The business of professional photography is full of potential hazards, especially when it comes to marketing and sales. But as established and highly profitable studios like Seattle’s Hudson's Portrait Design demonstrate, there is a roadmap for success. You just have to be willing to put in the work.
The father-son team of Bruce Hudson, M.Photog.Cr, and Josh Hudson is proof that strategic methodologies like relationship-based marketing, in-person sales, and consistent branding can hold the key to solid, sustainable sales. They share a few insights on common pitfalls and how to avoid them.
If you don’t define yourself, the consumer will. It’s up to you to shape that perception and educate your audience about what you do.
Don’t try to be all things to all people. In this age of specialization, it’s more effective to become a specialist and then own a corner of the market.
Leaving your entire sales process up to an online gallery is a recipe for disappointment. Instead, sit down with clients in person and show them actual examples of the products you want to sell. When they can see, touch, and understand the scale, they are much more likely to buy.
Clients who don’t put their time and effort into the process are less invested in the end result. It’s OK to expect clients to put forth some effort to make the experience a success. And clients who participate more in the process tend to purchase more.
Clients don’t buy what they don’t understand. They need visible, tangible examples, especially when considering bigger-ticket items.
It might be easier to shoot a session, burn a disc, and move on. However, that model is not the foundation of a business that can last for decades. Putting in the effort to produce an effective, in-person sales system will yield benefits for many, many years to come.
RELATED: Hudson's portrait sales blueprint.
Jeff Kent is the editor-at-large of Professional Photographer.