"Selling in person" with no studio

Discussion in 'Business of Photography' started by nikkimoore, Mar 1, 2011.

  1. I run my wedding and portrait photography business out of my apartment. I have been using Zenfolio to display images for my clients, in password-protected galleries for each shoot. I am planning to make some sweeping changes to encourage additional orders, as well as increasing the price for the full-resolution images (so far almost every client just buys the image files - so obviously they're less likely to order big items anyways). But all the reading I've done, here and in magazines, suggests that in-person selling (with a projector, usually) is the most effective way to sell prints/canvas wraps and such, as well as a great way to foster anticipation and emotional connections with the client and their photos.
    Is there any way I could go about doing this? Do many photographers typically visit clients' homes for a presentation? Coffee shops, while great for my initial meetings, aren't useful in this situation. I'm trying to think outside the box here. I really want to get out of the "shoot and burn" mentality (even though that's not quite what I do) to a more personal, hands-on, customized (and increasingly high-end) experience for my clients. Even if I do significantly raise the cost of the full-res files, that still leaves me with no good way to display/sell larger products like wall art.
    I'd love to hear any ideas, suggestions or ways others have built their business with this limitation.
     
  2. You will certainly incease your sales if you sell in person and the closer to the wedding date or the date of the portrait session the better. As time passes, everyone has seen the images and they become old news. Stike quickly and you'll see better results.
    In home sales work well and most people will not ask you to leave without a decision. Make sure you're prepared and either show them some sample album page layouts with THEIR images and also show some wall portrait examples in frames on an actual wall in a furnished room. People have trouble visualizing, so use this to your advantage.
    Another point in response to one of your comments is that you're probably mistaken that people don't make large prints because they don't purchase large files. The world spends their days looking at 72 dpi images at work, so it's "good enough" to make a large print from. It's sad, but more true than most of us would like to think.
    Good luck to you -you're on the right track....-TED :)
     
  3. If you need a more professional setting, check out conference rooms at local libraries and banks, they often let you use them for free or at a minimal cost. You could then use a LCD projector in a space like that as well. Maybe check out one of the PICO projectors you can use with a laptop or phone.
    http://www.amazon.com/Optoma-PK201-Pico-Pocket-Projector/dp/B0039XRJ68/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1299069590&sr=8-3
     
  4. Thanks for the ideas/suggestions. I imagine in-home viewings would work better than in a conference room or something, if only because they could see the images in the proper surroundings, and choose sizes appropriately. Plus I bet they'd feel a lot more comfortable (and buy more?) if they were at home.
    Here's something I don't understand at all: how do you go about choosing frames and such? It makes more sense to me, to have the client do their own framing. Seems like it'd be SO much back-and-forth (I used to work in a frame shop and it can be a tedious process if there's only ONE person involved). I just don't know if I want to get into all that! Canvas wraps, etc., seem to be simpler because there are fewer options...but to have to help them pick out mats, frame, glass...without having a truckload of samples and frame corners...how does anyone do that?
    I can see canvas wraps, those metal hanging things, large prints (for them to frame on their own time)...but doing all the framing too, it's hard for me to imagine how that works.
     
  5. Maybe instead of framing them you can sorta do what you do for your albums. Go to a Stock website and find a nice living room setting and some frame shots and digitally place their photos in the frames next to each other. Maybe 1 large frame with 2 smaller flanking it. Or make one large canvas style image hanging above the couch...You'll probably find some really appealing settings to place their photos in. Bedrooms, hallways, stairs... You can even do fun set ups of collages of images on a large wall. They'll love it because you did all the work to lay it out so it's easier for them to make the decision and buy it.
    Here are some links to show what I mean as to what you can do to your photos, and a nice living room setting that I came across;
    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3186/3096254331_ea9b556afe_o.jpg
    http://www.advancedimagewerx.com/images/canvas-wall-21.jpg
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_1o4wBuwqfXg/STaLoo8savI/AAAAAAAAANo/QG0MADMPbDQ/s400/IMG_2218.JPG
    http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-12943124-cozy-living-room.php
     
  6. Check out Charles Lewis and pay the $11 or whatever it is to get the 'free' info. Part of his system deals with meeting clients in their homes to present the images on an LCD projector. But that's not all there is to it, and at least a large part of it is included in the intro package. Really great ideas that can make a big difference in your bottom line.
     
  7. Nikki,
    You could offer a limited selection and if they sell, they sell. As the photographer, you can assure your client that if any damage occurs in the mounting/framing process, YOU are responsible. If they have a frame shop do the work and there's any damage, this becomes a huge hassle for your customer. Play this up and you'll make sales....-TED :)
     
  8. It's not an easy task to sell prints in home and juggle day to day photography related business. In home selling with portraits is a must because the enlargements in where you make your money. I think it's more difficult with weddings. If you are a high end photographer and only need to shoot 20-25 weddings a year, then meeting with clients and selling to them shouldn't be a problem. The major issue I see is trying to schedule a time to meet that fits both yours and the couples schedule, in addition to shooting current weddings, editing, meeting with future clients, blogging, etc. I personally can't find a way to fit that in since I shoot 40 + weddings. Everything you mentioned about clients taking forever and not ordering enough is true. I just think the landscape of wedding photography has changed to where people don't purchase prints the way they used to anymore. When I was married in 2005, everyone from aunts and uncles to immediate family ordered enlargements. Now, with everything being online and a discs, people don't really purchase that much anymore or atleast don't purchase the large prints and canvas prints. Anytime you sell in home, you will see more success than online because as others have said, couples don't sit there and ponder about the costs. Tons and tons of samples is what will sell. Canvas prints and the like need to be HUGE. You can't expect to sell large wall prints if they can't see them. By showing them large prints, they can't see going any smaller.
    Showing them a 12x12 album and saying that a particular wedding package comes with an 8x8 album will normally make them want the larger album after seeing it. It's like seeing a new car at the dealership with all the options. Then see the same car as a base model and you can't help but want the one with all the fancy features.

    With most photographers these days offering the disc and print rights it's tough to compete with that. Best of luck!
     
  9. Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts. Some changes are in order -- now to find the time to implement them!
     
  10. Matt is exactly right - you need to start showing them huge images, and you can do this with an LCD projector. You start at something like 40x50, and have them pick their favorite image at that size. Then you offer the price for the largest size, which will be the most expensive. You go DOWN from there. The smaller sizes will seem more reasonable. Now think about trying to do the reverse, starting at 8X10 and going up from there.
     
  11. Great idea, Rob! Is there a projector you recommend? I'm also a little overwhelmed at getting the right software to size the images right, display them correctly, etc. Maybe it's easier than I'm imagining...
     

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