You finally did it. You made the leap to in-person sales and you’re so proud of yourself for taking your business to the next level. You’re connecting with new clients and there’s a definite sense of satisfaction when you hand deliver gorgeous, high quality framed prints and coffee table albums.
You’re on cloud nine, loving your new business workflow and the end results. And then one of your past clients calls to schedule a portrait session and the whole thing comes crashing down. You see, your new clients have no idea that you used to be a shoot and burn photographer. They have no idea that you instituted a minimum order just four months ago. They have no idea and so they have no reason not to trust your process. And because of all this, they have proper expectations for your process and they love it.
But oh those old clients... they’re tricky. You love them. I mean, how could you not? You’ve been photographing their family every fall for the last seven years. You were happy; they were happy. But now you’ve changed and they don’t like it. Here’s the hard truth about transitioning from shoot and burn to in-person sales: you will lose some clients.
And as hard as that is to hear, it’s a necessary part of growing your business and providing a higher level of service. That being said, you won’t lose all of your clients. Some will make the transition with you. And the good news is that there are some things you can do to set yourself up for success in transitioning as many clients as possible. Keep reading to find out our top tips for graduating as many of your clients as you can to your new in-person sales process.
Share your why and educate your clients.
Often times, we assume that our clients will think that the only reason we want to offer in-person sales is so that we can pressure them into spending more money than they want to. The truth is, clients have no idea why we offer in-person sales, so it’s up to us to educate them. Let your clients know all the reasons that in-person sales benefits them: they get your expert advice on picking out their favorite images and displaying them, they receive high quality products they can’t get anywhere else and they wrap up their portrait session experience with photos in hand to display instead of a disc of images to download to their computer. In addition to sharing all the reasons that in-person sales benefits your clients, we feel it’s important to share your ‘why’ as well. Clients connect with passion and purpose and sharing your ‘why’ is a great way to let your clients see the passion and purpose behind your decisions.
Set proper expectations. Outline the process.
Let’s face it, people don’t like change. Think about how much people complain every time Facebook changes something, even if we all agree that the change was for the best once we get used to it. That’s just the way people are. The good news is that you can offset some of the resistance to change by simply setting proper expectations and outlining the process for your clients. If you haven’t already done so, sit down and mentally work through your entire process start to finish. Write it out in a clear and concise, step-by-step format and post it on your website. Include it in printed materials. Explain the process to your clients over the phone or in person at the session. The more you can prepare your clients for what to expect, the more likely they are to accept the change.
The honest truth is that most people who purchase a disc of images never do anything with those images. Some people don’t even download them to their computer and back them up. We all have good intentions, but life is busy and 9 clients out of 10 will never design their own album or even print a single photo. You can give your clients a gentle reminder by simply asking them how they are displaying the images from your previous sessions. When they explain that they’ve been too busy or too overwhelmed to do anything with the images, that will help solidify your reasons for making sure they leave the next session with actual prints in their hands.
Show off your products.
Some of your clients will actually have printed photos and albums from previous sessions. If you’re thinking this will work against you, you’re wrong. You and I both know that there’s a HUGE difference in quality between professional products and consumer level products. And if you’ve done your homework and found the highest quality products, and chosen to offer products that you’re really excited about, your clients will be hard pressed not to swoon over your gorgeous frame options and albums. So show off your products at every chance you get. Create a product gallery on your website. Add images of your finished prints and albums on display to your printed materials and your emails. Post them on your blog and social media. And when you see your clients in person, make sure you get your products in their hands. Quality shines in person.
Offer a one time incentive.
After all this, you may still feel hesitant about pushing your old clients into your new ways. That’s okay. We understand your hesitation, but you can do this! If you’re still worried about keeping your clients happy, offer them a one time incentive to book a session with you that includes in-person ordering. We recommend giving your client something for free, but keep in mind that it should be high value to the client and low cost on your end. Tip: A framed 8x10 print makes for a perfect incentive!
If there’s one thing we want you to know, it’s this: don’t let one (or several) old client who is unhappy with your new process make you rethink things. You’re on the right track. In-person sales combined with your fantastic photography and people skills is the best way to creating a sustainable business that let’s you earn a good living and shoot fewer sessions so you have more time to spend with your family. So stay the course and just keep reminding yourself that you’re moving in the right direction!
P.S. Need a little help with wording when reaching out to old clients via email? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here’s an email template you can use. Feel free to customize it to fit your voice and branding.
I wanted to thank you for being part of the YOUR STUDIO family. I'm excited to announce that the business has grown so much I have restructured so that I can better serve you and offer a full service experience unlike anything I have offered in the past. I have implemented a new approach to how you will select your images and have them delivered as gorgeous products that will guarantee you are getting the best experience, and outcome, possible.
I can’t wait to share all the reasons you’re going to love the new process! Please respond to this email to schedule a time [to come to the studio and] meet before we schedule your next portrait session. Our new SPECIFIC PRODUCTS are gorgeous and I know you’re going to adore them.
Looking forward to seeing you soon,
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Hi! Tell us a little bit about yourself. What was your road like to becoming a photographer?
Hello! I am a portrait photographer based south of Boston, MA. My passion is capturing mothers and their growing families. Maternity and newborn portraits are the foundation of my business, and I also capture baby milestones, children, and families. Fun fact: I returned the diamond earrings my husband bought me for our first Christmas as a married couple to buy a digital camera.
When I was in college, I had a friend who was a professional photographer. The first time I went to her home, I walked in to find stunning photographs of her children on the walls.
There was a huge canvas in their living room and a creative photo display in the main hallway. I remember being so moved by the beauty of those images, thinking to myself, “I want to create images like this!” I bought myself a DSLR as a graduation present, learned photography from online courses and started my photography business about a year later.