In the first of a series of chats with accomplished photographers, we speak to Scottish Wedding & Portrait Photographer, Suzanne Black about how to successfully but subtly persuade clients to buy an album of images celebrating their big day.
What do professional photographers and the world’s biggest music stars have in common?
They all like selling albums.
Terrible jokes aside, a steady income stream from a beautifully curated and printed album will be welcomed by all wedding photographers.
The images will tell the story of an incredible wedding day, a memento for clients to treasure for generations to come. From the nerve-jangling bridal preparations to the joy of the first dance, wedding albums are a truly unique collection of special images.
Some clients will definitely want to order one or a couple. Some may say no thanks and stick to their decision. Others will be unsure and may need to be convinced of their value and charm.
Here we outline Suzanne’s approach to subtly upselling wedding albums to happy couples.
Mastering the Soft Sell
Taking the subtle approach to selling is advisable for all photographers. But for newly-weds it’s especially important. Nobody wants to feel like their special day is a money-making opportunity.
Suzanne, who has been photographing happy couples in Scotland for 15 years, says: “I’m always selling to my customers but they never feel sold to. Whether or not they buy is always their decision, one that comes naturally to them, so it has to be a very, very soft sell.”
Suzanne uses specialist software to manage the process and complement her personal approach to making every customer feel valued.
“I keep a detailed record of all customer preferences,” she explains. “I can do a quick search to see if they’re receptive to an album sale and plan my upselling strategy from there.
“This is always based around all the little details I know about them and adds up to a positive customer experience. They’ll be thinking: ‘Oh Suzanne is really interested in our wedding. She knows exactly what we want and never makes us feel like we’re just another customer.’”
Mastering the Upsell Strategy
Based on the information she has stored about individual clients, Suzanne can then plan a custom workflow for each.
Her strategy is all about taking the temperature at the right time. Knowing what their preferences are early on, finding the right way to approach the sell and then timing her messages accurately.
When albums aren’t sold as part of a pre-wedding package, gauging attitudes to investing in one is essential. And one way to do this is to simply ask at the booking stage.
Suzanne says: “When I send out a contract, there’s always a detailed booking form attached. And one of the things I ask at this stage is whether they’re interested in an album, with a tick box for yes, no or maybe.
“I can note this preference within the software and base the subsequent workflow on this.”
For example, a couple may have ticked the maybe box but then immediately after the wedding tell Suzanne they don’t currently have the budget available to buy an album.
So she’ll set up a workflow leading up to the date of their anniversary when circumstances may have changed.
“Two months before the anniversary, I get in touch,” explains Suzanne. “The message will say something like ‘I can’t believe it’s nearly a year since you guys got married. As an anniversary gift, I’d love to offer you a special discount code from me towards an album of images from the day.’ I vary the offer year to year. It may be £50 off an album for example and is always time limited.
“When you send this a few months before their anniversary, it’s likely they haven’t started thinking about presents yet, so it sparks that idea. They’ll then have time to consider it, as well as giving me enough lead-in time to get it designed and printed.”
Timing-wise, Suzanne believes this gap between the big day and ordering an album is ideal: “When you consider the timeline after the wedding, it’s maybe 4-5 weeks before you first see the full set of photos and sit down for a viewing. It then takes time to choose which images you’d like to share with friends and family, and which ones you’d like to frame.
“In the months leading up to the anniversary, couples are familiar and comfortable with the images. They’ve lived with them for a while and have their favourites which makes the design process so much easier for all of us.”
Handling the Yes, No and Maybes
Within Suzanne’s records, she’ll have a note of clients’ responses to the album question.
For the definite yeses, Suzanne will offer a discount to those who pre-book an album before the wedding. A 20% off offer gives them the incentive to commit, with her prices already taking that discount into account to protect profits.
While some are initially adamant they only want files, they may change their no to a maybe when they realise that producing their own album is rather a time-consuming task.
Suzanne said: “It’s great to have that knowledge of their ‘no’ in advance so I can make the soft sell even softer. Some of those that say no start to realise that making their own album isn’t as quick and easy as they thought. So I send them the anniversary offer anyway in case they’re coming around to the idea.”
Most people tick the maybe box. Suzanne adds these to her soft sell group in the run-up to the wedding. If they don’t bite then, when they receive the USB of images, Suzanne adds a card saying how she’d love to help them put together their wedding album. And she includes a voucher to use within the following two months.
She also has another trick up her sleeve. She said: “Depending on how positively they’ve talked about it in the run-up, I may pre-emptively design an album using Fundy.
“I’ll share it with them, saying how I needed some new sample albums and used some of your photos as I loved your wedding so much.”
“It’s easy to put one together on Fundy quite quickly and gives them a glimpse into what their album could look like. I’ll ask them for feedback and take it from there.”
If they still don’t place an order, they join the anniversary group to be approached in the near future.
Part of an album sell is explaining how the image selection process can work.
“I’ll ask clients how they’d prefer to approach the task of choosing from many hundreds of photos,” says Suzanne. “I don’t ask them to pick every single image. Instead, I go through and get rid of any definite nos. This can cull a couple of hundred straightaway.
“Then at an in-person or virtual viewing we can pick out their absolute favourites. This stage might produce 50-60 must-have images and then there’s a pool of 200-300 to choose from for filler shots and linking images.
“I then ask if they’d prefer a set number of pages or would like me to just design and see how they flow together. Most people will say ‘Let’s see how the story goes’, then we can add or take away pages as we go.”
For Suzanne, using intuitive specialist software to manage the album upselling process helps to deliver precisely targeted customer service.
Service that her clients welcome as personal and non-pushy, and that leads to increased profits for Suzanne.
Discover how Light Blue can transform how you manage the upselling process.