In many markets Covid is likely to limit the size of weddings — and therefore wedding photography — for some months yet. And with all the restrictions and uncertainty many weddings are likely to be postponed until next season.
But there's an upside! Any 2020 weddings delayed until 2021 and 2022 could make those years busier than normal! Which will be a great "problem" to have, as long as you can cope with the extra work.
What that means…
• This year albums will be very important as a way to maximise revenue and profit from wedding clients — both current and past.
• Next year — provided you make it really easy for your clients to buy their albums! — you can continue earning that extra cash even when you're really busy.
If you make it simple for people to choose an album, and the images to go in it, you can finalise the design, place the order, collect payment, and clear the decks for your next wedding customer.
In this article we describe how to keep it simple for both parties — you and your clients — whether as part of your regular business or to run a sale to past clients.
TIP: This is one of many strategies for marketing albums. We explore them in detail in our book, Love's Not Enough.
One of the most frequent 'complaints' we hear from our customers is that there’s too much choice in our product range. We get it! It’s the number one reason many photographers have trouble choosing sample albums, so they can offer our beautiful products to their couples and families.
But photographers don't all come out of the same mould. You're different, you all need to stand out from the crowd, and you all want something different. However you don't need to make it complicated for your clients.
Our advice is always:
• Sell what you love best, and forget the rest.
• Make it really easy for your clients to say ‘yes’.
The easiest way to keep it simple for clients is to offer them a profitable baseline product that fits with your personal preferences, brand and price point:
• One album size/format.
• One page type (eg Flushmount).
• Free album design.
• A fixed (but limited) number of pages and images.
• One printing option (true photographic, offset or Fine Art inkjet).
• Limited cover materials and colours.
• A standard embossing and/or title.
• A fixed price that covers all the above.
TIP: If you need us to guide you to the right products for your target market and price point, we’re only too happy to help.
Decide your “fixed price”
Lots of photographers set their price by marking up the wholesale cost of the album by a percentage — often 3-4 times wholesale, generally at least double. Sometimes that can make the product so expensive that many people say 'no'.
But our goal is to keep it simple, have as many people as possible say 'yes', and bring in some cash. So what to do?
One solution is to stick to your current pricing, but with a discount to “buy now”.
Another is to charge enough to recover the wholesale cost plus a decent return for the time you spend on the sales process, the design and fulfilling the order. Let's say that's between a half and a full day. If 'cash is king' you're better off having ten people net you $400 each than eight of them saying 'no' because you're asking for $1000.
So what and how you charge is up to you … as long as you're well paid for your efforts making the sale.
TIP: Price any optional extras individually (see section 4).
TIP: Read more about pricing in Love's Not Enough.
Get the album designed quickly!
You want to get to 'yes' as quickly as possible, so keep it simple.
All you need to get started is the album size and the image selection. Once they've committed to that you can start on the design. The other decisions can come later.
If you're offering more than one size, ask about it now, or expect some redesign work later (you'll need an all-in fixed price for both sizes).
Tell them you'll choose the images, but they can make changes later.
If they insist on choosing, give them a limited time, then it's your choice! (Ask them to 'favourite' images in an album image collection that you create. Using Workspace means you can go straight from this collection to designing the album in our online designer).
Once complete, they can review your design in Workspace, either in your studio or online, and of course swap out images or edit page layouts.
Once the design is final is also a good time to ask about cover materials, embossing details, and your optional extras (section 4). Now you're good to collect payment, if you haven't already, and order the album from Queensberry.
TIP: We suggest allowing two "rounds" of design edits free, then charge a fee.
TIP: In the design editing phase, use your professional knowledge to guide them in what works best for story-telling purposes etc.
TIP: We all procrastinate! Set deadlines throughout the process and explain the implications of missing them (eg they miss their slot in album design or production; your special offer expires etc.).
TIP: Redesigning after a size upgrade is easier if you stay with the same shape (eg 10x10 to 12x12 square).
Keep the upgrade options simple too
Photographers love our "optional extras" because they're gorgeous, they're profitable and they generally require little or no extra work.
But again, limit the options — keeping it simple makes getting to 'yes' easy. For example:
• One or two larger album formats.
• Extra pages/images.
• Overlay Matted or Duo pages.
• Custom embossing.
• More expensive cover materials (eg leather).
• A designer album box.
• Parent copy albums.
A great way to show off your upgrades is in your sample albums. (You should be able to tell your clients what your samples would cost them.)
By the way, optional extras can be used as incentives — for example to secure a commitment before the wedding, or within a limited time afterwards.
TIP: Most of the work in an album is in the design; many extras are just 'tick the box'.
TIP: if you'd like to encourage extra pages, you could add them to the original design. (Make sure your clients understand what you're doing, and that they can cut back later.)
TIP: A smaller profit on an optional extra is better than selling no upgrades at all.
Be positive, and build excitement and desire.
As your clients become engaged with you in the design process they’ll be more and more excited about the finished album. That will make ‘detail’ choices such as cover materials, colours, personalisation, accessories etc. much easier. They'll be able to visualise what best suits their images, and they’ll decide quickly because they want it now.
You love your work — so express it! Be consistently positive about their beautiful album and the story it tells, how it will remind them of this special day and their family and friends. It all helps to build their enthusiasm and increases the chance of their purchasing extra images/pages, or a cover upgrade, or accessories.
But there will always be busy people who take a while to respond. You can minimise delays by setting deadlines and incentives, keeping them engaged in the process and quickly turning around their design change requests etc.
In our experience, the photographers who are most successful at selling albums and other printed products have worked hard to create interest, desire and trust at all of the touch points with their clients. And clients can tell — from their very first look at your website, and regularly throughout your social media feeds. Enthusiasm and consistency are key. Keep sharing the album love!
TIP: Consider not introducing detailed decisions, like the cover material, until after the design phase, when the finished album starts coming alive to your clients.
TIP: People will be more open to upgrades when they can see their album design — they'll love their photographs!
Ensure things go smoothly once you've placed the order
Working intensely with your clients over a short period of time will create a level of desire that has them chomping at the bit to see their album. Here's how to make it happen.
You can check our current production times at https://www.queensberry.com/service-times, but we recommend allowing an extra week to ten days for order processing, shipping and queries that might put your order on hold temporarily (the clock starts ticking when the order has been confirmed and paid for.)
Make sure you add any special requests to the order (in the special instructions box) and include any support files we need (embossing artwork, non-standard title text etc.) Let us know if you want the order drop shipped to your clients, and supply their name, address, email address and phone number.
Albums are highly customised and we sometimes have questions that need to be answered before we can proceed. Look out for any emailed queries, and respond as soon as possible.
Take payment for the album and any extras before you place the order with us, so we can get it into production as soon as you’ve signed off on our order confirmation form.
Check the order confirmation form carefully (and answer any queries) before you reply back to say we can go ahead. Make sure your payment details are current (if we hold them on file), or pre-load your card details into the Payment page on your account.
You do your bit, we’ll do ours, and your clients will be very happy people!
Thanks for reading.