5 Ideas That Can Have a Big Impact on Your Bottom Line

Most photographers spend the majority of their time and energy focused on trying to book new business, at the cost of missing out on the plethora of sales opportunities right under their nose. In todays post I wanted to give you five strategies that can have a big impact on your sales without booking any new business.

1. Create An Offer that Your Customers Can’t Resist

Over the years we’ve used a number of different techniques too entice customer to purchase a larger package. The key to a success is to make the offer so irresistible that it’s almost impossible to say for the customer to say no. People will take action if the perceived value of the offer it seems higher than the risk.

For example, this season we have an offer for our dance schools that seems to be working great this season. Here’s the deal… last year we ran a $90 average order with dance schools orders, but wanted to try and increase the average this year.

First, we introduced a new 5×10 framed portrait with a retail price of $29. While this product has a high perceived value, it actually cost the studio less than $4 to produce. Since this product has such a high perceived value, we used it as a free bonus item for parents who placed an order of one $125 or more. For this to work, make please make sure you have samples on hand for the parents to see. This promotion has been so successful this year we are about to order another five cases of frames.

We have an exciting new offer we are finalizing now for Fall that looks like it’s going to be a real winner.. Stay tuned.

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2. Up Selling

If you spend the necessary time to train your cashiers properly, you have the opportunity to increase your margins dramatically on each transaction by offering or an up-sell. Whether you realize it or not, you see it in action every day, and these little up-sells can make a huge difference at the end of the year. For example, yesterday I went to lunch at Arby’s and ordered a #2 combo and as a cashier was ringing up my order she asked “would you like to make that a large for only $.80 more? Yes, I think I would. While I have no idea how many up-sell’s Arby’s and McDonald’s do every day, I can only imagine these little $.80 and $1 up-sells equate to hundreds of thousands of dollars at the end of the year.

I know what you’re thinking, that’s great Mike , but how does that fit into our world? Here’s a couple examples for sports and dance.

In the dance school market we offer standard prints, and also offer up-sell options such as framing and mounting. Anytime a customer purchases a anything larger than an 8 x 10 we make sure to offer the options for mounting and framing. At the end of the year this adds up to additional 8K in sales add on sales. This up-sell is really a win-win for everyone. The customer was probably going to end up going to the local Walmart or Michaels for mounting and framing anyway. They’re going to get a better product and service from you and you are going to get the additional sales. Win – Win.

On the sports side of the business we’ve done similar things over the years by offering different products from Neil Enterprise such as frames other other miscellaneous products as an up-sell on photo day.

Another idea to help create excitement and the competitive environment amongst your table staff and cashiers is to run some sort of competition for of the person with the highest sales for the day. For example, whoever up-sells the most frames for the day gets a $50 bonus. Although, just make sure you help a minimum sales requirement so you cover your cost.

3. Offer Opportunity for Re-Orders

I’m still amazed at the number of photographers who do not offer their customers the opportunity replace reorders. There are a couple of easy ways to do this. First, the simplest simplest and easiest way is to insert an order form and re-order form in each player’s package that could be filled out and mail back to the studio. The second and more efficient and streamlined way is to host all images online to give the parents and grand parents the opportunity to place re-orders. You can do this yourself are rely on your lab to provide these services for you such as OrderMorePics.com

Many photographers are already collection e-mail addresses on the order form, but aren’t using them. Why? In his book the E-Myth revisited, Michael Gerber said one of the keys to building a scalable business is automation and delegation. While we certainly haven’t completely automated or mastered on-line reselling yet, it continues to get better every season. The one thing I can tell you is that every time we send out a follow-up e-mail we make sales. For example just before the holiday seasons last year we sent out several follow up e-mail campaigns promoting seasonal products for re-order opportunities. As soon as the e-mails went out the sales started coming in. One of the interesting things was that even though we were promoting for a particular holiday product, the sales that came in were for products other than what we were promoting. The e-mail was just a simple reminder that the images were out there and available to be purchased.

While we didn’t make enough money to retire, we were able to pick up an additional $4k in sales with very little effort.

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4. Cross Sale

I know, I know, cross-selling, up-selling etc.… what’s the difference? Cross selling to your customer usually comes in after they’ve already purchased something from you and you’ve established a relationship with them. It, typically happens over a longer period of time.

Since the customer has already purchased from you and had a good experience, with you they will be more comfortable in purchasing from you again. In marketing this is often referred to as the “trip wire”. While this probably sounds a little evil, the concept is that after the customer purchases a smaller package and you have earned their trust and respect you now have the opportunity to up-sell them to a larger more expensive product line.

Here’s a couple ideas

* Remember the e-mail list we built when we did the data entry from our jobs for sending out emails for re-orders? What if you sent out an email to that same list just before the holiday season and promoting your holiday family portraits sessions or sent out a targeted e-mail or postcard to all the dance school parents promoting your children portraiture. These are both very low cost promotion.

* What about team banners? Are you selling all the team banners to the leagues you are already photographing? No, why not? I can tell you why… you are not asking for the business. Simple put, they probably don’t even know that you offer that service. Let fix that now.

Go to Photo Solutions Market and purchase the banner marketing kit .

Customize the flyer and order form with your studio logo and phone number. Train your team photographer to make a 15 second sales pitch to the coach immediately following the team picture. Most teams and coaches are getting their banners from the local sign company simply because they didn’t know you offered them. Make it easy for them to buy from you.

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5. Your Guarantee

Your guarantee is your secret weapon. You should always provide the strongest guaranty possible. Have you ever had a parent question pre-paying for a package sight unseen? Our answer has always been “ If you don’t like it, we have a 100% moneyback guarantee… no questions asked”. That puts the customer at ease and takes the risk out of the purchase. Although, if you’re going to say that… you have to do it and do it without making them jump through a bunch of hoops.

Why isn’t everyone doing this? The perception is that if you provide an aggressive guarantee customers are going to take advantage of you. That’s simply not true… Most people don’t.

Question: What great ideas do you have that that can help increase sales? Please leave a comment below.

Dance School Photography WOW Products!!

Hi Gang

It’s that time of year again in the studio and we are in the process of getting ready for another dance school photography season. One of the easiest ways I’ve found to separate yourself from the competition is by always having great products and new designs.

For example, in most areas the photographers are just offering standard prints and aren’t really catering to the specific needs of the dance schools. We have designed complete product lines just for dance schools. From the traditional Memory Mate to specialized products such as art series, dance composites, custom posters, pano’s, gallery wraps etc… we also offer custom dance mouse pads, coffee mugs, buttons, shirts and more… much like we have done for the youth sports photography market. These products and designs are updated every year… they always want and expect “something new”.

You can find many of these designs over at Photo Solutions Market.

Let me know what you think…

 

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Join us at DDLab on Feb 9th  and 10th to learn from some of the best in the business how to double your sports business this year! Two full days of sales, marketing & how-to knowledge from industry leading experts.

Event: Double Your Youth Sports Business in 2015!
Sponsor: DD Lab
904-398-9330
Venue: DD Lab
904-398-9330
Location: 2916 University Blvd. West
Jacksonville, Fl 32217
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

New Youth Sports Photography Video Series Released

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I’m very excited to share this with you…

Yesterday,  Shaun & I launched a free three-part video training called How To Double your Youth Sports Photography Business in 2015.

You can get the first video instantly by clicking here and signing up.

Video #1

We’ve been in the youth sports photography business for over 25 years and in these videos we share something very close to our heart…

Growing Your Business..

I know, I know…

You don’t think it’s possible in today market?

In this video series we will reveal the tools and techniques we’ve been using to help photographers grow their youth sports business for years.

You can do this IF you know what to do and IF you have the right sales tools.

Have you tried to grow the sports side of you’re business in the past. You start with good intentions, but after a few weeks (or even days!), you give up because your not sure exactly what what steps to take?

The good news? Most of us fail not because our intentions are flawed. We fail because we just don’t have the correct processes in place to succeed.

How about a fresh approach to your sales and marketing? One that will help you get to the next level faster than you could have imagined?

Well, then, good news — you will get a TON of value from this video series.

In Video #1, we look at the trends in the photography industry overall and the opportunities available youth sports photography segment. We will go over the sales and marketing process and show you the steps needed to grow your business.

It’s free, but it will only be available for a limited time. Sign up here, and I’ll send you Video #1 right away.

Xtreme Teams – Digital Team Composites

Hi Gang,

We started shooting high school football again today and I wanted to share with you some of our Xtreme Team (digital team composites) we created last year – I will post an update of some of the cool stuff we are doing this year in a couple weeks. If you aren’t familiar with them, it is an excellent alternative to the traditional team or group shot. We photograph everyone individually on the green screen background and assemble the group digitally. Anyone that has done any large group photography understands the challenges of this type of photography. Here are some of my thoughts after doing over 75+ digital composites during last year.

Pros

1. It’s a real WOW product and will separate you from your competition, allowing you to book a lot more teams.

2. In the past when photographing 50 or 60 football players with 20+ cheerleaders it would become quite a production and would take some time to get everyone properly posed and photographed. Look at the college team below, with players, cheerleaders and coaches well over 125 people. Trying to orchestrate that as a traditionally photograph was a real pain in the backside – this whole shoot including each players individual pose was done in about 1 hour.

Also, the coaches love it because they are usually at the front of the line and after their 30 seconds in front of the camera they are done.

3. No risers. In the past when photographing groups this large, you typically working on the football field and have to get there 1 1/2 to 2 hours before the shoot just to set up the risers, lights etc.. No risers required (my back really appreciate this).

4. We now get to shoot in the gym where – where the AC is. Did I mention we now get to shoot in the AC

5. No more bad lighting situations. Since most of the coaches typically want to do the team shot taken immediately after school gets out and before practice starts, you find yourself doing most between 2pm to 3pm in the afternoon. Not the ideal time for best lighting conditions. We even did a couple in the gym with it pouring down rain outside… no more rescheduled shoots.

6. No more missing kids or kids who ended up getting cut in the team picture. Since most of the football shots are taken in August to meet the program deadline… many of the schools have not made final cuts. Most coaches do not want kids in the team shot that end up getting cut from the team. Although everybody is photographed individually for the program, the composite isn’t assembled until the coach makes his final cuts.

7. It also makes it very easy to create the specialty groups. For example, a group shot of all seniors, or all linebackers etc.…

Cons

1. If you are doing any type of serious volume, you could potentially get backed up in production.

2. Most of these jobs are shot on green screen to make the production as easy as possible. If the green screen is not lit properly and it becomes a manual process to extract each one of the players in Photoshop you are going to see a lot of sleepless nights.
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The graphics used to create these composites came from our friends over at Spotlight Photographics.

Here’s a couple sample team composites. What are your thoughts? Leave your feedback below, I love to hear what you think of these new digital team composites.

 

Xtreme Team -Digital Team Compsoite

 

Xtreme Team -Digital Team Compsoite

Butterfly Lighting Pattern

Hi guys,

Hope everyone is having a good day. I just finished editing this image for a new training video I am working on about Mastering Studio Lighting. This shot was taken during a set-up where I was demonstrating a butterfly lighting pattern.

Butterfly lighting is frequently used in creating fashion and glamour head shots. This style of lighting is very glamourous and has the effect of eliminating any shadows or wrinkles or lines in the face.

The light source comes from directly above the camera and is in front of the subject. Butterfly lighting is so named due to the butterfly shaped shadow under the nose.

Steps for achieving the perfect Butterfly Lighting pattern

1. Position light approx 5 ft. in from of the subject and directly above the face so the shadow is under the nose. The shadow should not touch the lip.

2. Adjust the light to proper height by moving it up or down watching the catchlights in the eyes. When the light is in the proper position, your catchlight should be at 12 o’clock.

3. Position reflector about waist level below the subject to help fill in the shadows under her chin caused from the overhead light..

Technical Stuff:

Main light: f9.0
Background light: f8
Edge lights: f5.6
Fill: Silver reflector
Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 85mm
1/100 sec @ f9
ISO 100

Tip: The main light metered at f11.3, by exposing at f9 she was technically slightly overexposed.

Let me know if you have any questions.

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The Set-Up
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Setting Goals for 2014

I love this time of year.  I will typically spend the week between Christmas and New Years every reflecting on last year and setting goals for the upcoming year. I find this really clears my mind and gets me ready for the new year.

Goals 2014
I was excited to find this video from the legendary Zig Ziglar on goal setting. Zig was a sales mans best motivator. I spent endless hours listening to his tapes while making sales calls in my territory right out of college. Right now I’m thinking about whats ahead for 2014 and what the possibilities are.
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Here’s a couple good Zig quotes on goal setting.

“If you want to reach a goal. You must see the reaching in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.”

“A goal properly set is halfway reached”

What do you want to accomplish in 2014? Do you have written down goals for 2014?