booking problems

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by Jaime Pennington, Mar 21, 2007.

  1. Jaime Pennington

    Jaime Pennington TPF Noob!

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    Hello I am a new wedding photographer and I need some help. I am advertising on the Knot website and I have gotten about 50 inquiries and only 6 meetings from the inquiries. I am in the cheaper price bracket and out of the 6 or 8 of us I am probably the most expensive? Do you think that the clients are comparing only the price. Also, I am wondering why out of the six clients that I have met with only 1 has booked. Should I send a follow up letter (I have already called them and they dont answer) At the actual meeting everyone acts so happy and cant wait to see the pictures at their wdding and then they tell me that they will look it over the package and call me next week. I think that I might have a problem with my presentation. I have a portfolio but it is not in the album that I am trying to sell (could that look kind of unprofessional) it is in a nice leather album. Also I am meeting at a coffee shop. The one that I did sell was a more expensive package than the others that I have offered. I also work out of my home and don't give out my address unless I book the wedding. It is not on any of my paperwork. Also is there a busy season for inquiries. Please help. Jaime
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    As you are finding out, being successful in many businesses is just as much about sales & marketing as it is about being good at what you do. Maybe look into taking some sales courses. There is a subtle art to being a good salesman and closing a deal.

    One way to 'wow' them would be to put together an impressive sales package. A nice folder with your business & photos on it, a well laid out price/package sheet or info sheet. A DVD with a slide show of your images, a pen with your name on it, a fridge magnet...etc. Give them this at the meeting, even if they don't hire you...they may keep your material and call you at a later time. All this may cost $20 per kit...but if it helps close more deals, then it's worth it.

    Do you have your own web site? I think that is a very important tool.

    You have to look at the market segment that you are targeting or want to target and price accordingly. You say that you are in the cheaper price bracket, but that you are the most expensive in that bracket. This about it this way, the people who are looking for a photographer, based on price (in the lower bracket), will probably choose the lower priced photographers...so you may have placed yourself in a bad spot.

    If you raise your prices, to get out of the lower price range, then you won't be attracting these bargain hunters and should hopfully attract clients that are more interested in the quality of your services. I've heard from many wedding photographers who have said that their business really took off, only after they raised (or doubled) their prices.

    Another good point that I've heard again and again, is that working for the bargain hunters is quite often a pain in the rear. They are always nickel and dimeing you, trying to squeeze as much value out of you as they can...without paying more, of course. So by raising your prices, you can also attract a better client.
     
  3. Jim Gratiot

    Jim Gratiot TPF Noob!

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    If you're getting 1 booking for every 50 inquiries (2%), you shouldn't have anything to worry about. Considering how expensive a wedding photographer is, that's a pretty good rate.

    Your main concern should be getting more people to your web site (and maybe consider setting up your own site). Then, as Mike said, read some marketing/sales books... but definitely do not lower your prices. Because it makes more sense to shoot (6) $5,000 weddings than (15) $2,000 weddings.

    That being said, work on your sales presentation... but bottom line is that it's common to get a lot of "looky-loo" type inquiries, people who have no intention of buying. 2% isn't bad... if you can work on getting 500 queries instead of 50.

    Sorry if that was rambling... but I think you're in better shape than you think you are.
     
  4. dewey

    dewey TPF Noob!

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    Really? I have to disagree. If I only got one booking for every 50 inquiries I would be doing something wrong. I guess it depends on what we call an inquiry - a phone call or an email? If that's the case 2% is amazingly bad. If 98 out of 100 people do not choose you after an inquiry you're not doing your job on the business side. This is not a dog at you - I'm being honest so you can improve.

    Anybody with enough training, experience and equipment can take wedding pictures... not everybody can succeed on the business side.

    Jamie if you truly want to make it as a successful wedding photographer read on and do not take this as anything bad!

    Price is not always the main concern for brides to be. There are some who will say the higher the price the better, but in reality it depends on where you live. If your business is in Minto, New Brunswick chances are you're not booking any $6,000 weddings. ;) I would say you don't want to be the lowest, so where you are sounds right.

    Now, you really have 3 different statistics here. First as Jim mentioned you are booking 2% of your inquiries which is too low. I know it costs me on average $20 for each lead I get, so if I booked only 2% of those leads I'd be in trouble fast. Second you met with 6 people out of 50 inquiries which is a 12% conversion rate. To some this might be a good number but in reality you will want to be in the 50% range. Last out of those 6 meetings you booked 1 couple which is just over 16%. Again just being honest that's too low.

    Find out how much it costs you per lead. How much does it cost you per meeting? What do you give your prospective clients? Do you give them a nice folder with your marketing paperwork inside? Are you a good salesperson? Are you confident in your work?

    These are all very important things to consider.

    I'm interested to know what happened with these other 5 meetings you did not book. How did the meeting start / proceed / end? If you let them leave without booking you can count them out usually. Like any sales person you have to sell them while they are in front of you. Are you asking them to book you or are you letting them run the meeting?

    Every meeting with a potential client for me goes something like this:

    - 15 minutes - my introduction, my bio and my style
    - 15 minutes - I ask about their wedding, their style, their needs
    - 5 minutes - we discuss money, which package, payment
    - 15 to 45 minutes - small talk about the wedding and initial planning

    I don't approach a meeting with a potential client as an opportunity to book them, I consider them booked and we just need to meet and sort out the paperwork. With this approach I am more confident and they pick up on this. Many brides will tell me that they chose me not because of price or features, but because they thought I was genuine and I knew what I was talking about. I have also heard it was because of how I dressed. There are SO many cheesy, sleezy wedding photographers out there that you need to be a cut above. What are you wearing to these meetings? I would wear a long sleeve dress shirt and a tie to your meetings to look professional.

    Also as Big Mike mentioned a professional website is a must - people who contact me have already seen my work, so they know what they're getting. Do you have a website? Tell us more about your operation and we'll try to stear you right.

    Don't give up - Book that wedding! :thumbup:
     
  5. Jim Gratiot

    Jim Gratiot TPF Noob!

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    Dewey:

    I agree... it largely depends on your definition of "inquiry." I was thinking of the more casual "window-shopper" type people, not serious prospects. If we're talking about the latter, I'll concede that 2% is way too low.

    It also depends where the inquires are coming from. A bride randomly finding your name on the Internet is a much less serious inquiry than a bride who was personally recommended by a couple whose wedding you shot.

    Just as a point of reference... what % of these meetings do you normally book? I love your attitude, and I'm sure it reflects well in your conversion rate.

    Jaime: take Dewey's questions to heart. It will help you focus your thinking... and will indeed boost your conversion rate. Good luck!
     
  6. niccig

    niccig TPF Noob!

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    I agree a website is a must! When I got married (before I got into photography) I was overwhelmed by the number of wedding photographers in my area - so at first I didn't even consider one who didn't have a professional-looking website. Though for budget reasons I did end up hiring an art student who I heard about from my husband's sister.
     
  7. dewey

    dewey TPF Noob!

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    It has improved every year for me - last year I averaged 85% conversion on meetings and this year so far (knocking on wood) I have booked 100% of the people I have met with which has not come without a lot of long hours and hard work.

    Speaking of these meetings - I spend about $30 on each package I give out to my clients in my presentation. Jamie what are you giving out at these meetings? Do you give a folder of some kind to your potential clients?

    Also you mention you do not give out your address which by itself isn't a bad thing, but you should at least have a standard letterhead across all of your paperwork. You can always get a PO box if you want to keep your home address secret.
     
  8. Jaime Pennington

    Jaime Pennington TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the help. I do have a website maybe you could look at it to tell me what you think.www.abbalyn.com
     
  9. Jaime Pennington

    Jaime Pennington TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for your help. All of my inquiries have been from the knot website and they usually say do you have my date available and what are your package prices.I also have a website.
     
  10. Jaime Pennington

    Jaime Pennington TPF Noob!

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    I have a cute but subtle folder with my package price sheets, contract, a magnet and a postcard with photos that I have taken on it.
     
  11. guitarkid

    guitarkid TPF Noob!

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    Jaime, when i first saw this post i thought i wrote it. i had to look at the name a couple times to make sure it wasn't me. i'm in the same boat as you with the knot. i don't have a lot of money, still work the day job to support my home and bills, etc. i have been on the knot for over a year...same story....

    i MIGHT get an email once a week or maybe twice a week and they all look the same...do you have this date available and please send pricing. ok, so i have an email that i copy and paste that basically says yes your date is available, and pricing starts out at $1100 for 6 hours coverage and 200 photos on CD.....out of the 800 we take. you also get online proofing for 4 months. i then ask a couple questions to get them to respond....rarely get a response. i'm convinced the knot has people on staff to FEED US lines to make us believe they are the best source to advertise with. i believe they don't have the following they say they have and they hire people with bogus address to tease us. my wife thinks i'm nuts but it can't be this bad.

    the same as you; if i get to meet a couple, it's usually about 1 couple out of every 40 or 50 emails and this is over the course of 3 months by the way. half of them sign right there and the others do not.

    AND i have the nice website where they already saw my work and pricing and they talk to me on the phone and THEN we met....and then they STILL want to think about it. i start by talking about what we offer and i show them the wedding album that goes over well with most couples, and i ask them questions about their wedding, etc. i take the laid back approach and don't force them. i treat them how i would want to be treated. i actually met a very nice couple today from the knot....first one in months from the knot. they saw all my work and pricing and website before we met in person today. they love my work and approach and they want to look things over....gave them the contract. i said that is fine. i handed them a couple biz cards and said please call or email with any questions. i told them as of now the date is available and i will contact them if another bride asks for it.....they liked that. they also thanked me for not pressuring them since a few studios they went to didn't want them to leave. they told them things such as....you better hurry, dates are filling! that's not cool. so she thanked me for not forcing them or pressuring them.

    back to the topic. i have spent way too much money on the knot and other avenues with very little return. i think i will cancel my contract but i'm not sure yet. i keep thinking that maybe an email will come through. people say word of mouth is the best....and that's great if you have years behind your biz. i don't......you have to start somewhere. my pricing goes from $1100 to $2300. maybe i should raise them but that makes me nervous as well. check out my site and see what you think.... www.sarweddings.com

    and someone suggested you close the sale no matter what when you meet. that's all and good but what line would you use if they say they want to think about it, as they get up and go. you can't say much on that one.

    good luck to you. sorry for the long post.
     
  12. AprilRamone

    AprilRamone TPF Noob!

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    Steve, one there are a couple things that jump out at me right away about your website. The first is that right away when you look at it, it doesn't shout "Photography" website. It looks rather businessy. (I know that's not a word:)) I think if you picked a really good main image and had it more prominent it would help. The other thing I noticed right away is that your samples are all just in one big section. I would split them up according to couple if you are going to have that many, or organize them in some way. Or if you want to just have one section, only show the VERY best of what you have and edit out some of the photos. A lot of people probably don't care about seeing a random shot of someone's dad giving a speech, unless it's really well done. Those are the kind of shots that probably won't sell you as much as the nice ones of the Bride and Groom looking good and happy together. I may be wrong, but that's just my opinion. Good luck!
     

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