As Professional Photographers, many of us work on our own, without the luxury of being able to employ other people to fill certain skills gaps in our businesses. We become the proverbial “Jack of All Trades” but “Master of None”. We very quickly have to learning new skills like “how to sell photography”.
When I first started my own photography business in 2009, I found myself in that same situation, realising that if I was to make a success of this business, I would have to learn a lot of new skills!
One skill I had to very quickly learn was The Fine Art of Selling!
Now I am sure you are all familiar with the cliché of the perfect salesperson. They have the gift of the gab, never stop talking and a Majestic personality that can sell anything. Their prey arrives with no intention of buying, yet they somehow leave the salesroom a few hundred pounds lighter and wondering what just happened.
You can’t learn that skill, can you? Good Salespeople are born, not made, right?
You CAN learn how to sell photography and sometimes you only need to learn a couple of tricks of the trade to succeed.
Let’s take a couple of scenarios and see if I can illustrate how easy selling can be.
How to Sell Photography
I always tell my students that selling photography starts with your very first interaction with your potential client. However, most of you will think that your sales process doesn’t really start until the first client meeting, whether it is to pitch your Wedding Photography skills or sell your client images from their recent portrait session.
In both these scenarios we probably turn to the very useful sales prop of a price list.
Your price list should of course be professionally designed and printed on quality paper stock (or go green and use an iPad or similar device). I always like to compare a photographer’s price list with that of a fine restaurant.
Is their price list printed on cheap A4 paper, laminated (with sticky residue from the previous diner’s dinner)? Or is it printed on laid paper In a nice pristine leather holder? Which restaurant would you prefer to dine at?
Now let’s turn to the price list content. How many items are you presenting?
Always remember that the more items there are to choose from, the more confusing it is to your customer.
A confused mind always says no!
How to Sell Photography – What Was The Middle One Again?
My top sales tip is ALWAYS to present things in THREE’s, and give each option a name. For example: Silver, Gold, Platinum; Medium, Large, Grande.
Human psychology works in a way that typically your client will go for the middle option, as long as the core choices are presented to them in a certain way.
So when we realise that psychology directs people to the middle option, then we should make it even easier for them to make that selection, by making the offer more attractive than the lower or higher options.
How do you do that?
How To Sell Wedding Photography Albums
Let me give you an actual example I used in my Wedding Photography business.
I had three Wedding Package options presented as follows:-
- Silver – £1495 8×10 20 Page Wedding Album 4 hours coverage
- Gold – £1995 14×10 30 Page Wedding Album 6 hours coverage
- Platinum – £2995 14×14 40 Page Wedding Album 8 hours coverage
Now when I designed the sample albums for these packages I used a “less attractive” venue for the Silver album compared to the Gold and Platinum. You will also note that it is a MUCH smaller album in terms of number of pages and physical size.
But here is the phrase I always used when presenting this album to my prospective couple, as I handed the album over to them: “This is our Silver Classic album which is perfect for the budget-conscious Bride”.
Now if you were that Bride, would you like to think of yourself as “budget-conscious” – hell no, it’s your wedding!
So that little phrase just uses a little bit of psychology when sowing the seed for the sale.
The next thing I do, when handing over the Gold album (which is my middle choice remember), is to say “This is our Gold album which is our most popular option”.
Again, I am just using psychology to subconsciously convince the client that if they decide on this option, then they can be reassured that many others have also decided on this choice.
Lastly, I present my Platinum Album as “the Rolls-Royce” of album design. It is a £1000 more expensive than my Gold option, so most clients usually steer away from this.
So, we are now in a situation where I have a client looking to spend £1995 with me for the middle option in my album selection.
That’s great, right?
Well, this is where the Art of the Sale continues, and we use the same sales principle that you see every day in life.
How to Sell Photography – Would You Like To Go-Large With That?
If you walk into MacDonalds, you will hear them present this principle as “Would you like to go large with that?”. Now we know it’s only a few extra pennies to get that mega-sized drink and who can resist those extra large fries, so why not?
The rumour is, that the bulk of MacDonalds profits comes from the sales of Go Large products.
So how do we use this sales principle in our Wedding Album scenario?
Well, once your client decides on the Gold album, the next thing we do is then talk about extending their coverage to include first dance, which will require 8 hours of coverage instead of 6. This is just an extra £200, “shall we go with that?” (i.e. Shall we Go Large?).
Yes of course they shall, they don’t want to exclude the first dance from their wedding photos, do they?
Well, we have one other Ace up our Sales sleeve.
Again, we use psychology by telling them “We have actually just added another album option to our Gold Range which I would love to show you. Since we started doing these, everyone has been going for this style.”
We then present them with our Gold Fine Art package. It’s the same album, but instead of a leatherette cover, it has an aluminium photo cover and the pages are all metallic finish. PLUS we add 10 more pages (40 instead of 30). Compared to the standard album it looks AMAZING.
Now, this album is priced at £2495 – this is £500 more than their original £1995 choice, but we took them to this new price point in two small baby steps. Firstly, with the £200 extra first dance coverage, and then just £300 more, for the outstanding metallic look of the Gold Fine Art album with 33% more pages.
How to Sell Photography – Only Ever Use “Prices From”
This is one of the main reasons why I always tell my wedding photography students to only ever show “prices from” on their website.
YOU are the salesperson, NOT your website.
If I tried to present this on my website, it wouldn’t work anywhere near as well. As things stand, clients come into my studio with a budget of £1495 based on my published “starting from” price. Once I started using the “Go Large” sales approach in my Wedding consultations, I never sold my low-priced package ever again.
Obviously, depending on your target market, your pricing will be different, but the principles still apply. These were my prices back in 2016, nowadays if I was still doing wedding photography, they would be higher.
The selling doesn’t stop here. There are other “Go Large” opportunities later in the Wedding process, adding Parents Album and Wall Art further down the line pre and post wedding, for example.
How to Sell Photography – The Decoy Product
For non-wedding photographers, there is another great Sales technique which is very similar to the “Go Large” principle, but tends to work equally as well when presented in a price list (i.e. you don’t even have to do the sale, it sells itself).
This is known as the “Decoy Product” principle and this can be seen at the local cinema every time you buy your Popcorn as you prepare to watch the latest blockbuster.
You’ve seen the price list (which usually includes pictures):-
Small Popcorn and Small Drink £4
Medium Popcorn and Medium Drink £7
Mega Popcorn and Mega Drink £7.50
What happens here, is that the Medium package is a complete Decoy, as look, for just 50 pence more, I can get the Mega package.
Now if those prices had shown as £4, £5 and £7.50, would you still have gone for the Mega package?
How To Sell Portrait Photography
So, we can use this in our Portrait or Landscape Photography Wall Art pricing. Find out if your print lab has any promotional pricing on their products. Loxley Colour, for example offer “Champion Range” products for certain sizes. Using these sizes alongside a decoy product, works really well to maximise your profits.
So here is how our price list would be shown:-
- Small Wall Art (8×10) Priced At £195
- Medium Wall Art (12 X 10) Priced At £375 ( Decoy Price )
- Large Wall Art Photo (20 X 16) Priced At £395
My medium wall art at £375 is my Decoy. For just £20 more I can get a piece of wall art that is almost double in size. Who would not want to go for that?
Can you think how well this price list would have worked if the pricing was £195, £295 and £395 respectively?
So there you have it, two very easy-to-implement Sales tricks on how to sell photography that even your best double-glazing salesman would be proud of.