Grow Your Bottom Line and Increase Bookings

The following post is by DigiLabs Pro General Manager, Stephanie Weber, who offers advice on how to increase bookings by leveraging your network.  Learn more about Stephanie and DigiLabs at the end of this post.

Portrait Sample Gallery

In an economy where every lead is a vital one, many professional photographers are ignoring their biggest sales force – their online networks of friends and professional contacts. This includes anyone from clients to vendors to fellow photographers, all of whom can be valuable marketing assets to pros. By leveraging your network with a few simple initiatives, shooters can become sellers and boost their bottom line.

Entice Clients to Brag About You

It’s important to view each project as an opportunity to market your photos and to increase your exposure for future jobs. You don’t just want to just sell to the client; you want to also sell to their network. Paying attention to detail and providing great customer service are always key to staying top-of-mind with your client, and make it easy for clients to refer you to other potential customers as well.

Photo by Jeff Cable

Word-of-mouth has been a powerful marketing tool for San Francisco-based sport and event photographer Jeff Cable. He uses his web galleries as a way to reach out to new customers to sell products (such as a bride and groom’s friends and relatives), and he points potential new clients to online galleries to see samples of his work. He shares the galleries via emails and he prints business cards with the galleries’ web addresses so that people attending events where he is shooting, such as guests, DJs and rabbis, can check out his work. Similarly, pro photographer Ben Chrisman encourages his clients to share their galleries via social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Photo by Ben Chrisman

Release Your Inner Billy Mays

Keep in mind that clients will procrastinate no matter what. Like famed TV pitchman Billy Mays, create a sense of urgency within your customers.

Consider creating a program that offers your clients an incentive to encourage friends and family to purchase images from your galleries. Think of using promotions like 25% off the total dollar value of their gallery’s orders as a credit towards an album or other product, or offer a free coffee table book if online orders exceed $1,000. Find ways to demonstrate that ordering immediately delivers a better value.

As time passes, your clients are less emotionally attached to the images, therefore less likely to purchase. By making the galleries available for a limited time and charging a nominal amount for extended viewing, introducing an incentive for them to place their orders ASAP is a win-win. Many pros run specials offering 20% off all orders placed on the first three days OR 30% off all orders more than $100 during the first week.

Network With Your Network

Do some serious brainstorming and get to know your target audience. Where do they shop? What other types of services do they need or use regularly? Approach other vendors, for example, floral shops in the wedding industry or plaque makers in the sports industry and offer to photograph their goods or services pro bono or for a nominal fee. You will provide them a bargain, and they will promote you by displaying your work at their locations and websites. It’s a huge opportunity to reach a targeted group of potential customers.

Let’s face it; even in a tumultuous economy, there’s still work to be had. Photographers are relied upon to shoot everything from the changing of the seasons to the Changing of the Guard, but there’s a lot more competition. Photographers should strive to identify ways in which they can increase their exposure to potential customers while building on the rapport they have with existing clients. More referrals are essential for increasing bookings and boosting the bottom line!

Stephanie Weber directs communications, among other responsibilities, at DigiLabs Pro and regularly engages with colleagues and customers on its blog, Facebook and Twitter feeds.