Booking Tips for Fall

As the summer season begins, it is never too early to prepare for Fall Sports. As photographers, we will do all we can to produce great photography. It’s what we love to do. However, one area that can often be ignored is the marketing of your photography business. Increasing your bookings is a must. Making a commitment to invest the time and capital into this area on a regular basis will promote and increase awareness about your business. This awareness will result in growth and increased revenue. Constantly being out in front of your customers and prospects will only grow your business. Here are a couple of marketing ideas that will help make this Fall a success:

The most effective way to book more business is to make face to face sales calls on promising potential customers.


Make sure your first impression is a great one. Taking the following steps will insure a great first impression:

  • Attitude is everything! Display an upbeat positive attitude. Explaining the execution of the photo shoot and your unique product line with excitement and passion is one simple step to making a great first impression. Always present a “can do” attitude. Your positive energy will have a positive influence on the entire presentation. Even when giving a 30 second sales pitch, the use of positive body language and an energetic attitude can make all the difference.
  • Dress the part. When meeting with your contact for the first time, your appearance is one of the first things your prospect will notice. If meeting with a large booster group in the evening, professional attire consisting of a dress shirt and slacks may be necessary. Casual dress is acceptable if you’re meeting a coach in the gym or out on the field. Looking sharp shows respect to the client and can only help in making a good first impression.
  • Be Prepared. Put time and effort into perfecting your sales presentation. Before every appointment, visit their website and thoroughly review all their information. With this one step, you will gain detailed information which will make you more comfortable and confident when giving your pitch. It also is an excellent way to show the customer you actually care about the project and you’re not just trying to book another shoot. Have plenty of copies of your presentation to pass out. Have your print samples organized and ready to pass out at different times of your presentation. Passing out all of your materials at the beginning of the presentation can result in the customer concentrating on the samples and losing focus on you and what you are saying. Review and know the particular products and prices of what you will offer. Testimonies are a powerful tool. Provide a list of satisfied customers. Let your prospect know who already believes in you and has benefitted from your services. Finally, have scheduling agreements with you so you can close the deal.
  • Listen. Be careful not to talk all the time about you. Listen to the specific needs and desires of the customer. Listen and take note to the problems and complaints they’ve had in the past. Ask questions to discover the expectations they have for the photo shoot and the photography company they hire. When discussing their experience with your competition, stay positive and listen to what they like and dislike about them. Gaining this information is the key to satisfying their needs. Remember two ears, one mouth.
  • Start and finish on time. Coaches are pressed for time. Having an efficient, organized, to the point presentation is what they desire. Respect their time by staying on track. A printed copy of the agenda for everyone attending is an effective way to accomplish this. Show gratitude towards everyone attending for taking the time to meet with you. Prepare your presentation allowing enough time at the end to answer any questions the customer may have.
  • Leave a lasting impression. One step in the marketing mix that many ignore is the power of a hand written thank you note. This is an excellent way to show your character to the customer. With all the quick digital ways of communicating today, a hand written note is a unique tool. It shows special effort which the client will remember. Make it a habit after every appointment to send a follow up note thanking the client for the opportunity to meet with them.

Maximize the benefits of technology – Although face time is the best way to book business, the use of the following technologies allows sales people to reach clients in several ways.

  • Collect Emails – Collecting the email addresses of all of your accounts will create a database that is a very valuable marketing tool. Also, collecting emails from prospective accounts is another step in the right direction. Use email technology to maintain your relationships with your accounts. Constantly stay in front of them with the simple click of the mouse.
  • Emails are also a great way to keep your buying customers informed about new promotions, products and specials. One of the most powerful uses from the collection of emails is the ability to remarket old events. Remarketing through emails is a great way to raise revenue.  Sales from these past events have a high profit margin because most of the overhead cost has been covered.
  • Web Presence – In today’s marketplace almost every business has a website.  Obviously in the photography business, the graphic design of the site is extremely important. A website is a great place to showcase your work. However, sometimes so much time and effort is given to the look of the site, that the objective of the site can be ignored. One of the main objectives for a website is to introduce your products and services in a positive way. If your website is difficult to navigate through or is to complex, customers can become overwhelmed and frustrated. Having a website that is easy to understand and navigate through will maximize your opportunity of capturing a new customer. Keeping your site clean, simple and easy to use will be a pleasant experience for visitors keeping them coming back. Websites are also a great way to capture emails and other contact information of interested visitors. Make sure your site gives them plenty of opportunities to do this.
  • A good business is built on good relationships. Social media, facebook, twitter etc. are all about building and maintaining relationships. Use social media technology to keep your customers excited and informed on what your company is doing.  Use this technology to introduce new services and products. Social media is a great form of the best advertising, word of mouth. Provide exciting information that will get people talking. Be sure you get the Facebook address and the Twitter address of all the people you talk with so that you can request to become a friend or follower with them.
  • Be Reachable – Never forget the power of a personal telephone call. At times your telephone is your business life line. Nothing can frustrate a customer faster than having their calls ignored and being forced to leave several voicemails.  At some point in most selling situations a telephone conversation will take place between you and your client. Customers are calling you because they want to talk to you on the phone, not through email or through texting. Make it a common practice to answer all incoming calls.  Be sure to use this powerful tool correctly. Customers will always recognize and appreciate the fact that every time they call you, they can reach you.

Maximize your sales – Making sales is always necessary, but determine which accounts are the most profitable and the characteristics of these accounts.

  • Focus on being profitable -Filling your calendar with lots of business is exciting. Landing those accounts you have been working on for months or years is a great opportunity. Sometimes the excitement of getting the new account can distort the focus from being profitable. Good sales are profitable sales. Review and pay close attention to your offers and price points. Keep track of your overhead expenses and compare them with your sales after each event. Determine your profit from each event. Focusing on this and staying consistent with this practice will inform you which events are worth shooting and which ones need to be replaced. Discover which products are most profitable such as Attitude Panos, statuettes or Level Two products and always include these in your offers. Keep your offers simple and not over whelming. A complicated offer can frustrate your customers. This confusion can result in smaller orders with smaller sales. Another way to stay profitable when prospecting is to seek all sports opportunities in a designated area. Scheduling several appointments in the same geographic area will maximize your sales efforts and minimize your expenses. Make it a goal to execute your photo shoots with minimum overhead and maximum efficiency.  After each photo shoot, take notes of the positives and negatives of the shoot. This will help in shooting the next year. Stay organized with your equipment from start to finish. This will make your shoots more efficient, allowing you more time to book more business. Yes, we always need more sales, but keeping your focus on making them profitable will eliminate frustration and add to the bottom line.
  • Repeat business & New business - One of the most profitable parts of the photography business is repeat business. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to concentrate only on gaining new business. Repeat customers are currently satisfied with your services and spend more than new customers. They will refer business to you. Focus on this group and keep them satisfied. With new prospects, make the most of every appointment. Hopefully, you will be successful and book the event. However, even if they have already booked their photography, this meeting introduces them to you and the services of your company. Always remind them if they ever need a backup photographer, you are ready and willing. Also, this first meeting with them will make things more comfortable when approaching them again the following year. Don’t miss any opportunities, stay in touch!

Become as effective with the marketing of your photography business as you are with photography itself and the sky’s the limit!

Candid Color Systems can provide assistance in your marketing and booking efforts. We have training presentations, newsletters and custom marketing materials. If you need advice about booking and shooting school sports, Customer Development is here to help! Call 800.336.4550 and become a customer today.

 

Shooting for Fall Sports

When preparing for fall sports photo shoots, there are a few things to keep in mind in addition to delivering great photography. Here are a few helpful tips that can make your event as successful as possible.

Host a morning shoot

Photographing sports teams as early as possible (especially those shot in the heat of the summer) has always been a best practice of Candid Color. Benefits for scheduling an early shoot include:

  • Less exposure to the heat – for players, coaches and everyone else involved in the shoot.
  • More cooperative participants – often times students are still fresh in the morning and more receptive which makes working with them easier. This can help bring down the stress level for photographers and coaches, which can also help speed up the shooting process.

Schedule a fall sports photo day

If you are photographing several sports at one school or college, consider shooting them all on the same day. Hosting a designated photo day enables you to:

  • Save on overhead costs - you will only need to book photographers and cover traveling expenses for one day or part of a day depending on your shoot.
  • Lessen stress on Athletic Directors/Coaches - taking sports photos is probably not one of a coach’s top priorities. Having an organized shoot and getting everything finished early or on time can ultimately lighten any photo day apprehension.

While it has its benefits, scheduling a photo day does require more pre-planning than a single sport shoot.  You need to make sure that the photo day will not conflict with any team’s practice or game time and that all coaches are on board before anything is finalized. If everyone is in agreement from the beginning, you are already one step ahead!

 

Be prepared

If you are using sequence cards, have them ready to go as soon as participants enter the photography set up. Instruct athletes to fill out cards themselves to ensure accurate and up-to-date information. Remember, the more information you can get the better.  Ideally, two or more email addresses is what you’d like to collect from each student, giving you more opportunities for email marketing. If you are worried about cards being legible, task your assistant(s) with checking each one.

 

Follow Up

The most important thing to remember is to not lose sight of the big picture. Make sure you know exactly what the school expects out of the photography process and out of your company. Be sure you’ve clearly communicated terms of the shoot and any additional details about complimentary items being offered.  Begin the follow up process no later than a few days after the shoot to address any questions or concerns school administrators may have. Follow up is a must to booking a school for seasons to come. Don’t let the small things fall through the cracks or be forgotten- you only get one chance to make a first impression!

Book Fall Sports Now!

Have you given any thought to your sports photography for the fall? Even though we haven’t even officially started summer yet, you need to be planning ahead. Now is the time when coaches and athletic directors are wrapping up their school season and preparing for the fall. While the ideal time to book fall sports is early spring and many teams may already be booked, there is still time to catch the attention of coaches who have been unable to find a photographer, or who have not yet committed to one. Many of these coaches and directors will continue to work at the school during the summer, so there are still chances to communicate with them about fall sports photography.

There are great opportunities available for fall sports, if you know where to look. A few good places to begin looking are your local sports parks and middle schools. Middle schools are less saturated with photographers than little leagues and are often passed over by photographers focused on the high school market -yet they have a good variety of sports to choose from and don’t book as quickly. You can also find great contacts by simply driving to local sports parks and speaking with the coaches on site. Obviously popular sports like football, volleyball and soccer are in season in the fall, but don’t overlook the many other sports available. Become aware of smaller teams that don’t get photographed much, such as swimming, cheerleading, track, rugby, lacrosse and wrestling. Each of these sports provides great opportunities for team and individual portraits, Level Two products and Team Attitude Panos which can be utilized for tournament coverage.

The key to a successful fall sports season is to plan well. Contact the school athletic director to learn who the decision maker is for each team and communicate with that person. Remember, there is a small window of time available to contact the decision maker. If you contact him too early, he may be unwilling to commit to a schedule yet. If you contact him too late, he will likely be booked or unwilling to take the time to speak with you. I would suggest to err on the side of early, to allow you to reschedule a time to speak with him in the future. However, you must stay in contact and be diligent with your scheduled date. You do not want to let your opportunity pass.

Candid Color Systems offers many booking tools that give you a competitive advantage against other photographers. Our ViewFirst online viewing system simplifies the sports photo process for both you and the coach. With this system, parents see images online before they commit to purchase them. This system significantly cuts down customer complaints because parents will see what they are buying and appreciate being able to buy in their own time. The coach or decision maker will no longer be responsible for handing out order forms, collecting money, and managing print orders. You can also arrange for us to handle your customer service calls free of charge, which eliminates stress for all parties involved. In addition, our software system manages all online payments, sends email links to your customers and gives you complete control over your event.

We offer useful marketing materials to assist you in your booking consultation. Our sports booking flyer will be an easy sell to prove the benefits of the ViewFirst system and will help you appear professional and organized. This flyer, which can be customized to specific sports, clearly explains how your sports process works and why parents and coaches will appreciate it. In addition, our digital sports flyer, our Attitude Pano flyer and Level Two flyer demonstrate the unique and high quality products we offer that can differentiate you from other photographers. Make sure to bring a few sample products for the coach to see as well! Remember though, that materials alone do not book your event. You are responsible for arranging details and persuading the coach to hire you! Be thorough about the benefits our system provides to coaches and parents, but keep it simple and professional.

 

Once you book your event, schedule the dates for the fall immediately, so that everything is set when school begins in the fall. Follow up by scheduling a time to verify details a few weeks before the event so potential issues will be avoided. Make sure you have your marketing efforts clarified with your contact, and that you have permission to use athletes’ and parents’ emails if using an email campaign.

You may be surprised at the opportunities that await you with fall sports. Candid Color Systems can provide you assistance in your marketing and booking efforts. We have training presentations, newsletters, video presentations, and high resolution jpegs on this subject. If you need advice about booking and shooting fall sports, Customer Development is here to help! Call 800-336-4550 and become a customer today.

Booking Fall Sports in the Spring

                                                                                                                                                     Though the calendar on my wall puts me squarely in the month of May, in my head I’m thinking Fall sports. Consumed with Spring sports right now? Who isn’t? But don’t lose sight of the fact that a lot of photography decisions on football, soccer, volleyball, and other fall sports are being made during the next 30 days.
                                                                                                                                                           This is the time of year when high school athletic directors and coaches start choosing their photographers for the 2010 Fall Season.  Not ready yet? First, you should be making a list of what sports to shoot. While football, soccer and volleyball are the most obvious, don’t forget the sports such as hockey, cross country, Girls soccer, lacrosse, swimming, martial arts and cheerleading.  Many of the lesser sports are sometimes not even photographed, and using that strategy to break into a high school has proven to spin off a lot of new business.
                                                                                                                                                Remember you can find new businesses shooting leagues by searching the Internet on sites such as www.eteamz.com and www.bluesombrero.com .  You need to decide what leagues or schools you will be going after, and identify the main contact or the “decision maker.”  Next, you will need to decide which system you will be using to market your services.  Try to find out what your competition is doing and then do something different.  Using Candid Color Systems’ View First marketing system in high schools is a great way of getting the school on your side.  Everyone gets photographed and parents get to see proofs online before they order!  It’s a great selling point, but what’s even better is that it’s a hassle-free system for coaches.
                                                                                                                                                         Once you have your presentation materials and samples ready the next step is to book appointments. Do not mail materials or leave them with anyone other than the decision maker as they will only end up in the trash and then your efforts will have been wasted. Try to get an “in person” meeting with the athletic director or coach. Be persistent! Get to the decision maker to make your case. Candid Color Systems is here to help you with your presentations and samples.
                                                                                                                                                            If you would like samples with your own images, or have any questions regarding presentations, please contact the Customer Development department at 1-800-336-4550.

Simulated Action Sports Shoots

Fall sports are just around the corner! Many photographers are going to be shooting sports action shots as a way to break into the sports photography market. Many photographers offer action shots in addition to their traditional team and individual sports business. Taking good action shots requires attending a practice or game with the right high-speed equipment and a little bit of luck! Many times, it is more realistic (and fun for the participants) to conduct a simulated action shoot.

When selecting simulated action shots, think a little outside of the box. Players should simulate the action of the specific position that they play. For example: A kicker on the football team may not want to “simulate” a pass in his photos. You can use drills such as dribbling down a basketball court one-at-a-time or taking a shot on a given mark to help re-create that game-day look! Use cones or tape on the floor to help organize the activities. Younger players have more posing limitations. It’s better to keep the poses simple, but offer several varieties for mom to choose from!

Candid Color Systems has a series of videos with tips and examples for posing and simulated action sports shoots.
[podcast format="video"]http://podcasts.candid.com/CCSSports03.m4v[/podcast]

Booking Fall Sports

March and April is the best time to be looking for Fall Sports business.  This is the time of year when athletic directors and coaches start choosing their photographers for the 2009 Fall Season.  You should be preparing now for the selling season! To get ready to hit the streets and sell, you should be making a list of what sports to shoot. While football, soccer and volleyball are the most obvious, don’t forget the sports such as hockey, cross country, girls soccer, lacrosse, swimming, martial arts and cheerleading.

Remember you can find new businesses shooting leagues by searching the Internet and driving around.  You will need to decide what leagues or schools you will be going after and identify the main contact or the “decision maker.”  Next you will need to decide which system you will be using to market your services.  Try to find out what your competition is doing and then do something different.

Once you have your presentation materials and samples ready the next step is to book appointments. Do not mail materials or leave them with anyone other than the decision maker, they will only end up in the trash and then your efforts will have been wasted. Try to get an “in person” meeting with the athletic director or coach. Be persistent! Get to the decision maker to make your case. Candid Color Systems is here to help you with your presentations and samples.

If you would like samples with your own images, or have any questions regarding presentations, please contact the customer development department at 1-800-336-4550.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.