Should you focus all your marketing energy on finding new customers? Maybe not!
Generating extra revenue from the clients you already have can be simple, effective and very satisfying. This excellent article by Ago Cluytens explains a few ways to go about it, and in this post we're going to look at how to apply his ideas to your photography business.
As you're reading, ask yourself, "How can I add value for my clients using these strategies?" It's not about taking, it's about giving more than people expect.
"...the ability to sell additional products and services related to the first or main one you’ve already sold to a client. If you’re selling products, think maintenance contracts, insurance and other, similar things. If you’re selling services, think training, consulting and implementation support."
Let's start with a couple who've asked about you shooting their wedding…
Cross-selling opportunities abound! An engagement shoot. An album. Wall art. Parent albums. Guest books. An intimate album for the groom. The digital files…
Remember, you define what your basic deal is. Everything excluded from it is a cross-sell/up-sell opportunity.
"Up-selling is a strategy where you attempt to get a client to buy a higher-priced product or service, most often with “upgraded” specs or service levels."
Sticking with the wedding scenario, Queensberry talks about "Good Better Best", a 3-tier strategy offering different levels of product and service. Maybe people come to see you because they like the sound of your Good deal (especially the price!) — but now you have the chance to show them what you can really do!
Your Good (most affordable) package might start with a simple, small, affordable album.
Better is an upgrade … bigger … a leather cover … more pages … more photographs … Duo mounting.
Best is blow-them-away aspirational. They'd love your Best, but now Better seems a pretty good deal.
By the way, don't make your "Good" the digital files. You're giving away the crown jewels. Maybe they'll buy a beautifully printed, professional quality album from you, maybe some gorgeous prints. More likely they'll buy something cheap that doesn't do justice to your work. Most likely your photographs will never leave the cloud.
And it's not all about products. Good might mean limited coverage, Better a full day. Best might mean you'll artwork all the digital files. You're in charge, you decide the rules. Change them, try out new ideas. And be flexible. Of course they can have what they want, for a price.
3. Phased selling
"Think about any new client relationship as built in phases. As the relationship matures, there will no doubt be additional opportunities for you to work together, add value and deliver more of your valuable services to them."
This is particularly pertinent to photographers. In photography there is before the shoot and after the shoot. As we've said elsewhere, before the shoot they're buying with their pocketbooks, after they're buying with their hearts. Now they're in your viewfinder … and see how great they look!
So be sure to schedule a sales session after the event. Even if they only committed to Good upfront, don't assume they won't upgrade to Better or Best. Love and pride are powerful motivators.
4. Repeat selling
"Rather than just sell the annual financial audit, why not enter into a five-year contract?"
Now your clients see the value in your services it's much easier for them to work with you again. Your bride and groom's wedding might mark the start of a long term relationship … with you! Boudoir. Maternity. Babies. Family shoots. A Day in the Life. Pets. Parents. Makeovers. Keep in touch. Market to them.
5. Referral selling
Word of mouth is a powerful tool for photographers. And the beauty is, people your past clients attract already know what you do, and how much you charge. Your albums and wall art are your silent salesmen, but you might encourage referrals by rewarding clients who refer you to their friends and family. This might be by way of discounts off their next session, or a free frame for every client referred. (The product offer has two advantages: more of your photography in their home, and exposure to a new product they never knew your offered. Win-win!)
A word of caution. Many people will promote you simply because they love what you did for them, and you might undermine the relationship if they think you're trying to "buy" their support. One way round this is a "thank you" gift — something unexpected for your past client when your new client mentions their name. Word of mouth needs to be handled sensitively, but it's a powerful business builder.
6. Pilot selling
"Sometimes, and for a variety of reasons, we find ourselves in situations where a new client doesn’t want “the full package” just yet... keep the door open for purchasing the full package, and/or additional products and services from you at some point when the pilot is completed."
Your clients might go for your most "affordable" package, and that's okay. Your Good ("entry level") offer should be genuine, made with a good heart, and profitable — just not as profitable as you'd like! Your bride and groom might have chosen it for financial or emotional reasons, or because having a professional photographer at your wedding is "expected", but the strategies outlined above offer plenty of ways to build the sale. The secret here is to not lock people in to their initial commitment. Be prepared to be flexible. Of course they can have what they want.
Be sure to read the full Ago Cluytens article, especially the "rules" to keep in mind when using these selling techniques, at the bottom of the post. It's basically about transparency and no nasty surprises for your clients. Building relationships with your clients will help you both get value.
You may incorporate one or more of these methods into your business model already, or you may disagree with them. Please share your ideas and comments below.