It’s spring—time for you to start claiming a few customers of your own. Unless you get busy grabbing new business, all of it’s going to be going on around you rather than walking through your door. As Tina Fey once quipped, “You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.” With the second-quarter seasonality come some amazing opportunities for great content, direct mail and partnerships. There’s a lot to think about, and although you’re coming down to the wire since it all starts ramping up in the next few weeks, you’ve still got time to do a lot. I want to help you thrive in 2018, not just survive.
Value is a term we hear quite a bit with packaged deals and pricing. Perceived value is what people believe something is worth. It has nothing to do with physical value. It is what our work intrinsically means to our clients. If adding value has such a strong impact on how our businesses are perceived, what can we do to systematically integrate this practice into our client experience? Supercharge your client’s perception and create immense value by focusing on: Your brand (the why), Your relationship (the who), and Your craft (the what). Here’s how to tackle each of these pillars of value perception.
Let’s be real: Bad clients do not really exist. If anything, a bad client would be one who never knocks on your door in the first place. The most frequent question I hear is: Fabio, what should I do to get better clients? First, how do we define a good client? Most of us agree that a good client is one who pays more and understands the value of our work, and does not price-shop among our competitors. If you want to know how to get better clients, start by looking at yourself. How are you procuring and then working with your clients? A common mistake is that photographers don’t effectively communicate their “value perception.” That’s how others perceive the value of the work and services we provide.
I’ve always said the best way to make more money is to work more with the clients you already have—the ones who love your work, trust your judgment and have already given you their business. It’s much less work than finding new clients. Sometimes just by offering more to existing clients, not even doing full-blown sales sessions, you can earn tons. It made me about $20,000 the first year I gave it a try. Here are four ways you can make more money without spending any money at all.
You’re a photographer, not a salesperson. Cut yourself a break. Pour out the chai/coffee/wine/absinth (no judgment) and listen up. You don’t need a master’s in business to become a successful photographer. But if you don’t immediately cut out a few things, you will turn into the cliché of the starving artist that your right-wing Uncle Barnie loves to mock, asking you at family gatherings, “So when are you going to get a real job?” To that I say, “Sit your fat ass down, Uncle Barnie. I’ve got this.” Stop pulling your hair out trying to employ these five marketing strategies everyone tells you to do but that bring in zero ROI.
Marketing is messaging. It’s that’s simple. Don’t overcomplicate it, which is easy for us to do. Yes, it’s social media, it’s bridal shows, it’s magazines, it’s networking, but all these things can be described in a single word: messaging. You must communicate the benefit of your product or service to potential customers. I am sure you are sitting there right now thinking, well, duh, Sal, the benefit is obvious, it’s our great images.
Can emails really drive print sales and increase your bottom line? If so, are you confused why your sales emails seem to go unanswered? Most photographers, especially shoot-and-burners, already use email to deliver online photo galleries to clients. For them, email is simply the easiest way to deliver final image downloads and essentially close the photographer-client transaction. Email delivery today is what burning photos onto CD’s used to be, hence the burn in shoot-and-burn. It feels clean and done. But is it smart?
Many photographers act as if they’ve got a top-notch publicist on their payroll, and do nothing to promote their business or brand. They act as if self-promotion is a dirty word and not something worthy of their time, when in reality it’s one of the most important aspects of building any business. So, let’s get proactive and put you and your skillset in the spotlight.
So many of you have taken the approach of simply kicking back and waiting to see what happens to your business “naturally.” Guess what? Virtually nothing happens naturally in this business, which is why God created marketing. And just like building your skill set, marketing never stops. Let’s come up with a game plan or at least a check-off list for you to work with the rest of the year.
As photographers and business owners, we need to be celebrities of a sort—potential clients need to know and trust us so they feel confident enough to hire us (and rave about us to others). It’s time to start creating your fame through behind-the-scenes content. Here’s where to start.