The Photography Sales Funnel Part Three: Long Term Profits Through Referrals

Now we head into the robust part of the sales funnel. This is where you build up a system that allows you to make big profits. If you haven’t read the first two parts in this series, make sure you catch up by starting with the Photographers Sales Funnel and a look at How To Generate Leads.

In part two of this series, I discussed the top of your sales funnel and how it helps you capture attention of people desiring what you provide. Potential customers are called “leads”. Leads ultimately convert into paying customers. Depending on how well you do with both marketing and sales, your ultimate goal is to bring in more qualified prospects as time goes by so that it becomes easier to convert them into paying customers. The greater the ratio, the more your “system” works, and the less time you’ll invest in working with prospects. Which means you’ll have more time to work with your clients AND to perfect your system.

Two Ways Of Building Profits

In small business marketing, there are only three ways of bringing in the sales.

The first way is to attract and bring in brand new prospects. That’s the most expensive way to market your business and it takes the most amount of time. This is the process of working your top or the front of your funnel.

But once you get people into your funnel, you’ve attracted them to your business and they’ve begun noticing what you have to offer, you move to the second phase. In this phase, there are two ways of building profits:

Selling more to each client that comes through your door

Selling to one client again and again, year after year

Selling More To Each Client That Comes Through Your Door

In order to sell more to each client that comes through your door, you have to build your packages in such a way that you can offer more to each client. In other words, they can’t be all-inclusive. You can’t offer everything they’ve ever dreamed of purchasing in one package deal. Instead you have to break it up, offering truly the most important aspect of what you do in each “sale”. For example, many wedding photographers offer a package like this:

An engagement setting

  • An 11×14 signature board for your wedding day
  • Unlimited photography on the day of your event
  • All images on copyright-free CD
  • 40 page bridal album
  • 20 page parent album
  • 16×20 Portrait Print
  • Online gallery of your wedding photos to share with friends and family worldwide

When you see a package like this, what else could a bride ever want? She gets her engagement images, she will receive an album and a wall portrait, her mom gets an album, her friends and family can view the images indefinitely online, and she gets the CD – which means no one will ever have to order from the photographer – she’ll simply order through her local discount store when family and friends approach her about wanting an image.

In this case, a photographer will sell and profit from the original package price, with a 99 percent chance of never having another sale.

By tightening up your sales strategy, you can open up your potential.

Eliminate the engagement – because only a select few want it, give them the opportunity to purchase exactly what they need

Eliminate parent albums – a bridal package should be for the bride. Offer additional “packages” or specials in order to entice additional sales from other family members

CDs and access to digital files – these should be used as enticements to create larger sales

While this example focuses in on weddings, use the same thought process for any type of photography. For high school seniors, entice them into larger packages to have fun “Facebook” or social media images included on CD. For baby portraits, entice them with wall collages and other fun images to share with the grandparents.

The key behind selling more is to offer more. Don’t start off with one package with the hopes that is what you will sell. Instead, put together a plan that you would like a certain percentage of your clients to follow.

  • 15% will purchase package only
  • 25% will purchase package plus engagement
  • 25% will purchase package, engagement and parent album
  • 25% will purchase upgraded package, engagement and parent album
  • 10% will purchase top of the line package and extras

What will each of these items consist of? What can you build? What can you offer?

By looking deeper into the sales process, it becomes more challenging to create items that your clients will love. And will set you apart from your competition.

Selling To One Client Again and Again

Now that you’ve built a highly attractive pricing structure, you’ll quickly gain more attention with your clients. Building raving fans is the main reason small business can be so much fun. When you get to this stage of your business, your system is strong enough to attract the right people AND have them talk about you all the time.

Which means not only will they be back again and again, they will also bring their friends.

Friends talk. Especially with today’s technology, they can share anything any time, any where. Which means even if their friends don’t have a reason to use you at the moment, the thought will remain and pop back when they do.

As you move down your funnel, you begin to hone in on who you are, who you sell to, and what type of clients you cater to. And as they materialize and you begin looking at who they really are, you begin refining your processes over and over again.

In many areas of photography, the key is to bring back your customers throughout the years. If you are in wedding photography, it is hopefully a one time client (although we did photograph two or our clients for their second marriages). Yet it’s the referrals you strive for here. If you are a portrait photographer, you can provide your clients portraits for many years into the future, starting with babies, children, families, seniors and eventually back to babies again. And if you are in commercial work, there is always the next product, the next promotion, the next annual report, and the next big event.

The main reason people drift and find a new photographer is because they forget you exist. It isn’t up to them to remember you; its up to you to remind them. Marketing is about connecting, reminding, and giving people the next great idea to take advantage of. When its time for a senior photograph, they don’t remember the photographer they went to when their children were small. They ask around and find a senior photographer. Yet if you’ve kept them in your database and are reminding them about what you do today, they will use you – they already have a relationship with you.

Your goal in this section, this phase of sales, should be to sell to those that love you. It may be a client that comes in year after year. It may be a client that refers all of their family and friends. And it may be a referral source, a vendor, whom you have built a relationship with in the community. In this phase, you are not selling to strangers; you are selling to friends. People love you and refer you not only because they love what you do, but because they enjoy looking good.

We love being a “hero” to our friends. We love having the secret resource we can share and everyone will love. If you can become a “secret resource” through a variety of people in your community, your referral marketing plan will have achieved success.

The definition of marketing is “the action of promoting and selling your products and services”. The emphasis should be on the word action. If you take action, you will see results. If your action strategies have momentum, have purpose, and stretch for the life of your business, you will see your business grow steadily for the life of your business. Its as simple as that.

In the final piece of this four part series on the Sales Funnel I’m going to get practical and give you action steps for a very basic sales funnel. We’ll put you on the road to success by walking through the steps necessary to put your own sales funnel into place.

Next Step: The Photography Sales Funnel Part Four: How To Put Your Sales Funnel Into Action

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