Open More Doors Through Better Sales Messaging with Paul & Melissa Pruitt
In our experience coaching and mentoring photographers, most photographers don’t like doing sales. Here are the most common reasons:
- They have never had to sell anything before and feel they lack experience.
- They have had bad experiences being sold things and don’t want to do the same to their customers.
- They don’t like talking about themselves or feel insecure about the value of their product or services.
Sales can be scary. Sales means different things to different people. For some, sales can feel pushy or slimy. What comes to mind when you think car salesman?
This is not the most positive way to look at sales. It can create internal challenges when it is time to sell your own services or products.
We reframe selling as sharing, which is a much more positive approach to sales. If you have a good product or service and believe it can help others, why wouldn’t you want to share it?
If you hold back on sharing, you might prevent someone from having a good experience. When you look at selling as sharing, it shifts your mindset that selling is a good thing that you need to do in your business, and it doesn’t have to be so daunting.
Selling begins with your message and how you share what you have to offer. When the messaging is done correctly, your potential clients will be seeking you out for more information.
The OPEN Method
The OPEN method is a way of looking at the buying process a person goes through. OPEN stands for “oblivious, pondering, engaged, need.” By understanding this method, you can adjust the way you communicate with your potential clients, depending on where they are in the buying process. Not all clients are in the same stage of buying, so the way you communicate with them should vary.
In the first stage of the OPEN method, the potential client is oblivious to your product or service. They don’t need your service and don’t even know about you. This is the majority of people. They don’t need photography right now.
The people in the oblivious stage are the biggest pool of people. When you create your ads or posts on social media, it’s like going to the mall with a megaphone and shouting, “Hey, I’m a photographer. Do you need photography?” This is a random method of communication, basically cold calling.
You don’t know who you’re talking to, you’re just blurting your message out into the world. All of us go through a journey in the buying process. When you hit people in the oblivious stage, they don’t need photography, so it’s a total waste of time trying to convince them that they need you. It’s not smart marketing because you will be spinning your wheels and spending your energy talking to people who don’t need or don’t know they need your services.
In the second stage of the OPEN method, they are a bit closer to making a buying decision, but are still in the early stages. They are farther along than those in the oblivious stage, who have no clue or desire for photography services.
Those in the pondering stage are experiencing some sort of life event. Photography services are typically needed during major life events. Getting pregnant, having a baby, getting married, getting divorced, getting a new job…these are all major life events that could lead to a photography need. So now that this life event has happened, they are starting to think about photography.
In the third stage of the OPEN method, individuals are looking for a photographer. It could be a high school junior looking for a senior session, a mom who will be giving birth soon and needs to line up her newborn session or a newly engaged couple looking for vendors.
At this final stage, individuals are ready to buy, have their checkbook or credit card ready, and are ready to spend money.
Communication at Each of the Buying Stages
We tend to do most of our messaging toward individuals in the need stage. We share information about sales or events we are hosting to convince these people to buy. But our messaging is overlooked most of the time because the majority of the people we talk to are not yet in the need stage.
Think about how you would feel if you were solicited on a regular basis. You would probably unsubscribe from, unfollow or delete that person. You would probably be annoyed and turned off. So with this in mind, think about your messaging, and if you find yourself constantly saying, “Buy my stuff, buy my stuff, buy my stuff.”
Look at your messaging. Are you knocking everyone over the head with solicitations? Are you sharing content your potential customer would be interested in? Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer. What are they struggling with? What are they thinking about? What’s their life about? What are they going through right now?
Think from the perspective of a couple who need their wedding photos taken. Is your message specific to the couple or the bride? What are they struggling with? How could you connect with them even before they get engaged? Remember, the earlier you become an influence, the more likely you will be on the top of their mind when it is time to select a photographer.
Some content a bride may find interesting or have a need for may include the latest bridal trends or finding other vendors, like a florist or DJ. You can provide this information with a free guide or tip sheet. Having this information handy allows you to influence and market to these individuals over time.
Think of their wedding prep needs. What would be a valuable piece of information they’d be willing to trade their email address for? By providing this vital information, you are helping them and building trust over time. So as the individual gets closer and closer to getting engaged, they already know who you are and you become their go-to source for photography. You’ve been talking to them for the past couple of years about all the preparations and challenges of wedding planning. You’ve been nurturing that relationship the entire way.
Perhaps there is an article of interest you can provide to couples looking for a location for their engagement session. Maybe an article about topics a couple should talk about before getting married. You will create trust so that when it is time for them to look for a wedding photographer, they know where to go.
Some of this can include curated content. As long as you cite the original author, you don’t have to come up with your own content. You can talk about the article, video or other content from your own unique perspective. Give them tips to help them with their challenges and speak in their own language.
None of this information has to deal with photography. But sharing it makes you the expert and builds trust.
True entrepreneurship is a marathon. You have to nurture relationships and let go of the need for instant gratification. This is about building long-term relationships by positioning yourself as the photography expert in your community.
When you understand the OPEN method and the thought process of people in the different stages of the buying journey, you’ll know how to tailor your communications. Your communication style will be more effective. You’ll build trust with those in the earlier stages of the buying journey, and then be able to target those who are closer to making a buying decision.