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Business for Photographers: The Art of the Follow Up

Business Miscellaneous | Emily Chappell Photography

February 12, 2019

The Art of How To Follow Up With Leads

 

What if I told you that there was one crucial task you’re missing that could be costing you thousands of dollars?

Well, if you’re smart, you’d probably stop whatever it is you’re doing to hear what I have to say, am I wrong?  So, wedding photographers…sorry, NOT SORRY.  You need to hear this, and it’s for your own good:

Your hustle game is seriously lacking in the follow-up department.

Quite honestly, I’m convinced that the follow-up is the most seriously underrated component of sales in general. You see, most wedding photographers expect the easy route: they want their email inbox filled with inquiries from couples that jump at the chance to book at the very first response.  And while it’s freaking awesome when that happens, we all know that’s definitely not the norm.  That’s why you get photographers complaining about having a booking problem when what they actually have is a follow-up problem.  Can we be real?  Let’s call it what it is – it’s lazy.

The biggest hurdle I come across with photographers who aren’t properly following up is the fear of rejection.  Photographers tend to be so afraid that they’re going to annoy their leads, so instead they respond once, sit back, and wait for a reply.  Their thought process goes something like “alright, it’s their move – surely if they’re interested, they’ll respond on their own time – right?” WRONG!

You’re not going to get booked because your prospects think you’re being so nice by being non-invasive.  However, they WILL book you because they feel you’re involved and interested in their business!

Let’s get started by discussing why it’s so important to follow up with your leads!

Why Is Follow Up So Crucial?

COUPLES ARE BUSY AND NEED YOU TO FOLLOW UP.  Think about it – they’re planning a wedding while simultaneously juggling work, school, or even both!  They’re also trying to maintain a social life and nurture their relationship with their significant other.  While they may open and read your email, mustering up the time and energy to respond at a time that’s convenient for them can often prove to be difficult.  That’s where repeated follow-ups of the right type and right frequency come in!  You need to be present and invested in the sales and booking process by staying visible in your couples’ inbox.

FOLLOWING UP COMMUNICATES THAT YOUR SERVICE HOLDS VALUE.  Remember: you have what your prospect wants.  They reached out to you because you have a solution to their problem.  In this case, a couple needs wedding photography services, and you offer the style and experience they desire.  Now it’s up to you to provide and deliver – so communicate and follow up with that purpose in mind!  By reframing this prospect-seller exchange and remembering inherent value of your product, it’s easy to understand why follow-up and urgency is so important.

FOLLOWING UP WITH LEADS WILL GIVE YOU INSIGHT.  When you ask the right questions and constantly communicate with your leads, you can learn some valuable information that could teach you about the way your prospects think or could help you refine your approach.  You may notice that your leads are asking the same questions, which means you can preempt that with valuable information moving forward.  Or, you might receive responses such as “we went with another photographer,” or “you were out of our budget.”  Does this mean your client experience is lacking, or perhaps that you could educate prospects on the value of your service?  Maybe it’s as simple as adjusting pricing after noticing certain trends – but either way, you can learn a ton just by asking thoughtful and intentional questions.

CONSISTENT FOLLOW UP LEADS TO INCREASED BOOKINGS.  It’s a fact – those who take the time to hone their follow-up skills reap the benefit of increased bookings.  HELLO – that translates to more income!  Listen to this stat: 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after the meeting.  44% will give up after 1 follow-up.  If we know that landing the booking is usually going to require consistent follow-up YET almost half of all our peers aren’t taking the time to do it, why not take advantage of that window of opportunity?

Y’all with me?  Great!  So now that we’ve established WHY it’s so important to follow-up with our leads, here are some tips for doing so with consistency and effectiveness!

Tips For Effectively Following Up with Your Leads

  • Have a data tracking system in place.  I can attest to this from experience – there is GREAT comfort in knowing your data!  If you operate on a business management system such as Honeybook, 17hats, or Pixifi, you can track your leads and subsequent follow ups directly within the platform.  You can also go a bit more old-school and use an Excel spreadsheet like me!  The method really doesn’t matter as long as you are actually consistent about documenting your leads and taking notes about your follow-ups.

 

  • Automate as much as possible.  I get it – follow-ups can be time consuming, but there are definitely ways to cut down on time invested.  I use Boomerang, an app installed with Gmail that pushes to my inbox emails from which I’ve yet to receive a response.  I also love using Gmail’s canned responses application to save me time I might otherwise spend typing the same emails over and over again.

 

  • Provide a personal touch.  Follow-ups prove more effective if you can maximize the human touch as much as possible.  The perfect follow up should reflect you, your brand voice, and your high quality of service.  If your couple shared that they got engaged on the campus of your alma mater, comment and connect on that!  If they mentioned they’re getting married at the venue where you shot your very first wedding, let them know!  This shows that you are interested and listening.  It’s also great if you can provide relevant content you’ve created that might provide useful – for example, blog posts from weddings you’ve captured at their chosen wedding venue!

 

 

  • Be persistent.  I can’t stress this part enough.  Persistence always, ALWAYS pays off.  While I prefer to follow up around five times before archiving a lead, I know some people who keep emailing until they get some type of response.  That takes some serious dedication, but think about it this way – you either get some closure to the lead, or you get the sales process back on track and maybe even close it!  The worst that could happen is that your prospect says “NO” – and sorry to break it to you, but that’s just part of sales! :)

 

Mastering the art of the follow up involves some strategy, a little bit of planning, and a lot of habit building.  The key is building rapport and staying fresh in the mind of your prospects as much as possible.  Does it require extra energy and effort?  Absolutely.  Is it worth it?  Absolutely.  It’s as simple as this: the more consistent and effective you become at following up with your couples, the more you will increase your bookings.

Try it out and see what happens. :)

 

 

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