We're in the business of photography, not sales. That's why so many of us have a love-hate relationship with photo albums. But in order for our photography businesses to thrive, we need print sales. Without them, we become stuck in a perpetual cycle of exchanging our time for money — we only have a limited number of hours in a day, so we need to make money from something that doesn't require so much of our time. Enter photo albums.
Selling photo albums doesn't have to be hard. Most of us are concerned about coming across as pushy. We'd rather focus on taking beautiful photos than selling albums. The key is choosing the right time to bring it up. You don't need to turn it into a full-on elevator pitch; you simply need to bring it up at regular intervals to allow your clients to mull over the benefits themselves.
Think of it this way: You've been admiring a new lens. You look at a few different stockists, read a few reviews, all of a sudden it's popping up everywhere. In your social media feed, on the side of webpages — it's practically stalking you around the internet. Most of the ads won't be advertising a price, a special deal, or even include "salesy" words like "buy now" or "hurry" or "great offer." They're just sitting there, reminding you of the great features. Before you know it, you've bought that lens, simply because you were gently, but consistently nudged towards it.
We've compiled a list of five opportunities you should be taking to discuss albums with your clients. By using these as gentle reminders, you can convert more clients into purchasing photo albums without having to resort to those "salesy" tactics we all hate.
Prepare your clients
The first time they hear about your photo album offering shouldn't be after their wedding or shoot. If you're waiting this long to bring it up, you've already missed your moment. Start building the buzz for your albums before clients even book you.
Try asking them these questions:
"Have you thought about what sort of shots you'd like to see as a double-page spread in your album or hanging on your wall?"
"What sort of details are important to you — if you were to lay all your images out in an album to tell the story of your day, what would you like the focus of your story to be? Is it all the little details that you've spent hours planning? Is it the organic moments between the friends and family who have gathered to be there for you? Or do you want to capture the energy of everyone dancing and having a good time?
These questions encourage your clients to contemplate how their photos will live on after their day is done and dusted. It also shows your clients that you care about what they want and are interested in what is important to them. It puts the thought of an album in their head without you even having to mention pricing, materials, print stocks, or sizes. Chances are, after a bit of time to think about things, they'll ask you about this information themselves.
Show off your options
All humans are tactile creatures. It doesn't matter how well you describe something, or how compelling your language is — your clients are better able to understand the beauty of an album if they can feel it and touch it. Whether you have your own studio space to meet clients in, or you meet them elsewhere, always have several album options available for them to view.
Think about shopping for clothes — you're more likely to be interested in a pair of jeans that you can try on in-store where you can feel the quality, rather than a pair you have to buy online. Similarly, you can describe your albums in the most romantic terms possible, or send through any number of images. Yet nothing compares to feeling the quality of the cover, turning the thick stock, or seeing how good the bride's skin looks printed in vibrant color.
A beautifully designed sample not only shows off your work; it practically sells itself. By presenting physical album samples to your clients, you're allowing them to connect with the album as a piece of art. You're shifting their focus to the story you're telling, rather than the cost. Better still, you don't have to say anything, simply let the albums do the selling for you while you talk about your real passion — capturing the special moments that will fill those pages.
Highlight the risks of having only digital images
We've become conditioned to sharing everything in real-time — often, your clients are focused on getting their favorite images loaded onto social media. But will they still be using Facebook or Instagram in 10 years? Ask your clients how they plan to store their images long term, and gently remind them that they'll need to move them from format to format as technology changes. It wasn't long ago that we were using floppy disks, now many computers don't even have a traditional USB port. Technology is continually evolving, but a physical album cannot become corrupted, deleted, or made obsolete by changing technology. This conversation is your opportunity to promote print and photo albums as a long term keepsake.
Make it part of the package
When you sell an album as a separate investment, the extra outlay can be difficult for budget-conscious clients. When you include albums within your photography packages, you are emphasizing that they are more than just an extravagant "extra" — they are a necessity. An elegant way to preserve the images they are paying for.
One option is to include a standard size album within your pricing. Once you send your clients their photos from their special day, they'll have a hard time choosing which ones they want, so they'll likely upgrade to a bigger size.
Another option is to include a print credit. People feel like they're getting a deal, but they'll always end up spending more than what their credit covers.
We've talked about predesigning before — it works. If you've included an album credit or a standard album as part of your package, send them a sample design of their images as soon as they're ready. Include more spreads than the credit covers, and ask your clients to remove any they don't want. Most clients find it easier to decide if you give them a start point, rather than asking them to select all the images for their album themselves, which can cost you a lot of time. Additionally, they're more likely to have trouble choosing which images to remove and will end up spending more on their album.
Where clients have opted out of an album, spend 15 minutes and whip up a stunning design in SmartAlbums, then send the design to your client via Cloud Proofing, along with a small album credit, or a discount. When they see their intimate moments, their friends and family, and their beautiful details laid out in an album, they're more likely to fall in love with the content, converting previously uninterested clients into a sale. Why? They will have a far greater emotional connection to their own photos than to someone else's. Seeing their images in this format could be all they need to convince them to buy an album.
"I predesigned 15 albums for prior brides (who previously opted out of an album). With half a day's work, I sent the albums to my couples as a "special offer". By week's end, 8 brides made a purchase and left me with $10,000 in profits."
- Edward, Vancouver, Canada
Looking for more ways to grow your photography business? Try reading our blogs on getting more referrals, using email marketing, or online marketing for photographers (written by Mark Condon of ShotKit).