When you meet with a couple for the first time, you're setting the tone for the rest of your relationship with them. You want that relationship to be based on one thing – TRUST. Clients who trust you don't feel the need to mirco manage the photos on their wedding day. They allow you to create the kind of images you love because they love them too. They hire you because they believe in you. Clients who trust you, BOOK you.
Last week we talked about overcoming “job interview” consultations (link to previous) by establishing yourself as a professional through branding and web presence and by standing out among the other photographers in your area. Today we're going to talk a little more about what happens when a client comes to meet with us in our in home studio and how we use all aspects of the experience to establish a strong level of trust with them.
HOW WE ESTABLISH TRUST
Demonstrate the Ability to Capture Their Most Important Moments
Wedding photography isn't just about capturing how a couple's wedding day LOOKED, it's about capturing how it FELT. Couples spend time and money on things like decor, flowers and food, but at the heart of it all, they want their day to be about love and beautiful memories. When a couple arrives at our studio the first thing we do is sit them down, thank them for coming and invite them to watch a slideshow of our work. We excuse ourselves to grab some drinks in the kitchen and dim the lights as we leave. (Ryan's absolute favorite part of our studio is the awesome remote control dimmer switch that controls our recessed lights! We get lots of “Oohhs” and “Ahhhs” when we show off this little piece of mood-setting magic.) As photographers, our favorite images tend to be portraits of our couples, but we make it a point to show much more than that in our slideshow. We want to showcase the moments of the weddings we capture – the bridesmaids swooning over the bride in her wedding dress, the proud father walking his daughter down the isle, the groom wiping away a tear as he sees his bride for the first time and the laughter and crazy dance moves of their friends on the dance floor. Couple's want to know that they'll be able to look at their wedding photos years down the line and experience these emotions all over again. Our goal is to assure them that they can trust us to deliver those images.
Take A Genuine Interest in Every Couple
As we return to the room and the lights “magically” go up, we get things started by congratulating the happy couple on their engagement with a sparkling apple cider toast, and then we start to ask questions. Whenever possible, we try to get our couples to share things about themselves. We ask them about their relationship, their lives, their hobbies, what TV shows they watch, what's important to them about their wedding, what they love about their venue, etc. As long as we can keep them talking, we do. The thing that's so nerve racking about consultation is the idea of a “sales pitch.” We've found over the years that the less we talk about ourselves, the better. Takes the pressure off a bit doesn't it? When someone shows a genuine interest in you, they endear themselves to you. We want every couple who meets with us to feel heard and valued.
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people
than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
– Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
Be Up Front About Pricing
When a client sends us an initial inquiry, the first thing we do is send them a PDF of our complete price list. I know there are two schools of thought on this and we're definitely not trying to say that one way is right and the other is wrong. Some photographers prefer to share pricing when they have the client in person and some just send a price range up front rather than their whole list of options. Neither approach is right or wrong, sending it in advance is just what works for us. The last thing we want is for a couple to fall in love with our work and come all the way out to meet with us only to discover we're no where near their price range. We want to be clear about what we offer so there's never any feeling that we're trying to be “pushy sales people.” That would diminish the trust we're trying to establish with them. We'd rather talk as little about money as possible and spend the time getting to know the couple and talking about the role we'll play in their day. When we know they've already looked at everything we have to offer, all we have to do is answer any questions they may have. It gives us a chance to help guide them to the coverage options that make the most sense for them based on what we've learned about what is important to them.
Let Them Know That We Value Their Marriage
To wrap things up, we tell them how much more important their marriage is than any aspect of their wedding day. (And yes, we actually mean it!) The best part of our job is coming alongside our couples at the forefront of their life together and being able to celebrate the beginning of something so much more important that just their wedding day. It may be the biggest day of most couple's lives, but it's still just the beginning of something so much greater – their incredible journey as husband and wife. We gift each couple with a marriage book that we hope will impact their relationship in a positive way.(And yes, we even give the book to couples who don't book us!) It's not a booking gift – it's a “we value your marriage” gift and that is true no matter who they use as their wedding photographer. Demonstrating that we care for them as a couple and not just as a client makes a world of difference in establishing a relationship built on trust.
Only one post left in our consultation series! Next up – the dreaded “close” and how we make it easy for our couples to say YES! You can catch up on any posts you've missed below:
Winning at Client Consultations
Showiteer Callie Beale discusses ten common things couples would change about their wedding if they could do it over again.
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