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How To Make Selling Non-Scary

Upload from April 04, 2012

Would you sell limes by saying that they’re green?

Whether you’re a professional photographer, or plan to be a lifelong hobbyist, you should learn about selling. That probably sounds weird, since a hobbyist shooter may never exchange their images for money. So why should they learn to sell?

Well, it’s for the very same reason that pro photogs shouldn’t be afraid of selling. At all.

For this to all make sense, we need to change our definition of “selling”. If you’re scared of selling, you probably define it along the lines of: Selling is tricking someone into giving you their money.

Well no kidding you don’t feel stoked about that! That sounds terrible. Instead, thinking of selling like this:

Selling is communicating how what you offer will help someone.

Look at those happy words! Communicating! Helping! That sounds much better right?

For pros, the importance is pretty clear. You need to communicate how what you offer (your photography services) will help someone (your client) enough that they are willing to pay you for it (so you can buy a new lens, and maybe some food too).

For hobbyists, selling can still help you in your photography career! See, there will be many times when you need someone to help you out for you to create your work, whether it’s asking someone to pose for you, or needing to get onto someone’s property for the perfect shot.

But here’s the catch. Even if you are offering something for free, you may find it’s not as easy as you’d expect to get people to agree. You say “But it’s free! You don’t have to pay anything!”. But they do, my friend. They have to pay with their time, so you still have some convincing to do!

So whether you’re a pro or hobbyist, you need to learn how to communicate how your services can help people. Luckily, that’s not too tricky, once you know the big idea.

And this right here is the big idea: People do not buy features. People buy benefits.

Folks want to know what’s in it for them. Makes sense right? So let’s take a look at what features and benefits are, with photography specific examples! Woo!

Features

Features are facts about what you’re offering. Let’s use a family photo session with digital files as an example. What might some features be? Take a second to think about it, then check out what I came up with:

  • Lasts 1 – 2 hours long
  • On-location
  • Includes two photographers
  • Includes the full set of digital files (50-70 images)
  • Digital files are edited and retouched
  • Files are provided at both high resolution and web resolution
  • Images will be completed in two weeks
  • Files are delivered on a USB drive
  • Images will be hosted in an online gallery for 1 month

Are you sold? Sounds awesome, right?? No, it doesn’t. It sounds boring, and doesn’t get to the heart of why any of that matters to the client.

What you have to do is take the features of your products and services, and figure out the benefit of each one. To do this, put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Think about it from their perspective, and what it really means to them. The deeper you can get into the why, the more your message will resonate.

So let’s take those features, and turn them into benefits!

Benefits

These benefits are going to tell our client what’s really in it for them with our photo session. To start, we have to think about who our client is, and what they really care about.

For a family photo session, your client is likely the mom. We have a documentary approach to portraits, so our clients are generally looking for images that capture who they are at this stage in their lives. They want the photos to preserve a moment in time, so they can look back on it for years to come.

Let’s go point by point turning our features into benefits for this client!

Feature: Lasts 1 – 2 hours long
Benefit: Lots of time for your family to relax and get comfortable, so we can capture who you really are: your unique relationships and personalities.

Feature: On-location
Benefit: We’ll choose a location tailored to your families’ interests, so that you can have fun, enjoy the process, and have photos that capture how much you enjoy spending time together.

Feature: Includes two photographers
Benefit: Two shooters means we can cover more angles to be sure we catch those fleeting moments that will make you smile for years to come.

Feature: Includes the full set of digital files (50 – 70 images) 
Benefit: We document all the little details that make your family who they are. You’ll receive the full set of files so that you can keep all these memories forever. 

Feature: Digital files are edited and retouched
Benefit: We carefully enhance each of your images to ensure they look perfect. You won’t have to worry if you have a pimple, or your child has a scratch. We’ll take care of it. All you need to think about is having fun with each other.

Feature: Files are provided at both high resolution and web resolution
Benefit: The high resolution files will allow you to print out your images, so they can make you smile every time you see them on the wall, or on your desk. And we also include web ready versions so it’s quick and easy to share your photos with your friends and family, and spread the cheer!

Feature: Images will be completed in two weeks
Benefit: You won’t have to wait long until your images are in your hands, so you can start enjoying them and decorating your home right away!

Feature: Files are delivered on a USB drive
Benefit: You’ll receive your files on a USB drive, making it easy to back them up so you can keep them safe and ensure you can enjoy them forever.

Now are you convinced? The benefits do a much better job of explaining the value of the service, and why it’s worthwhile for the client! And it’s really not that hard to figure them out, as long as you put yourself in your clients’ shoes, and think about what this all really means for them!

Exercise:

Think of a product or service that you offer. List out all the features. Then decribe your client, and turn those features into benefits for them!

Some products or services you might want to do this exercise with include:

  • Digital Files
  • Wedding Photography
  • Albums
  • Prints
  • Headshots
  • Pet Photos
  • Commercial Photos

And for the hobbyists, think about situations where you may need someone’s help to do your work. How could you explain your
request in terms of benefits for them?

Resources:

Want to learn more about features and benefits, and dig deep into finding true benefits? Check out these great articles from around the web.

Lauren Lim

Hey friend, I’m Lauren! I’m a photographer and head ninja here at Photography Concentrate. I’m downright obsessed with photography, and love sharing it with super cool folks like yourself. When I’m not shooting, or writing, you can find me cooking (and eating!), traveling, and hanging out with wonderful people.

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Discussion

4 Comments // Leave a comment

  1. thank you!! (for a hundred times)

  2. This is great! I do use some of those when "Selling" a session, but these are really great tips to use. It's so funny how a little change in wording can go so far!
    Thank you

  3. I LOVE this Lauren!! Totally what I needed.

  4. Nicholas Gonzalez says:

    I agonize over giving away the files. Then what or how do I sell anything if they get the files? Other than albums or books, do you sell prints? Canvases? And how if they will get the files? Or is it after they purchase a package? Sometimes, I feel so stupid. All I know how to do is take awesome images of people.

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