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February 23, 2021
As a fine art photographer, I pride myself in creating images that evoke emotion and reflect a desired aesthetic through thoughtfully curated imagery. I take a similar approach to the way I present myself to potential clients. Many people are wildly uncomfortable with the idea of pitching them- selves to a potential client. Much like how many of us in the beginning of our photography careers were less assertive or confident in the curation of our images. Curating the information you present to potential clients is just as important as the curation of your work.
Long before I was a photographer, I was in corporate sales where I received some of the best sales training in the country. This article will walk you through how I use some of the skills I learned through corporate sales to develop a curated approach to artfully presenting my skill sets and work to potential photography clients. This method works well over the phone as well as in person.
In my years of sales experience, one of the most beneficial methods I learned was through the consultative based approach of CFS or Customer Focused Selling specifically using the Verbal Agenda. To this day, this is the method I use with all my potential photography clients. The verbal agenda is a formula that allows you to set the intention for the call with the client as well as outline how the call will run. After the initial pleasantries, I let the client know that I have an outline for the call so we can make the most of our time together. I let them know that I would love to ask them some questions to get to know them a little better, then I will share some information with them about my creative process and how I photograph a wedding day, from there we can go over any questions they may have. After I outline the call, I ask them if that sounds good to them. While I am strategic in sharing how I will run the call it is important for me to also make the client feel comfortable by confirming that they are onboard with the outline I have presented.
From there, I begin with a series of questions. These simple questions help me to determine, what information I should focus on and what information may help them to have a better understanding of my work. Overall the questions help me to establish a connection and build rapport with the client. When developing your list of client questions, it’s important to start with what you want to achieve during the call. For example, the simplest question I ask in the beginning is how did you meet? This allows me to get to know the client better while also identifying where I may be able to establish a connection with the client thus building rapport. Another question I ask is, where does photography rank in importance of their wedding day? This allows me to have a better understanding to how receptive they will be to our conversation as well as help me to eliminate the clients that may not be a good fit. Finally, I ask questions geared towards determining where their priorities are in their wedding plans. For example, I ask “What is the most important element of your wedding?” The answer to this question as well as the others will help me to determine what information I want to lead with during the next portion of our call.
Following the verbal agenda method (the outline we laid out for our client in the call) and the question portion, I begin to share information about my creative process and how I serve my wedding clients. It’s important to note, I do not manipulate the information I am sharing with the client I am simply curating what information I am focusing on based on what is important to them (which was determined by how they answered my questions). For example, if they were to list family or friends as the most important element of their wedding then I would talk about my pre wedding processes
of getting to know my clients in a way that allows me to serve not only them but their family members on a wedding day. If they list the party or fun as the most important element of their wedding then I would share more on the way I capture scenery shots during a wedding and how that can help them to relive those moments of celebration later on. I would also talk about how I structure portraits during a wedding day as not to detract from the party or celebration allowing them to enjoy as much time as possible with their friends and family. All of the information I am sharing with the clients is reflective of how I work and the level of service I provide on a wedding day. By curating that information specifically for them it helps to create a more fulfilling client experience. In addition to the curated information, I also cover anything else that is important to me as a wedding photographer. From there, I go over any questions that they may have.
When first implementing this curated approach to potential client calls or meetings I recommend making a list of the points you would like to share about your work/processes/etc. Then, based off the points you want to share, create a list of questions that will lead you to opportunities in the conversation where you can share said information. For example, I love to talk about my approach to serving clients on a wedding day and how special that experience is for me, so I ask the client about what elements of the wedding are important to them, so I know which method of serving the client to highlight in our discussion. After you make your list of questions, I would then identify how you will tie your responses back to the points you want to share with them. Having a set agenda or outline for your call paired with the specific questions you want to ask and the points you want to share with them will allow you to freely move through the conversation.
I look forward to hearing how this method works for you with your future potential client interactions. If you have any questions about this method or want to share your stories of success I would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim Stockwell is a Fine Art Film photographer based in Richmond, Virginia. The passion she has for her work comes from her ability to give clients beautiful authentic moments. Moments, that when cared for properly, can live forever. Her work has been nation- ally recognized and can be found in publications such as Martha Stewart Weddings, Style Me Pretty, Magnolia Rouge, Cottage Hill Magazine, Embrace Magazine, Charlottesville Wine & Country Magazine, & many more.
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