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Questions to ask potential clients

Sean Camp , Mar 31, 2004; 05:46 p.m.

My question is about the intitial meeting with a potential client..the BIG SELL meeting. I have been fairly successful in my method of first asking questions regarding the wedding itself....how many people, where is it, time of ceremony, length of coverage required, etc., etc. I then launch into my sales pitch to try and convince the client that I am the photographer they want by trying to show my personality and edge, while all along keeping an air of sincerity and interest in THEIR wedding. I have had 3 meetings in the last 2 months and have booked 2 weddings....pretty good average, but will it hold?? There in lies my question..what is the right way to approach the initial sales meeting?? Those out there with experience, what are some secrets?? I know you may say that my ship isn't sinking, so keep its course, but I just want to hear what everyone else thinks about this subject. Thanks in advance!! Sean

Responses

... Timber ... , Mar 31, 2004; 06:17 p.m.

You need to convey that you are excited about being a wedding photographer. You must wrap them in your enthusiasm for your artistic interest. Business details, in my opinion, should be mostly conveyed to them on paper. Don't spend alot of time on business details. This is boring stuff.

They will choose you for your personality, and your ability to show you care about all people. If you should make a comment about any Bride in your portfolio that is just alittle 'jagged', they will not choose you. You must operate on a high level of perfection without giving an impression of an act of snobbery. You must show that you care about details. Demonstrate that you actually understand the "look" of a Bride. Talk about how you make these choices.

Couples that don't care about such details will still choose you. Couples that care about details will not hire a 'loose' photographer.

... Timber ... , Mar 31, 2004; 06:22 p.m.

I don't SELL anyone. I don't ask for their check. With confidence, I leave them to compare.

I ask for the functional details of their wedding, rules, timing, possibility of meeting in a park, etc. Then I give answers and examples of what their pictures will likely look like based upon my questions and their answers from my portfolio. I do not, however actually promise what their pictures will look like in my Agreement.

Steve Levine , Mar 31, 2004; 08:23 p.m.

A good salesman is a "doubt eliminator".You have to address each issue that will come up and present a working solution.My book (portfolio) and reputation do my selling for me.This didnt occur overnight though,it took a few years to hone.

Nadine Ohara - SF Bay Area/CA , Mar 31, 2004; 09:04 p.m.

I am not a super-duper salesman. I tend to let my photos do the selling. But I do know that the best way to engage your prospect so that you can demonstrate your experience, philosophy and style, as well as gauge whether you want the prospect as a client, is to ask her/them what they are looking for in wedding photography or the wedding photographer. Ask them how they envision their wedding day, how they want it captured. Then talk about how you are going to do that for them. While they are talking, really listen, and not be thinking about how to counter. The discussion will take shape naturally and you'll know how to end the session based on what she/they have said. I see no need to conquer every single prospect that comes along. Sometimes I respectfully decline because I don't think my style is what they want, or I know the prospect is more trouble than the job is worth. If you have just one sales pitch and use it time after time without modifying it to fit your prospect, you are not really listening to your client, and it will become apparent to them.

... Timber ... , May 12, 2004; 09:38 p.m.

I never use the words "my philosophy" when presenting my services. And there is a good reason for it.

I once had a paper which was part of my brochure. My work was different than all the photographers in my county in the 1970s. Therefore, I needed to present this different approach to wedding photography. So, I made a paper called, "My Philosophy".

Many people did not respond or comment on it. But one did, and I will never forget it. I dropped my sheet called "My Philosophy" immediately. What happened? The bride-to-be responded to me thusly on the phone: "I don't CARE what your PHILOSOPHY is; THIS is MY wedding!"

The principal of good marketing is to fulfill the needs and fantasies of the customer. She felt that I was so much 'into' my style that I was leaving out consideration for her.

I have heard many, many complaints of other photographers who were so wrapped up in THEIR STYLE that the prospective client ditched the photographer for someone else: me. I learned that it was OK to have a style, but that you must ask careful questions of the prospect; then prove in your samples that you can do what is needed.

There are no secrets to presenting yourself that are not published in books somewhere. I suggest to anyone to become a member of Toastmasters in their area so that you will speak well. If you have been to the same reception or church place before, you are already miles ahead of other photographers. The more you talk in detail about being at this certain place, with its particular lighting, certain places to photograph, etc. the better.

You should have a logical pictorial presentation. Any confusion on your part tells the prospect that you are disorganized and may create a time delay at her wedding. She and he will be judging your every move. I like to sit more closely to them.

One bride told me (she hired me later) that she didn't really analyse my brochure or pictures. What she did was to listen to how I spoke about each Bride in the pictures.

It is not just "one thing" to look out for. Rather, it is about 25 things. Toastmasters is the group to join.

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