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Booking Bottlenecks for Photographers

Struggling to turn those inquiries into bookings to fill your calendar? Here are some booking bottlenecks for photographers!

Today we are cracking the code on booking bottlenecks in your buyer’s journey. So if you want to optimize your sales funnel and buyer’s journey to increase your bookings, then it’s time to uncover some bottlenecks where you might be losing people in your sales funnel and buyer’s journey and how you can bridge those gaps. And we’re going to uncover a few of those today.

How much information are you providing?

We’re cracking the code on booking bottlenecks in your Buyer’s journey. So starting with number one, you’re not providing enough information upfront, and what this means is maybe you’re not talking about it enough on your Instagram stories. Maybe your website isn’t covering enough of their questions or going over enough of your process or what that experience with you looks like. If you’re not giving them enough information upfront, they’re going to have a lot of questions. They’re not really going to know how the process works, therefore, they might lose trust in you in the process and not be able to know exactly what they’re going to get.

Now, on the flip side of that, I’ve also seen that you’re providing too much information, meaning that your website or your marketing materials or your social media, it’s just too wordy. It’s too breathy and lengthy. There’s too much. People’s attention spans are super, super short these days. So we want to get straight to the point. 

Condense the information

We want to know exactly what’s in it for us, what we’re going to get from the process, and therefore you really want to take everything you have and condense it down into as little steps as possible and as little text and as little copy as possible. Here’s the key though. Here’s the catch, while still being really compelling and converting, because you don’t want to get rid of too much stuff and then all of a sudden you’re not actually telling them the information they need, but you’re not converting them as well into what you want to do, which is essentially book them.

So you have to find a middle ground, a sweet spot between providing enough information but then not providing too much information too. And you also too, because the next steps in the process with you are to get them on the phone and when you get them on the phone, you’ll do a good job with this. If you get them on the phone and they’re like, I don’t really have any questions. 

Share more on the phone

You’ve answered all of the things, but enough for you to know that you get that information from them through your contact form that you know how much you need to do on that phone call. Do you need to do a lot of belief shifting on that phone call or are they coming to you like, yes, we are ready to invest, we want to want to book you, we want to book you right now. Or do they have more questions? Do they have things that you guys need to talk about and go through?

 So the number one, this is just the first tip here on a booking bottleneck in their buyer’s journey, is how much information you’re providing them before they even inquire with you. Find a sweet spot between providing enough information but don’t provide too much information either.

Should you showcase your prices? 

And then number two of a booking bottleneck that might be happening for you is whether you’re showcasing prices on your website or not. I want to preface by saying there is absolutely no right or wrong way to do this. I personally even love mixing it up and testing different things and different seasons and different points of my business, seeing what works and what doesn’t work. 

You can absolutely play around with this and you’re never locked in at what you do. So say you want to throw your prices back on your website, go for it. Want to try it for three months, go for it. If you don’t like it, then you can take them off. It’s totally up to you. But if you do have your prices on your website, it could just be turning them away from working with you if you’re someone who’s willing to do custom proposals, because if you are someone willing to do custom proposal proposals, then you have set prices on your website that might push them away from inquiring with you, whether that be that your budget’s too low or it’s too high.

Being confident in your pricing

There’s something to say about if your budget is too low, too, if your prices are too low, that also might be turning away premium clients that you didn’t know that you actually could book. So there’s so much pride in ego circulating in this industry that we have to be so stern on our prices and what we charge and what we’re worth and all of those things. And although I agree to that, I agree with that to a certain extent and to a certain degree. I also just don’t think anyone is ever above creating custom proposals to really craft something special and unique for their couples and just meet them where they’re at. 

That’s obviously still really in alignment with your cost of doing business of course, but if you don’t have your pricing on your website, it could just be a problem of limited transparency in your pricing. Meaning that they might have sticker shock when they do see your prices or the fact that you don’t have prices on your website might completely turn them away.

And so that’s why I say there’s no right or wrong way with this. You could turn them away by having your prices on your website, or you could also turn them away by not having your prices on your website. So you have to find your sweet spot in what works for you and how you like to create your packages for people. 

Are custom proposals an option?

For me, I like to do custom proposals as much as possible because I think no two weddings are the same and people might need completely different things, and I like to meet people where they’re at and craft something really special and unique to them. 

Hence, that’s why my booking rate is high because I’m doing that, because I’m taking the time to do that. But again, it’s in that limited transparency. If you don’t have pricing on your website, it could create that sticker shock when you do send the pricing to them if you’re not doing the work here of laying that foundation. 

This means having a really solid brand in your marketing strategy, having social proof and testimonials, having really good client experience, having really good word of mouth, all of those things. If you’re not laying that foundation first, that might cause some sticker shock for some people because they’re going to say, well, this isn’t in alignment with what I’m seeing on social media or what I’m hearing other people say or what you’re saying about your experience.

Those two things need to match. And so that’s where I think those things need to be in alignment with each other as well. But when you do have super strict packages and prices and it lacks any sort of flexibility at all, you can just basically assume that your booking rate is going to be lower, which is totally fine. 

Strict pricing vs. custom proposals

In fact, I’ve been there, I’ve been in that place in my business where I am pretty strict at my prices. This is what it is. I’m not going to accommodate to a lower budget client, all of those things. But also this year’s just looking different in terms of booking and in terms of inquiries and all of that stuff and just the industry and in the world.

 So if you lack flexibility, it’s definitely going to cause a bottleneck in your booking process and it’s going to decrease your booking rate and just in that buyer’s process with them and in that journey, it’s going to lead them wanting to go in a different direction. So if it’s something you haven’t tried before and you haven’t done up until this year, I highly suggest you just give it a try. Give custom proposals a try, create some flexibility in your prices. Of course, not going below your cost of doing business. And if you’re wanting to book more clients, you might need to be a little bit more flexible on this and creating custom packages, especially this year. 

Are you too analytical?

And then number four is your information is just too analytical. And what I mean by information is also content is your content on your social media, your website, your marketing materials, it’s too analytical, meaning you’re just giving too many details. I was doing a couple audits recently for  students, and I realized something, there’s two different types of direction you can take your website and your marketing copy. One is more analytical, leaning into the deliverables and the facts and what they’re going to get, or number two, more emotive leaning into that connection, the emotions, the relationships, the desired outcome that they are going to get from working with you and how you’re going to make people feel from working with you too, which in my opinion is what attracts and speaks directly to those premium clients and more of those dreamers.

When I coined the three different types of buyer types, the dreamers is one of them. The dreamer is someone who just has had their eye on you for so long, they know they want to book you. They know they want to have you as their photographer. When you can have your information in your copy be more emotive and leaning into that emotional side, you’re going to attract more dreamer buyers who just don’t care. 

They’re ready to book you as their photographer no matter what. Shift people into that emotional side of what it’s like to work with you and what they’re going to get from you, how you’re going to make their experience and how you’re going to change their lives because of the experience you are going to give them. So an example of something that might be on your website that is more analytical is your fax section.

Shift into the emotional side

Maybe a question of do you give out raw photos or what happens if you have to cancel on your wedding day? Even if you’ve done an amazing job painting this emotional picture for them throughout their entire website, this question alone it’s going to feel like a Jenga piece that’s being pulled out and everything else is falling down to the ground and crumbles down immediately because it snaps them out of that emotional right brain thinking and directly makes them plants that seed in their brain of, oh yeah, what does happen in that case? Or what does happen in those situations? 

Those analytical things can be saved for your contract. They can be talked about later, not in your website and in your marketing materials, when your job in that material is to get them into the right-brained emotional thinking and how you’re serving them and how you’re making their lives better because of the service that you are going to be providing them. 

So my suggestion would be to not have information that’s too analytical or left brain thinking. Have your marketing materials, have your website be more right-brained emotional thinking, and that’s going to speak to more premium clients as well as more dreamer buyers. And that’s just going to help bridge that booking bottleneck in your buyer’s journey as well.

Is your booking process too complex?

And then next, your booking process is just too complex. So this is going to immediately create a bottleneck if your process isn’t super straightforward and super simple, easy is that. So the more steps that you give them and the more information you give them, the wordier, you make it all of those things. It’s not only creating a bad client experience because yes, that and everything else is client experience and serves to the experience you’re building for them, but it’s creating a bottleneck in the chances of them booking you too. 

You always want to let them know what the next steps are from where they’re currently at, not what the entire process as a whole looks like. So a mistake I see photographers make is trying to give an overview right away of what the entire process looks like.

But the truth is, in my opinion anyways, you should only be explaining to them what the next steps are, so where they’re at in their booking. This way it seems tangible and really exciting for them too. So an example would be if you are booking, you don’t need to be talking about what an album looks like, how many photos are going to get delivered, all of those things, all of those analytical, tangible things.

Only share the next step

Simply let them know what the next step from where they’re currently at would be. So if you’re on the phone with a potential couple or you’re following it up with an email for them, say, okay, so the next step would be a signed contract and a paid retainer. And then after that, you’ll get all the welcome info and we can plan your engagement session.

But the next step right now would be a signed contract and a paid retainer. Nothing beyond that needs to be discussed in the booking phase of your workflow unless they specifically ask, but you don’t need to give a general huge overview. So make this booking phase super simple and super easy and user friendly on them in terms of how they pay, how they sign, how they’re getting that information from you, all of those things. 

The more you can condense down this booking phase of your workflow in fewer steps and make it as quick as possible and easy on them as possible. The better experience you’re going to give them, the higher conversion rate you’re going to have. Because they’re going to be more likely to book with you if  that next step action is super tangible and super easy.

Have you established enough brand trust?

And then lastly, not enough brand trust has been built as much as I preach that you don’t need to rely on social media for your business. What I mean is that you shouldn’t solely rely on it, but it’s still a really powerful and beautiful tool when it comes to your online presence and marketing your business that we should be using. I really do believe that it is a really good place, I think, to build brand reputation and to build brand trust and social proof through past and current clients as well.

I don’t believe that it’s our client’s job to market our photography business, which is why I personally don’t get too upset when clients don’t tag me in photos or anything like that because it’s not their job to market our business. It’s ours. It’s our job as the professional and as the photographer and as a service-based provider to do the work to market our own business.

But guess what? The good news is if you do all the right things with your client experience, your workflow, your communication, your clients are walking ambassadors to your business and your brand because they not only want to just shout your name from the rooftops, your clients are walking ambassadors for your business and your brand because they just want to shout your name from the rooftops in every single thing that you do. 

You need a solid booking process

And this doesn’t come from them just loving you in person and just connecting with you and loving their session. This comes from everything that you’ve made them feel with interacting and communicating beforehand, during, and after the booking process. The booking process, remember, sets the tone for the entire experience with you. So this really needs to be done right. And so some examples of how you can build that up are make sure you have a really strong online presence or at least enough to build some brand authority and some trust with that, with what you have to offer and what you can deliver.

Show you are active and consistent

So an example, whenever I’m looking to hire someone for a service, if I am looking on Instagram, I’m always more drawn to the people who have a ring around their Instagram stories because they’re showing up and they’re active or they’ve at least recently posted to their feed because that builds trust in knowing that they care and about their clients. They’re serving their clients, they care about showing up, they care about putting energy into their business. 

So that’s just also something to think about too, of just showing up. And then also showcase testimonials weekly. Make this a weekly habit. Showcase them, talk about them, make it a habit. Make it part of your content pillars or part of your content strategy that you’re doing, and then plan to showcase testimonials and reviews at all points of your process. 

Have plenty of testimonials

A really good tip I like to do is if I feel like bringing someone on and booking someone was a really good experience for them, it happened quick. They knew they wanted to book me. Maybe they were one of those dreamer buyers, I’m going to ask them to leave a review for me or leave a testimonial right after they book about what they thought of the booking process. 

I’m not going to wait a year from now to ask them for a testimonial about their entire experience with me because then they’re just going to give a general overview testimonial. I want a specific tangible review and testimonial about what they loved specifically about the booking process and how I made it easy, how I made them feel loved and welcomed right away, how I connected with them, how I created custom packages to them, I accommodated to them those specific things that I can plug in throughout my booking process, workflow and marketing material that make people read it to build that social proof to make it a no brainer for them.

But any absence of testimonials might make someone doubt if your service and your experience is truly worth it and what it’s like. So make sure that you have those and you’re making it really easy for people to visualize the experience and the end result of what they’re going to get from working with you. 

Show some examples

Another example of this would maybe be what a blog post looks like or providing what a full gallery looks like for them of a wedding day, or providing some behind the scenes video of you photographing a wedding or photographing a session. Whatever that looks like, that’s going to help build that trust and build that brand trust with you as well. And any way that you can bridge that gap of uncertainty of what that process looks like, the more it’s going to make sense and just click with them about what they’re truly going to get from you and what they’re truly going to experience with you from point A to point B.

Your Booking Bottlenecks

So those are all of my suggestions today for booking bottlenecks in your buyer’s journey. So let’s recap. Number one was you’re not providing enough information upfront. And then on the flip side, maybe you’re providing too much information. So finding that sweet spot. 

Number two, it’s showcasing your prices on your website or not. That’s up to you. But your workflow is going to look different depending on which one you do choose. And number three is your information is too analytical. You’re focusing too much on the facts and the left brain thinking instead of tapping into more of the emotional side and what that is like and creating connection with them right away. 

And number four, your booking process is too complex. Make it super easy, super simple for them to make it a heck yes for them, a no brainer. And then number five was you’re not having enough brand trust and not enough brand trust and social proof has been built.

So those are my suggestions and maybe things for you to look at with, maybe that’s where your bottleneck is in your booking process or in your buyer’s journey for your potential clients.

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