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Defining, Understanding, and Connecting to Your Clients

Lesson 6 from: Master the Business of Photography

Sal Cincotta

Defining, Understanding, and Connecting to Your Clients

Lesson 6 from: Master the Business of Photography

Sal Cincotta

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Lesson Info

6. Defining, Understanding, and Connecting to Your Clients

Next Lesson: Legal Issues


Class Trailer

Day 1


Class Introduction


The Agenda


Why You Will Fail


The Changing World We Live In


Biggest Competitors For Weddings and Portraits


Day 2


Defining, Understanding, and Connecting to Your Clients


Day 3


Legal Issues


Day 4


Shoot and Share vs Shoot and Sell


Day 5


Pricing Your Work Part 1


Day 6


Pricing Your Work Part 2


Day 7


The New World of SEO


Day 8


Social Media - Facebook


Day 9


Social Media - Instagram & Pinterest


Day 10


Building a Better Portfolio & Attracting the Right Clients


Day 11


Proactively Developing Vendor Relationships


Day 12


Get More Publicity


Day 13


Booking More Portrait Sessions


Day 14


Booking More Weddings


Day 15


Understanding the Initial Sales Consultation (In-person vs Skype)


Day 16


The Engagement Shoot - Shoot To Make Money.


Day 17


Engagement Pricing and Sales


Day 18


Destination Shoots


Day 19


Working With & Training Second Shooters


Day 20


Growing An Alternate Brand


Day 21


The Wedding Day Timeline


Day 22


Managing The Wedding Day


Day 23


Post Wedding Sales and Pricing


Day 24


Post Production - A Real World Workflow


Day 25


Wedding Albums - Their Importance, New trends & Selling Them


Day 26


Ways Not To Suck At Customer Service


Day 27


Video - The Future of Story Telling for the Photographer


Day 28


Packaging & Final Delivery To Your Clients


Day 29


Lessons Learned - Where I Have Failed Over The Last 8 Years


Day 30


The Journey Of You


The Journey Of You: 30 Day Plan


The Journey Of You: 60 Day Plan


The Journey Of You: 90 Day Plan


Student Examples


Interview with Warren McCormack


Interview with Lenny and Melissa Volturo


General Q&A


Lesson Info

Defining, Understanding, and Connecting to Your Clients

All right, so now what I want to do is talk about our clients right without the client, nothing else exists and all too often what we hear about is how do I find the right client? And it doesn't matter whether we're talking about wedding seniors, families, babies just because someone wants pictures taken just because someone's getting married just because someone has a baby doesn't make them our client and so that's, the first thing you've got to get through your head, I talk about this all the time and it's interesting, because even in, like, the shutter fast group, if you go in there, people are like, hey, check out this scenario and as they're explaining the scenario, the challenges they're having with this potential client, right, the client calls in and they say I want, you know, cd of images for forty nine dollars, I would make the argument that that's not my client, so why are you trying to make them your client right? Just let them go walk away, consider yourself lucky that you...

don't have to deal with them for the next however many months, especially brides like we all have this this problem in our business and it's never going to go away when we talk about weddings were talking about there's two point one million weddings in the united states every single year two point one million that's a factual number this comes from, like the not from wedding wire from things like that. Right? So with two point one million weddings in the u s every year, how can any all of them be your client? Right? So it's just kind of bell curve there's, low end budget brides just like there's low in budget clients who want portrait. They could go to the portrait people writing to the portrait people for nineteen, ninety nine and get a million eight by tens printed right there instantaneously but what's the what's, the difference there between them and your studio. Well, you've got a seventeen year old taking pictures right there walking around little squeaky toy on top of their camera, which I would never do. They even make that stuff. You can put it around your lens, it's like a little squeaky. I would shoot any of you if you did that in your business, somebody would have to put me down. Imagine salve running around now he's got this little squeaky toy around around his lens, making kids laugh. God. So these are not your clients, right? We've got to start understanding who is the client and so is part of pre registration for everyone out there, we gave five tips so if you haven't downloaded that you should get your hands on it five tips to figuring out who your client is on howto book more clients this is very very important so take out that worksheet and start thinking about these things right who are they where do they live what brands do they buy are they are they are you even your own client often enough we've run into people go I would never pay that much for photography any of you guys feel that way you wouldn't pay what you're charging other clients I'm not even sure I would pay what I'm charging my clients for for top for photography right and so that's ok it's ok to not be your own client just know it if you don't know it that's when you start getting into this conflict where you start feeling bad about charging money for what you're doing you we can't feel bad you're gonna hear me say this over and over again during this entire course we can't feel bad for making money I don't want to be a starving artist is there anybody in here? It was like that's so glamorous I want to be a starving artist I don't want new equipment I don't want to take a nice trips I don't I don't want it I don't want to go on vacation I don't even want to retire that shit is crazy who wants to retire someday so if none of us want that, why do we feel so bad? Charging the right amount of money for our services? We've got to stop feeling bad about that and I don't know if it's feeling bad is the right word or justice inherent guilt, but the mindset is there we think that way we think it's a bad thing to want to want to make more money in charge, people we feel back, anybody here feel bad? You guys ever feel bad? No, never like that mike was like, no, I want money all the time on that's fine, I don't feel bad, by the way, and so you know, but I run into people for tigers all the time they're like, I just want everybody to love me. I want everybody to love their images, I want everybody to have their you're hiding your face right now, you're guilty of this, stop the madness, right? Like it's, okay, I want them to love their pictures. I want them to have all their pictures on their wall, but I want to retire more than I want them to have pictures on their wall, right? They don't walk into best buy and buy a new sixty inch tv for two or three thousand dollars and the best by employees like I feel so bad for you take two tvs right but yet you're probably doing that you're like, you know what if you buy one campus I can give you three free and we'll come in and clean your house and we'll hang it for you and we'll even barbecue forty later on you can't do that you have to you have tio just understand you are a business and that's the key part there how are they being marketed to howard? What products are they lusting after? So these are the kind of questions in this segment I want to cover and dig into because this exercise whether you think you got it figured out or not this exercise is going to set the tone and set the pace for your business and that's really what this courses is truly about right? Many of you have been following what we've been preaching for years but you're hitting snags you're hitting roadblocks and some of these roadblocks are going to be the little list things for you, right? So in the beginning when you're starting off in photography your sponge you're just absorbing everything right? You're like f stops so lighting uh business marketing logos but then is your business starts maturing and progressing? You're making smaller and smaller changes right? So when you think about your business and beginning a hockey stick okay it's just your ramping everything is new, everything was exciting thing about trade shows right so when you go to a trade show your first year at a trade show, it is like being a kid in a candy store everything is changing your life when we went toe you know my first trade show never forget it was a w p p I I'm going back like six years ago seven years ago me and taylor went and we had to split up to go to all the courses and we had our no pad oh my god, we were just taking notes about everything everything everything we'd come back, we'd sink up over coffee and we have like twenty or thirty pages and notes that we had taken on new things we're going to do that's normal that's how you grow your business in the beginning then you know, rewind way we're still learning I still go watch speakers but I don't learn as much from them right it's smaller incremental changes so I might go watch a speaker and he might say hundred things in his course but only one resonates with me that's okay that's the mindset is you ensure his entrepreneurs as you mature is photographers don't think you know it all that's the worst thing we can all do by the way and if you guys follow me you know I'm still learning I'm still evolving I'm still going out there and shooting practicing off camera flash changing my editing techniques, changing my lighting techniques because I want to continue to grow and evolve as an artist and business person as well the minute you think you know it all your business goes from growing right to declining and looking corporate america it's not just us it's every business out there on the planet any business that thinks they own the market starts declining it's those companies that are new innovated looking for what's next those are the companies out of thriving that's the company you have to be and in order to do that what I'm talking about you have to understand your client the client is the most important piece in this entire equation is understanding some of these key elements so that's kind of if we dig into this I'm gonna force force you I want to know who do you think your your client is so rob I'm gonna put you on the spot but do you think your client is somebody who has some disposable income affluent maybe could be a doctor a lawyer on also someone who values artwork okay so I don't want someone who just like I just want to document my day I want someone who really wants something creative okay that's good you're almost there I don't agree with you but I'm gonna I'm gonna talk there michael anything what what uh what do you consider your client after the kind of grief rob, I think my clients definitely someone who values photography where that's their number one concern whether be wedding day or portrait's also who's willing to spend the money toe have good photography okay, good wendy, what do you think you're you think you're my client is the woman and she will find the money for what she wanted like I said that well really we find that the woman is the decision maker you're right and so often she's the one that fight makes the final yes or no decision for us very, very true, so don't let taylor find out about that I really don't want to go into her head she's going to call no perfect so let's talk about this for a second because some of you are almost there it's these little incremental changes to two things you two said it right? Michael and rob to things you said is affluent I think you're wrong, right? Because it doesn't matter how much money they are we have we've proven this over and over again in our business that people have money for what they want to have money for. I've shot anywhere from ah wedding with a ten thousand dollar budget, all budget everything church food photographer, the reception hall ten thousand dollars you walk in and they've got like sam's club food on the table like you know the thie shrimp platters right like they're like yeah go grab one and it's in this plastic container all the way to a three hundred thousand dollar wedding in new york city where they're coming in on stilt walkers there's a band that's better than any band I've ever seen in my life they have a sushi bar there cigar rollers there how is my studio able to book both of those clients there seemingly in contradiction to one another right because my bride it has nothing to do with how much money they have but you guys hit it on your second point they appreciate photography that's the key that's the one thing so in the spirit of that and I want everybody at home to be doing this here's how I would describe my client here's where several of you missed you don't know enough about your client and so if we look at this my client is twenty five to thirty years old you have to know how old they are are you telling me that you would mark it the same way to a to a bride whose forty as you would to a bride whose twenty never in a million years would you market the same way and by the way don't shone out because you go lots on two weddings it doesn't matter if you do weddings we could be talking about high school seniors we could be talking about you know, family portrait who is your client and by the way, my client for a wedding is completely different than my client for a senior obviously my seniors are now twenty five years old or our education austin has gone to complete crap right? I'm a super senior um and so york my client for a senior my client for families they're all different but this is my wedding client she is twenty five to thirty years old. This becomes really important as we start drilling in the other details seize photography as a priority that's a given they appreciate photography not everybody will remember we said there's two point one million weddings a year in the united states two point one million people do not appreciate photography I run into people all the time who will look at a picture and they're like it's okay? Or they got an iphone picture and they're excited about their iphone picture and it's like I look at it, I'm cringing, right? Right? I'm like all the lighting's off look at this, you know, amateur but nobody cares and we'll talk about more more of that later they're paying for a majority of their own wedding rewind right go back five, ten years ago who's paying for the wedding parents the parents were paying for the wedding that is not the case today at least not for my bride the bride's air paying for their own wedding or a majority of it not to say the parents aren't thrown an extra five or ten grand, but this bullet point becomes really, really important and understanding your client because don't just write down that bullet and be like, oh yeah my bride's doing that to your bride is not my brother, right? So you can't just copy this you need to understand your bride my bride is paying for their own wedding why is this so important? Was the decision maker the bride is the decision maker so when mom comes to me and she's like oh, can you do me a favor? Can you take that picture where she lays down on the ground and all the bouquet flowers around on all the bridesmaids are holding the flower around her face no, stop talking, mom, we don't want to hear from you, right? The bride doesn't want that she didn't hire me for that the bride wants a modern twist on her day she wants to look like they look in the fashion magazines that's what they want and so she's a young working professional this is all starting to come together that's how she can afford to pay for a majority of her wedding why is this so important? Because she's not a stay at home mom rewind ten fifteen, twenty years ago, women are earning is much, if not more money than men in the household. They went into your point are controlling the purse strings without a doubt. So I'm just I just came in from new york, right? I was up there. I had an engagement shoot up in new york. My client's flew in from st louis to new york for their engagement session. Okay? And I'll never forget this couple. We had a great time with him, by the way, and we'll talk about doing destination engagement shoots later on for our engagement. You just walking through manhattan eating right? We're getting pizza. We're getting dirty dogs in the street having a blast photos showing my groom got hit by a cab and it was awesome, right? I put him in the middle of street on sixth avenue. Light turns red. I'm like, go, go, go and we're taking these pictures with the with the skyline down in the background down sixth avenue, right and the cab's start rolling up because it's, still a red light caps are rolling up on the pictures or just even better because you got the yellow behind them and all of sudden the light turns green and the new york city cab drivers you start honking on the horn and the one nudges him like hit hit nudges him from behind so the groom turns around and punches the fender of the car creates a huge dent in the car starts yelling and the cab driver walks away. Now most of you are probably watching and listening going oh my god! Is he serious? Yes, I'm dead serious this happened my groom will never forget that moment good matter and different he's always going to be like remember that time in new york city when I got hit by a cab? Yeah, I do it we got the pictures of it as well and the best is elissa who's, my second shooter she's there on the corner yelling at me she's like green light green light green light she's screaming because now all the traffic's coming the people around are watching they're laughing because she's screaming at us in the middle in the middle of the street but it creates these memories and so where am I going with all this? He did want to book me. I remember my initial meeting they're into us for fifteen thousand dollars right now as it stands today there doing full photography are black label package and full video I remember our initial meeting we sit down in the initial meeting, they come into our studio on dh I'll never forget he's sitting there like this he's just annoying, is it? You want to be there when you want to hear anything we have to say because he found out she'd already given us a deposit, she never even talked to him. She gave us a deposit. She was merely bringing him in as a formality to say, I guess I'll let you be part of the wedding. She had already committed to that, right? So he comes in and he says this to me, so now we're wrapping up our shoot and he goes, I'm just going to be honest with you because I don't want to book you. In fact, I was effin pissed off when I found out she booked you. I'm like, okay? And I don't know where this conversation was going, he goes, but I gotta admit, this has been the best experience of my life is what he says to me in the middle of new york city because I didn't even want to come up here in new york city, I thought was the most ridiculous thing in the world. Why can't we just take pictures in st louis? Because but this day has been incredible because I'm giving them an experience. I'm not selling pictures, right? You guys hear me talk about this all the time. I'm selling an experience, but what is that experience mean? I don't know it depends on what you're doing my experience apparently is getting my client's hit by cars in the middle of the street your experience could be whatever you want it to be but at the end of the day you've got to have fun with the client right? So we're walking through new york city I'm buying them lunch right? I'm buying them I'm buying them pizza they were blown away just that small gesture of buying them pizza they're absolutely blown away buy something small is that right? Maybe you're sending them a bottle of wine as a thank you they're blown away by stuff like that so you have to start thinking about things like that as it pertains to going after your client. Okay, is this making sense? They realized the importance of a wedding album that's also my client how many of you are on out there are not even selling wedding albums because you believe your client doesn't want them and I'm here to tell you they want them you have to explain to them why they want them and so we're gonna talk more about that they're spending money on pictures, they're spending money on albums, they're just doing it at sites like shutterfly they're cutting you out of the equation and to think you don't need to be part of that is crazy you are the professional you know how to edit you know how to design you know how to deliver archival quality products shutterfly doesn't that's not where I want my client's going so we have to start educating them and looking for them to understand they're looking for that and that important memory their current on trends in fashion my brides are very very trendy very very modern wise that's so important because look at my shooting style all of us have different shooting styles by the way and that's okay but my shooting style is a little bit more urban a little bit more edgy right? How many people typically want take their client put him in the middle of the street more than likely a photographer wants to go to a park it's nice controlled environment I love the chaos that's my thing so I'm looking for clients who appreciate that you've gotta look for clients who is your client and then finally they want to brack think about it this way louis vuitton I always talk about louis the time what's the brand you appreciate is that louis vuitton is it coach whatever the brand is it doesn't matter whatever that brand is to you you've got to start understanding how that plays in to your overall brand right because my bride wants to brag about it she loves telling her bridesmaids I hired south giancana and if her bridesmaids were to say who's that that would be the most disastrous thing to my business would be the most disastrous thing because that means she just paid can you imagine if she bought into luton and she went showed her girlfriends and she said, oh, what do you guys think of my new bag? And they were like, where'd you get that wal mart? You understand that can't happen, so that can't happen in your studio as well they have to there has to be this identity to your brand they have to want to brag in fact my bride's will book me because they know I'm more expensive they love showing off to their friends to seem like a crazy thing it's all psychological this's all human behavior and so in the spirit of that I ask you out there I asked you here who is your bride? We have to understand who that person is in order for you to connect with him. This becomes extremely important because everything we do from this moment forward, our marketing or advertising he's got to match this this demographic because I'm not going after people who are having a second wedding that's not my bright as not who I'm looking for doesn't mean I don't hire I don't book people for having a second wedding, but eighty percent of my clients fall somewhere in here now some of you are going to say well do they hit every bullet of course not they're not gonna hit every bullet that this is more of a guideline of a framework I can sniff out my bride a mile away I know who she is where she is how she dresses on and that's becomes really really important is this all making sense any questions about this and so it is really about averages so I will I'm going to put more pressure on you rob in the spirit of this who is your client now who would you say they are you can't copy everything I um I would definitely say I just actually had this on experience recently with a bride who that I spoke to a bridal show and unless my fact I shared it with you the email about the family heirloom she specifically put in the email I love your family heirloom speech because that's how you pitched it to her right that's how I pitched it to and she totally like that's what she was looking for so I know that this is a really good match you know despite the fact that like you said she may not have a lot of money or I don't know what she actually does for a living but she values photography and she certainly values the products that I offer and that's the key and so noticing all this nowhere in here am I talking about how much money they make there's no demographic data here there's no demographic data or sales data to say my average client spans fifty thousand dollars on a wedding it's not here because doesn't matter people have money for what they want to have money for this has to drive the point home of understanding or getting to the place where you truly understand your clients. And so, like I just said, well, every client match every bullet no never it's not gonna happen if it does that's when you're like you've won the lottery okay? So it's not uncommon for people to come back in and be see photography is a priority that one is ninety nine percent going to ring true, especially for me in the st louis market. I'm one of the most expensive photographers there in that market, so for someone to book me, they really have to want photography. I rarely have people book me who are completely indifferent and as we go through this course, you'll understand why it's so important that they see photography is a priority. So if you've ever had time on issues where you have a client that won't give you time, this won't happen if they see photography's a priority, the client you see, photography is a priority they're willing to change your entire timeline around whatever you want we see that wedding after wedding after wedding they're like, whoa what what do you want to do? They'll ask me that what do you want it I'm like well, if I could get about two hours for creative pictures they'll start adjusting things they'll miss their entire cocktail hour they'll push dinner back that's somebody who sees photography is a priority then I have clients who come in and meet with us and we can tell immediately they're not willing to budge we have timeline discussions during the initial consultation we're having this conversation with him and they're like well, you know we want to be there for the cocktail hour that's really important to us really snack food is important you you're you're paying me ten grand and snack food is important you you're probably not my client you're in here for all the wrong reasons how'd you hear about us? Oh well my friend used you and she she she really really recommended you that's cool I like referrals but you're coming to me for the wrong reason how did you hear about us? We saw you work online fell in love with your work I have to have something like that in my home that's my bride that's the right client um it's an interesting phenomenon we see this with seniors as well I tend to start booking brides who don't fall into this beyonc photography's a priority because they want to look beautiful maybe they're not trendy maybe they're not fashionable. Maybe they're not beautiful. Maybe they've never had a portrait taken that really showcases them, but they want to look like people look in magazines, it's an interesting thing because they're willing to spend more money to be part of that. I don't know kind of group, click or whatever it is. You know what I mean? It's. Like the popular group in school. That's. A good group to go after two. And we see that more and more with high school seniors. And so in the spirit of that let's, talk about our senior client booze. Your client, right? If you're not doing high school seniors that's fine. Plug in here. Portrait plugging here. Glamour photography. Who is your client? Follow this formula. How old are they if we were talking about glamour photography, how old are they? Are u doing glamor photography for the twenty something? Where you doing? Glamour photographer for that forty something year old woman whose kids just went off to college. She's been about her kids for the last twenty years. Now it's about her is that your client knows I'm not talking about money. We're talking about people. What kind of people are you targeting with your advertising, because if we don't understand this let's let's take extreme my senior klein is a seventeen year old girl so if I want to advertise to my senior client should I take a glamor photo of a half naked forty year old woman and put it into a high school senior campaign? Sounds completely absurd to do something like that yet on a much smaller scale we do that as photographers as marketers we put the wrong image with the wrong copy right? Going after the wrong demographic you have to understand who your target is so my high school seniors a seventeen year old they start lusting after the brandon about fifteen or sixteen years old it's really, really interesting they're hearing about the brand in high school they're looking up to their seniors right? Does anybody remember being back in high school? I know it seems like it's forever ago, but a forty four years old I haven't forgotten what it's like to have been a high school been in high hazel and as a freshman as a sophomore who were we looking up to? We're looking up to seniors were looking at what they're doing right and we're admiring them what's the same thing the's seniors are these freshmen and sophomores are looking up to the senior class today, right? So the class of twenty sixteen the class of twenty seventeen is looking up to the class of twenty fourteen right now and so they are aware of our brand at a very early age. Parents are typically well off in the community so that the parents are making money doctors, lawyers, business professionals they want the best for their kids. Any of you have teens at home nobody has seen okay, how old? Uh, travels? Your, uh we have sun girl daughter my oldest, actually, his son is sixteen, sixteen years old, so getting ready? Uh, getting ready to sports? Not really, no sports, anything just plays video games, actually. He's uh, he's in the dance, you there's a lot of really keep up dancing things about nature. Ok, so he does hip hop day and stuff like that you send him candy can'ts or training? Or how does he learn? Yeah, I know he does attend classes and he also goes to different workshops when they're in the area. That's what I'm looking for perfect. So think about this. Parents are willing to spend thousands of dollars for, in your case, hip hop, dance, dance training or sports baseball cans football can softball camp soccer camp anything that will give their child a competitive advantage on the field? I can't get a thousand dollars from him for pictures. Yeah, I can average senior in our studio. Spends fifteen hundred dollars midwest st louis blue collar america everybody wants to complain about that will never work in my part of the country. It works anywhere. Stop telling yourself it won't work. Ok? People have money for what they want to have money for. They want the best for their kids. We have to understand this as we're putting together our plan. Kids are the more popular teens, so our high school seniors tend to be the more popular kids in school, right? Because they want that fashion look, somebody who's a little more introverted doesn't really like having pictures taken of themselves. Somebody who's a little more introverted doesn't really want the spotlight on them. Okay, that's just the way life works, eh? So we tend to get the cheerleaders. We tend to get the sports jocks. We tend to get the prom queen. Those are the kind of clients we're going after. That's my client, very fashionable, very trendy. So when our kids come in, they're not coming in with cargo shorts and flip flops. Okay, when our girls come in, they're coming in with suitcases. Swear I don't know where they get all these clothes from there walking in, we have girls come in with two suitcases, taylor tells him to bring about ten outfits. Taylor tells him to bring about ten outfits so they'll bring in I think twenty or thirty outfits and then we have a clothing rack, we hang them all out taylor's they're mixing and matching what they're going to be wearing, they're very fashionable, very shr ending this makes your chute look better, right? I don't think anybody up here is going to put my ideal client hates fashion, they don't know how to dress, they are the most unpopular kids in school and their parents are broke if that's your demographic, you're going to go out of business really, really quick because they're not going to have money to afford your pictures. Okay, so that's, my senior client, would your family client be your portrait client? Be right if you if you go after a family client, you want to identify your demographic just going off the top of my head? I would say the family client that I'd be looking for is someone who hasn't had a family portrait in the last five plus years that would be who I'd be targeting if I were going after family portrait, why would you target somebody who just had family portrait done last year? Why would you target someone whose kids are away at college that's gonna be a tough sell, but so you want to target somebody right who's there whose family maybe they're coming back for a family re union they haven't family portrait and five plus years some families we run into having a family portrait in fifteen years like since the kids were three and then they come in and they're doing their senior pictures and I'll ask appearance was the last time you had a family portrait oh it's it wasn't since the kids were five years old my mom don't you think we should refresh that family portrait so we don't advertise on our website family portrait if you go to my website right now you're going to be one of two things heavy heavy weddings, some senior portrait little to no family little to no baby because that's not who I'm going after my family clients if you will gravitate out of my wedding and my senior clients that's where my family clients come from so I don't really have too heavily market to them it's not worth it to me because a lot of families are looking for that picture people nineteen ninety nine that group on forty nine ninety nine where I get a cd of all the images not my client it's not who I want to work with I don't even wanna waste my time is this making sense now it's again it's an interesting phenomena my senior client is either this right very popular, fashionable seventeen years old or it goes to complete other direction with the pendulum it's, the less popular kids, they're awkward, they're introverted. Everything else is the same. Parents want the best form, maybe they're not the same income levels or social status, but the dynamic definitely changed it's a parent who goes, I want I want a beautiful portrait of my daughter, daughter and that's that actually puts more pressure on me, you know what's easy to shoot a seventeen year old girl who's just right into herself, her hair, her make up confident that's super easy to photograph if you can't make a good photograph there, we've got other challenges that we have to talk about what's hard to do is take someone who's, not confident, insecure, doesn't know how to pose doesn't feel confident about the way they look just in their expression, right? Forget about their body or anything like that. That's the biggest challenge? I love that challenge, though I want to give that person the best gift of all. I want them to look at that photograph and say that is the best photograph I've ever seen of my child, right? Because that means I've done my job, I want to work harder to get that person that great photograph, they want to be part of another circle, they want to be part of the cool kids club remember, this is high school, this is just a reality and so all I'm doing is trying to toe really get you guys to think about the reality that is the world we live in. It's not sounds way it's just reality. We were all in high school. This is how it all worked. There were the popular kids over the cool kids over the not cool kids over the rockers right there, the gothic people, like whatever groups there were in your high school, still exist this day and age. Not much has changed. And so why is this so important? Where they live, where they shop, what brands they buy? What products do they lost? Four. Are you your own client? What? Michael what's going through your head? Why wise this important? I think it's important cause you do have to identify who your client is and more so if you're not your own client, how do you justify paying for? How do you justify someone paying you what you think you're worth let's talk about actually let's talk about that because, yeah, you sit out. But let's actually pause on that for a second. Because a lot of you are probably struggling with that, are you struggling with that? Okay, what are some of the struggles you have stand up tell me what the struggles um I just I do like a lot of wedding clients and I feel like it's just really hard to like related I don't know I can't really we just I feel like it's all over the board and I think it's cause I'm not consistent with my marketing okay fair enough but go back to what you're saying where you're saying I feel like I can't relate yeah, I mean, I've never gotten married, so I like really so it's like I can't really I don't know they're like talking and then a lot of them were having the parents purchase stuff I'm instead of them, so I can't relate to the parents because I it's not like your apparent sometimes were really hard to relate to. I have that hamas well, I'm at forty four years old, I'm still wired probably like a twenty something year old sow I have a very difficult time I have parents had come in that r fifty something years old right now, much older than me and like I can't even connect to the way they're thinking to the way they're dressing to the way they're tiring themselves but let's s so let's keep going with that, so you're having trouble in your mind connecting on two levels one dealing with the parent you think you got some inconsistent marketing going on, but then more importantly you've never you've never been married so they're probably getting all giddy about colors and flowers in your great right I trust only fine so in the spirit of that how do we how do we kind of deal with that situation? Because you're not the only one having it right? I guarantee you there's countless for tigers out there that are in the same boat you don't have to be married to photograph weddings just like you don't have to be ah high school senior to photograph a high school senior but you do need to understand the way they think I'm curious as you're going through this exercise do you do you at least see the need to get more honed in your marketing? Yeah when you're going over like the brands in the products now you're your own client like I could see where I actually a parallel a lot of my clients just they tend to be a little younger than I am so it's it's a little hard but I can understand where you know, knowing what what they get sucked into especially like products and stuff I think you see that that's good and that's what we all have to be able to do but let's talk about are you your own client the minute you know you're not your own client you're already head and shoulders above everybody else it's ok? It is ok to not be your own client you don't have to be but you just have to realize you're not because if you keep trying to do things that you would do and you already know you're not your own client, you're already going down the worst possible path, right? I mean it's just absolutely impossible to ever connect those dots, so in understanding where they live, where they shop, what brands do they buy thes air things that are going to get us closer to our own marketing campaigns? We have to be able to market to that client. I wouldn't want to put an ad campaign together like I said, for a seventeen year old high school senior that showing a forty year old glamour session, I wouldn't want to do that and I noticed some of you you're thinking like that's the most ridiculous thing what is south saying right now I see it over and over again and it's not just with photographers, I'm I would consider myself a connoisseur of business. I don't know how you guys learned I get asked all the time they're like, where do you go for inspiration? It is not the world of photography I think most retirees with worst business people on the planet they have no sense of style themselves they don't understand business, they don't understand trends they are just their artist at heart and there's nothing wrong with that that's just not where I want to look for inspiration coming out of business school I tend to look at corporate I tend to re things like adweek right things that have nothing to do with photography and I tend to look at what our company is doing from a campaign perspective right cos like nike companies like starbucks, what are they doing? I never watch a commercial anymore on tv I'm more tuned into tv commercials that I am the actual programming that's on every time I watch a tv commercial and I want to corrupt all of you now want to ruin it for you I want you to watch a tv commercial mask a couple of things what are they selling where they sounded to ask yourself that question if you don't know what they're selling or who they're selling it to, that means they've done a shitty job marketing now you got to put that same pressure on yourself we all get to his email blast from companies don't we email blast hit our inbox some worse than others have you got an e mail blast from like your local people sorry to pick on local people but it's just it is it looks like they jumped back into the nineteen eighties when the internet was first created right, I like, who is doing your advertising campaign? It's just like different colors that make no sense hard block it. Seriously, it's a template. They're dropping something in that they picked up in, like, nineteen, ninety on. They were like, this is cool. I get those emails all the time and I sent it to my team. I say if anybody ever puts out any media like this, you're fired immediately. I'm gonna let go of you because this is horrible, right? So who were they marketing too? I have no idea. Then you get some of those e mails that are super clean. Stylized colors tend to match there's a clear message at the top. Then there's something that sucks you into the body of the email that somebody who knows what the hell they're doing. They know what they're doing. Because I think it's less than, uh, ten percent of all e mails ever get opened from an email. Marketers perspective, right? So we do email marketing all the time we market to you guys, less than ten percent gets open. So if we send out one hundred thousand emails and only less than ten percent could open, I have to start that one extra percent is huge. So I get one more percent to open it up it's a huge number. So how do I do that? I have to make sure I've got a compelling subject line, right? How did I know what this compelling subject line is? If I don't know who the hell my client is, right? And so let's talk about the tigers. If I send out an email that has a hot glamour shot on it, right lot of those emails get opened up. We actually did that. We did a little test and experiment on you guys. Sorry we put one of my bride's. She did a glamour shoot. We gave you the cover of the magazine. We did an email blast on on that to go to the magazine to go to shutter magazine. All right, that's, a photography magazine for those of you don't know if you go to shutter magazine. It was we sent out an email blast and it was thirty five percent got opened thirty five percent. Now if I send out another email that says top ten tips for lighting seven percent gets open marketing tips you didn't know it would help your business three percent it's open marketing tips that's not interesting, nate, half naked women yes, click right and so it's interesting. You have to understand your target, your demographic on who you're going after that's why this is so important if I'm marketing photographers it's a completely different message if I'm marketing to seniors it's a different message family's weddings, different messages maybe you want to put together a campaign of facebook campaign that market's two guys we'll talk about that later, right? But that would be completely different than the campaign that would market to the to the single women okay or to the engaged women and so we have to start understanding this where do they shop, what brands they buy? What products are they lusting for if you don't understand what products are looking for, you're gonna offer the same thing in your studio prints canvas wow exciting got offer more than that and so how can you offer more than that if you don't understand who your client is or what they want and so these are the kind of things we've got to come up with so for example, uh are albums come in a drawer box? Okay, that drawer box not not not a typical clamshell box or an album you know what I'm talking about? You take your album, put it in a box delivered to your client our albums don't come in that typical flip lid it doesn't come in a clam shell it comes in a drawer style box that's your style box came from louis vuitton that was inspired by louisville's baton so if you buy a pair of louis vuitton shoes it comes in a drawer box you never want to throw that away it's got a satin or silk pull tab to open it very high end but we're seemingly high end it's different well, that's the kind of stuff we want to offer for our clients because they're used to that because I know where my client shop I know what brands there drawn into and so now I'm starting to create these parallels this making sense and so I want to go through an exercise with you here and everybody at home watching I want to do something what is your favorite brand doesn't all of us are different? Your favorite brand is going to be completely different than your favorite brand and that's okay, what is it? Write it down I want I want you guys to tell me what your favorite brand is. I also want you to tell me three things you love about that brand there's no right or wrong answer here I'm trying to teach you how to think like a business person. What are three things that you love about that brain? This is going to corrupt you when you're watching tv commercials from from this day forward because you're going to start digging way too far into the messaging you rember that commercial it was like who is it? Who's abi, I shipped my pants. K mart, you guys remember that everybody here remembers that commercial is not funny because they mission accomplished. They wanted to do something that would go viral, but that was part of what they were doing. And if you look at the ad campaign, they had everybody from younger people to older people right there, like an older guy sitting in the back he's like I shit my pants and you know, and so these are the kind of things that get people thinking differently and paying attention to your brand. We have to do those kinds of things too. And so what do you love about that brain? Maybe what you love about the brand is they're whimsical, they're funny, they're humorous, they're aggressive. What is it you love about the brand? If you don't even know what you love about the brand that's, problematic, it's problematic from a brand managers perspective the one thing I would want if I'm the brand manager of nike let's say is I want to build brand awareness. Do your your own brand manager is right? So I'm the brand manager of salvador cincotti photography? What messaging do I want to communicate to my clients? Because this is all subliminal, by the way you probably don't sit there and go you know what I really love about nike? No one would ever think that way, but if I forced you to think about it, it's a good exercise but somewhere subliminally you are drawn into nike you're drawn into starbucks you or drawn into whatever brand but have you ever stopped for a minute to just ask yourself why it's that why that will be the key to understanding who your client is the minute you can kind of decipher that why you can now start thinking like your client and ask the question, why meet why would they spend ten thousand dollars on my studio if you don't know the answer to why they would spend ten thousand dollars on your studio five thousand dollars whatever you want to charge for wedding, you're never gonna get there it's always gonna be this like disconnect I don't know why I can't find my clients I don't know why I can't connect to him you're in your own damn way get out of the way and so how does that make you feel caught out magazine ads for that brand and then are the ads I want to know what you believe when you look at an ad, so tonight I want you to go home and go through this exercise whatever brand you wrote down just google that brand back at home, google that brand right now, right? So the exercise I'm gonna take you through his nike nikes a brand I love I love their brand I've loved it since I was a kid so all I all you've got to do is go up there and go nike ad campaigns, nike golf at whatever your thing is right, what is it that inspires you about that brand and pull some of that out? And so I did this, and I want you ask yourself in those ads. What are they selling? Are they selling a product? Are they selling a lifestyle? Are they selling an image? This is important. What are you selling in your brandon? When you put on marketing piece together, going after brides, what do you really selling? You're selling an eight by ten print. Are you selling a cd of images? Are you selling an image? We're selling an experience. I'm not selling a cd of images. I'm not selling an eight by ten print. I'm selling a fantasy. I'm selling a dream to them. I'm selling them a vision off their wedding day. So my ad campaign has tau convey that vision. And so for me I know exactly what I love about nike, they are aggressive and in your face with marketing, that is very much my style of marketing no holds barred kind of marketing I want to be in your face I want you to remember it I want to piss you off get pissed off I love it I get hate mail every day I laughed at it most of the time you suck. You're not a good photographer I know I saw keep reading my e mails I love it right? And so that's the and and today I want to be in your face with it but not everybody here that's not your brain and that's okay, maybe your styles I'm a softer, you know approach it doesn't matter that's why I want you to go through this exercise they make no apologies for being your face that's the other thing I love about it here's what we are take it or leave it what could be better than that? It's the same for us. You can't make everyone happy as photographers, you absolutely cannot make everyone happy. Stop trying to do it! Stop caring what everybody thinks you know I gotta ask a while ago I think was actually by kenna. She asked me so what's changed in your world but what what got you over that hump and I said to her go, I just stopped giving a shit I just stopped caring what other people thought too often our energy is spent in trying to make everybody around us happy those photography groups that are out there that just hate on everybody oh, you're breathing you I hate you, right? You have those groups in your markets, everybody does right? They just complain, complain plain what? Get rid of those groups, get away from them it's all filled with negativity if it's up to them that the world of retired was coming to an end. It's absolutely coming to an end not true, I just got to step up and rise above it. And so what message are they trying to convey? What product lifestyle inspiration? Use your influencers, the cos you're inspired by right as inspiration for your for your ad campaigns, but we all have to do it in my office, I have a designer and we ripped magazine ads out we take pictures in magazines will go to starbucks, sit there and just go through magazines we'll be like, wow, look at this that's pretty cool now we don't take a picture of it and then recreate the same ad, right? That's horrible what we do is we're using that to inspire our own version of that that makes sense it's really, really easy to do think about these companies spending millions and millions of dollars on marketing market research piggyback on that it's really, really interesting to do stuff like, in fact, starbucks and ah and mcdonald's, we're actually doing something very similar, so for a while, I might have the company's mix match, so I apologize for awhile, you know, before they put in a starbucks somewhere, they do research on the area, right? They're going to do traffic analysis, there's got to be so much traffic through a certain intersection demographic and stuff like that everybody, if you don't realize that, please do they don't just go, we should put a starbucks on the corner, they do research well, mcdonald's or starbucks, I forget which one it was. So I apologize said, well, wherever there's a starbucks, we know they did all that research, we're going to save hundreds of thousands of dollars and not do it, and it just put a mcdonald's in that area. God who's in business week was really, really interesting to see that and so let's piggyback on what some of these bigger companies are doing. And so here the nike ads that inspire me war is the mother of everything right you've got this volleyball person is out there hard, gritty what what is this message conveying to you? Anybody, michael, what is it conveying to you when I look at it, I just get intensity you know from nike this is an athlete this is someone who probably works their butt off to be great and that's what I get when I look at this and I'm not a volleyball player but if you're a volleyball player can you start envisioning that mean you can you think I want to be that person yeah, I want to get out there and I could just do it right? What about this? Prepare for combat look at the ad I'm not saying this should be the way we start shooting weddings, right that's not what I'm convey got your bride out there she's ready for combat on the wedding day so but it's aggressive look at the lighting look at the editing on it that's what starts inspiring me that's what? I start looking at what I'm looking at ads look at the grit on the ad I mean this is well done not only is the photography well done the messaging do you see how clean the messaging is? Prepare for combat that's it have you ever looked at a photographer's ad in a magazine? I mean it's it's really bad they'll be twenty pictures in the ad right call is for our fall special calls for our spring special getting married have a family we do everything why you can't market that way who is your client? You can't put a two page ad together in a magazine or worse yet, a one page flyer in the back your local shopping mart directory and then dump all this information in there and think you're going to connect to your client don't throw up on the piece of paper and then think you're going to connect to somebody you're not gonna connect anybody, they're just going to tune it out. Nike ads boom clean clear message to the point remember, this is my inspiration who is your inspiration? That's what you got to figure out this one was from when I was a kid, but people don't know this, so when I was a kid, I played baseball, college football, college tennis and so when I got out of college, I tried to play some semipro, so I went on what's called the satellite tour I played, I got my ass kicked, I wasn't very good, thank god and then I got my act together and had to get to the real world, but I walk away from that guy tried right? All of us out there, whether it's trying photography, maybe you're working a full time job stop talking about becoming a professional for tarver just do it go do it, take that leap get your stuff together well, this was something that even inspired me as a team so you're going back. This ad is probably from, like, nineteen pilot early nineties somewhere in that range, late eighties, early nineties. Even then, this was nike's marketing hit the ball as loud as you can. They were trying to shake up the world of tennis that was super convert conservative, super traditional. Right? Nike just came out and said, no, we're going to rock and roll tennis what's your brand who's, your target who's your demographic I would say nike new in this campaign who their demographic was it was that young twenty something that was trying to maybe convince them to start playing tennis. Look at nineteen tiger woods, right? Tiger woods, african american golfer there, it's helping them bring african americans intothe world of golf, something that has predominantly been white males. Nike trying to bring teens into this super conservative like, stuffy feeling world of tennis. These are the kind of things we have to do with our marketing and advertising is making sense. And so again, why does this all matter? So as we wrap up this segment okay, we got to start asking ourselves. Okay, sally's been teaching us all this stuff. Why does it matter? What am I going to do with it? We need to understand how marketing influences us okay, because our marketing is going to have the same effect on our clients it's super super important that we understand that what what pieces we put out our going how they're going to influence our our brides are high school seniors but how can you understand how you're going to influence those people? We don't know who those people are and so I'm just curious just nod your head you have to get up or say anything you guys are you starting at least think about who exactly your client is you have a better understanding of it or this same is when it was when you got here but talk to me what do you what you got? Stand up, don't kill yourself on the, um I'm in the photography for a much shorter time than probably a lot of other people are here so, you know, when I first got into it, most of my bride's just they wanted a photographer not necessarily photography. So now I'm starting trying to make that term where people were actually looking more at the work body itself and, you know, going that way, which is obviously the way I want to go because the people are going to sell product to outside just the actual isn't helping you wonder, you know, absolutely because it's you it all comes down to, you know, there's only a a limited resource that we all have for marketing so unless you know exactly who you're marking too and how you want to market it you're throwing money well exactly so no that's perfect and that's what I want to hear I want all of you kind of walking out of this segment going okay, I got some work to do right there's a workbook that we've put a get together for everybody at home that you got to be falling along in that workbook and start taking notes and start asking yourself who really is my client if not, I am just pissing money away and when we when we talk about it from a wedding perspective, my my wedding images are typically bigger dramatic images if you walk into my booth right, the images that are in the booth are not accidental, so we don't need to talk about what a booth looks like in a bridal show we've we've beat that to death if you've been following us, you know exactly what our booth looks like, but what pictures go in that booth all lend to the same and result connecting with my client that's how important it is. So when I meet with some of you and you tell me sally been doing everything you're saying but it's not working you know, I I just can't connect with the right client it's because you're missing that little thing you're almost there. Yeah, you got your booth set up. You ordered the diesels you were supposed to order. You got the big pictures you're supposed to order even got a fancy album. But then when I opened that album it's filled with images that make no sense. But if your wedding photographer don't show traditional images if you want to be a high fashion right higher and photography that's not what today's bride wants, but if you're going after that forty something year old bride she's in her second wedding nothing wrong with that that's fine that's a demographic that's a target you can go after. The imagery should be different. You know my bride who I book who's, forty something years old on her second marriage. She doesn't want the same imagery that my twenty something year old brooke bride ones I've gotta adapt to that. I'm going to take that money, macon no mistake about that. I want that bride. I'm gonna book her, but I've got to make sure I'm adjusting to get closer to toe what she wants. How do you want them to feel when they look at your images, your sight, your marketing? These are questions you have to answer if you're not answering these questions. Once again you've sat through this segment and you're learning nothing because you can't just walk away from here and do nothing there has to be an action plan that you're going to put together so how do you want them to feel when they look at your ad? What emotion are you looking to evoke love, sadness, happiness you know think about ah typical conversation I have with people is you know they looked at my work and they go well you everything's posed everything yeah of course that's my style you know my clients aren't just randomly standing in an open field head to head with the sun flare coming from behind them just through magic. S o you know I'm not a photojournalist I don't want to be a photojournalist I don't pretend to be a photojournalist it's not my goal it's not even what I advertised I don't even market that which is also very important as I'm putting images out there you're not going to see photo journalistic style images on my website so that becomes the challenge what what message do you want them to walk away with wedding motion? So for example, I've seen beautiful photo journalistic images of like a mother looking down the island, you know, with her daughter's coming down and she's crying right and todd's got his arm around her hey gorgeous image absolutely breathtaking image how am I going to sell that? Would I ever put that in an ad? I would not because that's not my bride right? Is that a beautiful image? Yes, but he's a bride gonna put that is a thirty by forty on their wall never never she's never going to walk into our living room like everybody welcome looking my artwork you see mom she's crying she always cries yeah, no problem she takes drugs I mean that's not what we want, right? And so what I want instead is to create an art piece so that when people walk into their home this is what they're going to put on their wall I'm not discounting the value ofthe being a photojournalist I'm merely highlighting for you everything we're going to talk about over this thirty day course is all linked together. The images you put on your web site the images you use in your marketing what you do want an actual photo shoot how you sell in a sales room what products are offering are all interconnected that's where most of you have been following my strategy for the last couple of years fall you do a little bit of this, you do a little bit of that and then the result is different it's like it's a recipe I'm telling you this recipe works we've been doing it for eight damn years we know what we're talking about and so stop jacking with my recipe just stick with it and you'll have your own south and kata franchise in whatever market urine and so I don't understand the don't underestimate the power of profiling your client it's really important that you understand them it's really important understand that they can change who my client was eight years ago is different than who my client is today, and I would probably accept that it's going to be different than who my client is in five years from now. It's going it's going to evolve and that's okay, there's, nothing wrong with that on then. Finally, I've gotten to a point where I can tell my ideal bride doesn't mean she's going to book me doesn't mean she meets the criteria, but I can see you're a mile away. I can tell just by the way she carries herself by the way, she talks by what's motivating her. I can tell who that bride is now, whether I can convert that person or not that's a whole other story. So in the spirit of that in our next segment, we're going talk about legal issues and all the challenges we face. On a wedding day, everything well, not even a wedding day. Everything from model releases two contracts with our clients. But most importantly, because I've talked about legal issues before the real world. Gotsch is that are gonna happen in how we deal with him. So we'll talk about that next.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Master the Business of Photography - Workbook
Master the Business of Photography Slides
5 Tips to Finding and Booking Your Client

Ratings and Reviews

Brandon D

Sal isn't disgruntled and angry like someone below said, and he doesn't have time for people constantly whining about why their business isn't going good. He's from Brooklyn, so he can come across as harsh at first, but after watching several of his classes and even getting to meet him in person and talk a bit I can tell you he is a really nice guy who truly does want you to succeed. He was very encouraging to me after I thanked him for helping me and my business get to where it is now. Growing up, I can remember photographers grabbing us and posing how they wished. They are often in a hurry to get things right, such as at a wedding, so I am not sure why one reviewer stated he would dismiss them. Sounds like he is just looking for a reason to feel powerful. Anyway, this is a great class to get you on track with your business. Yes, its a bit wedding heavy, but the concepts are the same no matter what. Just apply them to your niche and you are good to go.


Amazing course. Sal is such a great photography educator. Terrific course. I'm not usually big on watching business courses, but this course as taught by Sal was terrific. Down to earth, entertaining, packed with real life experiences do's, don'ts and lessons learned. This courses business A to Z and Sal is very entertaining to watch/listen to. Thanks CreativeLive for getting Sal.

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I have been a long time fan of Creative Live and have sat on the fence with all of Sal's classes because I already attend Shutterfest every year and get loaded with valuable information there, so it was hard to pull the trigger on a $300 course that was filmed 5 years ago. Also, in my earlier days of hearing about Sal, I'd heard a lot of negative opinions about how he comes across. Still, I'd heard he's a marketing guru, and my background is in marketing as well, so I really wanted to see what this class was all about. Now that I've finally gotten it, I'm completely blown away. There is just SO MUCH MATERIAL in this class that its actually difficult trying to decide what to implement first! It is good stuff too. It is all about marketing, sales, and workflow. If you're looking for a class teaching you how to take better photos, this one is not it. This is the class that teaches you how to get your work where everyone is seeing it and convincing people to book you and tell their friends about you! Now as far as others have already said... this class is definitely geared toward wedding photographers. Yes there are bits of information that work for other types of photography, but it is so heavily wedding oriented that there might be a better fit out there for another type of photographer. If you do weddings though, this is an amazing class! As far as Sal's personality goes.... he's a New Yorker transplanted to St. Louis. So expect that NYC no BS type of attitude. Susan Stripling is another one of my favorites and she is similar in attitude (and also extremely talented), so if you like her, you should like this. If you have a hard time with her, you might have a hard time with this. Regardless, its stuff y'all need to hear and implement to be successful. Obviously because the class is a bit older, you may have to make small tweaks to a few things (even though he says don't jack with the recipe), but the marketing principles are solid and timeless. Shoot this course is worth it for the SEO advice alone. Just buy it already!

Student Work