A Photographer's 3 Step System for Add-On Sales
You can add significant income to your bottom line by designing and offering a great selection of add-on products for your customers. However, in order to sell them, you will need to develop your sales tools, create a sales environment and plant the seeds for a sale.
Have you been thinking about how to increase your studio's revenue? After sales is a fantastic way to do it. There are three steps you need to make it work for your studio. Your photography business should always be growing and improving-here's how to grow your profits.
Add-on sales can be very effective, because you do not have to incur additional marketing costs and typically, you already have the images, so what you are doing is increasing your bottom line without additional costs other than the product and creation time. The other obvious reason add-on sales work is that you are selling to people that already love your work. It's kind of a no-brainer, once you see how well it works.
Once you get your pricing straightened out and your basic photography business systems in place (forms, procedures and so forth) it's a great idea to expand on what you are currently offering. This is not to say you don't have some products featured on your price list, but I'm talking about the actual sales of those products happening. Where that line item on your pricing sheet translates into a line item on your studio budget in the income category.
Many photographers understand the basic concepts, but struggle with the actual implementation. It's not as easy as simply saying “today I'm going to start selling engagement albums!” and poof, your clients start phoning in with their credit cards to get this great new product from your studio.
What are add-on sales or upselling? Anything not included in the client's basic package. This could be a framed wall print, extra album pages, a parent album, a DVD slideshow, engagement album, baby's first year album and so forth. All the extras.
There are three basic things you need in place in order to start increasing your after sales and a la carte items. It's what is going to make the difference between an idea and the actual sale taking place.
The first thing you are going to need is sales tools. You will use these things in your presentation that will help the clients envision this product for themselves and help you actually sell. I'm sure you've heard the saying, “you sell what you show.” The client needs to see and touch the item, be educated about how it might enhance their experience or be given an incentive to buy.
Without the proper sales tools in place, your after sales will never get off the ground. That is why you'll need to spend some time creating these tools; the time spent is an investment in your photography business. Creating these tools to improve your sales is working on your business to grow and expand.
Mix and match these items depending on what you plan to sell and your abilities. I recommend choosing at least 2-3 tools in order to get started, and add more tools as you go. The more tools you have available, the easier it will be to sell.
- Sample Products
- Product Guide (a handout or pdf for clients to take)
- Projection (great for portrait and engagement sessions)
- Prices for a la carte items
- Photos of sample products (used for your product guide, your email promotions, your blog and for sales consults where you cannot take all your products to show
- Template emails that promote the products
- Client newsletter
The second phase is creating an environment for you to sell and for your clients to buy. Rather than create confusion and disappointment for yourself, start with one product (like engagement albums) and focus on that selling that particular item. This way, you learn from what's working and what's not working. Next season it will be much easier to add on the next product line and begin selling that.
So what do I mean by create a selling environment? Let's say you want to sell engagement products. In order to create the right environment to sell engagement add-on products, you need to be sure that you aren’t giving away the product free of charge, as this kills any hope for a sale.
Create the Sales Environment
- Remove the freebies and the product giveaways (I'm talking about including a free disc of images from every session) so your clients have a reason to buy (this will be painful as clients may revolt against the idea that you should work free and provide them free products and services). However, this does one thing and one thing only DESTROY any hope of after sales.
- Talk about products on the blog: highlight the products and display images of interesting products people get (oh look at how cute the save the date cards turned out for so-and-so!)
- Perhaps offer a bonus item to reach a certain product total. This creates an incentive to buy and is a win-win for everyone. We offer a complimentary disc of engagement images with the purchase of an engagement album.
- Use your sales tools throughout the consultation and client relationship. Make it clear that you offer many other options (available for purchase). While you will get occasional clients expecting you to provide them with free products, you need to continually reinforce the message that you create gorgeous products for them to purchase and enjoy, and that you do not simply give away your work.
Plant the Seeds for the Sale
If you want to sell additional products and sessions to your clients, you need to plant the seeds for the sale. They initially come to your studio with a particular product or session in mind, but that doesn’t mean you can't or shouldn’t educate them as to the different possibilities you can create for them.
Rather than springing a big money product on an unsuspecting client, it makes more sense to give them an opportunity to think about some ideas. Let them know during the consultation different types of products you can create for them. Giving clients subtle indicators of what other clients typically do will help them feel comfortable in their decisions.
For example, when we are showing couples all the different products we can create from their engagement images, we will let them know that the signature album is our most popular product. And it includes a complimentary disc of the session with the album purchase. We show them a sample album during the consultation, and these are all ways that we begin planting seeds for that sale. This works just as well for a family portrait or baby session. Start talking about finished products early.
After we have scheduled the session, we send them an email with our product guide and ask them to let us know what type of product we should be creating for them. Again, this is a subtle indicator that we are creating the images for some sort of final product.
We follow up with a phone call to discuss clothing selection, locations and products. We explain that we shoot differently for different types of products, so we need to know what we are aiming for. For example, if they want a traditional signature mat product, that is typically a vertical image in a traditional pose. If they want an album that is going to be a lot more variety of backgrounds and a good mix of close-ups and wide angle shots. For details on our wedding album sales process read selling wedding albums and pre-designing albums.
If you want to start selling add-on products, you'll need to implement each of the three areas in your photo business. One will not work successfully without the other two. Be patient, it may take 1-2 seasons to get everything in place and working smoothly; there will be some hiccups along the way. It's getting that right mix that works for you and eases clients into the benefits of owning beautiful products you have created for them.
This is the type of thing you want your competitors doing. The more photographers in your community accept and offer after sales products, the easier it will be to educate your clients that this is simply how it's done. So I urge you to pass this info on!
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