When last we left our heroes they were crawling side-by-side in a desert wasteland of slow business. The buzzards were circling above them and they were getting pretty darned thirsty. The promised-land-piña-colada-oasis of plentiful clients and booming business is still nothing but a hazy mirage in their distant futures. I have to be honest here; it's not looking good for our duo. At this point in the story if you are squeamish about hallucinations brought on by extreme dehydration, lizards, broken spirits, or drinking one's own urine for survival, I suggest you put this story down and wait until next week's less perilous installment.
Since committing ourselves to an absolutely no discounts under any circumstances policy, emails from potential clients have gone something like exactly like this:
We are super excited to be planning our wedding for next July 13th. We've seen your work everywhere and several of our friends have used you as their wedding photographer. We LOVE your photographs and are interested in learning more about your pricing & packages. We really hope that we can work together!
The Bride and Groom
Our reply is a very enthusiastic email about how we'd love to be there, details about how fabulous our albums and products are, and an explanation of our minimum investment of $6875. This is the email that generally always follows:
Oh my! That's like triple what we want to spend on photography. Do you have any recommendations of photographers whose style is exactly like yours but who charge like a third of what you charge? Oh, and we don't care about an album we just want the digital files. I'm pretty crafty so I am going to make my own album on Shutterfly.
Have a great day!
P.S. Two words ladies: Lip...Balm...your lips are looking pretty chapped. You should hydrate. Good luck with your trip through the desert!
Every time I get an email like this I cease crawling and look for the nearest lizard free rock to smash lay my head against. I'd cry, only that would be a total waste of moisture so I just kind of lay there for a while listening to my spirit break.
When we were at Imaging we were communicating with a potential wedding client who seemed like a sure thing. I had already spoken to the bride's mom twice, and then the bride herself. Knowing that I had this wedding "in the hopper" was a much needed reassurance that we were indeed on the right track. One night after a day full of inspiring lectures, I got an email from the bride...asking about a discount...so I told her that we didn't give discounts...and then she sent another email...exactly like the email above. Where'd I put that rock?
That's when it hit me. Not the rock but an idea. Okay, maybe it was a
hallucination brought on by extreme thirst, but whatever it was, it was
a very clear moment. The hallucination/idea was this:
ALL YOU NEED IS LESS
I decided at that very moment that I had to let go of wanting more. I had to truly not care if I booked another wedding for this year. Sounds like a crazy idea brought on my repeated head trauma, I know, but hear me out. There is LIFE in the desert. I felt like I was seeing my surroundings for the first time, what appeared to be only scorching sand was opening before my eyes. Now I could see cactus with little blooming flowers, scuttling lizards, and...oh my...is that a rabbit? Seriously, this place is teeming with critters.
I knew then that we needed to shift our focus from the unknown, which we could not control, to the known, which we could. I knew that we have 25 amazing lizards clients booked already at better than decent sales averages. And here's the thing, we haven't even tried to sell them anything! Most of our clients book us "sight unseen" because they are from out of state. All of our beautiful albums and framing options are in essence a big mystery to everyone but us. We've never taken the time to educate our clients about quality or inform them about all the options available to them.
I always thought it was funny that our clients were so blown away by the quality of their albums when they received them. But why should they have any other reaction? We hadn't shown them, taught them, or informed them that they should expect quality from us. I started to wonder what would happen if we started really educating our current clients? If we took the time to tend to the cactus would we be crawling through a desert wasteland or rather strolling though a garden? I think I just felt a raindrop. I may not have to drink my own urine after all. Hallelujah.