I want you to think about how many hours (or years) you have put into building your business from the ground up. I want you to remember all the hard work that went into getting ready for that expo last month, networking with other businesses last week, optimizing your website every other day, creating your mission statement, etc. Although all of those things are so very worth it, they are a hell of a lot of work, right??
There are so many different avenues to running a successful photography business. If you have mastered (or are actively pursuing leads) all the ways to get clients ringing you or emailing you, that's great!! However, have you really mastered the art of turning those inquiries into actual paying bookings? How you're responding to these inquiries is crucial. So let's get down to business! Here are a list of must haves for turning women's portrait inquiries into bookings.
1) PROMPT RESPONSES:
With the amount of marketing that we put into our businesses you can see why it's essential to answer each e-mail promptly. The minute somebody hits send on the email inquiry is the minute they're officially excited to potentially book or hear back from you. Ever minute after that, the longer you wait, their excitement is fading. I can't stress enough how important it is to reply as soon as possible. (keep reading for helpful tips to speed up your response time)
2) TRY CALLING THEM FIRST:
On the contact form on my website it asks for their information along with their phone number. Listing their phone number is not required. I do this because then I know that if they list their phone number they're a very serious inquiry and they're up for me giving them a call to chat about their shoot. If they give you their number PLEASE CALL THEM. I know based on last week's post that many of you are afraid to talk on the phone, “busy,” etc. But let me ask you this: If all it took was a simple 3-5 minute phone call to get paid your session fee/deposit then why wouldn't you?? If your session fee isn't enough to motivate you then maybe you need to raise it 😉
If you try calling them, and they don't answer, don't fret! Calling them will still come in handy! You can leave them a nice message letting them know you called and that you will go ahead and send them out an email (also be friendly and mention they can call you back when they get a chance). This is great because they now know you're a friendly real person who cares to have them as a customer. They also now know that you have sent them an email. In the off chance your email goes to their spam or they mis-typed their email address this will set that all straight.
3) USING EMAIL TEMPLATES:
Email templates are my best friend! Having a pre-written response that I can tweak slightly per client really helps me get back to them in a timely manner instead of writing a new email each time! I use shootq which is client management software. I'm able to store and label all of my email templates. When somebody inquires with me I just send them the template to best fit their needs (boudoir, glamour, etc.). The best part is shootq fills in their name automatically to make it is more personalized! I make sure to answer any of their questions in the template as well before I send it out. Most of the time though when people inquire with me they don't have a ton of questions. This is because I address many things on my website as well as making my contact form short and sweet. I should also mention that you do not “need” shootq. You can easily copy and paste your template response to each person via email.
Templates are also great because you only get one time to reply. There are no do-overs. This way you can be sure you are putting your best foot forward each time you respond. So let's talk about how to create the perfect email template.
You want to start your email off by saying hello and thanking them for getting in touch! Always remember to use their name (“hello amanda”) as it personalizes it even more. Then you want to dive right into, what I like to call “painting the experience picture.” Before you get into any heavy details (number of outfits, price, etc) you want to help them visualize how much fun this experience is going to be and how great it's going to feel walking into your studio (or hotel room, shoot location, etc). Here is an excerpt (this is the first paragraph from my email response template) from my email template in how I paint the picture: “Ready for some YOU time? This photo shoot & makeover are going to be so much fun! Our 1100 sq ft. studio in Eau Claire, WI is decked out like a boutique hotel, has a private dressing room/wash room, a viewing area & place for you to have your professional hair/makeup done. I also do light retouching included. What this means is that I retouch any areas that need it but I will always keep you looking like you. Remember “It's not about how you look but how you FEEL about the way you look.” – Now I don't want you to just copy and paste what I have written I want you to list what makes your studio unique and turn that into your own experience painted paragraph, you can do it! By painting the picture they're now envisioning walking into your studio, feeling relaxed, they know you're going to take care of everything.
Next I want you to make a list of all of your most asked questions.[If you'll notice in the paragraph I wrote above I was already starting to address questions] What are the questions your clients are constantly asking over and over? (questions about outfits, where you're located? Write those all down. You will want to address the most important and popular questions right away in the email template. So for example. If everyone is asking you what products you offer perhaps you could mention that or link to it. I mention linking because you don't want your email to get too lengthy. If they click the link they're also then going back to your website where they will browse more and get even more investing/excited with the idea of the photo shoot.
Once you have the paragraph and the questions work on forming it into your email template response . Also, make sure you're portraying your voice! Don't sound like a robot! If you're not great at writing, a helpful tool would be to use Dragon Dictation. It's a dictation app for your smart phone. You can talk into it like you're having a conversation with a friend or over the phone. You can then send it to yourself for editing. Don't be afraid to be fun and be yourself! TIP: Nobody can be you! Being you sets your business apart!
PRICING: I personally list all of my pricing on my website. This helps me cut back on inquiries and weed out those who aren't looking to invest my average sale. If you're newer in business I would suggest putting price starting point or range on your website so you can bring in more leads. This will also give you a chance to explain your pricing via phone or email. In my email template I have a link that says “click here for pricing” and it directs them back to my website. However, if you're not listing your pricing on your website you could make a fancy pricing PDF, a video of you showing products/explaining pricing or just list it in the email until you have time to do something fancier. Just remember to keep your price list SHORT!
I do touch a bit about wardrobe (I get asked that question a lot) towards the end of the email template because I want to continue their planning and excitement about the shoot. Remember invested clients = higher sales! I let them know how many outfits to bring and I suggest they start a Pinterest board to start brain storming.
Lastly you want to mention how they're going to feel after the photo shoot. People buy based on a few main things and “feeling good” is one of them. I like to mention that they are sure to leave my studio skipping with confidence! This paints a picture for how they will feel and it also matches with my mission statement.
Now onto the final part and to secure the booking…
4) THE INCENTIVE/CALL TO ACTION
At the bottom of the email mention what their next step should be. If they haven't mentioned it in their previous email I ask them at the end of the email which month they would like me to send open dates/times for so we can get them all set up for their shoot! I then mention that once they decide on a shoot date/time I will send them an email invoice for the shoot deposit and that once that's paid I will send them our welcome/info email as well as our super fun questionnaire!
By giving them something (even if it's just a fun questionnaire) for securing their booking this will light a fire under their butt. If they don't get anything right away from me after booking then what is the incentive for them to hop to it? You could get really creative and send them a sexy book once they secure their booking, etc. Get creative, have fun with it and stay true to your branding!
So share with us in the comments below, what questions do you have about taking a booking via email? We love hearing from you!