my laptop. I took a sample album that was it and on a table around this size and the client would walk in like, hey, how's it going and I would have the the slideshow plane because I like to create an environment so I have a latin well, whatever you have to take with you and I would pick a corner seat, I'll drive there a half hour early and scope out, you know, you don't wanna be stuck in the middle I did hear of a photographer one time was meeting at starbucks and he had this stuff set up and it was one table left and another photographer walks in with his simple album and his laptop and sits right next to him until they're meeting with clients with their laptops and sample albums and he's like no oh okay, so it's like but here is the good news. The bad news is that the more photographers are meeting in starbucks than not so it's not like you're just like uh scoffing at the starbucks like we understand that the nature of it if I highly recommend if you confined like a little boutique cupcakery a teahouse like anything like that, I think that it's a better reflection starbucks is just the easy route either way it's fine, like I didn't think I didn't I did not not book wedding because I was meeting at starbucks cannons that are another option is either just take take him out to lunch like they absolutely love that like you should be able to like bond over food and, you know, find out what they like it's more of a conversation rather than selling that's great you know, if you if you if you don't have the option of finding a studio where you are that's great another option teo, that I like that I heard from the photographer is if you are if you have the capability of driving to the venue that the wedding will be the client thinks it's so awesome you're in a smaller walk through making vision you right? Absolutely so going teo and if you can't meet at their venue meeting at a hotel that's kind of nice that's like halfway point between you guys and you can take your laptop in your computer there and you just get him a drink if they're not drinkers, you could get them puree a or, you know, even at star bucks I would buy you know, the bride like a drink or whatever you know I'm so high class was like, let me get your three dollar drinks yeah, but either way like here's the thing you're not the anomaly so know that like there are far and few between photographers who have studios like all of you all here don't have a deal have serious no, neither do I you know we are we are the rule, we're not the exception so that's that okay? So we have to kind of power through. So the client meeting what happens with a client meeting is what I want people to do and what I learned early on was to create a conversation and not a monologue I don't have a bride come in there and I don't have you know our say so I want all these awards. This is what I'm known for I'm a member of these all these organizations, what none of which you've heard, I do eighteen broadway shows every year, all of which I get it dad over and I don't ever cover my costs it's like all these things that she doesn't understand and she doesn't get so you go in there and the first thing it's just a default is you want to show her that you're worth it instead of having ever come into contact with a person and they let you talk, they ask you questions, they get to know you and you leave meeting this person in her like that person so off awesome, but you did most of the talking, we kind of like ourselves. We like when people give us the ability to share about ourselves, specifically when brides are sharing about the utmost importance day of their life. So if you go into the meeting, they come into the meeting and you're like, so let me tell you how awesome I am it's more about me than it is about you. Trust me, you're not saying these things, but the more you talk essentially, that is what you're saying. Immediately when the bride comes in, I'm asking her how's she doing thank you so much for coming if they come in as a couple which I actually really like that's possible but coming as a couple, how are you guys doing talking about traffic traffic's always like the topic in california? Where is the four or five look like no way? You know, I think we love talking about traffic so we talk about how well, you know, I tell her thank you so much for coming in and so we have is we have, like, a projector with a very large screen showing my images have sample albums out, I asked them if they want anything to drink, you know, house wedding planning going so they sit down in ice it's sand from across them, how is wedding planning going? Talk to me about that and be genuinely interested, because by this time, I know where they're getting married because I've done that via email, so I'll review the email that I got saying, oh, this is where they're getting married so like us at the ritz, okay, that's great, you know, I like shooting there. Which ballroom are you guys even if you're having it on the lawn or us having the rotunda, whatever those types of things one you're talking with confidence, abs about their day they then appreciated me start trusting you guys that I'm trusting the photographer then I ask how did you guys meet that story is always one hundred percent the canned version of what they tell the same person on the subway as what built held their wedding photographer oh we met in college hypothetic wait we might call it you could end it at that and simply nod and say ok but what we're really talking about is no I want to know the sub story and I want to know the sub sub story in the sub sub sub story that is how I get to know the claims and that so you extract an entirely different person so I always start if possible with the guy and I'll turn to him and I'll be like hey john tell me how did you lose your racing natalie how did you meet natalie john I'm talking guys guys give the cool version she saw me she could keep her hands off me always never fails every guy's like she saw me in chemistry and you know yeah a guy like that just says it all and she's like oh and then you know natalie I'm guessing will be like whatever you know so then all of a sudden we have a conversation that's a two way conversation and I then become an onlooker so then they are recounting the story amongst themselves and revealing very intimate things about their life they're talking about the person they're going to spend forever with the person who they strongly believe is their soul made on the talking about the moment in which they had first become twitter pated that is what's happening in front of me that's the experience that they're having and then I take a little bit deeper chemistry remember what she was wearing why her how did he stick out because all of those things are little puzzle pieces to who they are and then I explain the reason why I'm asking such personal questions is because I want to taylor my photography approach to you it is not about me I never approach a couple thinking this is the jasmine show I'd have you do my thing no some people love loud some people love shy some people of quiet some people love big however you love is first depicted in your love story how he proposed all of those things so by the time our first interaction comes around we should be the engagement session I know you I know how you love I'm now playing to my strengths in your strengths that conversation up into that point is wrong twenty to twenty five minutes in twenty to twenty five minutes I haven't said a thing about how I shoot the gear a shoot with the memberships in which I belong the awards in which I want the plough on the wall or the blue ribbons above my bed I don't have the ribbons upon my bed, but I'm just saying there are some people who love their blue ribbons now after this is going on, right? So we got to this point got the love story talking about may approach on the first time I would have seen him on an engagement session, then I explain the importance of an engagement, a conversation, not a monologue, while I'm not keeping up with my slide and explain that participated in session so that's where we are the importance of an engagement session, and I talk to them how an engagement session is included in my in my local connection collections because I want to know them before the wedding day. This is a practice run to what they're doing and how they're going to do it. I talked to them about what they should wear because that's always the question that I'm asking, so I'm beating people to the punch and I my advice to what to wear always is where what makes you feel beautiful? I don't care for wearing plaid and stripes and flowers and cowboy boots, whatever I tell girls, if you feel beautiful, you shoot beautifully it's just that simple and all of a sudden it takes that type of pressure off, then I talk about the location the duration I'm letting them know in advance so that they could make a very educated decision whether or not they decide to a book with me and move forward with me I'm also talking to them about the image the turnaround on the image processing time letting them know in advance this is how long it takes me to get your images after we shoot your engagement session are you planning a save the date cards if you're planning save the date cards and this is and I'm tailoring my conversation too if they're doing save the date cards well then we need to do an engagement session at minimum eight weeks out from when they want to send them it'll give him plenty of time for me to process it for them choose their favorites for them toe order it from a graphic designer for them to package it and mail it and have it arrived by the time to save the date should arrive these air the conversations that's tailored for the client and nothing about me yet it's how I approach their day but it's not selling me as a photographer next I talk about wedding photography this is, um a new explanation of my approach by this time I'm hoping to have a really good idea of you know who I am and what I'm about I talked to him about how old my husband is my second shooter most of the time people already know that j d is my second shooter but I talk about how this is an advantage I firmly believe that working with a solid uh continuous second shooter or your spouse I didn't know but brides found it so appealing that I work with my husband they think that it's a competitive advantage I didn't view it when I was booking my wedding photographer but a lot of bribes do so I think it's like a breaking point you know they only book me the only book a husband and wife team no but it's definitely a distinct advantage so I talked to them about how he's hanging out with the guys if they were getting ready at the same hotel jd is with the guys I'm with the girls we talked about bridal prep we talk about the things that I think that the day will entail they talk about my approach talk about how I deal with families I talk about the turnaround time I talk about the album process for their day I'm listening to what they're saying it as is going on pictures air going in the background and fiddling through the albums I don't need to be silent well, you know look and I'm just expecting them oh wow this dish is so great know like look and talk and tell them don't feel what you have to look at me like I'm just talking and I use it because I know that because I've done a few meetings I know kind of questions in advance so like, stop me if you have any questions stuff like that act educated you want to educate your client's in advance? Um basically, this boils down to who is your client? What type of client are you attracting? Because when you put yourself out in a branding or marketing capacity, you have to know who you're going after aa lot of times they were like, well, my client is a bride worse, my client is a girl, you know it's like whoa, whoa, whoa! Like who is your claim? And if you can create a client profile, what is your client look like? Literally can you design the perfect client in your head? What is her age? What kind of education does she have? What kind of job does she have? What kind of guy you seem earing is are they funding the wedding themselves? Are they dependant on their family? Like all of those? What types of things? What kind of shoes she wear bags she buy shows this you watch? I haven't very detailed client profile and I think that having a strong online presence really helps me move in that direction, but we're gonna talk about that a little bit