While it might seem a little far-fetched to link research for what at the time was an expensive instant camera to the buying habits of today's consumers, is it that far out there? If a client is hiring you to photograph their kids, family or a wedding would you offer them just one 8x10? Of course not! But sadly, so many of you limit the products and services you offer. There are too many photographers not taking advantage of the variety incredible products out there.
It's Marketing Monday, so let's come up with a starter list of products/services to think about:
- Albums: There's everything on the planet available, giving photographers the ability to virtually customize a client's order. And, when you're thinking about their album, think plural. Everybody thinks multiple albums for weddings, but what about everything else you photograph? Why would you only plant the seed for them to think about one album? Doesn't Grandma deserve one too? Isn't it the perfect holiday or birthday gift following a "Day in the Life" shoot of the kids?
- Image boxes: I'd love to see more photographers using the image box concept. For this definition, it's a customized box holding up to a dozen or so matted prints. The mattes can be blank so a photographer, especially at an event, might have people sign them, and then drop in the actual photographs later on. Let's include not only the images but certificates that bring the client back to you. For example, a first anniversary sitting is the perfect place to start for a bridal client. If it's a Day in the Life album, then a first day of school is perfect. Maybe a birthday portrait. The list goes on and on, but you have to be the one to plant the seed.
- Frames: Here's one I've never understood, photographers who don't take advantage of framing the print for the customer. Everybody procrastinates about hanging prints, and your clients are in the "everybody" category. So, why wouldn't you offer them a custom frame for that print they're going to want of the family sitting? Ever attended one of Michele Celentano's workshops? She's very open about being a full-service artist, right down to the frame and showing up with a hammer and picture hook when she delivers the client's big portrait!
- Frequent Buyer Clubs: Over the years we've all become "point whores" with our credit cards, but there aren't enough photographers offering their clients the same benefits for their purchases throughout the year. Photographers specializing in children and family have an almost unlimited supply of events to encourage another sitting.
- Newsletters: I'm a huge fan of newsletters for photographers because they give you a chance to let your clients know about new services and products. Done right they can be so soft-sell they're really hard-sell, but nobody's offended. Plus, there are all kinds of templates available to help you with design and execution.
- Hybrid technology: This is another one I don't understand - photographers who are dragging their feet to deliver something new and exciting with a mixed media video, and Photodex couldn't make it easier with ProShow Web. From video holiday cards to thank-you notes, engagement and birth announcements, it's perfect for your target audience.
- BIG prints and posters: I realize that big prints aren't for everybody. Remember you're going to sell what you show. Make it a point to show some big images on display on your website. I've shared multiple links to Marathon's new Bella Art Prints in the past. They're affordable with outstanding quality.
- Canvas, metal and novelty prints: Again, like big prints, it's not for every photograph or client, but it represents one more exciting element in the process of added value and enhancement to the consumer experience. There's a lot we take for granted as photographers because we see them at every convention, but your clients hardly know about any of this and a big canvas print, or an image on metal or wood might just light a fire for more business with you.
- Multiple prints: It seems like an obvious choice, but if you don't remind your customers of the various print sizes you have available, they won't figure it out themselves. Make it easy for them with pre-selected packages. And as Sal Cincotta says in his short video on pricing, "We've got to punish bad behavior!" In other words, get your customers out of the idea of a la carte ordering.
- Tech-stops: I've heard some great stories about photographers finding ways to tie in a free iPad loaded with the wedding images, for example, to their clients. It's another product that can help make you different, but why stop there? Digital picture frames are so affordable they've become "no-brainers." Sheila's got a picture frame in our home that runs non-stop with over 600 images selected at random of family, friends, and vacations. It's old technology at this point, but that won't change a client's appreciation.
- Extended coverage: Not everything you offer has to be a tangible product. For example, a wedding photographer might offer 2 hours of extended coverage with a particular all-inclusive package.
- Novelty items: From watches to mugs to mouse pads and calendars - while you might think they're hokey, think about the impact of a surprise gift from you to a client you've loved working with. How's this for a scenario? You just shot a terrific engagement session, and the couple loves their dog. You're working on building the relationship with them, both before the wedding and because we're a word-of-mouth business and the bride has eight bridesmaids ALL in their 20's and all single! Can you imagine the word of mouth advertising you're going to create if you sent them something as simple as a watch with the pup's face on it? This isn't about classic imaging, but being able to take something most people would think of as cheesy and make your clients laugh!
- Websites and web pages: Yes, I'm suggesting you provide your client with a webpage. This certainly isn't a new idea, and you don't have to go very high tech. Utilize a template and give them their own custom page. It's minimal work and again, represents something you can offer to further enhance the experience.
- Gift packaged jump drives: I'm a big fan of Photo Flash Drives and their packaging ideas for your clients. I first met the crew at WPPI years ago, and they're always at the major photographic shows each year. Here's your chance to further enhance the client experience.
- Printed Holiday cards: With the December holidays coming up it's the perfect reminder to put this in the products you offer. You don't need to offer just holiday cards, but a full range of stationery, including thank-you notes.
I've written a lot about each of these added value pieces over the last few years, but in six weeks you're going to be out of the seasonality for 2017. Most of you will be in the "slow season" with opportunities to attend IUSA, WPPI, ShutterFest and many of the state conventions. At each conference, there will be a chance to check out new products and ideas for services. This is the stuff that helps build your business and your brand.
And for those of you who honestly believe all the Uncle Harry's of the world are your competitors:
In the hierarchy of reasons why consumers hire photographers, it goes brides, babies, and pets - in that order. There's no faster way to shut Uncle Harry down than to put together a complete imaging experience for every client.
If we've learned nothing else from McDonald's, you've got to ask every client, "You want fries with that?"