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Archive 3 - July - August 2000

Marketing News

Selling Photography Tips and Techniques

By Maria Piscopo, author
Photographer's Guide to Marketing & Self-Promotion
Allworth Press

Electronic Rights and Promotion Rights Only in Exchange for Piscopo Web site link http://www.mpiscopo.com

Selling is the best and worst of your photography business. It is best because it gets you the work. It is the worst because it hurts! The good news is that to get the work without the hurt you can learn to get appointments, convince a client to give you a job, do your follow up. These are all verbal "selling" techniques with your clients you are not comfortable doing. You may have the greatest portfolio or direct mail campaign, but you will still have to talk to people to sell yourself. Unfortunately, this is not a skill most photographers learn in school but it is one of the most important business tools next to your equipment.

The best education for any kind of selling tool or communication with clients is to prepare scripts. This is simply a process of writing down the expected interaction between you and your client. It is a thorough preparation, just as you would prepare before going out on any photo shoot. Preparing scripts for your phone calls and meetings in order to get portfolio appointments and do follow-up is the best place to start.

Start by writing down the anticipated conversation. Be sure to plan for all variables. In other words, no matter what a client's response, you have anticipated it as well as your own reply. Not only will this technique help you get more out of every call, but you will approach the entire chore of "selling" with more motivation and inspiration. You will also get better results and meet more of your sales goals.

Find out what the photography client does or needs first, and then decide what you will talk about. Talk food photography to food photography clients, corporate photography to corporate clients. Clients care only about what they need!

Open with a brief and specific introduction of your services. First you get people's attention, then you tell them what you want. For example, "Hello, we are interested in the Hyatt Resorts account. I am a lifestyle photographer and my name is __________ and would like to show our portfolio to you this week - when would be a good time? "

The key word here is "when" and gives you and the client more options then if you had asked the less effective question, "May I come by and show my lifestyle portfolio?" The quick answer is "No" and does not allow the client the time to seriously consider your request and their photography needs.

Come up with something interesting to say. After all, you are trying to replace another photographer that the client is secure with. Why should they switch? For example, "When would you like to see the unique background techniques we‚re developing?" or "We offer consultations for our clients that need trade show photography, when would you like to schedule yours?"

Always use sentences with the open-ended words "How, who, what, when, where and why" to get information instead of rejection and to reduce the time you spend on the phone with the client. Be more efficient and eliminate the rejection that comes with a "NO!" For example, when showing your portfolio, you can ask these open-ended questions to get information, confirm the information and verify agreements you have reached.

  • "How often do you use a different photographer?"
  • "What other photography needs do you have?"
  • "When will you be looking at proposals on that job?"
  • "Who else in the office buys this kind of photography?"

Learn to anticipate objections and questions about your photography services and have very specific information you want to give and get. NEVER leave contact with a client without achieving some specific objective. Get an appointment or a piece of information, anything! Successfully accomplishing your objective makes you successful and keeps you motivated to do this day after day. For example, when you want more information for follow-up from the client you can ask,

  • "When would be a good time to check back on that job?"
  • "How do you feel about a follow-up call in 3 weeks?"
  • "Who will have final approval on the photographer?"
  • "What would you like to see more of?"
  • "Who else in the company works with photographers?"

Don't expect these new techniques to feel comfortable at first. Anything you do without lots of experience usually is quite uncomfortable. You will feel like you are "pushing" yourself but you are not. What you are actually doing is "pulling" out the information needed to get the work.

Scripts do not have to be elaborate but they do have to be written with all possible responses (yours and the photo client) indicated. It is simply a matter of thinking through what you want to communicate and what you want to learn from the other person. You will find your communications and selling not only easier, but also more effective.

mpiscopo@MariaPiscopo.com

For more information, see http://www.mpiscopo.com.


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