Many of you have personal clients for family portraits, headshots, wedding photos, and similar types of photo shoots. That’s a great set of clients. But there’s another type of client that you should look into—business customers—namely, the agents and small firms who regularly need photography work. They represent a huge source of work.
Consider, for example, real estate agents who need great photos of every home they sell or rent. They know that great pictures help them sell or rent properties much more quickly and for a higher price. What about all the small firms who produce and sell products both online and off? They need professional pictures of their entire inventory and of any new items that they produce or sell to increase online conversion rates and catalog sales.
This post explains how to easily find and meet 20 business prospects and provides advice for converting a good number of them into paying clients. Juggling that many paying clients requires great organization, so make sure you’re prepared with a CRM for photographers that fits your needs. This will help you be equally effective in your communication and with retaining those clients when they have additional photography projects in the future.
Present an offer they can’t decline
Before you even consider approaching a business customer, be clear on the offer you plan to present them. Some general rules to follow when creating your offer:
- Don’t take money directly from that client; get paid from the money your service earns or saves them
- Present an offer that beats the competition—not necessarily in price, but perhaps by delivering something extra that nobody else can or does
- Paint a clear picture of how your offer is better than any others
- Commit to a 24-hour turnaround on photo delivery and back it up with a money-back guarantee
Bring ice cream
When meeting with a potential client, always remember that you are taking up their valuable time. Compensate them for that time—a concept that I call taking along “ice cream.” In other words, bring along a gift like a cupcake, a bottle of wine, or a bag of coffee beans. Show them an example of the type of product you can deliver. Even better, help them solve a problem or issue for free. What you bring depends on of the amount of potential revenue the prospect represents.
Generally speaking, the more “ice cream” you provide before signing a contract, the more you will earn from that client. Read the book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook” by Gary Vaynerchuk to learn how to earn more from clients by giving them something first.
Start with who you already know
In all likelihood, you already have a large list of prospects—it’s your contacts list, Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, and other social media connections. Review these sources and use them to build a prospects list. Next, talk to friends and ask them if they know and can introduce you to any of the individuals or companies on the list. Introductions always help and increase your chances of converting a prospect into a paying customer. Don’t stop there. Expand your prospects list by politely asking potential clients if they know any other prospects to whom they could introduce you to.
Be personable and a problem-solver to convert
When first meeting with a prospect, don’t try to directly sell your photography services. Instead, share your ideas for how they can improve their business. Use this approach, and you will convert more cold leads into potential clients because you’ve already given them something—your valuable advice.
If you do present a truly unique offer, then you should be able to convert at least 20% of your contacts into clients. As for the other 80%, you can come back to them later with an offer they can’t refuse.
In the meeting, talk about a variety of topics that match their interests. Truly good meetings have naturally flowing conversation with no awkwardness or discomfort on either side. If a conversation doesn’t feel natural, go back to the drawing board; review what happened and determine how you can improve with the next, or even the same, prospect.
At the end of each conversation, you should feel like you have become friends with the prospect. In fact, you should feel so close that you would feel totally at ease asking him or her to take a selfie with you. You don’t really have to take the selfie—you just have to ask yourself if you would feel comfortable asking to do so.
Take the initiative
By the way, you need to be the person who contacts the prospect and runs the meeting. You ask for the meeting, give advice and assistance, and devise a solution that helps the prospect. The meeting is not about figuring out how the prospect can help you.
In an ideal meeting, you’d start off by explaining your agenda, limit the conversation to 30 minutes, and leave the prospect by proposing a simple next step. Never arrive at a meeting empty-handed. You should be able to show the prospect your work and tell stories about how you were able to help others.
Another thing that helps? Pass out a creative business card at the end of your conversation, right before you shake hands. Say something nice, funny or catchy that relates to your business card. That final moment can help keep you in the forefront of the prospect’s mind.
Those are the basics for getting business clients. As a photographer, I know you are a creative person, so put your unique spin on the process so that it works for you.