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Archive 2013 · Getting legitimate inquiries
  
 
ricardovaste
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Getting legitimate inquiries


Compared to this time last year I've stopped explicitly advertising my lowest coverage. I believe I have a stronger portfolio now. I have some bookings through referral. However, I'm disappointed with the interest or rather the response I'm getting. I know I'll continue to get more interest over the next couple of months but right now it's a little frustrating. I thought removing my lowest package would decrease the amount of 'passing through' type, but my last 6 inquiries have all responded with "sorry you're out of our budget" or one with "we've had a recommendation from a friend". The latter seemed keen & we were trying to set up a meeting, then dead for a few days, and now it's off. The former, they've contacted me, I've forwarded a price list, asked for details, written out a package for them... out of budget... despite all my packages being flexible. I wonder if I'm sending the wrong messages... They've already seen the price range, yet when they get the quote I'm suddenly out of budget? You might say that I'm not communicating the value of what I offer effectively enough... but I feel like I can do this if I get a chance to meet some... but I don't.

Should I be re-assessing here, or dismissing it as price shopping?

Thanks for your time...



Jan 30, 2013 at 03:01 PM
TRReichman
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Getting legitimate inquiries


Obviously we don't know much about the message that you are sending, but from what you have described it seems to be all about packages and pricing, which isn't a very compelling argument. Why wait till you meet them to communicate value? You aren't ever getting to that stage because they can't see the value, move the communication to earlier in the chain.

- trr



Jan 30, 2013 at 03:08 PM
ricardovaste
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Getting legitimate inquiries


TRReichman wrote:
Obviously we don't know much about the message that you are sending, but from what you have described it seems to be all about packages and pricing, which isn't a very compelling argument. Why wait till you meet them to communicate value? You aren't ever getting to that stage because they can't see the value, move the communication to earlier in the chain.

- trr


Do you feel you can do this most effectively without actually meeting someone though? I imagine you may well be able to as your experience and skill is clearly huge compared to mine. I feel I do communicate this before I meet them, just not as effectively as in person.

EDIT: But that does make me think about something I was doing more of at this point last year. Thank you.



Jan 30, 2013 at 03:14 PM
TRReichman
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Getting legitimate inquiries


ricardovaste wrote:
Do you feel you can do this most effectively without actually meeting someone though?


I'm quite sure anyone can. I'm not advocating that you don't meet with people, but I do think that photographers tend to put a lot of obstacles in the way of clients understanding why the photographer should be hired. If you are forcing them to find you, inquire, email back and forth then commit to an in-person meeting before they know why they should choose you then you are predicating your success on a whole lot of "ifs" falling your way.

ricardovaste wrote:
I imagine you may well be able to as your experience and skill is clearly huge compared to mine. I feel I do communicate this before I meet them, just not as effectively as in person.


(note- the following comment is intended to invoke a positive change, not be negative - just saying). Assume for a minute that you aren't communicating your value effectively at all currently. What would you change? How would you do it better? What can you communicate about the value that you offer that has nothing to do with how the photos look?

ricardovaste wrote:
EDIT: But that does make me think about something I was doing more of at this point last year. Thank you.


So what changed?

- trr



Jan 30, 2013 at 03:23 PM
paparazzinick
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Getting legitimate inquiries


When we get the response, sorry your out of our budget. I respond back with asking what their budget is. Maybe there is something we could workout and I am not that far out of the way. or I could refer them to a friend who might be in their budget. I get about 50% of those responses back with a budget that is close so we make a custom package to fit their budget and they usually book.




Jan 30, 2013 at 03:24 PM
ricardovaste
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Getting legitimate inquiries


paparazzinick wrote:
When we get the response, sorry your out of our budget. I respond back with asking what their budget is. Maybe there is something we could workout and I am not that far out of the way. or I could refer them to a friend who might be in their budget. I get about 50% of those responses back with a budget that is close so we make a custom package to fit their budget and they usually book.



The thing is all my packages are custom made, so when I get the "out of budget, goodbye" response it feels kind of odd. I try to show the flexibility, perhaps not clearly enough. I usually just wish them good luck at that stage, as I assume they've seen the flexibility and don't like it. Perhaps I should try to be clearer here...



Jan 30, 2013 at 03:33 PM
ricardovaste
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Getting legitimate inquiries




Thank you for that. I completely see your point. I guess part of the issue is that I always prefer to meet someone before a booking to see if we get on well. But perhaps I'm projecting that desire too strongly, and creating too many different steps.

TRReichman wrote:
(note- the following comment is intended to invoke a positive change, not be negative - just saying). Assume for a minute that you aren't communicating your value effectively at all currently. What would you change? How would you do it better? What can you communicate about the value that you offer that has nothing to do with how the photos look? /quote]


Good things to think about. I think I need to communicate my pricing clearer, but apart from making more of an effort with passing inquiries I'm unsure of what or how I'd change right now.

TRReichman wrote:
So what changed?


Well, the only thing I can see is that if people were passing through with an inquiry, I probably made more effort to state the actual benefits and value of hiring me. Whilst now I've probably gone too relaxed... if someone passes through with "Hi, Prices, Thanks"... I pass on prices, ask a question or two, but not much more enthusiasm than they're showing me. Perhaps I've got a bit lazy there. On occasion if someone shows genuine interest then I probably talk about the value of using me more.


I did used to do 3 packages. But I found people didn't really fit into them, and felt like you were forcing them into something. So from that feedback I changed to bespoke packages... feedback has been very good from clients. They prefer this. Perhaps the issue right now is communicating how a custom package works, or the flexibility it offers...

I should note my 'price list' does have one package in there. It's brief. Includes 10 hours wedding, 2 hour portrait session, an album, disk of images. It's essentially the top package of what I feel I can offer. Perhaps this puts people off, I'm not sure.... It's meant to be more of a marker for people, and not what I'd expect most people to spend. So if they go below that it's still good for me.



Jan 30, 2013 at 03:44 PM
TRReichman
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Getting legitimate inquiries


My advice is to stop thinking so much about pricing. Obviously you should communicate what the client can expect to spend, but the client-purchasing-decision-process involves an enormous number of factors. Most of those factors are emotional and very few involve price or images. You're too stuck in your photography-mindset, start thinking like someone who is planning a wedding.

- trr



Jan 30, 2013 at 03:51 PM
 

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ricardovaste
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Getting legitimate inquiries


TRReichman wrote:
My advice is to stop thinking so much about pricing. Obviously you should communicate what the client can expect to spend, but the client-purchasing-decision-process involves an enormous number of factors. Most of those factors are emotional and very few involve price or images. You're too stuck in your photography-mindset, start thinking like someone who is planning a wedding.

- trr


Thank you.

I've came to the point about pricing because I've had the feedback of "out of budget", but I appreciate that might not be what's causing that response. I do try to engage through emotional response, and I do try to think with how they're planning their wedding... I just don't feel I'm given the chance much of the time. Clearly I have to re-think a lot of what I do with respect to how a client decides to purchase, so I'll leave it at that for now.



Jan 30, 2013 at 03:58 PM
MN_Migrant
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Getting legitimate inquiries


ricardovaste wrote:
The thing is all my packages are custom made, so when I get the "out of budget, goodbye" response it feels kind of odd. I try to show the flexibility, perhaps not clearly enough. I usually just wish them good luck at that stage, as I assume they've seen the flexibility and don't like it. Perhaps I should try to be clearer here...


Newer business owner here so take my advice cautiously... but here's my take on custom packages:

I think its hard to strike a balance between too much and too little detail of how you charge with custom quotes. Too much detail invites nickle and diming, and too little doesn't convey your value. Maybe not a great example, but look at your cell phone bill online, and your monthly statement: when I see the bill online it is a single dollar value with little information and I pay it and move on; but when I see the statement with all of the charges/taxes, I get irate and have trouble finding the value in needing to text message. So, back to your custom quotes... How do you respond when they ask, "why is this more expensive than that"? I'm not really sure what the answer is to that but unless you have a rubric that you use consistently, and can convey this to the client, I think that it can come off as if you're pulling numbers out of the air.

I think they make it difficult for clients to gauge value. That is, if they're getting a single quote, it can be difficult to discern if that is your starting point for photography, or your ceiling. I think this is one of the benefits of having an organized set of packages to work from, and customize if need be. Clients have a better idea of what they get for their money, and the relative value of adding coverage or upgrading print products. If you're dedicated to custom quotes, maybe create a high and low estimate so that they have a better baseline to gauge the relative value of the things you offer in your packages.

Obviously I don't know how you communicate all of these things to clients so none of these points may be of use, but they are all things that I personally feel about creating a completely customized package.

Edited for clarity



Jan 30, 2013 at 05:18 PM
ricardovaste
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Getting legitimate inquiries


Thanks for your thoughts. I'm pretty sure custom packages aren't the issue, I think as TRR points out it's getting the value across sooner. I did last year purely from custom packages, and feedback is good. I do have a ceiling, which I mention above - I have a "high package" listed on the price list. I understand your point on detail, but again that's not the issue (from the feedback I've had). The two components are simple to understand. I don't offer 50p off if they remove a coffee break...

Not meaning to dismiss your suggestions, but I don't think these are the issues for me. But I'm sure it'll be useful for others as well.



Jan 30, 2013 at 05:25 PM
TheGE
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Getting legitimate inquiries


The latter seemed keen & we were trying to set up a meeting, then dead for a few days, and now it's off.

Because they were shopping around during that time.

The former, they've contacted me, I've forwarded a price list, asked for details, written out a package for them... out of budget... despite all my packages being flexible. I wonder if I'm sending the wrong messages... They've already seen the price range, yet when they get the quote I'm suddenly out of budget?

Yes because they wanted more stuff for the money. The price range didn't convey that. And that means you are sending the wrong message: you're talking too much about stuff and price and that's all they're getting and making their decisions on. There's a place to speak about price when you're qualifying couples of course, but building value first means to quickly demonstrate WHY you're the better option; differentiate yourself from all others; and build their desire to investigate further with you. You also have to make sure you're talking to the right people in the first place, not everyone's your client. And all of that doesn't happen if all you do is answer their price questions.



Jan 30, 2013 at 06:05 PM
TTLKurtis
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Getting legitimate inquiries


Most of our couples are booking us over the phone or email these days... don't even meet a lot of them before they book. I definitely think it's important that they understand value beyond the pricing. If they're just comparing you on price it means you must be the same as everyone else. I'd put a little more work in on the front-end there. And yes, we still get plenty of emails from people who can't afford us, that's a choice we made by not putting pricing upfront on the website. Todd just did a blog post that references that on http://amantofish.com, actually.


Jan 30, 2013 at 08:06 PM
tobicus
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Getting legitimate inquiries


We're still working on getting value across. Part of our issue is that we're still searching for effective forms of marketing.


Apr 27, 2013 at 05:06 PM
SloPhoto
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Getting legitimate inquiries


Your website says £1110-£1800+

by any chance does what you send over to them starts off with a much higher figure? (IE, do you list your highest package at the front of what you send back?)



Apr 27, 2013 at 06:54 PM
MJphotography
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Getting legitimate inquiries


Very interesting thread and a lot of great advice, but how would you communicate your value in an email without being too “wordy." Is it in your first response back to the initial inquiry, or do you try to schedule a phone call right away and do it then?


May 01, 2013 at 02:09 AM





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