Question: How do I find the leads that want my service and figure out how to package and price my services so that they are desirable?
I’m sure you get hundreds of emails from around the world and I know I’ve responded to your “what is your biggest problem” query before.
Like many folk in the industry one of my pain points is getting leads. My site ranks high up on the Google searches for local towns and anything to do with wedding photography and I get most of my wedding leads from wedding fairs.
But I don’t think that is the biggest pain point.
The biggest pain point is definitely related though.
My biggest pain point is *connecting* with my market segment to find out a) what they want and b) at what price.
I do wedding/portrait/baby work.
For baby photography I buy in leads and cold call them. But finding out exactly what packages to offer is a bit tricky. I set up camp in a baby boutique one day to find out what mums thought of the products, what they would want in an ideal collection and what they felt each item and their ideal collection was worth. The boutique had 3 clients the whole day!
For wedding work most of my leads come through wedding fairs. Certainly if you listen to industry pundits one should be raising prices not lowering them otherwise you are competing with the “bottom feeders” and getting too many “tire kickers”. But as I drove back from the last but one wedding booking that I have for the whole YEAR yesterday (at a time I should be in full swing) I was musing that my target of at least £1000 (GBP) from a wedding is all very well but I’d rather have 40 weddings netting £500 than the 12 that I have had at a higher rate. 12×1000 = £12,000 and 40×500 = £20,000. Yes it is more work but it would put food on the table. It is just possible (likely) that I am priced too high. Or am I? Only potential clients can tell me.
The issue is twofold:
- the cycle time for weddings is so long with brides booking 6-12 months in advance, that if you get it “wrong” and price too high or too low then you don’t know for a year (i.e. until it is too late and you have gone under).
- the very people that one would like to ask exactly what they want – the brides that have yet to find you and ask you “how much” – seem to be like quicksilver: impossible to get hold of.
There are a lot of similarities between “new mums” and “new brides”. There is an obvious “gestation period” during which they are dreaming of all the things that will happen when they get there and yet whilst they are only dreaming they often don’t do the research and talk to people about their dreams. They often have very limited budgets at this moment. They have not been there before (often) so they don’t know what to expect or how much it will cost. Therefore providing for those dreams at an appropriate price point is really hard.
And of course – if I could get to those people to find out what they want and what they really have to spend then they would be the best (the very best) source of new leads coming into my business: the ones to offer my fantastic packages to, the packages designed just for them and a price they want and can afford.
So it is catch 22: how to find the leads that want my service vs how to find people to ask how I might package and price my services so that they are desirable.
I hope that helps. If you have suggestions do let me know!
Excellent questions. It’s difficult to pinpoint the issue without knowing the specifics of your business and market. However, here’s what comes to mind…
On finding clients:
Typically, the leads that you buy are extremely cold and your response rate will be quite low. Unless you can find a way to follow up with these leads automatically or with a stream-lined system, it will take a lot of time without yielding much in the way of results. Your time and energy may be better spent elsewhere.
The best way to find leads is to think about where your ideal clients are hanging out directly BEFORE and AFTER they do business with you. These businesses make terrific partners for you because they are non-competitors.
For example, in the baby business, your idea about the baby boutique is right on target. But hanging out in the store is not the best use of your time, especially if they only have three clients walk in! Instead, can you come up with an offer the boutique could give to their new customers? Such as getting a free or discounted baby portrait?
One of our photographer clients has success booking family portrait sessions with what she calls “mini-shoots.” She offers $5 mini-shoots and then makes money on the prints. It works to bring in families with children and build repeat business. She also offers vouchers at places that host children’s parties and entertainment. The locations love the coupons because it makes them look good, and it brings in business for her.
For brides, you’ll want to network and partner with the businesses she books just before you. This is a probably locations and entertainment services. Find a way to help them and build a relationship, and the right one will send dozens or even hundreds of leads your way.
Even competitors can be an excellent source of leads, though you have to proceed with caution. Invite a photographer you admire to lunch, praise their work, and ask them for tips and advice about how to grow your business. The right person who loves to help others will send you a ton of overflow leads when they are booked. We personally booked literally hundreds of jobs from the referrals of just ONE competitor DJ!
On figuring out the price:
“It is just possible (likely) that I am priced too high. Or am I? Only potential clients can tell me.”
You’re smart for turning to your potential clients to determine what they want. However, when it comes to price your clients will NOT be the best resource when you ask them directly.
Why? Because it’s very difficult for us as humans to figure out the value of something, especially if we have no experience with it, which is almost always the case with couples planning a wedding.
You can ask them how much they think something is worth, but value is so relative that the only way to measure it is their response to an actual offer. The worth of something is based on the importance they place on it.
When you ask a potential client what they want, most of the time they simply don’t know. They aren’t going to look at your list of services and see what they’re looking for because they don’t know how to recognize it.
The real answer to what they want isn’t a price or package; it’s an emotion or result. For example, brides want to remember the wedding forever; they don’t want to miss anything on the day; they want to have proof that they were young and beautiful; they want to feel special. Parents don’t want their kids to grow up; they want to brag about their children.
Our challenge is to understand what the client really wants…those emotions, fears and desires…and communicate clearly to them that our products and services will provide it.
So you’re right; it’s critical to understand what they want first. You can do this by asking them a series of questions (we call them Rapport Building Questions) and then feeding back what they say so that they know you understand. Then you can recommend a service that will give them what they want.
Is your price too high? Here’s a good rule of thumb:
- If you book less than 50% of the people you meet with, drop your price. This drop should be temporary so that you’re making money while you work on improving your marketing, sales and communication.
- If you book more than 85% of the people you meet with, it’s time to raise your prices again.
Especially with the baby market, test out different packages (offer no more than 3 at a time) and track the reaction. Even small changes make a big difference in response.
We did some work with one of our photographer clients by helping her test out different packages for the school photo market and the results were quite amazing.
We wish you every success!
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