Sometimes the bookings just dry up and it is easy to get discouraged and say “No one is booking, I’ve done everything I can think of!” You’ve sent out emails, you posted on social media, you’ve offered free and giveaway shoots, you’ve networked with charities for “exposure,” and nothing seems to work! Take a deep breath, it has happened to all of us! Let’s work together and see if we can get to the bottom of your booking woes, and possibly see if we can find a way to get a steady stream of bookings coming in year round! Here are some of the top reasons customers may not be booking shoots with you:
Be consistent with your advertising
If you do not have an advertising calendar, I can almost guarantee you are not consistently reaching your audience. In today’s world some customers need to interact with a given product or sale up to 7 times before they commit to it. Without a plan, we can be pretty sure you are not getting your product, up coming themed shoot, mini-session, offering in front of them 7 times.
Fix -> Print off a blank calendar and schedule posts. At least once a week, tell your social media audience about your openings. Send out a monthly or even weekly newsletter to your email list. Personally contact some of your best repeat customers. Schedule it on the calendar, and then take it a step further, and schedule the posts, emails, and blog entries online. Don’t Spam; you have to stay human! Don’t be a used car sales man saying “Book Me, Book Me, Book Me!” but keep your business in front of your audience. Which brings me to my next point:
You’re Being a Used Car Salesman saying “Book Me, Book Me, Book Me!”
How do we actually think that is going to work… We are going to say Book Me, and someone is going to say… I don’t know anything about you, or your business, but Okay, I’ll spend over $100 on whatever you’re offering! People will just buy a $3 clearance DVD in a bin at Walmart, if it’s terrible, “who cares it was only $3!” People will spend an extra $2 to get a large fry and drink with their combo meal vs. a medium size at McDonalds. Those are impulse buys, a quick decision, does the extra investment appear to be worth the added value – Yes or No – and they move on. Your photography is not an impulse buy, it is an investment, you have to market it as such.
Fix -> It’s fine to have a post every now and then that says “Book Me,” but a majority of your posts, emails, blog entries, etc… should have voice. “Look at the smiles on this senior’s face…” lets people know that you are a senior portrait photographer, and it draws their attention to the joy that and terrific image you were able to capture at your shoot. If they like it guess what, they will “Book Now” without you having to say a word! Or probably they will “Inquire Further” but you get the picture.
It’s Too Hard To “Book Now!”
The more times a potential model has to click their mouse before they can actually book a shoot, the greater the chance you are going to loose them! Broken links, long sales funnels, no way to inquiry or purchase on your site, are all great ways to ensure no one is booking!
Fix -> Test your sales process. Completely log out of your web accounts, or open up a browser you don’t usually use, navigate to your website, or follow one of your links from a social media promotion, and see how long it takes you to book a shoot. See how clearly planned out your entire sales process is. See if all of your links are working. Make a purchase (you might lose a few percent to whoever your payment processor is) see how well the entire process works, and fix any problems you run into before your client runs into the same ones!
You’re Too Slow!
You cannot take too long to respond. Are you taking more than a few hours to respond? That might be a problem. Are you taking more than 24 hours to respond to inquires? That is definitely a big problem! You heard your phone ding and your brain interpreted it as a nuisance bothering you as you go through your daily life, when in actuality that ding represented and inquiry, and every inquiry is a potential client, every client has family members and friends that are potential referrals, every potential client and the potential referrals they might bring are potential filled spots in your booking calendar.
Fix -> Put it in the schedule! Schedule a time of day or a couple of times a day where you check email, social media accounts, texts, and voicemails everyday. At the very least this will ensure you get back to everyone within 24 hours. As a new photographer, you probably have a few strikes against you already, when it comes to experience, the depth of your portfolio, or other things, but you can really blow away potential buyers by being on top of your communication.
You’re Just Like Everyone Else
Go on Facebook or Instagram and look at some of the other local Sioux Falls Photographers, can you tell your work apart from theirs? Look a little bit harder and find some local photographers in Sioux Falls with pricing similar to yours, how about, is there a substantial difference between your work and theirs? If there isn’t a noticeable difference you are now putting yourself in a pool of photographers that all do the same work. For every potential client that likes work similar to yours they have 10 different photographers to choose from. If all things are equal, probability tells us you will get only 1 out of every 10 clients that like the style of your work. In the real world, where all things are not equal, there might be tons of people that love your style and not a single one books with you because they see the other 9 photographers first and never even make it to your page or profile.
Fix -> You are a unique person, there is no one like you in the whole world! Let your photography reflect that! When you create unique photography, there may be a smaller number of people who are interested in your style, but for the ones that are interested… there is only one place they can get it!
You’ve Got To Plan Ahead
Running a photography business in Sioux Falls can be a lot like the fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper. The reality is there are times throughout the year (mainly winter) when business can slow way down if you don’t plan ahead! When it’s super hot or super cold folks stop going out to eat, few shoppers are out and about, even casino and bar sales drop, how much more are potential photography clients not real interested in leaving their nice climate controlled spaces to get their picture taken.
Fix -> Have a winter strategy. Some Sioux Falls photographers work their clicker finger to the bone during the spring and fall and take the slow seasons off. Others take up second jobs and shoot pictures as they come up. Still others look into some more evergreen photography niches like commercial photography, headshots, newborns, etc… Whatever your strategy is, understand sometimes people aren’t booking, and it isn’t your fault. Have a strategy in place so you are ready for these times of year!
Have you experience any other reasons bookings stopped coming in? Are you booked regularly and would like to share your secret with the us? Leave a comment below, we love to hear from our readers!