Don’t spend a dime on marketing unless you have these 5 things in order.

We’ve all heard the expression “don’t put the cart before the horse.” That simply means the cart is the vehicle which is usually pulled by a horse, so putting the cart before the horse is an analogy for doing things in the wrong order.

That’s an important bit of advice for anyone with a photography business.

One way we can put the cart before the horse is by marketing for business before we have actually built a strong foundation for success. Obviously, we want to attract customers, but what would be the use of getting a customer that received a less than ideal customer experience? That client would not likely become a repeat client nor would they likely refer our business to others.

I feel there are at least five things we must have in place before we begin to attract leads to our business:

  1. Products and services – Many photographers just pull the trigger and open the doors for business by popping up a website of images and then trying everything possible to get visits to that site. They haven’t given serious thought to what products they want to offer. You need to answer questions such as: Do I sell digital files or prints, or both? What about albums? How many album choices? How many spreads will my base album have? How many photos will an average spread have? Cover options? Print finishes? What about sizes? What resolution do I sell digital images at? How long do I keep galleries live? How do I present the final images? Should I do in personal sales or sell online? There are many decisions to be made and many of them can actually have a big impact on your business. Having policies in place, having a carefully curated product menu means guiding your clients in their purchasing journey. What do I want to photograph and what jobs would I refer away to others? Making up your mind in advance to focus on certain genres makes it easier to turn away work that isn’t part of your plan.
  2. Pricing  After we have established what products and services we are offering, we must also determine how to price them. Just charging what the studio across town charges is not the way to price your work and yet many photographers start out by doing just that. They find out what their competitors charge and copy those prices (or undercut them) without any thought to costs or profit margins. Bryan and I have written a book on how to price your photography called Pricing for Profit that can help you get your prices where they need to be in order for you to be profitable.
    You need to know what you charge for all your services and products and be able to communicate pricing with confidence.
  3. Turnaround times – In order to set proper expectations for clients, you must have figured out how long they can expect to wait after placing an order with you. You need to research how long each product takes from the time you order it from your lab or album company. Add a few days for possible shipping from you to the client. Take an average time for editing a wedding and then add a few extra days for safety and begin to create a repeatable workflow for your business. If you shoot a wedding or portrait session, build a workflow for downloading the images, culling, editing, creating a proof gallery or setting up a viewing. Create a systemized way of showing your clients what to expect.
  4. Response policy and system  Communication can make or break first impressions. When we get a lead from our website or phone calls to our studio phone line, how long do we take to respond to a lead?  Do we follow up promptly? How do we handle problems or mistakes? Do we have a system in place to make repeated questions answered easily, faster and more efficiently? How often do we check for messages on the business Facebook page or Instagram account? 
  5. Hours of business schedule– Too many photographers have not given thought to what their business hours are and answer direct inquiries at any hour, seven days a week. While that might seem like great service, it doesn’t allow much for a personal life with time away from work. Having set hours also helps with creating a repeatable work schedule. Block off regular time for editing and prepping orders each week. Appoint certain times in the week when you will book sessions, sales appointments and consultations. Having all these factors properly considered and implemented before the inquiries come in will help to create a better client experience. It is also incredibly important that you as the photographer, educate all prospects and incoming clients on all the relevant information that’s applicable to their reason for coming to you.

Let’s give an example of what I mean.

Let’s say you get a wedding inquiry. You are available for the date and you reply saying just that.

“Hey thanks for getting in touch, I happy to say that I’m available for your date. Let’s chat soon!  
Best regards, 
Rob 

How much have you helped that client? Yes, you have indicated that you’re available but imagine how much more you could have done to educate and inform.

[icegram messages=”14297″]

What if you had said something like this,

“Thanks so much for your inquiry! I am excited to say that I am still currently available for your date. Congratulations on your choice of venue, I have photographed there countless times and it’s one of my favourite venues. I’d be happy to show you some specific examples of wedding photography I’ve taken there. 

It would be great to chat with you about the plans you have for your wedding. I’m available for calls Tuesday through Friday 9-5. or Wednesday evenings from 7-9pm. When’s the best time for a phone call for you?

I’m sure you must have many questions about my services, so may I send you our studio wedding magazine? It has information about our style of shooting and what you can expect from the time you book our services to receiving your gorgeous wedding album. I just need to get your mailing address and I will express ship your magazine to you. 
Let me know also a good time to get together for an in person meeting or a chat by phone. 
Looking forward to hearing all about your special day! 

Best regards, 

Robert

Having all our packages already built and priced and delivering a known repeatable workflow to a prospective client, can easily build trust and credibility. Your role in the process is to be their guide and to effortlessly lead them from step to step, all the while educating and showing value. In the email above I ask for permission to properly educate them by sending them additional information by way of my studio magazine. I wouldn’t want to send that by email for two reasons. First, all that information would make a very lengthy email indeed. If I sent the information in an attached pdf, (which I could of course), it wouldn’t show the same level of value that a physical magazine would arriving in the mail.

When you have built the foundation for the five steps described above you can then confidently market for business knowing that anyone who comes calling will enter into a consistent and repeatable customer journey. A journey where you can anticipate their needs and questions and deliver the appropriate answers and steps at just the right time.

Written by <br>Robert Nowell
Written by
Robert Nowell

Professional photographer, photography professor and co-founder at Sprout Studio.

Written by <br>Robert Nowell
Written by
Robert Nowell

Professional photographer, photography professor and co-founder at Sprout Studio.

SEEDS TO SUCCESS

Weekly actionable business tips for photographers

Workflows

Sick of drowning in admin tasks?

admin tasks

Sick of drowning in admin tasks?

reports & analytics

Time to stop guessing and start growing.

galleries

Elevate your photography with stunning galleries.

ambassadors

Earn as a photography ambassador.

scheduler

Streamline your photography schedule.

INDUSTRY REPORT

The Photographer's 2024 Industry Report. Out now.

SPROUT AI

Create questionnaires for clients in seconds.

SPROUT AI

Stop wasting your time writing emails.

Sprout AI: Questionnaires

Create questionnaires for clients in seconds.

Effortlessly design tailored client questionnaires with Sprout AI, the world’s first AI questionnaire builder for photographers. Say goodbye to the hours spent drafting and revising what to say – transform your client interactions now!

Sprout AI: EMAILS

Stop wasting your time writing emails.

Elevate your communication game with Sprout AI. Craft compelling emails in your unique brand voice, effortlessly and efficiently! With a click of a button, you can spend more time doing what you love – photography.

INDUSTRY REPORT

The Photographer's 2024 Industry Report. Out now.

We sent out a survey to thousands of professional photographers to better understand how the first half of 2023 was looking for them and what they were thinking about, worried about and excited about moving into 2024. See what they had to say.

2024 Industry Report print out for Professional Photographers
SEEDS TO SUCCESS

Weekly actionable business tips for photographers

Success in photography is 80% business and 20% photography. Easier said than done, right? It’s ok – you just haven’t had the right systems, habits and strategies. That’s about to change. Join Seeds to Success and every Thursday morning, I’ll email you with 1 specific business tip to help you move the needle in your business.

Workflows

Sick of drowning in admin tasks?

Photographers, don’t let admin tasks dim your creativity. Sprout Studio’s automation and customizable workflows can set you free. Let Sprout Studio take care of the heavy lifting. Sign up for our free trial and rediscover the joy of photography.

Sprout Studio Professional Photography All-in-one CRM
ADMIN TASKS

Sick of drowning in admin tasks?

Photographers, don’t let admin tasks dim your creativity. Sprout Studio’s automation and customizable workflows can set you free. Let Sprout Studio take care of the heavy lifting. Sign up for our free trial and rediscover the joy of photography.

Sprout Studio Professional Photography CRM
Reports & Analytics

Time to stop guessing and start growing.

Sprout Studio’s analytics, email marketing, and automation can elevate your photography business. Sign up for our free trial and take the first step towards success.

Sprout Studio Professional Photography Business Insights
Galleries

Elevate your photography with stunning galleries.

Present your work in the best light with our advanced gallery software. Showcase your creativity and connect with your audience like never before. Experience the power of visual storytelling today.

Sprout Studio Professional Photography Proofing Galleries
Scheduler

Streamline your photography schedule.

Tired of juggling appointments and bookings? Our scheduler features are designed to simplify your life. Spend less time managing schedules and more time capturing moments. Try our scheduler today and take control of your time.

Sprout Studio Professional Photography Scheduler
Ambassadors

Spread the love and earn as a photography ambassador.

Calling all photographers! Want to turn your passion into earnings? Join our ambassador program and share your love for photography. Not only do you get to be a part of an inspiring community, but you also have the chance to make money doing what you love.

Sprout Studio Professional Photography Client Portal
Share this article
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
LinkedIn

Related Posts

14-days of awesomeness, on us!

14-days of awesomeness, on us!

#1 SIGNUP
#2 CONFIRMATION

Let's create your free trial account

Sprout users make double the money and get back 28 hours each week. See the difference for yourself…

Already have an account? Log in

This site is protected by SSL. Privacy policy and terms of service apply.

#1 SIGNUP
#2 CONFIRMATION
Black Friday Exclusive

Let's create your free trial account

And during Black Friday week, sign up for an annual plan and save 25%. Learn more.

Already have an account? Log in

This site is protected by SSL. Privacy policy and terms of service apply.

See how Sprout looks and feels

Book a complimentary 1-on-1 demo call with our team or watch a pre-recorded demo now!

Select “Sprout Studio Demo Call” to start.

Prefer not to wait?

#1 WELCOME
#2 SIGN-UP
#3 CONFIRMATION

Save 20% with your friend's coupon!

Hey there! When you sign-up now, you receive 20% off all annual and monthly plans in Sprout Studio – a studio management suite built for photographers by photographers.

With Sprout Studio, you can stay organized, give your clients a seamless experience, get more done, and now SAVE BIG because of your friend!

Get started

or

Already have an account? Log in

This site is protected by SSL. Privacy policy and terms of service apply.

Step 1 of 8