Do you love having your images printed in beautiful albums for your clients? Care about quality, presentation and professionalism in your craft? Do every one of your clients get an album, though?
If you are like 80% of professional photographers, then your answer is most likely “yes” to the first two questions, and “no” to the last.
I want to show you how to be in the 20% of professional photographers who consistently deliver beautifully finished albums to every one of their clients. I’d like to show you how you can discuss, present and sell albums effectively, and also how to make a great income from doing so.
In case you still need a bit convincing on the importance of albums, there are three foundational benefits in having your clients walk away from their photographic experience with an album:
- Your client gets a beautiful finished product that will stand the test of time.
- Your artistry is properly presented and preserved.
- Album sales can significantly contribute to your bottom line.
Fundamentals to Selling Albums
Getting back to basics
The title to this article is admittedly slightly misleading. Let’s be honest … no one wants to be sold to, and so you have to approach the idea of “selling” albums with the right intent. When you do, and when you pay attention to all of the details we’ll discuss in this article, then every one of your clients will happily choose to purchase an album. That’s how you create clients for life – allowing them to purchase what they want versus manipulating them through a stingy sales process.
There are four key fundamentals in offering albums to your clients that will set you in the right direction.
Album Sales Fundamental #1 – Every couple wants an album
Let’s face it – whether your couple purchases an album from you or not, she wants an album. Period. Albums are so engrained in the tradition of wedding photography, that it is almost assumed to always be the end product. As a professional photographer, it’s your job to show the value, build excitement and educate your clients through the process so that they choose to purchase an album through you vs doing it themselves.
Everyone wants an album, we just have to show them why they should want ours.
Which brings us nicely to the second fundamental in offering albums to your clients …
Album Sales Fundamental #2 – Give couples something they can’t get themselves
There are many great options on the consumer market for couples looking to put together their own albums, and there’s even decent free design software that makes it relatively easy to actually lay out the album themselves. We know these are sub-quality offerings, but the many couples will likely be considering this as an option. As a professional photographer, you need to be offering albums (and a process) that is radically different (and better) than what your clients can get (and do) on their own.
Fundamental #3 – Make it easy to buy
One of the main reasons your clients don’t purchase albums from you is because you don’t make it easy for them to do so. There’s an idea called the “paradox of choice”, that says when we’re overwhelmed with options, we’ll often choose none. The same can be true for the process you offer as a means to make those decisions. You must make it easy for your clients to buy. Here are the four ways you might be making it not easy to buy, and you need to look at the reverse of each in order to optimize the process:
- You have too many options.
- You don’t have a clear way of communicating the options.
- Your process is complicated.
- You put too many barriers in the way.
Simplify and systematize the process and you’ll make it much easier to successfully sell albums.
Fundamental #4 – Believe in albums yourself
This might be one of the biggest shifts you can make in successfully selling albums – you must believe in them yourself! When you don’t believe in the value and importance of an album yourself, it’ll come across (perhaps subconsciously) to your clients, and you’ll appear unsure, disingenuous and pushy. Get yourself “on board” with the concept of albums and believe in their value. If you don’t fundamentally believe in them, then don’t offer them, simple as that.
Client flow for successful album sales
Being mindful to the client lifecycle
I’ve talked a lot about educating your clients, building value first and setting expectations in the past. These principles also equally apply in selling wedding albums – education, setting expectations and repetition is key!
There are five different stages during the client “lifecycle” that you can be injecting a conversation about the album in: the pre-inquiry, the inquiry, the consultation, on the wedding day and after the wedding. I’d suggest that you define “points” along the way where you can intentionally discuss, show and mention the wedding album. It gives you “excuses” to talk about the album, set the client expectations, educate and build value.
Here are 11 sample steps and moments throughout a typical process where you can have an “excuse” to talk about the album:
- Give albums to vendors to show off your work.
- Show photos of albums on your website.
- Talk about your albums on your website.
- Mention albums in your first response to a client’s inquiry.
- Show albums in your studio during the meet-and-greet.
- Talk about the importance of albums during the consultation.
- Build albums into your wedding collections.
- Mention the album again at the wedding.
- Re-iterate that you “can’t wait to design the album” when you say your goodbyes at the end of the wedding.
- Mention the album after the wedding when you send proofs. Send a pre-design when (or before) you send the proofs.
- If you mail digital proofs, include a card that says “enjoy these while you wait for your album to come”.
I promise that when you’re this intentional and purposeful in making the wedding album such a big part of your business, there’s no way your clients’ wouldn’t want one.
Communication: Verbiage and language
Language, verbiage and effective communication skills are crucial to success in selling. It’s the difference between coming across as a sleazy manipulative salesperson and being a genuinely persuasive communicator. Note: the difference between manipulation and persuasion is this: in manipulation, one person wins and the other loses, whereas with persuasion, both people win.
Four steps to selling albums – believe, simplify, make it easy to buy and educate.
I never teach about the “tactics” of sales because I simply don’t believe in sales tactics. You should never come across as sales-y, scripted or rehearsed and you certainly don’t want to be manipulative.
I believe that success sales is about adopting the right mindset, choosing the right words and communicating in an effective manner. Below are 4 tools you can adopt for your voice and in your tone. Note that these are not “hard tactics” or sales techniques, but instead ideas that you can take into consideration and concepts that may give you inspiration in framing the “album conversation” with your clients.
- Remember that every couple ultimately does want an album, so assume that they’ll be getting an album in your conversations with them. Talk as if the album is a given.
- Talk down or deemphasize other options such as digital files. Explain the benefits of having a beautiful finished album vs files that will be left on a hard drive to die.
- Paint the picture of your client having an album. Describe a situation or ask question as if they already have the album, and get them to visualize what that may look like.
- Talk about how others always get the album. Success breeds success and when it’s understood that the album is what “most people get”, it’s something that is inherently more attractive.
Next week, I’ll be releasing two articles related to this one. One of them will be about how to effectively use sample albums as a sales tool, and the other will be the mechanics of pricing your albums. Leave your email address above to be notified once these articles are published.
What to do next?
Four steps to selling albums to every client, every time:
1. Believe in albums yourself.
2. Simplify your album offering.
3. Make it easy to buy.
4. Set expectations and educate about the album often.