Web Presence

More…about your website…

Brett Maxwell took up the challenge and weighed in on last week’s “…about your website…” post.  My assertion is that your website is an argument as to why someone should hire you.  Brett chimed in with:

“The way I see it your website is an argument as to why someone should contact you.”

Let’s talk about all the ways Brett is wrong.

Just kidding, although you all know how much I hate being contradicted, especially when I’m trying to be clever.  I can totally see this argument.  After all, the standard photography-industry convention is that a client will see your work, decide they like you, and then there is a whole courtship ritual involving emails, phone calls, consultations, contracts, negotiation, diner and drinks, etc.

My idea in questioning this assertion is to challenge that whole convention that this contact train is necessary.  When we work through the client-attraction/argument-building portion of our workshops photographers are always telling me that they’ll, “explain that when we meet with them.”  That’s totally fine if you are getting every meeting that you want, but I’m sure there are perfect clients who aren’t sold enough without that additional meeting information that aren’t taking the next step.  It is also entirely possible (probable?) that the client doesn’t understand the benefit to themselves to go through the meeting process.

Look, I know that some people are going to want to put all kinds of qualifiers and geting-to-know you stuff in the way of a booking.  Totally fine, knock yourself out.  But my question always comes back to the true benefit of putting those obstacles in the way of the right person hiring you.  It has become so popular these days to talk about red-flags and how to pre-qualify out the wrong people, but I’m really convinced that there isn’t enough work being done to help the right people understand why they are the right people.

Sure, if your ultimate goal is to get someone to contact you then you can build a website to do that.  I still don’t think the average home slideshow/galleries/info/contact website structure is a very directed way to accomplish that but I get it.  I just think that’s leaving a pretty vital part of the getting-hired process out and requiring the client to jump through some hoops to pick you.  My goal here is not to convince people not to have meetings or build relationships, but to step back and think about all the parts of the why-you-should-hire-me argument and think about whether or not you want all those elements of the argument at the client’s fingertips RIGHT NOW or whether it benefits you to chop them up and parcel them out.  You might have a compelling reason for both, but I know which one I’m going with.

Thoughts?

 

- trr

…about your website…

SEXY BUSINESS 2 is in the books and exhaustion has set in.  I’m very thankful for the folks that spent 3 days and nights working through it with us (including the intrepid Aussies that still aren’t back home yet).  If you’re interested in the SB experience check out the main workshops page (www.amantofish.com/workshops) or drop me a line at [email protected].  We’ve got two more dates on the books (before the big photo conventions) and you can send us an email to get on the mailing list for future dates.

I’m thinking about the issues that came up this workshop and it occurs to me that the traditional photography website is very unfocused and seems to work against the primary goals of a working pro:

  • Home page slideshow – These are ubiquitous.  A rotating gallery of our most clever images.  Why?  Does the shifting show make us more memorable to a potential client or less?  I’m thinking about wedding photographers here but this is applicable to anyone.  Every photographer seems to put their 10 most epic shots in there.  Or they are putting 10 images in that show the scope of what they can do.  The trouble is when you throw all that at the client, and the client looks at a number of sites doing the same thing does it make you memorable enough?
  • Random galleries – Yeah, some people have made these featured weddings and some have built categories.  Does the client know why you are showing them in this way?  Does an assortment of reception shots tell them why they should hire you?  Does Tim and Debbie’s wedding make the argument that they should hire you?  I know you think it does, but does the client need to read your mind in context with why you are showing the images to get the message?
  • About pages – I’ve gone on and on about them, and friends and neighbors I’m far from finished.  Go ahead, tell me how much you like rhubarb pie.  Tell me how happy you are to take pictures.  Tell me the age that you first picked up that old camera.  Tell me about the joy that you get from doing what you do.  Now tell me why the client should pay you to be happy?  I think people are floundering here, trying to be liked instead of being valuable.
  • Contact page – buried at the back of the nav bar.  The last option provided….
I know that we all do this stuff because this is the way it has always been done.  I just doubt that the way it has always been done is particularly effective.  The way I see it your website is an argument as to why someone should hire you.  It isn’t your entire portfolio, unless your argument hinges on the client seeing everything you’ve done and you can explain why every image is relevant to the argument you’re making – does the client have the time and attention to sit through it?
So this is what I’m thinking about over the weekend.  Send me your thoughts on your own web presence – how do you feel about it, how confident are you with it?  Does it build a logical and compelling argument about your value in implicit terms that a client (not a photographer!!!!) can understand?  Does it build the argument that you want it to build?  Is it clear and is it concise enough to get out of the way and provide the next steps before you water down the message?
Let me know ow you feel about it.
- trr

Just tell me the fucking price…

Friends, I now know what it feels like to be a bride.  I did not fall in love again.  No one proposed to me.  But I have felt the pain and frustration of trying to book meeting space for upcoming SEXY BUSINESS Workshops and no one will give me a straight answer on how much a meeting space costs.  They want to ask me a million questions.  They want to know my budget.  They want to know how much I’ve paid for other workshop locations.  They’ll want another sales person to talk to me.  The one thing they won’t give me is the only thing I’m looking for – how much does the goddamn room cost to rent?  I might have a budget, but I’m setting it based on reality – if the amount that I want to spend isn’t reasonable I’d like to find that out sooner than later in this process, and telling me the fucking price will mete that out pretty fast.

Yeah. Photographers hide their prices.  Many people want to keep the price a secret until they have made some kind of emotional connection.  Fine, but starting the relationship really aggravated isn’t a benefit.  To be fair, I don’t need to know every fee. I don’t need to know how much the projector costs to rent or how much the coffee service will run, but I do need a quick ballpark idea and I don’t want to wait while the sales person refers to the catering manager who refers to the facilities person and then writes a RFP and sends it to me days later.  Irritating waste of time.

So I would implore you to really think about how you communicate (or obscure) your price and what that says to your clients.  How difficult is it for your clients to get a sense of what it costs to work with you?  How difficult do you want it to be?  How many hoops do you want them to jump through for the simple pricing qualification.  I understand that you might want to make some kind of emotional appeal first, but truly what emotion are you trying to elicit?

I’ve talked about this issue over and over here – photographers are entirely too terrified of their prices.  If you hide the price what story are you telling the client about your price?  Why are you making it sound so scary?  On the flip side if you make them contact you to find out pricing information think about how they interact with the price then.  Finding out what your price is certainly isn’t some kind of reward for following through your process, is it?  Are we trying to trick people into paying some amount that we know they don’t want to spend?  Is this really the best way to run our businesses or make our product/service desirable?  Would it not be better to focus our efforts on making the product or service desirable and compelling first instead of focusing so much effort and concern on playing some shell game with the price?

Furthermore, someone needs to explain to me exactly what benefit it is to the photographer to hide the price.  Seriously – your price could be out there helping you indicate value.  But hiding it is utterly ridiculous.  Yes, some asshole stood up at a photography convention and said that you can’t tell the client the price.  I don’t know why, presumably because that person assumes that no one will want your work once they know how much you charge for it.  If you really believe that then either quit or build a more compelling brand – don’t try and trick the client.  Seriously, can anyone tell me what the honest value is to the photographer that isn’t some half-assed excuse for assuming that the client doesn’t want to spend what you want to make?

Here’s the thing, when I’m trying to book these rooms and I finally get through to a human being and try to find the price on these rooms I don’t get any kind of emotional appeal.  I don’t learn anything about what makes one venue different from another.  It is basically the same set of questions every time and a completely different number.  I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing (but read between the lines) but if you are going to put some obstacle in front of the client there better be some goddamn compelling stuff on the other side.  Like, you better be blowing their minds.

So let me know – how hard is it for a client to find out whether or not they can afford you (notice, I didn’t say find out your price)?  Why do you present things the way that you do (or why do you not present them)?  What does your method of communicating the price tell the client?  What is the benefit to you and your potential client of hiding the price?  And can anyone provide an example of a luxury product that also hides its price?  Most luxury products are communicating value and price and letting that information work for them.  I’m trying to see the value to the photographer and I’m not seeing it – I’m definitely seeing the irritation to the client.

- trr

BTW, the fucking price of this workshop for the dates already announced (check out the 2013 announcements here) is $1700 for up to 2 members of the same studio.