We have a tendency to make everything about our business – from our gear + tools to our website and branding – have all the bells and whistles. We crave NEW clients and lose track of where our focus really should be (because that fancy new website isn’t going to come with built-in web traffic… YOU have to build that web traffic). The reality is that decades ago, before social media, before texting, before cell phones… business was being done without all the fancy and was founded on the relationships we build. Do not underestimate the power of one of your biggest assets: your relationships.
Life has certainly gotten easier to be able to connect with each other, but in a way we’ve all grown accustomed to this constant state of reclusing behind technology. And what I see is this: amazingly talented photographers like you are waiting for the bookings to come. Today, we’re going to turn the tables and go after the bookings by sending out some love to MANY people you already have relationships with. Not only may this bring you a booking, but it will bring YOU to the front of all of these people’s memory bank again. This is essential, because even if they are not ready to book with you right now, you are positioning yourself as the go-to photographer.
Step 1: Where are your current opportunities? Fill in the 100 Squares worksheet in your email.
For the next 20 minutes, sit down an make a list of everyone you know. Here’s how it’s broken down:
Clients (Current + Past Clients)
Inquiries (People that didn’t book with you. Go ahead and fish through those old emails. If you think you’ve deleted them all, be sure to check your Sent folder)
Acquaintances (think both social media acquaintances and offline acquaintances)
Neighbors & Network (think who is in your neighbor and also your network of aligned businesses)
Kids (Anyone in your children’s network – think other parents, the receptionist at the gymnastics facility, etc.)
Step 2: Highlight all of the warm names.
This tends to be current and past clients, inquiries, and anyone else in your network that you feel would be an excellent candidate for a session with you. Next, if you have access to them on social media, take a peek at what they’ve been up to and make a note. Or, make a note about something you know about them (that connects both of you together). Don’t think too much about this! It should be quick & easy. To trigger your workflow, you could note that they have 2 kids and one just started Pre-school this year, she started a new job at a law firm, their family moved into a new home, you know they have a love for Magic Mike and wonder if she’s seen the second movie yet.
Step 3: Decide on your offer.
You have a mix of people here. Some of these are familiar with you and your services, some are not. I’m going to bet that in some cases you may THINK they are familiar with what you do, but the reality is that their perception of what you do is a bit off. So let’s think about how you can customize your messaging to your list of warm names.
As we take a look at offers, pay close attention how ‘offer’ doesn’t *have* to mean giving anything away. Of course, offering a VIP day or a gift with a session purchase can be effective options as well, but not necessary. In my opinion, I prefer to incentivize my past clients over new clients. Your ‘offer’ could also be a conversation – an invitation to learn more about what you do – rather than offering the session itself!
Current + past clients:
What kind of incentive could you offer them to rebook with you early? Is there another kind of session you could offer them? Here is an example:
I had the most exceptional time working with you and your family! I still can’t get over how Sarah fits so well into her role as the big sister. She is such the little mother! 🙂 Sydney is truly so lucky. While you are waiting on your products to arrive, I had a thought for you (and got really excited).
As you know, your photos from your in-home, everyday life session are beyond special. During our time together, you mentioned that your husband’s side of the family camps every year on Lake Houghton. Lightbulbs were going off in me thinking this would be the perfect session to get photos of the entire family together while not being at a special event (like a wedding). I envisioned fresh coffee drinking with the misty, early morning water in the background, all the bed heads rolling out of the tents and campers, the kids barely wanting breakfast as they are ready to run off and play, the swimming, the boating, the fireside nights together…. these would make for some incredibly special family photos for your entire family and even for the girls to keep as childhood memories.
I’d love to hop on a quick call and brainstorm this idea, if interested. What do you think?
If you know why they didn’t book with you, keep that note handy as you could incorporate that reason into your message by flipping it into a benefit. If it was all about price, is there a session you can offer them that would align with their budget (a mini session, perhaps)? If you don’t know why they didn’t move forward, you can still offer them a session here and even include a sense of urgency. Here is an example:
We weren’t able to make our session together work the first time around, but I’ve still been thinking about you. In your email, you mentioned you wanted to have some candid photos of you and your fiancé around the house to tell the story of your life today. I have great news!
My in-laws are taking the kids for the weekend on the first weekend in December. Are you free Saturday, December 5th? I have this last-minute date available and would love to work with you. Please know this date will go quickly. Hit reply and let’s set it up if you’re ready to move forward.
This is for those that have never reached out to you for a session, but you believe they could be your next dream client. You may know them personally, you may not. Be sure to introduce yourself if they don’t know you. Often, people don’t know why they need a photo session. It’s our job to provide them with that why in an emotional way.
I’m Kendall’s mom. Kendall speaks very highly of your daughter and I love hearing all of her stories about playing with Kimberly. I won’t take up much of your time, but wanted to share something with you.
I was thinking about how fast Kendall is growing up and thought of you as I’m sure you feel the same about Kimberly (and your little guy – he is so cute too!). As you may or may not know, I’m a local photographer, but not the type of photographer you may envision. I’d love for you to take a look at this little story that is like a quiz in uncovering how to get the most meaningful photos with a photographer. If you look at it and want to know more, I’d love to chat with you more about it. If not, and we’re not a good fit, that’s totally fine too! My mission is really to show the community how to make their next photo session epic.
(P.S. That little story + quiz I mention is in the form of the Client Attractor mixed with a short personal story in my approach/my why behind photographing on my blog that relates to my dream client in a relatable way).
Aligning Businesses in your network:
If you can take on a client that is also a local business owner, this could be a great opportunity. They may share their photos with their audience, post your images to their website (and link to you), and they may refer their customers in need of a photographer to you. Let’s face it, business owners are usually in contact with many people as opposed to the general person. What can you do to send them some inspiration that may trigger their need for a session with you? Documentary-style photos for businesses is a growing trend that allows their potential customers/clients build up the know, like, and trust factor in who the people behind the company are.
I had an awesome experience working with you through our home buying experience. The welcome basket was such a treat! As you know already, I’m a photographer with a documentary approach. Here are some tips I send my business clients that I thought may be helpful to you: 10 Tips on Maximizing Your Connection with Potential Clients. Enjoy!
P.S. This works great too – I like to send 10 Wedding Planning Tips from a Photographer’s Perspective to newly engaged couples.
Begin connecting with these people now.
How many? There are many factors to determine that number. My suggestion: no less than 25. The more people you contact, the closer you are to your next booking. Grab the 100 Squares download that was in your inbox today. I dare you to strive to reach 100 people this week!
Big results take big action.