This may be one of my absolute favorite topics because it incorporates marketing, branding, psychology and business.
One of the biggest questions that I always get is “Should I do in-person sales or should I just include the digital images?”
My answer is always to do in-person sales for many reasons. While my experience is just one of many photographers, I do believe that doing in-person sales not only increases the level of service that you are able to provide to your clients, but it’s also the number one way to drive a sustainable photography business.
Because this is a huge topic, I am going to be doing a two part blog series solely on this topic with part two coming on Monday, so stay tuned.
“Should I do in-person sales?”
The quick answer to that is: YES. There are a couple reasons that I say yes without any reluctance. The first is that I believe that offering physical photography products from professional labs that your clients can’t get anywhere else is one of the best ways to separate yourself from other photographers. If you haven’t had a chance to read the blog post on why you should be showcasing your photography products, head over here.
The other answer to why I say “yes” to in-person sales is that it truly is a service to your clients. When your clients are investing in a photographer, you want to make sure that you’re serving them to the best of your ability. This includes things like explaining why one image would be better for an album spread or wall art over another. It may be designing an album or making sure that their images are cropped correctly when they’re order. The other service is making sure that they don’t have to worry about printing their own images! If you were to have them do this themselves, chances are the disc of images is going to be sitting on their desk for years to come and their beautiful portraits aren’t going to be displayed.
In essence, you want to do all of the leg work for your clients to ensure that they’re getting the best experience possible.
“It’s not worth my time to do in-person sales…”
And that’s where I will disagree. It is way more beneficial for you to doing in-person sales! As a whole, it’s much harder to charge the prices that you need to charge to make your business profitable while only offering digital images via a gallery download. More on that here.
But I would also rather spend an extra hour or two with my client to make sure that they’re getting the products that are right for their family while increasing your profit and providing them an amazing, full service photography experience. Even though it might seem like it’s easier to deliver the images only via a digital gallery, you also will not be making as much and will have to book more clients in order to make the same amount of income; increased clients are almost always more time intensive than spending extra time with your existing number of clients. Don’t forget that each new client booked means time educating them about your process, emailing back and forth, scheduling hair and makeup, driving to the shoot, doing the shoot, etc. This all hits your bottom line for how much you’re making per hour.
“I don’t have a space to meet my clients.”
I once thought this too. I don’t own a studio space and don’t know if I ever will. The reason? I just don’t think that I would utilize a studio space enough to justify it. I do all of my photography on-location, I am traveling a lot, and there’s not a demand for studio photography in my area.
So how do I do in-person sales?
One of the ways that I do is host the in-person sale at their home. There are many advantages to this like being able to measure their wall spaces if needed, custom designing their products to match their existing décor, not dragging them out after a long work day or making them drive 30 minutes to your studio. When I do this, I always bring something for them whether that be coffee or some fresh baked pastries depending on the time of day. The other option is to meet at a Starbucks or other coffee shop. I personally haven’t seen this affect my brand negatively because who doesn’t love getting out of the house to meet for coffee? If this doesn’t work for you, I would recommend finding a local business like an ice cream shop, lunch place or another business that has somewhere where people could come in and conduct business without the place caring.
While there’s so much more about in-person sales, these are just a few reasons as to why I believe in it. Stay tuned for Part II coming on Monday where I talk a little bit more about the big topic of selling the digital files or not and diving into that!