Business + Branding Education for Fearless Boss Ladies
This post is part of the series, The Ultimate Guide To Being A Wedding Photographer — advice for running a successful wedding photography biz. Click here to view a list of all the posts in this series.
I talk to so many photographers who absolutely dread client consultations.
Some hate consultations so much that they try to avoid them all together — which is absolutely shocking to me.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still get a little twinge of nervousness… butterflies in my stomach… before every client meeting. But I think that’s a good sign… it keeps me on my toes.
But truthfully, I think you need to have a face-to-face with every client before you book them.
I get the nerves thing — client consultations are really just glorified job interviews. But you should be interviewing your potential clients too.
By now you should know your Ideal Client (If you don’t, check out this post and grab your free Ideal Client Avatar worksheet!).
So, you need to check out these potential clients to see if they’re a good fit, and if you’re the right photographer for them.
Client consultations are also a vital part of any well-executed Brand Experience. It’s the first time they’ll get to meet you. And if done right, it can be love at first sight — and they may just book you on the spot!
Because I think they’re so important (and you definitely need to make them part of your brand experience), I’m sharing my top 7 tips for meeting with brides:
You should choose the location you’ll be meeting at (not the client). If you have a studio, with your gorgeous work all over the walls… there you go!
If not, don’t fret. Refer back to your Ideal Client Avatar worksheet to pick a place that your Ideal Client would like. And it might not be Starbucks… or it might. It depends on your Ideal Client.
Whatever it is, it should work seamlessly with your own brand.
A studio space should be physical representation of your brand — decorated in the same style and colors.
If you are choosing a meeting space (coffee shop, bar, etc.) it should complement your brand aesthetic and values.
Nobody wants to get stood up — for a date or a client meeting. So make sure you confirm with your clients beforehand.
I like to send a confirmation email 24 hours before. I restate the time and location so there’s no confusion.
Like I said, the client consultation is a vital part of your over-all brand experience.
Most likely, their experience began with an initial “touchpoint” that piqued their interest (they came across your perfectly branded business card… or your perfectly branded and curated Instagram feed).
That touchpoint directed them to the next — your website — where they were able to learn more about you and get in touch. (click here for more information about turning website visitors into clients!)
And from there, you emailed back-and-forth and scheduled this client consultation.
Each one of these experiences are touchpoints in your overall brand experience. And to have a successful brand experience — one that not only books your ideal client, but gets them to send more ideal clients your way — it needs to be consistent and flawless.
So now you’re at the next client touchpoint — meeting them face-to-face (or virtually, if necessary). Be sure your brand is consistent here as well.
You can do this by bringing your brand with you — if your brand is bright, bubbly and colorful, you should be bright, bubbly and colorful as well!
Speaking of bringing your brand with you, make sure you dress the part. This is a job interview, after all.
But I’m not suggesting you wear a suit (unless that is part of your brand). Instead, wear something from your brand wardrobe.
I tell my branding clients to create a wardrobe of just “brand clothes” that they wear whenever they are interacting with clients or representing their brand. These wardrobe items should be the same colors as your brand colors. And the same style as your brand aesthetic.
Still wondering what I’m talking about? Feel free to creep around my website — all those clothes I’m wearing in my brand photos? Those are from my brand wardrobe. Pretty cool, huh?
Plus, if you’re wearing the same clothes from the photos on your website — those new clients are going to recognize you as soon as they walk through those coffee shop doors (or wherever).
You’ll want to have a branded takeaway item (marketing piece) that they can go home with. And you’ll want it to be high-end. Like, the coolest, most luxurious think you can think of.
That way, when they’re at home, days later, after meeting with two other photographers, they’ll pick up your marketing piece (compared to the other photographer’s flimsy postcard, or nothing at all) and who will they be more drawn to?
I help my branding clients create one of a kind marketing pieces to wow their clients. Click here for more info!
No, I’m not talking about religion or politics.
When I would meet with brides and grooms I made it my mission to not talk about these two things:
Woah, woah, woah… what?
Listen, I get it. It sounds crazy. But it works!
They’re planning a wedding, meeting with vendors, who desperately want to book them. So all those vendors are gonna ask them about their wedding… then talk about themselves (and their awesome service that they can do better than any vendors… so they should book right away).
It gets old. Cliche.
Instead, get to know THEM. Talk about THEM. As individuals. As a couple.
In Dale Carnegie’s book “How To Win Friends And Influence People” — a business classic! If you haven’t read it yet, you totally should!! — he explains how much people LOVE to talk about themselves.
And the only thing they love more?
Someone who will listen.
Be that someone. It will set you apart from every other wedding vendor, and make them fall in love.
By the end of my wedding photography career, my consultation tactic was to treat it like a first date (not an interview). Hang out, drink coffee, and spend 2+ hours getting to know them as people (not a bride or groom).
Then at the very end I’d say, “Oh, you’re getting married… do you want to talk about wedding photography?”
By that point we’d already fallen in love with each other. Instead of a battery of questions (printed from some arbitrary Pinterest list… where they’re supposed to ask me what kind of camera equipment I use… which doesn’t matter anyway… because they’d have no idea what I was talking about… yeah, you know that list?? dumb.) they’d maybe ask a question or two.
But really they’d already made up their minds…
If they didn’t book me then, it was because they wanted to discuss it first (privately). And then I’d get an email from them within 24 hours — to book.
Works. Like. A. Charm.
And it’s not sleazy or salesy. You didn’t spend the last two hours (realistically 30 mins… cuz those meetings never go well) spouting “buy, buy, buy.”
You spent two enjoyable hours getting to genuinely know two other human beings… and the beginning of your relationship together. Isn’t that what life is all about?
Added bonus… they’re gonna pay you to do what you love, all while you get to hang out with them and get to know them even better.
If they didn’t book you on the spot (which they totally might, if you are rockin’ your brand experience!) email them as soon as you get home.
Thank them for taking the time to meet with you. And let them know how much fun you had and how much you enjoyed meeting them.
Also, include something personal in the email that you learned about them during the meeting. (i.e. “I’m so excited that you love _____ as much as I do! It’s a really great _____ and not many people know about it.”). This will only reiterate that you were listening to them and genuinely interested in their lives.
Then add value.
I always like to think of one thing I can send to them (in an email) after the meeting — maybe the bride mentioned searching for other vendors, then I’d tell during the meeting that I will send her my list of preferred vendors.
This does two things:
So there you have it, friend! My top 7 tips for rocking your wedding consultations (and hopefully booking them right then and there!)
I’m just dying to know — what are you gonna do to rock your next consultation?? Tell me in a comment below!