For nearly 10 years, I worked as a sales representative in the pharmaceutical industry. My college degree is actually in biochemistry/nutrition which led me into the medical field. I achieved President’s Club status with Johnson & Johnson in my sales territory and enjoyed amazing reward trips and perks. I was trained by some of the industry’s finest sales people and was promoted to the position of Southeast Regional Trainer. I provided hands-on sales training for the newly hired Johnson & Johnson representatives. Then, when I became a mother, I had to leave the travel behind and took a professional detour into the world of photography.
I began In His Image Photography in 2008. Truthfully, I did everything wrong for the first couple of years. I was gaining great technical skills but I was pretty clueless about pricing and client relations. I totally believed the local hype that “clients just want digital images” and basically operated a Shoot-and-Burn business. I put my heart and soul into my work but more often that not, my images never made it off of a dusty CD. I assumed my clients would print my images and display them in their homes, but 80% of the time, those clients admitted they never printed one single image.
It was disheartening to me as an artist and a business owner. I LOVE seeing beautiful images of my children and family in my entry way, up my staircase and on the walls in my living room. No one was even enjoying the images I worked so hard to create. Then, it dawned on me. It really wasn’t their fault- it was mine. I had failed them. I had stopped short of the finish line. I was supposed to be the expert that guided them on wall display and I never offered up that service. I dug back into my former sales career and started implementing those same strategies in the photography business.
So, in 2011, I came up with a new sales approach. I would stop burning CDs and start offering the expert advice my clients really needed. Ever wonder why 60% of all families show up to a photo shoot wearing matching white shirts? Because NO ONE taught them how to dress any other way. It is the path of familiarity until someone steps in to offer help.
STEP 1: STYLE IT
I shot all the photography for a published fashion book which discussed color theory and pattern use in detail. I used that knowledge to guide each family through wardrobe selections. They would bring in wardrobe they wanted to wear or we would start from scratch. We came up with a color palette for the entire family and surfed the websites of their favorite retailers to design working fashion boards. Moms left the studios FULLY prepared to deck their families in great style at their shoots.
STEP 2: SHOOT IT
We marketed our portrait events WELL in advance. We stopped driving all over the world every weekend for one shoot here and one shoot there. We hired an attorney and became the exclusive photographers for a local 7 acre sunflower field. We advertised in a children’s magazine and did large-scale mailing campaigns. It was scary at first but we shot 212 clients in a 2 week period at the Sunflower Event. ALL of those families received wardrobe consultations ahead of time and LOVED their final results. In October, we contracted a gorgeous horse farm for fall portraits and just as many clients responded. We realized then, the success we were having was more about the PROCESS and EXPERIENCE we provided than just the location. We were on to something.
STEP 3: SELL IT
We stopped posting on-line galleries or drop shipping CDs and brought clients into the studio for in person selection appointments. We reviewed the wall dimensions they brought in from their homes and custom designed wall collections to fit their spaces. We weren’t “pushing” our products onto them. They were telling us they needed help filling empty walls or designing better groupings. We used virtual dispaly guides to show them what the finished product would look like. Guess what? Our sales averages SOARED and our clients couldn’t wait to come pick up their awesome canvases or Organic Bloom frames. I cannot tell you how much more rewarding that felt for ALL parties involved. Again, no CD ever felt that good!
So, now we are taking our sales background and new approach to photography on the road. We are partnering with the fabulous sponsors’ whose products now grace the walls of many, many of my clients’ homes. The Organic Bloom, WHCC lab and Photographer’s Wall Display Guides have been so kind to help us produce this great workshop.
I want other photographers to join us in Atlanta for a practical, hands-on training workshop to revamp their approach to their business. Please keep in mind that THE VAST MAJORITY of photographers in my area still shoot and burn CDs. It was a gamble to jump into a totally different sales approach but thankfully, our clients have raved about the changes. You don’t need a sales background to implement theses strategies and we aren’t interested in training up “pushy sales people”. We want to educate you on how to become the design expert your clients WANT to work with. We will give you a working dialogue and even role-play opportunities in Part 2 of the workshop to practice your new skill sets.
There are wonderful technical workshops available. But few will help you to bridge the gap from GOOD photographer to SUCCESSFUL photographer. You must master both the technical skills AND provide an exceptional EXPERIENCE for your clients. We want to show you how!
Looking forward to meeting you all in Atlanta!