If you follow presidential election coverage, you know the upcoming contest has been characterized as a “change” election; the presumption is that people are seeking a change from the status quo. Candidates like Barack Obama, with his “Yes We Can” slogan, are making the case for change.
Sometimes as a professional photographer, you have to make the case for change with prospective clients. Like all of us, photography buyers can get set in their ways. Sometimes it’s because they are genuinely happy with their current suppliers. Or maybe they don’t clearly see the value you would provide. More often than not, it’s a simple case of inertia. It’s easier to keep doing the same thing than to try something new. Here are eight steps to help convince a prospective client to make a change:
1. Understand your photography buyer’s customer. If you shoot editorial stock photography, your target might be an environmental magazine, an airline or travel magazine, a nature publication, or film producer. Understand their terrain, their competition. Understand their marketplace. This will give you more opportunities to tie in the value of your product and how it impacts their particular industry challenges.
2. Show them what they’ll gain from change. Pointing out the return on investment is a valuable way of making your case. Provide numbers, examples, facts and figures, a statistical analysis, emphasize your ability, accessibility, the depth of your coverage in their specialization areas — whatever it takes to help them visualize how making the change will benefit them. Just remember: Nothing is stronger than your belief in the idea you’re presenting. You must have faith in your photography in order to give photography buyers the confidence to make a change.
3. Sell the change with testimonials. Provide potential buyers with a list of some of your best clients, and encourage them to call anyone on the list. They can talk about why they do business with you and how they’ve benefited from the change they made by going with your photography.
4. Make sure you’re always building a relationship. When someone likes your photography, trusts you and respects the knowledge you bring to the table, he or she will be much more open to making a change.
5. Question everything. “Can you expand on that?” “Why is that important?” “What does that mean to your readers/clients?” Getting photography buyers to give you the right in-depth information gives you the ammunition to make an intelligent presentation on why changing to your photography will make a positive difference for them.
6. Jump over roadblocks with boldness. Whenever a new idea is introduced, you’re bound to encounter some resistance. Photography buyers who have been doing things the same way year after year aren’t necessarily open to alternative ways of thinking. Selling the change means being relentless and empowered by the passion within. When you believe in your case, so will the buyer.
7. Learn to listen, and listen to learn. Only when we’re really tuned in to the photography buyer can we find out the real reasons they’re reluctant to change, and then use that knowledge to address those issues effectively.
8. Do your research. Find out what other areas of their business they made changes to in the past, why they did it and what benefits they received from making those changes. Do they accept digital downloads or do they still prefer to receive slides and do their own scanning? Do they use a major supplier of discount stock images, or go with a more specialized supplier?
Using these tips, you’ll be in a position to make the case for change to photography buyers — and to be the change buyers are looking for.
[tags]photography business, photography tips[/tags]