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Pricing & Sales Strategies

Lesson 4 from: Creating a Successful Wedding Photography Business


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Lesson Info

4. Pricing & Sales Strategies


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Client Focused Wedding Business


Marketing for the Wedding Business


Pricing & Sales Strategies


Wedding Client Interaction


Find Your Photographic Style


Gear, Lighting & Camera Settings


Capture the Bride Getting Ready


Lesson Info

Pricing & Sales Strategies

Okay now let's talk a bit more about discounting against non-discounting. Discount is a bad word. Discount is where cheap stuff appears. They make a big sale every year to get rid of things. I'm not getting rid of anything. My product is one unique one of. Why should I give a discount on a one-off product? It's a book, one of the bride. So why should I give the discount? But there are other ways. Giving is not for free; it has to come from your advertising and thing. It's important that ... We need to get the business with the positive thing. If a bride says, "Oh Yervant, I love it. "Can you give me discount?" Yes, sweetheart, I will give you discount but what you want me to cut? You don't want the book, you don't want me? What do you want me to cut, because I can't give you discount. But eventually once we convince her, yeah why don't I give you a big portrait? It's $500 more. As a business I know that that's $30, but I will give her for $500, and that's all she needs. Sometimes they ...

come to us for the files. Can we have the files? Sweetheart, why do you need files? Oh I want to show it to friends, or Instagram, Facebook. Listen darling, I will finish 10 amazing pictures. Straightaway after the wedding, I will send it to you so you can post it anywhere you want. That's all she wants, but you think that she wants the whole file; what she's gonna do with the whole file? So, keep her happy, she will be happy and she will book you. So extra pages in the albums, sometimes we'll do that. Set monthly financial targets. This is so important. This is so important, because we photographers think that if we're gonna charge $1,000 it's great money. But we have to look also all the expenses, all the costs. So make sure that you've cost yourself before you're starting charge. Because life is too short. We get old very quickly, and if we haven't made enough money, then we're gonna rely on the government and let's not do that, because there's no future in that. So if you have five bookings, so what my studio does, that's if we have five bookings a month, we do five bookings, that's a deposit. Five album deliveries, five proof deliveries, and five reprints or anything, so every month we've targeted ourself to get this many. If I do only one wedding a month, so one wedding deposit. One wedding delivery of album. One wedding delivery of proof, and also reprints, so that keeps my budget going, because I don't want to be-- Let's assume now it's June and I don't have nothing. But I should target every month to have something so that the cash flow flows really nicely through the whole thing. Like I said, prepare for slow season, because that's gonna happen. Our slow season is from June to August, because the winter in Australia is June, August. So that's good time to have album designing and display making; new displays and new sign posting and everything, so it's basically holiday time also. So, but for the last five years, things have changed. Our cup is now, our booking winter weddings, so can ... They can travel another part of the world for a summer. So trends can change and we need to help trends change so our clients will come back to you already; be creative. So during winter also what we do is, we create specials. We send a database of our clients to say, "Oh, today you can buy a $10 5x7 printed "on all kind of paper." And funny enough, we get quite a lot of print orders, even if they've bought the files. It's very good to create, we create also ... A week of portraits, big prints framed, on canvas, half-price. It was $1,000, now it's $500, they go crazy. You get quite a good run of additional sales out of this. The girls, Annie and Danny, they're specialized in doing this. They run continuously promotions and things during winter so we can get business. Summer we're full on because we have, like I said I do 50 weddings so, every week we have so many albums to deliver, so many proofs to deliver. So it becomes continuously work. So it's a serious business and it can be done, if I've done it, and Melbourne has 700 weddings a week. This is an example, 700 weddings a week. Five million population. So 700 weddings, there's a lot of more photographers who can work. I only take one of those, so there's another 699 weddings to be shot. So instead of us fighting each other we should be out there, trying to promote and getting more business. Social media is the way to go these days for business promotion. I'm going to show you how to be competitive and how to charge. Okay I'm gonna skip a little bit because I think I'm slowing down a little bit. Christmas offers; I've repeated all this, always create some specials and everything. So next, I'm gonna go to your question, it was coming already. So I've created two examples here. They're small, I'm gonna explain. Okay this is a photographer who charges $1,500, 30 weddings a year. And just disk, which is reasonable, okay. And this is a photographer who charges $3,000. The only difference is this person gives also an album. The cost will be the same at this level. Very much, when we look at clause accountant fees, album fees, bank fees, car expenses, all those important part; living expenses, you know. In USA for example, you need to have a good insurance. If you don't have good insurance, you can be the best photographer but how you gonna live if you have problems? So it's very important to look at this type of data flow. Make sure that how much is your cost gonna be, and then how much you're gonna make. So in the example number one, this photographer has $49, annual expenses, including rent and everything. He does 30 weddings, and charges $1, so this person is gonna make $45, and his expenses are $49,000. How do you expect him to live? How do you expect him to build a future? Because he's not making extra money, so he can't invest in property or something, because we need to invest in something so our future is safe. After two years, three years, there's no cash flow in this business. So yes, $1,500 sounds good. But if you shoot 80-hundred weddings a year, okay but if you shoot at 30 weddings, it's a trouble. Whereas I'm gonna example this photographer who's double the price, but he's giving also an album. Album cost is quite high, $10,000. So the only difference in this and this package, is $10,000 more for an album. But this photographer is making $90,000, $60,000 expense and it's a bit of cash flow left. $28,000 yet the cost was higher. $10,000 if you see the two differences, it's only small differences but the person is making more profit and this is how photographers should make money. Album is a product that is the most important part of my business. If I don't sell album, I won't shoot a wedding. Because album is what's gonna give me the cream also. You know, extras. If I give the file, I don't have extra. $1,500 that's it, bye-bye. They don't even remember who I am because there's nothing of me recorded. Whereas this one, every one of my clients walks out with an album, and there's something of me on someone's table. So these figures are quite fictional. Everything was changed. It's just an example, but it's quite close also. If you're shooting that many weddings and you're charging $3,000, it's quite good. The advantage of album. That can go up to whatever you want, because you're selling something tangible. It's so important. I charge quite good price to my clients and when they walk out of my studio they have big smile on their face, because they're taking a big box with them, not a little USB. The experience will become even better if you have the figures higher. You're gonna make more money. The expenses will increase a little bit but the profit will become bigger. That's when you will say, okay, I have $20,000 to put aside every year. In 10 years, $200,000 I can buy a property and let the property pay itself. This is how we should think about our future. Especially the new generation, you know. Time goes so fast. We are making money, it sounds good, $1,500 a week it's great, but then you forget the taxes, you forget everything and then it becomes a mess. So it's very important to reach here, to reach in this type of package. So the album will take you there. This has been very effect for so many years. Some of the richest, well-known photographers in wedding industry, have made it because of an album. And the new generation came in and said, "We don't need album, who needs album?" My little boy, 13 years old, he loves reading book. I bought him an iPad, I said instead of buying him books, I'll buy it on an iPad. He refuses. He's a child of today, he refuses. He loves to hold the book. There's a romance in that and he's a male, so it's not only the female who think the attaching is good. So it's very important that we think about this. Guys, we're not thinking as a business person. We're not thinking as a business person, there's a future. How are we gonna increase this? Quality of album, quality of printing, quality of the images. You know when I purchase an album, it needs to be hundred percent. If a bride comes to me and says, "Yervant, I hope my album is like this." Sweetheart, your album is gonna be better than this, because ... I've learned more in that time. I can produce a better album. So it's so important that what I produce is so different, it doesn't look the same. And everyone one of my bride gets an amazing book, one of. How valuable it is, one of. There's no other book like that. It's one book. I treat it like a book, it's a publication of my story of a day of someone's life. Yeah, it might not interest the world, but for that person, it's a million dollars. So that's so important. To survive like me, if you don't do this you're not gonna survive. It's very important. So how do I price? I've changed this quite a lot with tradition. I've changed this to many different directions. Talent is the most important part. If you're selling your product, you should sell it as a talent, not the picture. Because most of us thinks that if we sell them an album, we should make money on the album. So put hundred top percent on the album cost and sell the album. I'm not selling album. I'm merely giving them a book. My product is me. I'm selling myself. When my picture goes on the paper, that's my product. Not the paper; the paper, yes, it's there. But my picture comes on that paper, it's a different product. So I'm selling them my product. My price is now depends on talent. Products can almost be free. This is very important, we used to always base our price on the product. An album is $200, okay let's make it $1,000. You will say my albums are $200, why should you pay him $1,000? See this is where it becomes competition. You're competing on an album that everyone can buy. The album is very important but the price shouldn't be on the album. The price should be on the talent. Remember you're selling your craft first, not the paper it is printed on. This is what I said again. It's the paper, I buy your four papers, I use graphic studio, that's my product. But what I put on that paper is totally mine. That's what I produced. So I'm gonna give you example here. This is how we charge. Photographer A, this is a new photographer. He thinks he'll be alright with $1,000. Sorry I'm gonna say he or she, and don't get, you know English language has too many different versions, so all right let's say she. She thinks it's $1,000 is good enough for me as a profit. Then album, $800 with a profit maybe 30 percent, 50 percent. Who cares, even if I don't make any profit on the album. The total is $1,800 and then you sell extra pages at a $50. This is all example, it's not what we do or what we charge. So this photographer is happy to make $1, but what the great thing about this photographer against the guy who (mumbles) USB? They're giving a tangible product. When you give something, someone likes your work, they will come back. I said recommendation is the most important part of the business. So if they look amazing album and they say, people will not look how much they've paid. The same photographer improves and becomes a better photographer, so talent again. If you like Yervant, this is my price. This is how much I charge. Album, okay I can give you discount on the album but not on my talent. I need to make this every week to survive. So this is my cause; album or the extras, extra pages, can happen. We can do it. Now the same photographer improves and he says, my value now is $5,000, this is my talent. I hired a plumber, came to my home. I knew what the problem was but I can't be bothered. So I said can you fix it? There was a hole in the tubes. Put two tubes together, cut it, put a bolt in the middle, put it together. $800 and 80 cents. Great, $800 and 80 cents. On the bill, $800 service. 80 cents parts. How can you bargain with this person, you know? This person is giving free album. Free album, you pay $5,000 but I'm not charging you anything for the album. I'm charging you for my talent. Now if you like my work, how can you go and argue with this photographer? You don't like their work. And say, give me discount. Yervant is $5,000. You're paying Yervant for his talent. So you like Yervant's work? Oh he even gives me a free album. You see this is how we book now with our clients. This is how we base ... You want Yervant? This is my price. I will be happy to shoot your wedding but if you want to bargain, what are you going to bargain? I'm giving it to you free. Nothing to bargain, this is my cause. There's only one Yervant. So ... No. Is there another option? And then this is when you start to make money. This is based on 30-page albums. I just took number, it's all example. Let's assume you're selling a 30-page album, 30 pages, 15 spreads. With album companies, most of them the basic album comes with 15 page. So you're selling that. Either you sell per image, so price how much you want to charge an image. Or you can pay, charge as a spread. At the moment we charge per page. So we charge this page and this page. She can't have this without this, so it's all connected. See the secret is also if you produce amazing work and if you produce a lot of images, it's gonna be really hard for her to eliminate. So easily this is gonna go up, and easily you're gonna have a big sell. You see this is how it changes a wedding photographer. So instead of shooting 30 weddings, you can shoot 10 weddings and make more money. So you understand where I'm going to; it's very important. You need to have the cream on the cake. A cake is a cake but if you don't cream it, make it look beautiful, what are you selling? Coffee shops. Coffee shops, most probably they make more money on the coffee than the cake or the thing. You go for a cake and you drink two coffee. The cake is $10, but the coffee is $3 each and how many coffees they sell? And a wedding photographer needs a lot of coffee to sell and where does that come? We need to have prints, we need to have upgrades to the album, you know. You can have a leather cover, you can have a prospects cover, you can have this. Have it all displayed in the room. After selling your talent you now have many opportunities. Profit from each kind, you know. After we book them we send the bride a boudoir invitation, if she wants a boudoir gift for her husband. Cha-chink. Another sale. It start to build. Upgrade to leatherette album to better paper, better covers. Again, more. Upsell. More pages, parent's books, you know. Every time we take an order, after the order is taken, signed, we send a mail to the bride and saying, "Why don't you buy a copy of the same book "for your parents?" it's special now. If you don't call the client, if you don't follow up you're never gonna get them. They don't know because they didn't know we do children photography because we never promoted because I didn't want to do. Now that Danny's doing it, they're coming daily. So you need to tell them you do it. People don't assume you do it. Offer them one, two for the price of one or something. Always create, now you're building up your sales. Let's assume you did the $5,000 initially with the album. Now you have to increase that to reach 6,000, 7,000, $8,000. Important, very important thing also is my studio has three packages. Three packages. The basic package which is the minimal. The middle package and the top package. When you have three packages, people don't go with the cheap package. They go with the middle most probably. But if you have a good sales person and do a top sales, already you reached where you want to go before the wedding. So now it's up to you to make it even bigger. But when the client comes and they've spended money they forget that they've spended money. So they're happy to add more pages and things so that way it's much easier to go from this package to the top package than from the top package to even higher. So always do the right selling. We tell of you, you know that it's gonna happen. Try to sell them, "Look sweetheart, "if you get this, this has more pages, more things. "It's worth it to buy this." She loves you, she's not gonna change her mind. She's gonna push the guy to say; so sometimes I always think we should put the Playstation in the studio, get the guy to play with the Playstation so we can do business with the woman. (audience chuckles) You have many more opportunities to profit from each account, so an account should grow. Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. You know I have 20 families in my studio for the last 20 years. Every year we do an annual book of the family and we put a date on the spine of the book, so they can't miss a year. What happened that year to the family, you know? I know that 20 clients have an annual book of their family, so this is permanent business for me even if I don't shoot any weddings. So if you create the extras, and that's what happens. Every business has the extras. Go to dress, dress shop. Beautiful dress but, shirt and everything, but you can't have it without a tie. You have to buy a tie, maybe cufflinks. Better shoes and something and you end up, instead of paying $50 you end up paying $500. Oh and one minute you think, "Oh, I overspent", but the next thing, "I look cool, I look great." So it's great. It's very important to do other things. We do portraits on the day, I'll explain that. Pre-wedding shoot, guest book, we do guest books, so they can engage them in book. Instead of putting a crappy little book, they'll have a picture book so the guests can sign. So we have so many extras to sell after a wedding. Okay now let's go ... To more business. Bridal party. What you think? I took the shots. I take them to a bar. I buy them drinks. Look at them, they're having fun, they're enjoying and all I'm doing is clicking. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight couples. Eight people there. Potential each one of them is gonna get married. If I look after them, buy them drink, good. One good thing I've done. You know I take them trendy places, buy them the drink, don't worry guys, have fun then take the couple away to do more shoots. I leave them there, have a drink, my credit card is there. Sometimes they take advantage and buy expensive drinks. It doesn't matter. But at the end of the day, I take also pictures of each individual. When we added the falls, I print one big picture for the bride. The one I want, you know something like this. She might never choose this, because you can't see your face, whatever. I will create perfect finishing. I will do, there's four bridesmaids here, I will do four prints, all matted. And I will send them as a gift with the message at the back saying, "Thank you very much, "you were such a great bridal party. "My details." My details at the back. This is my business, this is how they come to my hands. Each one of them is potential client. If they like me the way I think. I bought them drinks. I took great pictures, I send them a gift. Usually the gift will be an individual shot of the couple while they're drinking or, casual, relax, journalistic picture. Black and white, easy, just print it. I have in-house printings, that's why I said printing is so important. With nice deal and thank you at the back with my address. Even if the bride doesn't want to give them my detail because she wants me to herself, they will have the details there. So if I book two out of this bridal party, that's what I need, two out of each wedding. Sometimes we end up having five, six recommendations from a single wedding, because of that. Cost-wise, printing ... Doesn't cost me much. Two dollars each, maybe three dollars with the mat. $10, $15, but she already has a proof because we put our proof online. So she has a picture to show off. Wow, I imagine how the rest is gonna be. So before she orders already, she's seeing a result. It's in her house, and her friends are getting pictures. Yervant at the back, so it's fantastic. Yes sir? Are you getting the bridal party's addresses in the contract? No, no I don't. How do you deliver this? I don't want to be that intrusive, you know, I don't want to bother them. We will package beautifully, and when we hear the bride and groom are back from their honeymoon, we send the package to them and put the message with each one of them with their names on it, so she can pass it to her friends. If she doesn't like one of them, then you've lost the sales, but. The most time it's okay. So this is ... overall $100 or less. Best advertising I used to pay heavier in magazine. This one I'm sending to them their own picture. How good this can be? And try to make a nice picture whenever you give and it creates quite a nice advertising for you. One of the most important thing in my studio is portraits on the day. We've been doing this for many years now. What we do is we offer the couple ... mom and dad paid the wedding. I say, "Sweetheart, mom and dad are gonna "pay your wedding. "Why don't you give them a nice gift? "A picture of you guys as a gift." That's a big picture, charge a lot of money. Print it, because my studio prints in-house, we print it, frame it in the house. Before the reception during the speeches we deliver the print in the house at the reception. Groom inviting parents to give the portrait. Happy father holding the portrait and walking around and happy father offers, say next please! It's all part of service. This is all sales done ... just before we started to sell albums. It's so important you know, all these things and now a couple come home, "By the way, yeah, it's $5, "but let's calculate it so we want portraits on the day. "We have to add that. "Oh I have two parents who are divorced, "so we have to make extra ones. "And can we do some for the bridal party?" So you see, you increase your sales. It's all about, you know, this is why being a full-time photographer having a studio, this is what helps you to make your coffee money. The coffee money's the cream on the cake, that's the extra where I can invest into the future, my children or wherever it is. So it's very important that yeah, it's $1, but when you give a discount, it's only $1,000. But when you do things like this, it goes unlimited. Wherever your client want to go. It can't be done in this country, no one wants it. If you don't try it, you don't know it. This country's a big country, everyone uses United States to sell products. Why can't we photographers do the same? If we're talking about USA, there is plenty of business. We need to go where the business is. Attract the right clientele. You can only do that if you have individuality, if you have a style. If you are creative, you can do that. And wedding photography, all the same, don't you get bored? No, I don't get bored because every time I shoot a wedding, it's a different person. So I don't get bored.

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Ratings and Reviews

Claudia Montero-Kubli

I love it!!!!!! I am so inspired, I learned a lot! thank you Yervant for sharing your Talent with us this two amazing days! Thank you to all the CREATIVE LIVE staff you are awesome!!!! best time! I want to come again!

a Creativelive Student

I am SO grateful to CreativeLive as well as Yervant for taking the time to put on this class. So many times while sitting in this class I thought to myself "what have I been thinking?!" I have so much to learn! I loved hearing about Yervant's process for creating images, but what inspired me even more was his advice on how to view, and treat yourself as a professional. I completely agree when he said photographers are creative but we are "terrible business people." But I aim to change this in my business from this point forward, thanks to this class! Yervant's advice on how to value, protect, and sell your art is priceless. I have always valued printing and creating products clients can hold, but I don't think I understood the real emotional value in it until this class. When he pulls those images we just watched him create for the last two days, off of that printer, and they are there before our eyes, I had an emotional reaction to it. I want my clients to experience the same, so I must value it and create opportunities to educate my clients. Thanks for the kick in the pants that we all needed Yervant! And I hope this will not be the last time I get to experience your education in my life. I said this many times to other students during the class, but I will say it again here, I want to carry a mini Yervant with me every where I go! Thank you Creative Live and thank you Yervant!

a Creativelive Student

Yervant’s ardent love for wedding photography and capturing his brides in their best light is unquestionable. His love for this photography community and his regard for our respect in the world hierarchy is without reservation. Yervant’s willingness to share his knowledge and skill for all these things to come together is beyond generous. These are some of the things that help Yervant to effortlessly stand out as a photography master and this is exactly what this class is about… plain and simple.

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