Bev’s Blog

An alternate approach to pricing…

July10

photo education,portrait,pricing

Awhile back, we decided that instead of listing sizes by the inch on our pricing schedules, we would instead use wording to indicate where our images should hang in a home. How much less confusing it was when a client said they wanted something to hang above their mantle and we listed a Mantle Size on our paperwork. This is an inspired idea!

So, here’s the scoop on each size and where we believe it should hang.

8×10s and smaller are Tabletop Sizes

11×14s are Miniature Size

16×20s are Grouping Size

20×24s are Foyer Size

24×30s are Mantle Size

30×40s are Sofa Size

40×60s are Cathedral Size (indicating a home with cathedral ceilings)

The only time we use the wording of Xsmall, Small, Medium and Large at this juncture is to describe our Beau Visage painted portraits. X-Small is 16×24, Small is 20×30, Medium is 24×36 and Large is 30×44.

When it comes to frames, we love the large and chunky GW Mouldings when we need an ornate frame and Wild Sorbet for “shabby chic” frames that we use in Studio B, our associate-run division. Mark-up on frames is usually 3 times the join price. We love wide and dimensional mouldings, so no frame is too big, but many can be too small, making our work seem unimportant when hung on the wall.

Hopefully, this will cause you to think about your pricing structure and how to utilize it better. Have a great week, everyone!

Bev

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Lighting the Way…a primer on Lighting…Direction of Light Outdoors

June27

Direction is the control, the shaping or forming of the light, much as we would do in the studio.

The best way to think about how to control direction of light outdoors is to think about a porch, which is the perfect example of the proper light direction. When you think about a porch, it does two things. It subtracts light from overhead, thus eliminating “raccoon eyes” and it subtracts light from one side to create beautiful shadow on the face.

porch

Without highlight and shadow, you lose form, texture and shape and lighting is flat, simply meaning the light is the same intensity from one ear to the other ear. This type of lighting widens the face and is not flattering to the subject. Then when your light is from overhead, the eyes become black holes as in the example below.

socketed-eyes

Without direction, lighting outdoors can be very flat and unattractive. This is misunderstood in today’s environment where you have so many photographers that love a natural style and simply go out to a field or park and start shooting without thinking about their lighting or use an on-camera flash, which further flattens the lighting.

better-eyes-under-porch

In the example above on the porch, you can see the vast improvement in the lighting pattern. Look how the eyes open up and the mask of the face has highlight and shadow. Light is being subtracted from above and one side.

With this simple lesson, lighting can be vastly improved. OK, you say, what if you don’t have a porch where you are going to shoot? Then you find the porches that nature provides; a line of trees that can subtract light from overhead or a building that can subtract light from one side and then use a black scrim to help form your light. In the example below, we have simply positioned the subject back just under the edge of the tree line to subtract the light from overhead. To pop more light into the eyes, you may want to use a reflector as well.

under-trees

girls

This example properly applies all three principles…quantity, quality and direction. It was shot under their front porch.

urban

This example above was shot under an overhang to block overhead light, the gate/building provides shadow to one side of the face and a reflector kicked additional light back into the eyes. This is studio quality lighting outdoors and what your goal should be with any outdoor portrait.

Have a great week!

Bev

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Building on the Simplicity Message…

January24

timandbevwalden
I have had so many comments from you about the messages on Simplicity that I thought I would add a few more details.

First of all, I want all of you to go to this website and read the article called “The Tyranny of Choice” where it states that “Logic suggests that having options allows people to select precisely what makes them happiest. But, as studies show, abundant choice often makes for misery.”

Then, I want you to think about your product offerings and see if you can edit them down to fit on one page or one page with an addendum for specialty products. Look at last year’s sales of each product and weed out the non-starters.

When we are thinking about product development, we first ask the question, “Are we answering objections?” Products should answer objections like “I don’t have much wall space.” When we heard this over and over, we developed our line of Gems and Jewels which are small footprint products with a substantial price tag. See the Color Studies Price List under the Freemium section. We also consider our Image Showcases which are offered in all of our divisions a Gems and Jewel product and the most successful one, so check those out on our Price Lists too.

You will notice (on our Price Lists) that we have Tabletop portraits which simplifies listing 8×10s, 5×7s and 4×6s individually. No, a tabletop print is simply 8×10 and smaller for one price and we don’t differentiate each of the smaller sizes with a different price. We also simplified our Session Fees to just two, In-Studio and On Location for Waldens. For our Seniors, we offer three that build on each other.

Also, we have taken most of the verbage off all of our Price Lists and replaced it with visuals. DUH! Our clients don’t read all of the fluffy descriptions we used to have on the Price Lists in a darkened room with me there telling them what they need to know. After all, we are in a visual business and a visual Price List just makes sense and simplifies the buying experience.

In the Sales Room, in order to simplify things, we ask our clients to think about their purchase in three steps; a Primary product, a Secondary product and the Gotta Haves. The Primary products would be wall portraits and wall groupings plus framing. The Secondary products would be specialty products like the Gems and Jewels which often include an Image Showcase. The Gotta Haves are the Tabletops, Wallets and Press Products. This three-step process helps our clients to not feel overwhelmed with too many decisions.

Take these ideas, implement them into your pricing structure this year and take our challenge to simplify your prices and products this year-after all, you don’t want miserable clients! When you have too many decisions they need to make because you have too many offerings or your sales process isn’t clear and easy, you create what I call the three things that KILL A SALE-FRUSTRATION, FATIGUE AND CONFUSION!

Have a great week everyone! Bev

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Customer Service vs Customer Experience

October17

timandbevwalden
What is the difference between Customer Service and Customer Experience? A recent Forbes Magazine survey of senior business leaders revealed that 71% of those polled ranked the Customer Experience as the new century competitive battleground for customers. If all you offer is Customer Service, you will never step up to the level of customer relationship building needed to grow a thriving business.

I have written a few of my thoughts on what I believe Customer Service entails…things I believe should build the foundation of every business. Then I detailed some thoughts on Customer Experience at Walden’s Photography which we work on constantly, always raising the bar. I hope it gives you some ideas to implement for your business and if you have any ideas to share on what you do, please add them in the comments. I always love to hear what others are doing in this realm.

Customer Service:
.Staff always friendly
.Studio always clean and ready if a client drops in
.Good phone manners using such language as please and thank you
.Phone answered in a timely fashion and messages left resolved in a timely manner
.Delivery of orders on schedule promised
.Mistake-free orders as much as possible
.Promises kept that are made
.Handling problems in a professional manner when they arise.
Customer Service is a part of Customer Experience, just not all of it! Customer Experience is much more involved on an intimate level!

Customer Experience at Walden’s involves:

.Our facility and how it makes our clients feel? “This place is so warm and inviting, I want to just stay and hang out all day.” was a recent comment (from a man)! Do you touch all 5 senses? Are you paying attention?
.Our staff and how they treat our clients? How are they dressed? How well do they carry our message? How well do they relate to our clients in words and actions?
.Our passion and excitement for upcoming events, whether it is a session, sale or delivery. How is that shown to our clients? Does it create a memorable experience?
.Little extras like carrying their portrait orders to the car or helping the client in with their bags, bringing our clients in under an umbrella if it’s raining, snacks during afternoon sales (cream cheese mix with crackers and chocolates), creating a delivery experience with easels and special lighting, packaging materials that are appropriate per brand, music that is appropriate to the client, offering coffee and water at each visit.
.Remembering client’s names and their children’s names and any little bits of information about them.
.A/V shows during the planning session that are professionally produced to set the stage.
.Creating Relationships that are beyond business with each client by creating friendships.
. RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) gifts that we send to clients as congrats, thinking of you, etc.

So, what will you do to increase your client’s experience in your business? It’s time to take it up to a new level which is what the Coaching Community is all about. When you join, you have access to a private educational area where we discuss so many things like this via videos, audios, documents and the forum. Check it out with a FREE sample when you register on our website. For 83 cents a day, you can take your education to new heights.

Have a great week, everyone! Bev

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Image Prep for a Sale

July5

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This week, I thought I would post how I get images ready for the Sales Appointment. Above, you see a before and after. Below, I show the Before, two in-between steps and the After to show the progression. The reason I do this prep is because people are visual, so I want to put my best foot forward in the Sales Room to show what a wall canvas will actually look like or at least, get it close.

As it does take more time, I do a simple and quick prep on a group of my favorite images and do this extensive work only on the one or two I suggest for the wall pieces. Once clients see the “fixed” image(s), they are sold! Some of you are thinking you don’t have the time to sort and then work on a few images that you suggest, but my thought is I would rather take the time in private, before the sale, to sort, eliminate and work on these few suggested images and then, the sale is much shorter and much less confusing and tiring. On the sales audio I recorded called “Solving the Puzzle of Successful Sales”, I talk about the three things that kill a sale; confusion, frustration and fatigue. You want to avoid these things at all costs!

The four image details:

1. the Original image has just been cropped and nothing else.

2. Image 2 has been retouched to remove the red blotch on the bridge of her nose and a few stray hairs and then I applied the Imagnomic Portraiture filter and brought the opacity down to where it looked soft, but still natural.

3.  Image 3 has been vignetted and had the edges blurred using Tim’s palette from Ron Nichols. Even though named Tim Walden’s Black and White Darkroom palette, it works beautifully for color imagery as well.

4.  Image 4 has the eye work applied and also other highlights bumped up as well as a few lashes added and the darks enhanced which include the pupil and the ring around the iris. When all was done, I darkened the entire image a bit.

Hope you enjoy this post! Check out Tim’s palette at www.ronnichols.com and my Sales mp3 audio on our website under Educational Products.

Bev

original-image1post-retouch-soft-filteredge-vignette-blurfinal-image1

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What’s Up at Walden’s Studio B

February22

studio-b-kidsSample 1Sample 2Sample 3

Last week, I promised I would share our color work from Studio B, our Associate-Run division of Walden’s. Tim and I are not involved in the photography of Studio B; it is the sole responsibility of our associate photographer, Laura. Although we are both under the same roof, we each have separate galleries in order to clarify what we do. We even have separate entrances into the building. Just to refresh your memory, Walden’s does the Black and White Fine Art Relationship portraits, Color Studies and Beau Visage paintings. Studio B also has three categories; High School seniors, Bebes and Kids which also include Furry Kids!

Today, I am going to discuss Studio B Kids and Furry Kids. We knew we needed to have definite dividing lines between Walden Color Studies and Studio B Kids in order for the public to understand each “brand.” We took the Studio B Kids in the direction of a more colorful and interactive portrait while Walden’s Color Studies remain classical and more posed. We also changed the product mix to accommodate the more colorful and playful approach and introduced the collage of 9 images which has been a huge hit. The Showcase idea was carried over from Walden’s to allow the client to purchase a variety of images without taking up wall space as the set sits on a table easel, but we still get our numbers up where we want them. The other product which is a perfect fit for Studio B are the 4×10s framed in GW Moulding frames which are very reasonably priced. It is a perfect add-on sale.

Collage with nine imagesStudio B Showcase Sample4x10 Presentation

We do very different marketing with Studio B, utilizing Facebook much more to communicate our message and emailing more than calling our clients. The typical client for the Studio B line is a bit younger and more into technology although we have a lot of crossover between Walden’s and Studio B which answers the age old question of a long-time client, “What can I do next that is different?” We can now offer a wider variety without diluting the long-established Walden brand.

Studio B has been a huge hit in our community and has been received very well. To learn more about Walden’s and Studio B, why not make this the year you attend Walden University and take your studio to the next level! We would love to have you…we have extended the Early Bird Registration until March 15th, so be sure to sign up by the deadline and save $100.00!

Have a wonderful week!

Bev

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Experiencing vs Explaining…which do you do more?

November9

Bev

I have been teaching sales principles for many years now and one of the most important concepts that seems to be the hardest to understand is “simplicity”! How ironic! What do I mean by simplicity? It is this…how complicated is your sales process? As a matter of fact, how complicated is it to do business with you? We are constantly working on making it very simple to be our client, from the beginning of the process to the end. When you keep it simple, you can spend your time and energy on providing an “experience” instead of explaining your processes!

The sales appointment is where it can get complicated; I understand that! What I say here could be controversial, but all I can tell you is it works for us! I love to share ideas with you, but you need to sift through them and apply them as they fit you and your business. Here are some thoughts on our sales process that keeps it simple for us at Walden’s:

1.  Each price list (ie: Color, B&W, Senior, Bebes, etc) MUST fit on ONE 8.5×11 sheet. If it won’t, we have too many things and it becomes too complicated, so we subtract something! Keep in mind that we segregate our shooting into Color, B&W, Senior, Bebes, etc. and don’t mix them together. Our clients choose which direction they are going at the Design Appointment. For more info on our “divisions”, you can go to our studio website at www.waldensphotography.com. With this process to do only one type of portraiture each time, we keep it simple.

2.  We edit the images down to only the best ones which is approximately 25% of what was shot. We use ProSelect to then group the images with the 25% left being the most images we keep. We create another group called Favorites with even less and then we select from Favorites to formulate our Suggestions. See our VideoCap on Selling with Suggestions for details on this process. At this point in the sales, we present to the client what they should do with their images such as which pose and what size. With less images, we keep it simple.

3. We don’t offer packages and specials; that can get really complicated and takes lots of explanation! In our history of over thirty years, even going back to when Tim’s dad ran the business, we have never offered packages or discounts. It works for us, but you need to decide these things for yourself. What I can say is that I don’t have to spend a lot of time explaining our prices and products. Instead, I spend that time experiencing the images with my clients, oohing and ahhing over the wonderful images on the screen. It creates an emotional atmosphere and is a wonderful way to connect with clients. By pricing a la carte, we keep it simple.

Our goal is to spend 90-95% of the sales appointment experiencing the images with our clients and only 5 % explaining pricing and products. It requires taking a close look (be honest) at your price lists and product offerings…what can you do to make it more simple to do business with you?

Have a great week!

Bev

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Punishment Policies

October27

Bev

Punishment Policies…are you scaring potential clients off?

Awhile back when we did a seminar, a photographer handed me a price list and asked me to critique it. I started to read it and quickly realized it had many issues. What really struck me at the time, though, were what I call punishment policies.

What are they? Let me give you some examples:

“We have set aside this time for you sale. However, if we need to do an additional sale, there will be a fee of $100.00 charged.”

“If you have to cancel your session, please do within 48 hours. If you cancel it after that, your pre-paid session fee will be forfeited.”

“If proofs are not returned within 48 hours of the time they are checked out, you will be billed for the entire proof album.”

and so on…

We always put a positive spin on everything here at Walden’s. It is so important! Instead of answering a question that we would have to say no to, we say instead, “If I could do it for anyone, I would do it for you. However, let me tell you why it is impossible at this time.” This catch-all phrase really softens the “blow” to our client and they are gracious and accept our answer.

Also, think of your response in a contentious or negative situation like a sandwich. First, say something positive (bottom piece of bread), then say whatever might be negative (meat), and follow this with another positive comment (the top piece of bread).

So, take a look at your brochures and price lists, find any punishment policies you have in them and then think of better and more positive ways to spin them. It will make a difference in how your clients feel about your business.

Bev

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The Unusual Personality Trait that makes a Great Salesperson

October13

Bev

As I was thinking about what to write about this week, I read a statement from Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow and other awesome books. He was describing the difference between “What do you need?” as opposed to “Here’s what you need!” It struck me that great salespeople have this level of confidence when they say “This is what you need!” In fact, our clients appreciate the fact that we can guide them without wavering.

This is not the same as strong-arming someone. Please understand that we meet with our clients and have many conversations about their home, their spaces and their vision long before we get to the sales room, so we are not just shooting in the dark! It reminds me of a dinner we had with Tim Kelly, our friend in Orlando, Florida. He mentioned a friend he had who had this particular personality trait…if he liked something, he would make sure everyone around him knew it and more than that, he made sure everyone bought it. In fact, Tim said, his friend would help load whatever it was he was selling into people’s cars. He was just that confident that everyone should have it (whatever it was)!

Our Sales Room idea of selling with Suggestions is the way we show our confidence. We pre-select the images, sizes, etc for our clients in a well-thought out “Suggestion” presentation so that our clients aren’t asked the question “What do you need or want”.  Instead, we show them our Suggestions and say “Here’s what you need”!  This is so helpful in the salesroom as it keeps the pressure off of the client to make a decision that they may not have a clue about and instead, as the experts, we give our opinion. The thing that makes this work is our integrity and reputation-our clients trust us! Also, they ALWAYS have the power to veto any and everything we have presented if they don’t feel it is right for them at this time. It is a wonderful working relationship in the sales room and we have seen our sales increase significantly since doing the Suggestions. We have received many testimonials as well from other photographers who started using our Suggestion methods and saw their sales increase many-fold.

If you want to learn more about Suggestions and how we use them as well as learn more about selling, you can download my mp3 recording, “Solving the Puzzle of Successful Sales” from our website for $79.99. Go to Products/Educational Products to select or click here.

Happy Selling:~)

Bev

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Design Appointment Follow-Up

May26

walden-bev-0902-1711

http://waldensphotography.com/design/april09/index.html

I wanted to follow the Design Appointment blog with the link above to a Design Appointment html web document that we use when someone is out of town or just cannot make it in. Of course, the best thing is for everyone to come in and do it in person as we can make more intimate connections when we meet face to face as well as showing the upcoming client around our facility. However, there are always a few who can’t make it.

We also believe in repeating information several times-you know as well as I that clients sometimes cannot absorb a lot of information all at once, so this web document builds in a redundancy factor for us.

I thought this would be a great follow-up for the longer blog I posted last week-feel free to use any wording from it for your own documents. Also, notice that we give this link instead of having the client download anything as most people are a little nervous about downloading things onto their computers, so we felt this would be better received by everyone.

Have a great week!

Bev

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