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The Business of Wedding Photography

Lesson 8 of 19

Effective Communication

Vanessa Joy

The Business of Wedding Photography

Vanessa Joy

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Lesson Info

8. Effective Communication

Lesson Info

Effective Communication

So this section I think is fun. And it's fun because communication has changed drastically in the past five years. We don't just communicate to each other with our words, certainly not with long emails, or reading at all like we talked about with millennials. So communication has very much changed from what it used to be. But communication is everything. It is everything. One high end experience that I like to give is I answer questions for my clients before they ask them. Your clients actually shouldn't have to ask you or remind you anything. If they're emailing you saying, "Hey, when am i supposed to get this? What am I supposed to do next?" You're doing something wrong. You're doing something wrong. You should be answering them and letting them know what to expect before they realize that they need to ask it. So answer their questions before you ask them. So this next video that I'm going to show you I send this video to my brides the day after their wedding. It's automated. I'm not...

getting up the day after their wedding. Usually I'm like in a wedding coma somewhere. You know what the wedding coma is like. All right, so I send this video to them after their wedding. (upbeat music) You know it's kind of funny, before I made that video I was sending them an email after the wedding. And I was listing out those things. Do you know how many times I would get a question back. And I would be so annoyed. And I would say, "It was in the email." Right. But the email was a novel. It was a novel. It was so long. They were not reading it. After I started doing that, you know how many times I get email questions from things I already said? Not anymore. Now, I do it twofold. I put that video in the email. And I also write it out. So they can consume it in whichever way is better for them. I've debated on actually finding a way to text that to them the day after their wedding. That would be great because sometimes they don't even look at email anymore, right. Email's becoming a little bit passe to millennials. So maybe I'll just start sending to like their Instagram direct message or something. So you can communicate with your clients through video. It's actually one of the best things that I have done to communicate with them. Because they're not reading anymore. They are hopefully, but not as much, not as thoroughly, and not comprehending as much either. So, here are some ways that you can create videos and you can take all of this text that you painstakingly wrote and put on your website or put in emails and now put it into video form instead. So, I do FAQs. I'll show some of these to you. So, frequently asked questions. Whether it's on your website. That's actually a project of mine that I'm going to change. I have a nice FAQ section. I talk about the gear that I use. I talk about, I don't know, a whole bunch of stuff. But it's a lot of text. And the text is good. It's good on your website. It's good for SEO. But you might not be speaking the same language as your target audience. So, now I'm going to make an FAQs video. I also have an FAQs thing for engagement sessions. FAQs for really whatever. You can make it for anything. FAQs about how to take care of your album once you've delivered it to them. What's next. That's the video that you already saw. You can create a what's next at any point. After you book them. That's a great one. That's actually one of the videos that I want to make. When they book you, a lot of times they book you, and if they didn't have an engagement session with their package you talk to them like 18 months later. Right? Sometimes that happens. So send them a little what's next video. It's almost like an onboarding process. Let them know what to expect from you next so they don't have to ask questions. Wedding tips ones. That's easy. You should be making those already for your social media. So you can put that in emails. You can put that on social. You can, by all means, text it to them if you want to. And payment reminders. That's another way that you're communicating with them. Please. That's probably the easiest one. Like, yeah, pay me. Please. And then social media invites. So one of those messages that I mentioned I send months before the wedding, one of them has to do with a social media. And I used to just send one, and I still do at some point say like, "Oh, make sure you're following me on social media." But what I found was more effective is I send an email that says have you thanked your bridesmaids lately. And in there I have a link to a post I did, I don't know it's like two years old or something, that it says the same thing. Have you thanked your bridesmaids lately. Go ahead and underneath this photo tag your bridesmaid that you want to thank. Tag your bridesmaids to thank them for all that, that you've done. And I'm sure you're not a bridezilla but thank them anyway. And my brides go on there and start tagging all of their bridesmaids. And what does that do? They tell their bridesmaids to follow me. So not only am I getting the bride to follow me but the bridesmaids as well. So that is when I mentioned I have a little bit of like ulterior motives to some of the emails that I send them. That is one of them. And then on top of it communicating in this way, it's just saves you so much time. Get stuff done faster. Answers those questions before they have them. So this is an FAQs video example that I have, it doesn't have to be super complicated. But this is one that I send to them a couple weeks before their engagement session. (upbeat romantic music) So that video has helped answer a lot of questions. And it's helped my engagement sessions be better because now they bring props. Now they're more on time. They don't listen to be unfortunately usually about the tanning comment that's in there. I'm from New Jersey. It's like the land of the fake bake tan. It drives me insane. I have actually an action Photoshop. I call it De-Jersey Skin. (audience laughing) It's just to take out the oompa loompa orange. Anyway, is there a question? All the videos that you've shown us is made with Animoto? Yeah. Even the what's next after the wedding? Yeah. So you're probably looked at that what's next one and the five ways to have fun. It's like that's a different style. Those don't look like the typical Animoto. So Animoto came out with a new video. It's, this one here. It's called the legacy or the memories one. And now they have marketing videos. And the marketing videos have all the text on it. New stuff that they do combining all sorts of new stuff. So you probably notice, those are, those are Animoto? They're Animoto. They're new ones that they came out with. They're great. I use those now way more than I use the slideshow ones. The slideshow ones I still use when I give it to my clients. All right, 'cause I give them a slideshow of my favorite wedding pictures. Of the favorite engagement pictures. And things like that. But the rest of them, they're for me. They're for marketing. So, I need them to be a little bit more, a little bit more poppy. The way that I send emails by the way, I'm telling, I'm basically giving you this massive to-do list, oh yeah, send emails every month. And send this email after the after the wedding. This one before the engagement session. Well, I'm not trying to give you a bunch of work. You should be having some sort of client management system like 17 hats. 17 hats is what I use. It is phenomenal really. It's the first system where I really implemented all of the email marketing in there, the ways of communicating with my clients. I mean, I send them to-do lists. And FAQs. There's questionnaires. It just keeps communication open. And it's done automatically. Or if I want to I can approve things before I send them. So, if you don't know anything about 17 hats you can go to and it gives you a little link where you're able to get a discount on them. The nice thing about 17 hats is it does have baby plans. Because, if you're a newer photographer, you look at a client management system like this and you're like, "Yeah, I don't need that yet. I only have like four weddings this year." Here's the thing. You do need it now. Because if you try to convert to a client management system when you have a bazillion weddings and you've never used this, you're going to take an awful lot of time to do it and it's going to be very painful. A lot of what we're talking about in the business of wedding photography is all about building foundations. We're building foundations for your branding. Your marketing. Your client experience. And you need to do it on the backend too. So building the foundation of a client management system like this, it just grows with you. And gets exponentially better. That's one of the things I can thank my husband for. I asked him, 'cause when I started my own business he already had his for wedding. And I asked him, I said, "What's the one thing that you can tell me? What can you tell me?" He's like, "Well, just get organized at the beginning. Create your system at the beginning because as you grow that system is something that you are going to rely on heavily. And you're really going to need it." This is my lifesaver. So in addition to the emails it's doing your bookkeeping, contracting, invoicing. You know, all of those auto-tips and emails to the bride. Constant communication, lead forms. You know, when leads come in auto-responders to them. So answering my leads is better. Connecting with them faster like we were talking about. This all helps me do it and it keeps track of everything. It is amazing. So, definitely check them out. Get a system in place. Here's my little tip, my last tip on communication, always say yes. So, this is the ultimate customer service where you are catering to them. The answer is always yes. You all look like you're gonna hit me. You're like, no it's not Vanessa. The customer is not always right. Well, no, it's, they're not always right. They really aren't right? But, you do want to always say yes. So you can almost take your no's and convert them to yes's. I learned this actually from Melissa Jeonus, Jerry Jeonus' wife, when she taught, long time ago she was talking about positivity. And I was like, you know what, I can learn to always say yes. And we already talked about, you know, sometimes the answer is yes when it would typically be no because you don't want to nickel and dime your clients and you want to, you want to make exceptions for them. You know, not charging them for the extra digital files when they've already paid a bazillion dollars for the other ones that they got. So, I have a story about this one as well. When I first started out, I wanna say it was maybe my third year in wedding photography, and I had a client her wedding was in October, and her pictures were ready Novemberish, you know, shortly after her wedding, a couple weeks, and they wanted a Christmas photo. Naturally. Right. That happens. So she asked for her digital file. And I'm like, "Oh yeah, you know you buy 'em online for $85 or whatever." And she's like, "Oh, but didn't I buy the digital files?" And I'm like, "Yes you bought them." But one of the things I do is I kind of, and I tell them this ahead of time as an expectation, I hold it like a carrot in front of the horse and I give them the digital files when they finish their album design. It's one of the ways that I make sure they finish it. We'll get into all of that in the next segment. She was like, "Well I just want this one photo. You know, why do I have to pay $85 for it?" It went back and forth with them and blah, blah, blah. And I just ended up making her angry. And aggravating her. And ultimately I think she may or may not have even bought the stupid $85 photo and used it. And I remember thinking afterwards, I'm like, was this worth it? Even if she bought the $85 photo, was the $85 even worth the time I spent emailing her back and forth about it? It certainly wasn't worth the bad taste I put in her mouth. That customer experience. So now, you know what I did, I was like, I wanna always say yes when that question comes up. Even if they're not gonna order their save the dates through me. I always just want to say yes. So I raised all of my prices by a whopping $85. And now I just give them a free file if they want it for their Christmas card, for their save the date, whatever the answer's yes. I give it to them early. But I'm still holding that carrot in front of them. We'll talk about why later. But, how much better of an experience would that have been for that bride if I had just said yes. So here are some of the typical questions that we get that we just want to be, we just want to say more than just no to them. The way that I answer this when they ask this question, because they ask it, because someone told them to on some blog posts. Always ask your photographer if they give the RAW files. I say yes, we give proofs. Which is one better than the actual RAW files because they are processed and in a form that you can use. You have personal rights usage. You can print them. You can share them with your family and friends. You can put them on social media. Because that's what they care about. And they're not watermarked. I give them to you in full color and they're edited for you. So that's how, instead of just saying no, I don't give RAW files because I'm an artist. And I don't. You know. They don't care about that. What do they care about? So find the thing that you can say yes to and say yes to that. So, that's a much better answer. And if you do video as well, that's a question that you get. My husband would get that. And he was like, "No we don't give RAW footage. Or we sell our RAW footage." But now I say, no, no, no, you just tell them yes. You say, yes we give you a cleanup of your ceremony and your reception so you can see all the toasts, hear the entire ceremony, and watch your cake cutting. Or whatever it is. All the ceremonial events. And that way he's saying yes because that's what they want. They don't want all the little RAW video files that they can't even watch sometimes. If you're shooting in whatever codex. They can't, you can't even watch them. Sometimes those RAWs, you know, they can't even look at the photos depending on their computer system. So find a way to say yes to them instead. Here's another really fun question. Can I have a discount? You're like no. I work too hard for this. No. I love my comment down here, the client that cries poverty but is wearing Gucci and driving a Bentley. Those are the one's that ask for the discount, right? Here's the thing. If you say yes, when they ask for a discount, what are you doing? You are discrediting everything that you've tried to teach them about why you are worth booking. About why you are valuable. So this is something you do not want to say yes to. But you also don't want to make them feel like an idiot. I recently started doing exit surveys for my leads that came in that did not book me. And not everyone takes the time to fill them out. But some of them do. And I asked them, what would have made you book me? A lot of times it's lower price, lower price, lower price. But one of them said, just her being willing to negotiate. So it wasn't even the fact that maybe I would have given them a discount. It was my attitude towards it. So while we all know the answer to this is no. We don't want to make them feel silly. Because it's usually an intimidating question to ask. Because they are expecting no from you. So how do you say yes to this question? When I have this presented to me, I tell them yes. I can make a custom package for you that you would like. I can make your album smaller and take out x amount of dollars. I can not stay as long at the wedding and take out x amount of dollars. Or I can even gift you something. I can gift you a 16 by 20 canvas. Something that has value to it. And what am I doing there. Not giving them a discount. Because used car salesman give discounts. Instead I'm giving them a gift. Like friends do. Or I'm giving them a custom service. So it's kind of like negotiating. I'm willing to bend and move my packages around. But I'm also showing you that these things have value. Now, sometimes I have people push past that 'cause they realize, oh, she's saying no to the discount. You know, even though she's working with me. So I do have people that push past that. And then I say, you know I can give you a little bit of a discount. But then I'm gonna have to cut the quality of the album I give you. And I really don't want to do that. Because this album is meant for your children. For your grandchildren. This is your legacy. And it needs to be intact in 100 years. So they start, I try to teach them the value. Because if I'm telling them that sure I can give you that discount you want but then you're not getting what it is that you actually want, then they start to understand it a little bit better.

Class Description

Along with your technical and creative knowledge, you need to know how to run your wedding photography business and set it up for long term success. How else can you expand and reach your desired clientele? Vanessa Joy, an award winning wedding photographer, joins us at CreativeLive to teach you the skills to help your business thrive. She’ll provide actionable steps in marketing, communication, workflow, and pricing that will attract the couples you want to work with. You’ll learn:

  • How to show your photographic style
  • Secret areas to brand your business
  • Social Media Quick Tips
  • Methods to make clients happy
  • Keys to effective and efficient workflow
  • What products you should offer
  • Packaging that sells
  • Understand how to make profit

Photograph what you love and learn to run a business that allows you to market your creativity.

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Célia Gomes

I loved this class! So inspirational and useful tips! Congratulations Vanessa. Thank you so much for sharing your experience! And thank you Creative Live for opportunity of watch the class for free. Célia Gomes, Portugal.

angela warmington

Great course. Full of great business tips and practices that are adaptable to your own personal style of business. She has such a passion and love for her work and it comes across very clearly as she teaches. I am new to wedding photography and am so glad I purchased this course!!

a Creativelive Student

This course is fantastic! Whether your new to the industry or been at it forever, there are amazing tips that can easily be implemented to improve your business. Vanessa lays everything out clearly. There were a number of things I had heard in the past, which is not a bad thing. This reinforced ideas and reminded me to work on things that I have been putting off. I highly recommend checking out this course with Vanessa Joy.