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Archive for April, 2012

Wedding Clients: The First Meeting

Meeting with a potential client can be nerve wracking. Knowing the right things to say before, during and after your meeting will make you stand out from the other photographers they might be interviewing and land you the business. 

Before the meeting: Establish a rapport, & make sure they have seen a sample of your work.

During the meeting: Take control by knowing what questions to ask. The easiest way to get the appointment in full swing is to start off by asking the following questions:

  1. How did you meet
  2. How did he/you propose?
  3. Who is in your bridal party?

Every bride and groom loves to talk about their relationship! Ask the questions and be quiet.  Let them talk.  Take notes of important details.

  1. Ask questions about the place they are getting married at. Are there any special things they will be doing there? Is there a theme?
  2. How many guests will there be? Sometimes there will only be immediate family at the ceremony and then a large number of guests for the reception. This question will help you guide them in choosing the appropriate package for their wedding at the end of the meeting.
  3. Where are they going on their honeymoon?

These questions will often give you insight into the personalities of the bride and groom. Are they going to Disneyland or biking through Italy? The more you can find out, the more you will have to talk about when you get to selling yourself and telling them what you plan to do to capture their day and make it special.

So now you know about them, it’s time they know about you…Ask them…

  1. What are you looking for in a photographer? They may know exactly what they want or don’t want. For example, they may want someone to run the timing of their wedding, or they may want you to just stay in the background and capture moments as they unfold.  Knowing their expectations will help you figure out how you will work with them going forward.  Are they relaxed and casual about their day or are they specific about how they want everything to go. You will need to adapt your personality and your style in order to work with the varying personalities of brides and grooms.

Now that you know what they want in a photographer, tell them why they should hire you.

Here is what they should know about you:

  1. What makes you different from other photographers?
  2. What happens if things don’t go as planned? What if it rains? What if there are last minute changes? What is your Plan B?
  3. How do you work? Are you going to be posing them throughout the day or will you be in the background taking candids?
  4. Help them understand your packages! This is the time to bring out your price sheet. You should have copies for both the bride and groom. This is where you will sell them on the value of your work.   The beginning of the year is when most of us revamp our wedding packages and prices. Know exactly what your packages include. If you offer packages that have add-on choices, make sure you clearly communicate this so that both bride and groom understand what you are offering and what they are paying for. For example, if your packages include an assistant or another photographer, make sure to explain what the differences are and what the value is to them will be.  Do the packages include a DVD or an album? Make sure this is clear.

More guests usually are better handled with two photographers, however, the bride and groom may not have the budget for that package, or, they may not care about images of all of the guests. In either case, you will need to let them know that regardless of whatever package they choose, they will be getting your best work.

Wrap it up

Always have an album to show them that shows off your best work. Don’t assume that BOTH bride and groom have seen your work before your meeting. Make sure the images show off your creativity, your use of light in different situations. Show posed, group shots and candids.  Include shots that show what some of the “extras” in your packages look like, ie.  a Trash the Dress session or an engagement session.

References!  Giving your potential bride and groom the name of one or two of your past customers to call will allow them to do some selling on your behalf.   Don’t be afraid to ask a past bride and groom if it’s ok to use them as a reference for potential clients. Remember, not only do engaged couples like to talk about their wedding plans, but just married couples like to talk about their spectacular wedding day as well! A reference from a happy client may make the difference between you getting hired, over one of the other three photographers they are interviewing.

Written by Jessica Ford

Basic Sales Skills are Essential to a Successful Business

Is there a bridal shop you would love to shoot for? Is there a gallery you want to get your work into or a wedding you want to shoot? Although I’m new to photography, I have been in sales my entire life. If you want increase your business, you need to know some basic sales skills.

Preparing for the sales call
Getting a new client is like making a sales call. Just because your friend referred someone to you, don’t assume that you have the job. A traditional sales call involves showing your prospect the features and benefits of why they should use your service. Your presentation materials are you and your portfolio. Don’t be afraid to tweak your portfolio so that it showcases your best work for the job you are “applying” for. For example, if you are going to talk to a potential client about portraits, showing them images of landscapes and flowers won’t show your client what you can do for them. If you want to shoot for a business, find out as much as you can about the business before you meet with them. Who are their clients, what is their style, who have they been using and why are they no longer using them, how do you see yourself fitting in and what can you do for them that no one else can. Do your homework. Find out who the decision maker is. If it’s a wedding shoot you are trying to get, it won’t help to make your sales pitch just to the bride if you didn’t know that the groom will make the final decision. If possible, make your sales presentation in person. You’re more likely to get the job if your client sees you face-to-face.

Find out what the client really wants
Seems simple enough, but if you don’t ask the right questions before hand, you could end up with an unhappy customer and some great images that no one will ever see. Find out what they want to use the images for. Is it to decorate their house? Do they want albums? Is it for advertising? What is the “look” that THEY want? You might think that the cool graffiti wall downtown would be perfect for a family photo session, but they might want something traditional, at home, with the family dog. If it’s a family portrait shoot, ask questions about their kids, how they met, what the kids like to do, what will they use the pictures for…Make a list of questions before you talk to them and take notes when they give you the answers. Getting to know your client will help you understand the job they are hiring you for.

Sell yourself
Be prepared to talk about yourself, your experience, your training. Tell them how you work, and what to expect from you the day of the shoot. In many cases you will have to sell them on the rate you are charging so make sure to explain why you are worth every penny. They are not just paying you for your time! You will have to explain that they are paying you for your experience, your knowledge, and your talent. This would be a good time to show them some comments from your past clients. If you don’t have anything, ask a few of your past clients to write a few nice things about you and your work. When they do, ask them for permission to post their comments on your website and other marketing materials you have. Accolades from vendors are also a nice touch because it shows that you work well as a team with other companies.

Ask for the order!
Often times this is the hardest part. You’ve researched the client, you’ve made your sales pitch, and you’ve proven you can do the job, now it’s time to ask for the order. Something simple like, “So, what day works best for you, Saturday or Sunday?” is one that I like to use. If you’re going for a high-end job, you may have to be more direct in your closing technique. For example, acting as if the client is ready to to hire you is an assumptive closing approach. The “Yes” close is another technique designed to bring out any objections the client might still have. Questions like, “Do you like my work?”, “Is it what you are looking for?”, “Can we book the shoot?”. If all goes well, the client will answer yes to all of your questions. If not, then you will need to keep your sales cap on and get to the real reason why they are not comfortable hiring you. Figure out what works best for you and get out there and practice it! One thing is for sure, you’ll never know where your business will take you unless you ask for the order. You have nothing to lose and you just might be surprised at the results.

Written by Jessica Ford

Interview: Nikole Lim of Freely In Hope

Listen to my interview with Nikole Lim

When Jessica (Editor here at PWB) told me to take a look at this photographer that photographed a mutual friends wedding I wasn’t expecting much. After looking over the gallery I was pleasantly surprised with her wedding work. As I dug deeper into her site I was not only impressed, I was totally blown-away, and humbled by the work she has done for women around the world. I will let her About Page tell the rest of her story.

From documenting a widow with leprosy in the jungles of Vietnam, to providing scholarships for victims of rape in Zambia, furthering
 social justice through the arts has been a vital part of Nikole’s ministry around the globe. By using film and photography, Nikole seeks
 to empower women by giving them a voice to share their stories of difficulty and triumph, while fighting stigmas affecting women 

Nikole is the Founder and Executive Director of Freely in Hope, a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring justice, dignity and hope by liberating women and their families from the bondages of poverty. Freely in Hope operates in Kenya providing micro-business training courses for widows,
 psychological counseling, vocational courses, and scholarships for girls who are survivors of rape, single mothers, or living in slum 

Nikole graduated with a degree in Film Production from Loyola Marymount University and resides in Los Angeles. She is an 
active member of The Salvation Army and works with inner-city youth. Her heart beats for young women whose voices are silenced by oppression and desires to see every heart liberated and restored.

Please support Nikole’s efforts to empower other women around the world. Purchase her documentary While Women Weep.

If you want to learn more about the life changing work Nikole Lim is doing click her name.

Part 4: How to create a simple image ad on Craigslist.

1. Create multiple email accounts – CL is going to need a phone # for EACH email address so they can verify your not a fake. Again they only allow about three DIFFERENT postings per email address so if your posting the same ad (even in different cities) they will figure it out. I’ve tried changing the words to be creative in my ad but they seem to figure it out so having multiple emails just makes more sense.

 2. Create an image that you want people to see – this is self explanatory. If your going to add words to your add I would recommend embedding them within the photo or add image. It just looks more “pro” than typing them in CL. I wouldn’t recommend using the stock font that CL offers. It just doesn’t look professional.

3. Post your image somewhere on the net – your image has to live somewhere on the net. I would try photobucket.com. It’s free.

 4. Once uploaded get the direct link to the image – You can get this once the image has been uploaded.

 5. Enter your info here. RED = your web address, BLUE = your direct link to your image

<center><a href=”http://www.yoursite.com” target=”_blank”><img border=”0″ src=”http://www.yourwebsite.com/Banners/832659180_tqnnX-XL.jpg” ></a><center>

6. Input all your search words you want people to find you with on Craigslist in GREEN. Please just use the relevant words to photography and not the entire industry (i.g. wedding, wedding DJ, wedding cake). I personally hate it when I’m searching for something and other things pop up that’s un related to my search. If I feel that way I’m sure other people feel that way.

<h6><center>Portland event photographer, bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah, corporate event, Christmas party, Sacramento event photographer, birthday party photographer, Luau party, New years party, nightclub party, after party</span></center> <h6>

7. If you wish to ad bold icons here are some icons you can place before or after your subject. Don’t forget to add the semi-colon. WARNING: Craigslist, will (sometimes) block your ad from showing if you ad icons like this.

#9668;    #9733;    &hearts;      #9658;      &#9619;     #9608;

8. Location – Use an actual location (i.g. greater Bay Area, all of Portland, etc) because CL spiders will  eventually  figure it out if you don’t.

9. Make your “posting title” and “specific location” in capitol. It just stands out more.

10. My preference is to click “hide” in the Reply to option for one big reason. If you click, “show” or “anonymize” your ad will get SPAM mail. People can get your email on your website, but it’s up to you.

It should look like this (you can keep it all black in color if you wish). You can create different ones (with words mixed around). All you have to do is paste the whole thing in the “posting description” and just cut the things you need to move to the specific location and posting title. That way you don’t have to go back and forth from another window. FYI the “<br>” means break. It brings all the search words lower (just a personal preference).

&#9608;&#9658;MY NAME PHOTOGRAPHY&#9668;&#9608;   GREATER PORTLAND&hearts;

<center><a href=”http://www.yourwebsite.com” target=”_blank”><img border=”0″src=”http://www.yourwebsite.com/Banners/banners/CL-ad-events/832659180_tqnnX-XL.jpg” ></a><center> <br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><br><html><h6><center>event photographer, Portland event photographer, bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah, my name photography, after party, corporate event, Christmas party, birthday party, Luau party, New years party, nightclub party</center>