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Photo Business Income Estimator

Fill in or change the figures in the pink boxes to see how much income you will earn as a professional photographer. More advanced readers can also change the yellow boxes to refine the estimate. And if you're keen, there are more notes below the Estimator if you're interested!

Instructions Start Here

You can view the YouTube video here, or scroll down a little further for the written instructions...

 

Most photographers do a bit of everything, so use this section to enter how many jobs you will do per week and how much you will charge, using the different categories. Some may have zeroes as you don't do this type of work.

These figures will be averages. Some weeks you mightn't work at all, other weeks you could be run off your feet. Similarly, some jobs may be good payers, while others barely cover costs. What we're interested in for the Calculator are rough averages to give you an idea of what you need to aim for.

Change the figures as often as you like to see what happens. Print out a copy if you like!

Your Estimated Annual Income

After entering the number of jobs and your average price for each category, the Calculator will show you your Estimated Annual Income. It's important to realise there are a lot of assumptions behind this figure. These assumptions are based on Peter Eastway's experience as an accountant and photography business adviser. However, even if some of the assumptions are not quite correct, the Calculator will give you a good understanding of what's required to be successful.

How much should your annual income be? That's not for us to say. However, the median wage in Australia is approximately $80,000. Given you're in business for yourself and taking a lot of risk, this would seem to be a minimum aim point. It might not be achievable immediately, of course. This is why you should prepare a business plan so that in, say, three or five years, your photography business is indeed earning you a 'salary' of $80,000 a year or more.

Variable Costs As A % Of Sales

Every job you do has costs. If you charge $1000 for a job, you don't get to keep all of it. You have to pay out the costs of doing the job - such as prints, albums, frames, USB drives, assistants, hire equipment, travel and so on. These are called 'variable costs'. (They are also called Cost of Goods or Cost of Goods Sold.)

This section makes some assumptions about how much you might spend on variable costs. If you only provide digital files to your clients, then your % might be lower than what is used in the Calculator. If you spend a lot on albums, prints and frames, then your % may be higher.

If you're already in business, you can work out your variable costs by looking at last year's figures or tax return. Add up all the variable costs and divide it by your sales - this is your variable cost percentage. However, this is likely to be an average percentage across all your job types, and not correct for, say, weddings. You may need to do some more sums to work our more accurate figures for the different type of work you do.

Adjust The Assumptions

Depending on where you live in the world, these assumptions may need to be changed. Here you can add in or remove costs such as GST or sales tax, how many weeks you won't be working (holidays), new equipment, studio or office rent (if any - some photographers work at home), and staffing costs.

As your business grows and you add in more jobs per week to earn a better income, you may find you also need to hire people to help you or move out of home into business premises. This can have a big impact on your net income.

Overhead or Fixed Costs

As businesses grow, you end up with more and more overheads. We've included some simple percentages to calculate these figures and we accept they may not be exactly right. We are planning to produce a second version of this calculator where you can enter in all your overheads separately, but in the meantime, please accept these figures for what they are.

The purpose of this spreadsheet is to show people that you can't charge $200 or $500 per job and make a good living out of it. 

If you're interested in more information on running a successful photography business, Peter has written a Photo Business Handbook which includes a series of interactive Business Planning Templates. You can find out about the Handbook by clicking here.

 

Marketing In Tough Economic Times

Notes from Sondra Ayers and Jerry Deck

Is there a recession? Is the economy tough? Sondra Ayers and Jerry Deck began their seminar at WPPI in Las Vegas in February with a testimonial from a photographer who has engaged them as business coaches.

"I don't know about the recession, but the last four months have been the best ever for me."

Admittedly the testimonial was from a photographer with a new, growing business, but the point was well made.
Sondra and Jerry run Power Consulting in the USA, a business which has been helping photographers for the past 19 years to grow and market their studios. You can visit their website for more information at www.powerconsultingusa.com. I sat in on Sondra and Jerry's presentation and took the following notes.

5 Steps For Marketing

Power Consulting has three rules for living life:
1. Get up every morning and love what you do;
2. Support yourself and your family with the means they need - in other words, earn a good living from what you do; and
3. Create friends in clients for life. Many (but obviously not all) of Sondra and Jerry's clients have become lifelong friends and this is a good way to approach your client base.

Jerry acknowledged that the industry is scared at the moment. Weddings are down and people don't want their portrait taken right now, yet he still believes this is the best opportunity we have had in a lifetime for building a strong photography business.

"Things can only get better from here and the reason is because your competition is scared. They are in a shell and worried, but you're at a convention attending a seminar to help grow your business - and that's the difference."

I love the positive attitude of American marketers! And yet Jerry made a very salient observation.

"Even if you don't have a lot of work on, you can't spend your time sitting on forums or playing in Photoshop, you need to practice your photography. Musicians spend most of their spare time practicing. A sketch artist spends much of their time making drawings. Photographers should be no different as creating different and saleable photographs is the best way to stand apart from your competition in a competitive market.
"Today is the best time ever to be in business because you've never been able to reach your clients as quickly or cheaply before. However, before you do any marketing or advertising, there are five steps you need to put in place to ensure it works. If your marketing isn't working as you think it should, perhaps it's because these five steps haven't been put in place first."

The following notes are from Jerry and Sondra speaking in tandem.

Step 1: The End Result

Anything you do with marketing and advertising has to start with an end result. I want you to write down what the victory looks like - what will your life and business look like in 12 months time?


What does this have to do with marketing? Everything! Before you market or advertise your business, you need to know exactly what you want to accomplish. If you don't define what you want to happen, you won't know if you achieved it. Write it down. Be detailed.

For instance, you should know how many portrait clients you want for the next 12 months, say 142 clients spending an average of $980, or 40 weddings with an average of $4000 and a cost of sales of 12 percent. This is information you need to know.

Step 2: Identify Your Target Market

Who are your clients? Where do they live? How old are they, where do they shop, what is their occupation? Who is your perfect client, what is their story, who are their friends? Where do they buy children's clothing, what are their hobbies and pastimes...

The reason we need this information is so we know what messages to write and how to touch the hearts of our clients. Simplistically speaking, there's no point sending out senior photos to a baby client. We need to identify our target market.

Step 3: Be Prepared For Inquiries

It is amazing how many businesses send out a mailing piece but aren't prepared for the inquiries that result!. We know of a photographer who sent out an expensive marketing piece with a deadline to respond and they were going to be away on holidays! This was very bad planning, but it happens more often than people care to admit.

So, when your marketing piece is successful, what are you going to do? You need to be prepared for when the phone rings. What do you want to happen? Do you want the people calling to book a session, or to book and pay for it up front? Be specific.

Some photographers think that booking a session is all that matters and the client can just pay them the following Tuesday when they turn up. This isn't a good booking at all. Many people simply won't turn up unless they are committed. If they pay for the session when you speak to them on the telephone, then they are committed.

Of course, what we want and what our clients want can be quite different, so if I were a studio owner, I would have a series of goals.

My first goal would be to book a session with full payment, but my second goal would be to book a session with a cheque being posted to me. The third goal would be to make an appointment for the prospect to visit my studio to look at my work, while the fourth goal might be to get the prospect's address or email address so I can send them a more detailed marketing piece - perhaps a full-colour brochure with beautiful photos and very little text.

The fifth goal is to make the prospect feel happy they have called, even if they have said no to my first four goals. At the very least you want them to think you're a nice person and a friendly studio - you never know when they may need a photographer in the future.

It's also important to have a telephone inquiry sheet and a pen near your phone. It gives you somewhere to write down your prospect's information, plus it can prompt you to ask the necessary questions to reach your goals.

When the phone rings, make sure the only people who ever answer are trained to do so! It is so important when a prospect takes the time to call that you acknowledge this in the way you treat them. Many studios have people answering the phone who simply shouldn't! These people act as though it is an inconvenience to answer the phone and the result can be your marketing efforts are wasted because the prospect feels they are not wanted.

Step 4: Plan For The Long Term

A single marketing campaign won't fill your appointment book for the rest of the year. You need to plan your marketing as an ongoing process. So, if your current campaign has an expiry date in two weeks time, plan to send out a reminder piece a week before it expires.

Step 5: Have Everything In Place First

Following on from Step 4, what this means is you need to have the follow-up pieces planned even before you send out the initial piece.

It takes 9 to 13 exposures before people will take notice of you. This can be by email, voice, or newsletter, but the good news is that you can touch people so much easier these days. The bad news is so can everyone else. This is why it's important to have a similar feeling and design with all your marketing and communication so that people associate it with you.

As is the case with many American presentations, the presenters were also looking for more business, hoping that attendees would appreciate their advice so much they would engage Power Consulting to help them. I imagine their assistance is also available for Australian businesses and, even though there are market differences between the two countries, the basis that Sondra and Jerry put forward apply equally to all businesses in a capitalist society. And for Photo Business readers on the internet, I am sure Sondra and Jerry are able to help no matter where you live!


Sondra and Jerry followed on with nine foundations a studio needs to be successful and although they are targeted towards a portrait or wedding studio, they apply equally to all types of photography studio.

Foundation 1

You need to know how many sittings/jobs and the average sale you need each year. In other words, you need to know your numbers - what you did last year and what your projections are for this year. Without these numbers you are drifting aimlessly.

You also need to know your cost of goods sold and your hard costs (your overheads). Costs of goods sold will tell you what's coming out of your pocket to pay for what your client has taken away. We think that anything below 20% is a good cost of goods sold figure.

Foundation 2

Establish policies for the studio and explain them in ways that benefit your clients. For instance, your studio might not refund a sitting fee if the session is cancelled less than 24 hours in advance, so explain it as a benefit that allows you to ensure other clients can be properly accommodated and that helps you reschedule a client's appointment. You can always overrule your own policies and make exceptions, but having policies in place, correctly explained to your clients, will help your studio run more efficiently.

Foundation 3

You need the correct creation (sitting) fees and pricing to induce your target audience to hire you. If you know your numbers (see Foundation 1), you can figure out the pricing you need for the number of jobs you want to shoot, but in addition to this, think how your customers will respond. Some studios price things that create a brick wall for their clients. For instance, they might decide they need an average of $1000 a job, so they create a price list with a minimum purchase of $1000, but clients are buying something they haven't yet seen and few are prepared to commit up front to such a large fee. There's no minimum purchase when you visit a clothing store, why should photographers have a minimum purchase?

Photographers generally do two types of price lists. One is a base price list which is afraid that if the prices are too high you won't get any customers, yet sometimes pricing yourself this way means you will never cover your costs, let alone make a profit. Then there is the ego price list which says if you don't want to spend $2000 or $4000, then go away! Yet these photographers wonder why they don't get much business! Lots of clients might be very happy to spend $2000 or $4000, but they don't want to be told ahead of time.

Foundation 4

You need a system of controls that run your business. Controls are often forms (paperwork) that you use to define the system. They include a client order form, a model release, a wedding contract, a studio policy document - anything that a client sees or signs. He with the signature wins, so if there's a problem (someone is not happy with the work or doesn't want to pay the balance), if you have their signature on an order then you will (probably) be the winner in court.

Foundation 5

In addition to paper controls you need to have a good production system so you can handle your workload.

Foundation 6

You need a distinctive product. Photographers don't spend enough time practising. If you want to be distinctive, you need to be out there photographing. Pick up your camera, walk outside and practise your craft. You can't just show up once and do it, rather you must come through time after time. You have to be great at what you do. And while we know the distinctive images that win competitions mightn't be what we do on a daily basis, it is often what our clients are judging us by.

Foundation 7

You need to have purposeful branding for your studio. Create a persona, determine the colours, texture and feel of your brand. There are many great brands out there as examples to draw inspiration from.

Foundation 8

Create a sales system. Just like telephone inquiries, you need goals for your sales sessions. Of course, you don't tell your clients this is what you are doing, but you can write out your sales approach and what your goals are. However, the goal shouldn't be a $1000 sale, rather it should be something like, ‘I am here to ensure my clients love the photos and get what they need from the portrait session'. The sales session is not about how much money you need to make, at least it isn't while you're in the middle of the sale process.

You are probably well advised to fire your sales people and rehire them as portrait décor designers or décor experts. Take the ‘sale' out of the process. A designer or an expert knows what looks best, what will make the wife teary every time she sees you and the kids on the wall, and this will lead to good sales.

If you don't see yourself as warm and squishy, as not particularly good at sales, then find someone else to do the portrait presentation.

Foundation 9


Finally, you need to have a database. Fewer than half of photography studios use a database, yet keeping a record of every conversation and purchase is so useful. We use Goldmine software, but there are lots of packages that will do the job. The best database program is one that you find easy to use.

Do you want more? While the American approach to sales and business needs to be adapted for the Australian market, there's no doubt that once adapted the concepts generally work remarkably well. There is a lot we can learn from the Americans.

10 Secrets for a Successful Studio

Jerry and Sondra finished off with their ten secrets of a successful studio.

1. Never ignore your prospects, If someone doesn't book you up front, still ask if you can send them something that shows them what you do. You never know when a prospect might need a photographer in the future and you want them to think of you.

2. Develop systems to acquire leads and, once acquired, to convert them into customers. It's a two step process.

3. Build and invest in meaningful relationships - with clients and with other businesses who have a similar target audience. You are selling yourself every time you meet someone.

4. Know that your studio's most valuable assets are its client list and its prospect list. A good database helps manage both.

5. A successful photographer ‘shows up' over and over. We have a philosophy that anyone can show up once. Anyone can do a $2000 portrait sale once, but it's making a $2000 sale seven times out of ten that makes you successful. This applies to every aspect of your business.

6, Always sell to the buyers. Make sure you're talking to the decision makers when selling portraiture, weddings, event, commercial or any type of professional photography.

7. Always tell your prospects what you want them to do. For instance, if you want them to pay up front, say so! Prepare your clients so they know what to expect. This process begins from the first time you talk to them on the telephone.

8. Never ignore the five reasons our customers get mad and upset:

  1. Inattentiveness - don't ignore them
  2. Ignorance - if you don't know, admit it and then get back to them with the answer
  3. Incompetence - don't be a bumbler or blame your staff because your client's time is valuable and you must respect this.
  4. Bad attitude - no matter what people say, be nice. And remember, if they question you, it's not something personal against you, rather they just don't know the answer.
  5. Don't send up red flags - in other words, don't do the wrong thing by your clients. If you shoot 15 weddings in a year, your aim should be to get 15 referrals and this won't happen if you've been raising red flags while working for your clients

9. Know that clients will pay more for loving attention, a great product, and a distinctive product. Under promise and over deliver and continue to give attention after the money has changed hands. You have to love your clients.

10. Become the artist. Successful photographers realize they are the artist in their community.

Jerry and Sondra have a weekly email called 52 Power Tips and it's free. Visit www.52powertips.com to sign up.

18. How Much Should I Charge?

The following advice is specific to Australia. Most Western countries have similar structures and the broad principles are similar. However, you should consult your own advisers for specific information. 

One of the most difficult issues for a photographer starting out is calculating how much to charge. Unfortunately there isn't a single answer that applies to everyone and even experienced photographers vary greatly in the way they determine their fees. Weddings, family portraiture, advertising work, editorial... every branch of photography has a different way of charging for their work, and sometimes photographers who work in several different branches will also have different ways of charging for their time.

However, it doesn't really matter how you structure your prices as long as you understand and take into account three important issues: your clients, your competition and the profit you want to make each year from being a photographer.

The Business Plan

Before you can determine how much you should charge for a job, you should have a basic understanding of the market you are working in (who are your clients and your competition) and what your own financial goals are.

Let's look at this with some extreme examples: you're unlikely to sell high-end family portraiture to people who live on a pension; it's going to be hard to sell a wedding package for $10,000 if everyone else in the area is charging $1000 for the same service; and if you want to earn $100,000 a year, charging $200 a day isn't going to get you there, even if you work every day of the year!

To work out how much you should charge for a job, first you must collect some information upon which you can base your calculations.

Your Clients

The first step is to define who your clients are likely to be. An architectural photographer might find a list of architects, civil engineers and builders. A wedding photographer might list couples who will be married at a venue within 20 kilometres of the studio.

How much should you charge these people? Knowing who they are won't answer this question. Architects may be able to afford your $10,000 a day fee, but they are not stupid and if they can hire experienced photographers for, say, $3000 a day, what chance have you got?

Knowing who your clients are may give you an idea of their capacity to pay the fees you want to charge, but it doesn't mean they will choose to do so.

Your Competition

For this reason, your next area of research should be your competition. Who are the other photographers in your area and how much do they charge?

If you're shooting family portraits and charging $1000 for a 20x24" wall portrait, but there are three other studios in the same area charging $500, you're likely to have a hard time when you start out.

Does this mean you can never charge $1000? Certainly not! In the market today there are already photographers charging two, three and even ten times more than their competition. They can charge more because of what their clients perceive they are buying. Compare the cost of a Holden and a Rolls Royce. For a client who only wants a car to get them from one place to another, Rolls Royce will never make a sale. But for the client who has everything and a need to travel in style, Rolls Royce is in with a chance, even though its car might cost twenty times that of a Holden. Could Holden charge the same for one of its cars? No. Over the years, Rolls Royce has built both a product and a reputation that command a higher price, but this is not something that can be quickly or easily achieved by a photographer starting out.

New photography studios will find it difficult to charge more than their competition unless they can immediately show a difference in quality, service or some other aspect of their business.

So, how do you find out how much your competition is charging? If you ring up a photographer, tell them you're starting up in their area, so how much do they charge because you want to undercut them by ten percent, you're unlikely to receive a civil response. However, you could ask photographers who work in another state or area in a similar field and who will never be your competition.

Some photographers provide their prices on the internet, but often your research will accumulate slowly when your clients tell you you're too expensive or incredibly good value!

Your Profit

Once you have researched your market and your competitors' pricing, you have a good idea of what the market is currently paying. This doesn't mean you have to charge the same - although you can, you can also choose to charge more or less.

Some photographers think they can shoot more quickly, so they might choose to charge less but do more jobs than their competitors. Other photographers might prefer to drink more coffee, so they put their rates up hoping to get fewer clients, but at a higher fee.

Whatever you decide to do, only do it after you've made some simple calculations. And it can be very simple.

Look at your market and your competition. What is the going rate for an ‘average' job. For instance, what does your competition charge for a 24x30" print and a dozen loose prints, or an architectural shoot? Let's say it's $1000.

Now, how many of these average shoots will you do a week? Let's say you'll do four of these shoots. Assume you work 50 weeks of the year (just to make the calculations easy), this means that 50 weeks x 4 shoots x $500 = $100,000 a year income. (Note, this is your total income, not your profit. You still have to pay for your expenses.)

How does this income equate to your expected profit (including your salary and wages?). If you want to earn $50,000 a year, then this calculation might be achievable as long as you can keep your costs down to fifty percent.

On the other hand, if you want to earn $100,000 profit, you clearly aren't charging enough, or you're not doing enough jobs a year to get there. Assuming you can keep your costs to 50%, you would need to do 8 shoots a week, charge $1000 a print or shoot, or maybe sit somewhere in between (say 6 shoots a week for $750) if you wanted to earn $100,000 profit.

At least now you have an aim point. Can you charge this amount immediately? Possibly not.

Does It Make Sense?

To determine how much you should charge, you need to compare the profit you want to earn (based on your business plan) with what your clients are prepared to pay and what they are already paying your competition.

It may be that when you first start out, you can't charge enough to reach your goal, and that goal is probably best set for two, three or five years down the track. In the meantime, you might have to work for less as you build up your business. There are very few overnight successes and most of the profitable studios you see have been built up over many years.

However, knowing how much your average job needs to be and how many you need to shoot each week gives you a good foundation on which to base your calculations.

Finally, there's no doubt you will make mistakes. You will undercharge some clients and feel like a mug. You will quote too low for other jobs and not get them because clients think you're too cheap (they want a quality job). There is a great deal of experience in successful pricing, so the trick is to test what you do and keep a close eye on your business.

The information in this article is general in nature and should not replace personal advice given by your own legal and financial advisers.

Jerry Ghionis Telephone Technique


Interview first published June 2006

JerryGhionisHeadShot.jpg
When a client rings you to make enquiries, are they just another problem to deal with in a busy day, or do you mentally put everything else aside and give them the red carpet treatment? The way you answer the phone, how well you listen and what you say makes a huge difference to your profitability. Call it the ‘gift of the gab', but the best photography and the best marketing come to naught if the way you speak to potential clients gives them the wrong message.

Jerry Ghionis outlines some of the techniques he and XSight use for answering the telephone - and ensuring the brides pay his studio a visit. However, these techniques can be adapted to portraiture, commercial and advertising photography.
It's important to have the right attitude when you answer the phone and to be focused on the caller, not the hundreds of other things that are clamouring for your attention.

To begin, smile before you answer the phone! This is a really simple technique and people can hear the smile in your voice when you do.

Let the phone ring three times. If you answer after the fourth ring, people think you're too busy or too slow. On the other hand, if you answer it on the first ring you're seen as a little desperate for business!

Your greeting should be clear and unambiguous. We say, ‘Good morning, XSiGHT Photography and Video, this is Jerry'. We don't say ‘Jerry speaking' as it is pretty obvious someone is speaking!

This also prompts the caller to tell us their name.

Then, we listen actively. Many business people don't listen, they just say the greeting automatically and tune out. You can miss important information this way.

Sometimes you'll get a bride who rambles on, so every now and then you may need to gently remind her that you exist. This can be done by asking for her name, the date of the wedding and other questions. By asking questions, you can direct the conversation.

When you receive a telephone enquiry, you should determine what outcome you want. For us at XSiGHT, it is to make an appointment. It is unlikely we will book a wedding over the phone without first meeting the bride and groom, so our objective is to encourage the bride to visit our studio so we can show her what we do and how good we are.

We need to encourage the bride to make an appointment because this is a commitment of her time. To get this commitment, you befriend her and speak to her as though she is already going to become a client. Obviously, there needs to be a genuineness in what you are doing and offering.
When a bride says she is getting married, congratulate her. This makes your relationship more personal - it's what friends would say to each other.
Always have a pen and pad next to the phone so you can write down details. Many studios have specially printed forms with a list of prepared questions and information to gather.

Ask the bride for the time and date of the wedding, then find a positive in her answer. For instance, if the wedding is in August, explain what you like about photographing weddings in August. ‘What a great time to get married, let me check our availability...'.

You might already know whether you're available or not, but if you simply say you're free, it doesn't indicate that you're in great demand. Having to check your schedule shows that you're a busy photographer and therefore valuable - and it doesn't hurt to double check.

Some photographers are upset when a bride asks about his or her photography prices, but most brides know very little about wedding photography and are simply asking a question they can relate to. They're just making enquiries and a good salesperson will use it as an opportunity to educate them.

Before answering a price enquiry directly, ask the bride if you could find out a little more about her wedding first - such as when is the wedding?

Then, while you're checking the date for her, ask some more questions, like where is the church or the reception?

If you know the location, you could remark, ‘Oh, they have wonderful lighting there. We will be able to take some great shots of you walking down the aisle'. We are answering her as though she is an existing client.

Then talk further about her plans. Find out as much as you can about the wedding because the more the bride shares these plans with you, the more commitment she is building to at least pay you a visit. Don't worry about being presumptuous - she won't mind.

When talking with the bride, try to find a personal connection, such as my sister was married at that church, or I really enjoyed the wedding reception there last year. Never lie about these connections. If you can't find a personal connection, then just say that the bride's plans sound really lovely. There's no doubt they are!

When you finally confirm that the date is available, you can sound a little surprised that you are free. It doesn't hurt for her to think you're in demand.
At this point, the bride might pressure you again about prices. I then say that the best way to explain the prices is for her to come in for an appointment so we can run through things, she can meet the photographer and understand the ‘initial investment'.

Note what this sentence does - it explains that I might not be her photographer, and it also plants a seed that the initial price might not be all that she spends.

I add that I'd love to meet her, that we have an amazing audio visual to show her on Tuesday or Thursday evenings at 6:00pm or 7:30pm, and then we'd like the opportunity to discuss her special requirements.

At this stage I have avoided giving her a price and I have made her realise that we have a lot more to talk about.

Then I say something like this: ‘So, what would suit you best, Tuesday or Thursday?' I'm making an assumption that she is coming and giving her a choice of which day.

Does it work like this in the real world? You bet it does. By spending time with a bride on the phone, talking about her wedding, we've built commitment from her and we've side-stepped the question of price twice.

However, some callers really pressure us for a price, so if we need to answer them, it goes something like this:

‘Our initial investment is under $3500, which is incredible value and I'd love to see you so we can explain exactly what that price includes and maybe we can offer you something a little more."

In Melbourne, most photographers start at $2000 to $2500. We start at $3500 because we don't want to waste our time on lower value weddings. All up, our average wedding is $6000 to $8000, so if the bride thinks that $3500 is way over her budget, then I've only wasted 10 minutes on the phone. There's no point taking the process any further.

If you do tell the bride the price, I suggest you don't say a word while the ‘shock' sinks in. She might say ‘Whoooa', she might think it sounds fantastic, or she might say her budget is only $2500. After she responds, I ask if she has access to the internet and invite her to visit our website, explaining that perhaps there she can see and justify the difference between her budget and what we are.

[Note: Jerry has an excellent website, so make sure your own website shows the quality and standard you've been talking about.]
I also give the bride access to a password-protected section of our website, but to gain access she has to provide us with some basic information (name, wedding date and email address) so we can contact her in a week's time.

If her budget is $1000 and we're $3500, she won't go to the website because she knows we're going to be too expensive. However, for the borderline brides the website approach works very well because our advertising is on the back cover of all the main wedding magazines, so she already realises we're not going to be a bargain basement studio.

Whether a bride makes an appointment with you or not often comes down to the way you use your voice. Your voice is a most powerful marketing tool, but behind your voice you need to have worked out in your own mind why you're worth what you're charging. You must be comfortable within yourself.

When someone books an appointment, don't assume they know where your studio is. Offer to give them directions. And when the conversation is finished, hang up last. Don't appear to be dying to get off the phone because this indicates that you're not interested in them.

Physically, what we're selling is paper and cardboard, but that's not what our clients are paying for. They are buying our experience and they are buying an experience.

And they will have rung up a lot of studios, so after they've hung up the telephone, what makes you memorable? Were you someone who cared, or just one of the many? 

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