Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

Lesson 37 of 48

Sales Strategy for Wedding Sales

 

Creating Your Ideal Photography Business

Lesson 37 of 48

Sales Strategy for Wedding Sales

 

Lesson Info

Sales Strategy for Wedding Sales

Let's talk about weddings. This is a whole different animal. It's an entirely different sales strategy. What do you do and say with your clients to get them to invest in weddings? Weddings are getting more and more and more competitive. You have to have a really definitive sales strategy that works for you as well. When I get a wedding inquiry, it's always an email. I always pick up the phone and call them. I wanna talk to them, I want them to get to know us. At this point in our business, I really wanna screen our wedding clients. It's critical. We had a couple of years with some of our not so favorite clients, and it almost drove us out of the business. We are very particular about the weddings that we accept. I do a mini consultation with them on the phone, "Oh thank you so much for reaching out to us." They usually come to us through our venues that we've partnered with for a number of years, through coordinators that refer them to us. I always say, "Oh my gosh, I love the venue th...

at you're at, "it's so beautiful. "We love the coordinator." Blah, blah, blah. Then I start asking questions, "What do you have in mind for the photography? "What're you doing for your day? "How did he propose?" Just getting to know them. One of our favorite things, one of our couples proposed through a fortune cookie, and we were like, "Oh that's so neat." 'Cause they love to go out to eat at different restaurants. She cracked open the fortune cookie and it said, "Will you marry me?" One of the little things that we did whenever they came in to meet with us to decide if they wanted us to photograph their wedding was we had fortune cookies that said, "You have found the photographer of your dreams. "We can't wait to create memories for you at your wedding." Little goofy things, but it showed ... Of course they booked. It showed them that we cared enough about them, we heard their story and we really wanted to go the extra mile for them. Mini consultation on the phone, learn as much as possible as you can. I can't tell you how much that personal interaction makes a difference in any part of business. Then, walk them through the pricing information on the phone. That's the number one filter, either they have the budget or they don't. That's where people start. Then, walk them through why each of these things are valuable. For our wedding packages, again we keep them really simple. We offer seven hours of coverage with Peter and I because that's how I long I want to be at a wedding. After that, I don't want to be there photographing. When I talk to our clients, I say particularly, "If you guys have an open bar, "you really don't want us there after seven hours." They're like, "You're right." (laughs) I've set myself up as an expert. I've been to enough weddings to know we're done photographing at a certain point. They have us for the time that they need. We can cover the getting ready, we can do a couple hours of portraits with just the two of them, we can do the ceremony, we can do the important events at the reception, and then we're outta there. I don't want to stay until the car drives away. That's for me to love still doing weddings. I walk them through that. We have seven hours of coverage, we offer a product credit. What I tell them is, "I want you to have something beautiful "that you can hold in your hands from this day. "It's important, "think about what you're gonna pass down to your kids. "You want to have something beautiful for your wall. "Let's make sure we make something outta this. "Not files that're gonna disappear some day." The engagement session, the credit, we do include the digital files with our wedding package. We include an engagement session. It's the best opportunity for us to get to know our clients, to see how they are in front of the lens, for them to see how Peter is behind the lens, so that when we walk in on the wedding day, we can capture authentic, natural, beautiful images. Everybody is comfortable, everybody knows what to expect. They're like "Yeah, I totally wanna do that." What we found over the years, is that's that thing people come in and say, " Yeah, I don't really need an engagement session "and can we take that off the price?" But, when we explain it that way, they're like, "Oh, I am a little nervous "about being in front of the camera for that whole day. "That'll be great, it's like a practice run." Then, of course, we use that as an opportunity to direct them through our portrait sales process and add on an additional sale to that wedding package. Then, lastly, the last thing that's included in our package, is lifetime complimentary portrait sessions. We fall in love with our clients every time we do a wedding. We don't want you to leave after the wedding, we want you to come back, we want to photograph all the great events in your life. Tells people we care, we do care. That's our package. It's really easy. They get to choose what products they want, we make sure they have a budget to do that, we make sure they have the digital files that's what they want. We've set the tone as being an expert, saying, "This is how long we need to be there. "Of course if you need us there longer, "you can add on additional hours, "but rarely does anybody ever do that. "And, it's very expensive." Then, I walk them through the pricing information, I follow up with a call to schedule a consultation, "Come on in." If we have our sales theater, if we don't I follow up and say, "Hey, did you have time to talk to John about "what we went over on the phone? "What're you guys thinking? "Would you like for me to draft a contract "and send that over?" Either they say, "Yes.", or "We found another photographer." It's very simple. Then, we have a consultation once we book with them, either over the phone or in person, however it works with our schedule. Again, we're using that as an opportunity to learn as much as possible about our clients. We want to know what they're interested in. This consultation is where we really dream about the engagement session. I planted the seed about engagement sessions whenever we booked the wedding, but this is another opportunity to say, "Okay, what do you guys want to do? "We can do anything for the engagement session. "We are all over North America for the next six months, "where do you want to meet us? "We've done Death Valley engagement sessions, "we've gone river rafting with a couple "down the Colorado River "and done engagement sessions on the river, "we've done climbing engagement sessions, "what can we do for you?" They're like, "Wow, anything? "Yeah, let's do it." This also gives me an opportunity to talk about products. I don't really do that when we book the wedding, but I use this consultation as the planning consultation for the engagement session, same process. It gives me an opportunity to show them our books, gives them an opportunity to show off wall art, and talk about what they like. Typically, for our wedding clients, I guide them into wall art from the engagement session and book art for the wedding. You want to have a story, a book, for that entire day. You can have more images and tell more of a story. Whereas, a piece for the wall might be better when you're in your normal clothes and doing normal things. That's how we guide our clients. Then, we book the wedding, we email the contract, we collect the retainer, send them a thank you note, and on through the process. Talk big about engagement sessions. I think I told you earlier, that we average for our engagement sessions the same amount as the wedding package. We double it essentially. If we can get our engagement clients to go on a destination portrait session with us, we can make that happen almost every single time. We want them talking big. We call them pre-honeymoons, "Let's go on a trip together. "Let's create something really cool. "Let's spend that money before "it's all used up by the wedding, right? "Let's create something you can keep forever, "instead of all the other things you can spend money on." Really create an experience that's meaningful. One of our clients, proposed with his Grandma's ring and they had to have it resized for her finger and he called us and coordinated with us. He had the ring ready, he was ready to go, she finally got to put it on her finger and we coordinated that so he could surprise her with that during the engagement session. Of course, those were the images that they choose. We did a regular session too, but we were in the background capturing this entire surprise. It was really a neat experience and then of course they needed a book from that because it was a story. It was the sequence of events that happened. We always keep the focus on a book or wall art, whatever the process is, we show 50 to 100 images. It's the same portraits sales process.

Class Description

"If you're struggling to figure out the business process of photography, this class is one of the clearest and most concise I've ever seen. If you're experienced but the business side and pricing are eluding you, you will find clarity here. I own at least twenty CreativeLive courses and hands down, this one explains pricing and strategy better than any others I've purchased or watched live." - Julie, CreativeLive Student 
 
Join Kathy Holcombe as she shares techniques and strategies to develop the photography business you desire. Whether you’re making the leap from part-time to full-time or starting your very first business, the amount of work can be overwhelming. From what products to offer, how much to charge, how to pay yourself or the legal considerations - start ups often sink before clients are even booked. Kathy will show you the ways to grow your business from the start. This class will cover: 

  • Defining what product you are selling and how much you should charge to make a living 
  • Photography business basics and how to track your income compared to other businesses 
  • How to write and create your business plan 
Kathy Holcombe and her husband Peter built one of the top wedding portrait studios in Colorado, then jumped in an RV with the entire family and began traveling the country full-time, and added a successful commercial division. Together they have built multiple successful businesses and have honed in on the important factors that every photographer should consider when building a business. 

Reviews

Lindsay
 

I started my business a year ago with little formal technical photography education. It's hard to admit but I've been winging it, figuring out each small task that goes with photographing a session, editing one, and working with clients as I go. I may be doing things backwards, but now that I feel like I'm more comfortable in those small, specific parts of business, I need to figure out how to make this business sustainable and profitable. Kathy's class felt perfect for this time in my business to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of what I want to focus on and where I want to go (and how much I want to pay myself!). She uses realistic, specific numbers: something that's SO helpful and I feel like I rarely see in the photography community. And she breaks everything down in an organized and easy to understand way. The classes were easy to follow along with and Kathy's positivity and patient manner is inspiring and motivating. The fact that she used to be a school teacher is clear. Thank you so much Kathy (and the rest of the Holcombes)!

Jenny Farrell
 

I am so glad I was able to attend this course in person and receive all the wonderful and practical information Kathy shared with us. I also really enjoyed the connections with other audience members and side conversations with Creative Live peeps as well as the Holcombe family. What an inspiration this family is--lots of practical info, but also a great pep talk to not sell yourself short and get out there and do what you love, but use sound business practice while doing it. Thanks so much for these incredible two days.

Vanessa
 

Fantastic course! Very helpful instruction and how-to guide for anyone considering starting up a photography business. Kathy was an excellent instructor, with a wealth of knowledge and experience. I gained a good understanding of the practical everyday aspects of running this kind of business, and how to create my own vision.