by Dorie Howell
How many of you ask your clients if they have ever hired a custom portrait photographer when they inquire for a session? How many of us just assume that our clients should know how this works? It seems to me that most people assume that all clients are familiar with a shoot and burn style of business but in reality, many people could be coming to you and they have never hired anyone besides a wedding photographer. They don't know how our industry should operate, they may have never gone through the process before. Don't force your assumptions on them.
One of the best questions I ask prospective clients is if they have hired a custom portrait photographer before. That one question can lead into a completely open way to educate your client about your process. (And it isn't about jumping directly into IPS and products either) Believe it or not, I never mention IPS and that they have to come back for an appointment to order until we are at the booking stage. It really is NOT a big deal for most clients to come in for an IPS appointment. We make that a MUCH bigger deal than it has to be.
For example: Today I had a new dad call me for a newborn session. He didn't really know what to ask except, how much do you charge? That was the first question out of his mouth. I deferred that question and asked him about his wife, their pregnancy, when they were due, etc. . . and then when appropriate, I asked him if he had ever hired a custom portrait photographer before. He said, "No, why?" Well that was the PERFECT segue into how great and wonderful my sessions are, how things work, what they include and then at the very end I said, "As far as pricing goes, many people are somewhat surprised at how much custom newborn photography costs." By that time I had sold him on the value of my services so by presenting it in a way that he was expecting some big numbers, he didn't even flinch when I told him the average investment.
Don't assume your prospective client knows how this works. Keep it simple and remember to ask if they have ever been through the process before. If they haven't it is a perfect opportunity for you to educate them on your services and help them see the value in what you provide.