Now I'm not sure about the rest of you, but the art of responding to a new lead is an ever shifting task for me and my photography business. We all do our best to stay on top of the trends, by researching our genre of photography to better understand our perspective clients and keep our responses fresh and interesting. However, just how often should we re-evaluate our approach?Is it best to send a canned response immediately, or write a unique from the heart response every time? I've pulled together the best tactics I've found for my leads and did some reading to get a little inspiration and start a conversation going to share some other great techniques.
Tip 1: Response Time
In the wedding industry, about 90% of the inquiries we receive are from the millennial generation. What we do know about these Millennials, is the time in which they are used to a response in communication and receiving requested information. Growing up, being educated, and working in this fast paced generation, expecting an almost immediate response is the norm. While stopping what you're doing to quickly respond to a millennial bride may not be your cup of tea, or not even make sense for that matter, did you know it could significantly increase the client's decision when taking an interest in your services?
Even though I have a 24-48 hour response blurb on our contact page, I still try to send a quick hello, maybe include something unique to their venue and or wedding date to let them know that we actually read our inquiries and are genuinely interested in their wedding day and or event. It takes me all of 30 seconds to respond at our dinner break during a wedding with something as simple as:
Hi potential bride (insert name here) I just wanted to say that your wedding venue is one of our favorites and we are so excited to hear more about your plans! We are currently kicking butt at this gorgeous wedding today and our on our dinner break, however I wanted to say a quick hello and to let you know we will respond fully as soon as we our back at our desks tomorrow! Thank you again for inquiring with us, have an awesome night!
Maybe that's a little corny for you, but hey it works for me! They typically always write back and say something to the effect, that they didn't expect such a quick response and they can't wait to chat further! See there, a simple few lines of text and now I've got a conversation and some rapport going with my potential new bride!
Tip 2: Listen
The way I see it, this first response to the inquiry could be my only chance to gain their interest even further. We ask a few questions in our contact form and in the past have even added silly stuff such as; tell us your love story, etc. This does a few things; it gets your client talking, it also helps them feel like they are getting a chance to express their creativity and what they want for their wedding day coverage. Secondly, it gives us "salespeople" the chance to see what they are truly looking for and what packages we can pitch. For example if a bride tells me right off the bat she just wants digital products and doesn't want a ton of portraits, I know to not even bother to educate her about all the amazing products out there or the options to add on extra time. I'd rather stick to just what she wants to hear. Once I know what my bride and or groom is looking for I like to send some examples of entire weddings with similar coverage. I feel it puts clients at ease to see what they can expect to be delivered and reassures them, we can get exactly what they need and want as their wedding photographers!
Tip 3: Inform
Maybe I'm crazy, but I feel like today's pro photo clients want to feel confident in their purchases, and they want it all spelled out for them. We've always felt like teaching our clients as much as possible helps them trust us. Let's face it, getting your clients to trust and let go is where we as photographers truly excel! When I have a conversation going with a new lead, I like to find out what styles they saw in our work that made them click the contact page. This way I can teach them a bit more, for example recently I wrote a great post geared towards brides and grooms educating them on the different styles of lighting techniques that can be used during their wedding day to achieve the best mix of styles. I love to include that one in almost all my emails. Most of these folks have no clue what we as professionals are using to achieve our look, but they know they like what they see. Therefore by teaching them a bit about the importance of hiring a seasoned pro photographer our value is truly perceived and I feel they are grateful for the bit of education.
Tip 4: Give Them Time
Always circling back if you haven't heard from a lead is an excellent idea. So many people are completely busy in their day to day lives and truly just forget to respond, or who knows maybe you get sent to spam. Having said that, I think there is a proper time to do so. For me I like to follow up in no more than a week, unless the potential client has informed me of upcoming travel, etc., seven days should be good enough time for us as professionals to know if it's time to pencil in or move on.
I like to send a warm and non pushy email in this follow up, see the example below.
Hi potential bride (insert name here), It's been a few days and I wanted to circle back to see if you had any questions or if I completely overwhelmed you and you fled the country? Ok but serious, we would love to chat further if you have any questions about our booking process and help iron out any uncertainty. If you've chosen another photographer for you day, then that's great too! Just keep us posted if there is anything else you need. Hope you're having an wonderful day!
Maybe you're not comfortable being a big of a goofball as I am, but hey it's my way to sell without feeling too salesy (yes that is totally a word). I'm curious to see some of your responses and hear opinions on what works for you and your photography inquiries! Forgive me if my examples do not speak to your demographic, I've been a professional wedding photographer for over 10 years and have found that if we stay true to who we are in our marketing and communication, our ideal clients always find us! Check out our wedding work here at our website. In final here is a handy little e-book which focuses on marketing to Millennials that I found ultra helpful!
That's an interesting approach, worth to try. Just one question, what do you say to the bride in your second e-mail, in cases where she didn't informed its phone number? I saw in your website that you inform the price range you practice, so the bride is aware about how much your service costs, what else is left to say in the e-mail?
Hi Guilherme, thank you for reading first of all :) In my second email I send a much bigger response. I include educational articles that I feel might benefit from what I know of her time of year, wedding venue or any other tidbits they may have included. Sometimes they will write something personal in the comments box and that gives me some great insight. I include links to entire weddings and then have a short questionnaire about them as a couple, if they're working with a coordinator etc.
All this info really helps us qualify the lead for us. Say for example if she says she's just looking for a couple hours of coverage and has a budget of xxx then I know this isn't really the right lead for our books. We book on average about 60 weddings a year so we make sure each client is the right fit for both parties. It just makes sense ;)