041 Dealing with Client Inquiries

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Below is the transcription from the conversation with Perry and Braedon:

Braedon Flynn: 00:00 Well, hey, welcome to the or report. This episode is going to be a little different than all the other ones. I was having a conversation with Perry Vail, who we, if you look back a few episodes, did a full interview with her and through that interview we came up or just popped up with some questions and found some differences in the way that we do business and she wrote me an email the other day or last week trying to just say, hey, let's maybe have a chat about some of this stuff regarding pricing and clients, maybe not pricing, but dealing with clients and inquiries on the specific side of that. So I think this is gonna be an interesting conversation for you all to listen in to you. So we thought we'd just record it and be able to put it on the podcast. So here it goes. Welcome Perry. Thanks for being on here.

Perry Vaile: 00:41 Thank you. Thank you for letting me come back and talk to you. I apparently cannot have enough of it, so

Braedon Flynn: 00:47 just need to on stage....

Perry Vaile: 00:48 I have to. Yeah, yeah. Well, I have lots of questions always and forever. So.

Braedon Flynn: 00:53 Cool. Well yeah, what sparked you wanting to have this conversation?

Perry Vaile: 00:57 Yeah, so we had a chat, like maybe a month ago or something like that about how I was doing client inquiries and stuff like that and managing and balancing life and essentially we realized that were very different. Which, you know, I immediately, it was like, well, we're different. And then I was like, well, I'm curious now. So we're different in that I, right now I'm mainly because I had a new baby for the last year, so I kind of tried to streamline everything, which means that I got an inquiry and I would send an immediate pricing packet right away. Namely to just cut down on the amount of talking I was doing to incoming inquiries because there was so many that couldn't afford it. So to me the pricing, giving it to them immediately was beneficial because it immediately gave me the clients when they could come back and could afford it. And then I could invest my time and then you did it a little differently. Now explain that just a little bit.

Braedon Flynn: 01:54 Yeah. And I'd say for me, I generally don't send it out. I don't have any pricing on my website. I don't send out any pricing, more so because I know it does take a lot of time and I've, I, you can consider it wasting time.... In Perry's eyes. Just kidding. Just kidding. But generally am trying to get in front of as many people as I can because I feel like the biggest asset I have, and I would say that you have it as well, Perry, is I have that little element of charm that I like to lay on and I feel like if I can get someone in front of me, I can generally win them over. The other side of it is I really, really want to be vetting the couples that I'm photographing. And so the skype intro is a way for me to sort of see them and their chemistry together.

Braedon Flynn: 02:40 Does one of them talk the whole time while the other one sits quiet. Are they going to be really awkward to shoot? Are they people that you know you're going to like. When you meet someone you know if you're going to connect with them and I try and do that as much as I can. I will settle for a phone call, but I generally try to face time or skype in those meetings. Sometimes they're 40 minutes or 30 minutes to an hour, but it gives you that in the first couple of seconds. I used to have an office manager in the office with me and she would look over and she'd either be like, you didn't like them. Did you know? Or you did just in the, in the way that I engage in the way that I am, but you can, you can read that really quick and so I want to be able to have that opportunity to see is this a couple I want to photograph? And because sometimes I know if I just was to send my pricing, I wouldn't hear back from them. Which is, I think what is happening with you and why you were wanting, wanting to have this conversation, but that's generally what I'm doing.

Perry Vaile: 03:30 Yeah. Okay. Well, yeah, I think that's really interesting and I think maybe I had a crutch because I do get a lot of inquiries. I wasn't really having to work a time to get the inquiries and so I kind of considered, once I had their information on the inquiry, they had the pricing and then I could go back and then set up a phone call. Maybe we can work something out, you know, but sometimes people flat out won't even want to talk once they've seen pricing because they're freaked out or anything. So No, I think what you're, what you do is a really good way to do it. So my question for you, and I have a million of them is uh, I guess first and foremost, where do you get most of your leads? Like what kind of leads are there? Because I feel like mine were very, a lot that come in through my inquiry or very cold, you know, they're just coming off of Google and stuff like that. So we're, where are you getting most of yours? You're getting them that you're having these set up calls with I guess.

Braedon Flynn: 04:26 Totally. So there it's coming from a lot of different places and I mean I've been doing this for, I don't know, 12 years and have had my work published on every publication. Lincoln, you know, and those, those are really long you would in the Internet scheme of things that's considered long tail. Um, my, when I switched my website somehow my blog disappeared, which is a bummer because I used to have everything tied into that and a lot of links going to that. Um, but uh, so yeah, that was really fun. But a lot of, there's a long tail where I've had work featured from years ago that is still, you know, someone looks up a venue and they see that wedding and inquire that way. So I get a mix of inquiries coming from just they've found my work or follow me on instagram that way and then the other half is coming from wedding planners or I actually get a decent amount from venue referrals as well. Yeah, absolutely. And so that I would say that would be the three different areas that I get them from. And what I try to do is in my, in my inquiry, I want couples to write about themselves. I have some questions, right.

Perry Vaile: 05:31 I'll look at it now.

Braedon Flynn: 05:32 Yeah. I mean it's pretty basic and I actually want to add more to it, but the, there's just one question on there that says, tell me, hey, you know, there's the standard ones, like where are you getting married, what's your date? And then tell us, tell me about yourselves and your wedding. And so I find with that is sort of a tell on the type of person that is inquiring. If they just write me and they give me a date and they say, what's your price? I already don't like them and I don't and at that stage. I might just, I will say I have a little email response that I always send. I personalize every single email because I don't, I mean if you think about it, and I've thought about this with myself and I'm sort of saying this about you not meaning it, but

Braedon Flynn: 06:18 A lot of wedding photographers are sort of lazy in the sales process. If this was any other business and I think we were to treat our inquiries, that are actually these pretty massive sales, you know, we don't treat them very sacredly and cherish them and actually cultivate them. Where some other businesses and other people who are not getting as many inquiries as you, you know, they are having to work so hard to get those leads. And then when, when we're in a position where we get a lot of leaders are like, ah, I don't know, like I'm, you know, I book enough, that sort of thing, where it basically, it's, I've been getting myself to just take a lot more care and personalize everything that I'm sending out. One thing I did that you mentioned was you sent out.

Braedon Flynn: 07:05 I'm out here on a little trip with my inlaws and so I've been off limits from working and so I got an inquiry and you'd mentioned this in our interview. You said you sometimes send a little text message video and I did that and the couple of debt and totally I just said, "hey, it's Braedon. How are you? I'm so excited that you're getting married, that I'm honored that you reached out. And I'm on a, I'm on a trip with my family. It's a holiday the new year. Uh, I will get back to you soon as I can, but I just wanted to say a quick hi and I would love to chat more about your wedding", you know, and, and they wrote back like, oh my gosh. So sweet and I'm like, yeah, totally. Yeah. So I mean that for me that, that little question and sort of seeing their responses and if they don't ask pricing that's even better because or you know, they sometimes will write like photography is the most important thing to us or they write about how they love their friends and they just want this to be a cool event for me.

Braedon Flynn: 08:03 That's a tell on the type of people they are and so I will spend more time on that. But what I was saying earlier, even when they just ask for pricing, I will write in there and I'll say hey I love the venue you chose if I did or didn't. And then you know, it's like hey, I usually try to meet with couples because I feel like relationship is a really big part of what I do. I feel like I play the most intimate role on your wedding day and I want to make sure. I think it's important for you to have connection with your photographer, photographer, and for me to have connection with you and that shows in the camera. So I'd love to set up a meeting and chat more and then if they respond again, sometimes they don't respond and that sort of leads on people before they ever get pricing. Sometimes sometimes some people are just shopping and I don't want a person who's just shopping there. They're not like, yeah, totally. And then so from there, then if they write back and they just asked for pricing, then I'll send it not. And they, you know, here it is and I know they're not going to respond to because going to be way higher than what. Because if price is what they care about, I'm not there. I'm not there photographer, I'm going to be too expensive. Right.

Perry Vaile: 09:01 No, I totally agree. Yeah, I think that's, I mean I think it's a great way and I will own every bit of being lazy. But the last year because I had a call, colicky, terrible baby, and to survive I had to get real lazy on the inquiry side. Um, you know, and I think like I said, it made it not so hard because now when a planner came to me it was a totally different process, you know, the automation really came through cold leads on my inquiry form, you know, and so I think that I was, I was reading somewhere I wish I could remember now, which made me think of it and it was saying why you get ghosted, which I'm always interested, you know, because I always want to know even if they're going to, I don't really get upset if somebody doesn't choose me because I feel like, well it's not who they want, you know, I don't want them and they don't want me.

Perry Vaile: 09:46 But I'm always curious as to the reasons behind somebody's not following back up or, or you know, even having somebody where, you know, you're like, oh, this is a dream. It's in the off season. I would do anything to make this wedding happened. And they don't even ask. Even if you love them, you know, and I'm like, oh, just like open up and ask me these questions. You know. So I was reading about it and some of the things they were saying is that they get too much information upfront, um, in terms of like a big giant, long email, which I definitely have done in the past because I was like, take the information, I have to rock a screaming baby in the moment, you know, um, but I'm, I'm moving past that and I want to kind of gear things back up and um, and so it was just interesting, you know, to hear that somebody could get too much information or clearly getting pricing too soon is a problem. Um, and so I'm curious, that's why I want to try something new and test it out and see if I can sustain all of these kind of client touches that you're doing. So how much time are you spending on these phone calls? Like a week? Like how much time, if you're spending 40 minutes on a phone call and a minute in, you realize they're not a good fit, but you're still gonna try, you know?

Braedon Flynn: 11:03 Uh, I would say each call ends up being a minimum of 30 minutes. And sometimes if I, if I get a read like right off the bat like I can, I can shorten it. But I almost always through my call I, here's how I go. I generally try to talk about myself as little as possible. I started out and I asked them questions about them, like, how did you guys meet? Tell me about yourselves, what, what do you like, what do you, what gets you going, what do you do when you're not working, what do you like? I get them talking and then it gets probably like 20 so minutes in, I go in, then it shifts and I say, Hey, do you want me to tell you a little bit about what I do? And they're always like, oh yeah, right. And then so then I tell them my spiel and here's how I work and here's what I do, here's what I love and what I love about what ideal.

Braedon Flynn: 11:50 And then I get to the point where, you know, I get done with that. And then I asked them, I was like, so do you have any sort of like, do you have an idea of what you're trying to keep your photo budget? So I always want to try to ask that question first. What is your photo budget? But I ask it like in the sales call, I don't ask it in an email and I asked him after, after I've charmed them and you know, so then I get an idea. And so sometimes you know, they say it's $2,500 and then you're like, oh, okay, well,

Perry Vaile: 12:24 so how do you start a little, what is your reaction if I'm your client, my budget is $2,100 and I'm so excited we want to have you Braden, we love you. What?

Braedon Flynn: 12:34 Totally. And then I say, "well, hey listen I'm so sorry I started a little bit higher than that. And um, my, my base package, you know, like could start in the $10,000 range, you know, but generally for a full weekend it can be up to like $20k - $30k+", you know? Some people have no idea about what an appropriate budget is. They've never had a sibling get married, they're the first of their friends to get married and their parents have just given them a budget and then I will say something like, "Hey, listen, I love your wedding...." And, and part of it too is like, let's say they're having a Friday wedding or let's say they had a wedding that is off season. Like I've actually made deals with couples that I say, "hey listen, like I don't think that this Friday is going to get booked....."

Braedon Flynn: 13:22 Yeah, I know for some people they really like to have their like date tie down, locked in, planned out. But here's the deal that I can make for you. And this is me sort of sharing my insights. But I, I will say he's like, listen, I really like you guys and I will only do this if I, if they've charmed me, you know, and I really do want to be a part of their wedding and because sometimes I've let me finish my thought. What um, what I'll do is I'll say, hey, listen, like I don't think I'm going to book this wedding, but if I end up with like a $25,000 a weekend, I can't shoot your wedding for $5,000.

Perry Vaile: 13:57 Okay, that's a big problem that I have too

Braedon Flynn: 13:59 totally. And it's devastating, you know, if, if that does happen. But I say, listen, if that comes along, I will temporarily put a hold on your date for you. If something comes along. I have so many connections and so many friends I will be able to set you up with another photographer. I would love to shoot your wedding. So if you can like deal with this, I can come down to your budget. But if this other big weekend wedding comes along, I have to take that. And they generally get that because it's a massive amount of money and then they feel really honored about me coming to the wedding and being able to shoot their wedding at a discount. And what I was going to say earlier is I've had it to the point where a mom at the wedding, the mom of the bride came up and she's like, I am almost more excited to have you at this wedding than the wedding itself, you know, it's like those, those sort of things though. But it makes it where for me that that feels really special. People were really excited to have me there. They gave me complete control, complete trust because they, they really are excited that I am gonna do my thing, you know. So I've only, I've done that on a handful of times and there's only been one time where I had to hand it off and I was able to hand it off to someone who is really great that was local, didn't have to fly in and ended up saving them money.

Perry Vaile: 15:15 That there's a caveat that you might have to. Yes, transfer and all that stuff. Yeah. I've had that same situation where I guess I, I am a little bit more long winded when I say things. I think you were very succinct in the way that you addressed it, you know, because I've had that same exact situation. I'm like, Oh my God, I love them. I don't think somebody would get it, but you know, if they did it would, it would mean that you'd have to keep an eye. Like we just made it this a little bit of a convoluted process, you know, if something else came along, because it's hard to say that because I wouldn't want somebody to think like it means it's a better wedding so I don't want you because that's not it. It's just, it's business. It's your family and you're not going to give up 20,000, you know, to do something if you have the opportunity for something that will sustain your family longer.

Braedon Flynn: 16:02 Yeah. And I, I always started out saying that, listen, I can't take it for this price if you're to lock it in. And I, and I can't deal with this caveat and it's, I started doing that with friends when I had friends who wanted and I was like embarrassed to give them my prices and I get it. I know I wouldn't, I, but, but, uh, but I started saying, man, I want to shoot your wedding and so bad, so this is the only way that I can do it. And they're like, okay, rod. And, and totally trust me with the people that I'm able to supply them with if it's not me, you know? So, so that's, that's been good. I mean, I, I don't do that very often, but I have done that when it's like someone who is a dream couple or there's other times too when it's like, I know that most of my weddings are really big and anonymously I haven't.

Braedon Flynn: 16:49 Like there's, there's some that are really, really incredible. But some of these really higher budget weddings I don't enjoy as much. And that's just the honest nature of sometimes that like $5,000. Bride is the sweetest, best, coolest with style and a lot of the like super hip, stylish, hipster type weddings. They don't have budgets, you know, and that's, that's how I got my start was a lot, was a lot of my friends and friend groups and had these really, really cool couples getting married at a really cool venues and that that's what people wanted to see and like. But uh, so, so where I'm going long winded with that is sometimes there'll be a really rad couple. They don't have a budget. It's still would have been maybe a $30,000 weekend, but I'm charging them a lot less because that's their budget and they can't afford more and I really want to shoot their wedding because this is going to give me life and it's gonna make me really enjoy what I'm doing. And then I can. I can take a couple of those a year. So knowing that I'm a decent weekend in the summer and I'm probably going to get other inquiries which I already have, but this couples really rad and I'm going to have like all musicians, they come out of the magazine publishing world, they're going to have like the first night is all bad, you know, it's, it's going to be a really fun weekend and that's the stuff that I love. So I want to be a part of that.

Perry Vaile: 18:10 We'll look forward to that. And a season two, it just kind of adds, I think, some seasoning to what could be adult season if you just had big blowouts, you know, and not a lot of feeling on it. So I get that. So I guess when do you. Because I definitely needed to have those conversations, but more so mine would be happening through email, you know, and uh, clearly that's a lot harder sale through email. So are you saying that immediately when you hear their budget on that very first call, you're like, hey, couldn't do it for this and then we'll offer it. And then I follow up to this. Is that what I do, and I'm wondering if you do, is if I do ever offer a deal like that in that circumstance, I put a time limit on it because I just wouldn't want them to go then shopping that, that special deal because it's supposed to be special, you know, it's like you don't want somebody dating multiple people. So do you put a time limit on those kinds of special deals are, would you consider or do you think it doesn't help?

Braedon Flynn: 19:07 Yeah, so the first question was I, I do do that all via conversation because, so let's say this, it was a real situation that I was talking about a second ago where it's and it's coming up for 20, 19 the if I was to have sent them my pricing, I wouldn't have had the conversation with them and wouldn't have booked their wedding and, and it's one that I'm probably, I've got some much bigger budget weddings this coming year, but I'm probably most excited about this one. You know, and it's. So there's that. So I generally do that all in con. Like I feel like email is a difficult thing because you can't see personality, you can't see tonality, you can't see your facial expressions, any of those things. And even when I'm writing couples to try to set up that first meeting, I let them know like it's, there's, there's a lot of photographers out there with really beautiful portfolios, but it's really easy to take a good picture and it's again coming back to I feel like I play the most intimate personal role on your day and you know, especially as a man is for the, for most brides, like I'm probably going to see you naked, you know.

Braedon Flynn: 20:16 So there's, there's that element with that. Yeah, you know, it's like those, those things is like you really need to trust and like that person that is, you know, taking photos of you on your most intimate day. So yeah, I, I try to do everything in conversation as possible, even if they won't face to face time all settled for a phone call because you can still get better there.

Perry Vaile: 20:36 Brief is that initial email that you reply to them with to get them to then get them on the phone or how much personality is in that initial email?

Braedon Flynn: 20:44 Uh, it is. I start out, I always say something like if they've written something nice about themselves, I always comment into that. So it doesn't feel like a generic email. I always, if I don't know their venue, I look it up and I say something about their venue again to make it feel personal. And then I write something about, hey, would love to set up a facetime meeting with you. Do you have anything later today or later this week? And here's why. Because I want it to be personal and would love to meet you. Let me know. Let me know when works best for you.

Perry Vaile: 21:12 What percentage would write back on that? What percentage do you hear back from? Even if they can't afford or it doesn't work out, how many does disappear before they even follow it back in?

Braedon Flynn: 21:22 Um, I don't know the percentage, but there's still a handful and that is one of those things. It's always really weird. Is like you emailed, you're obviously interested. I didn't give you anything other than you are d. no, there's pricing in there so why have you not responded? You know, and sometimes I'm, I started, there's, there's a couple, there's a through, I don't know if it's just your gmail but it's through hubspot. You can get something called follow up cc or there's some things within Gmail that you can set that, I forget what it's called, this follow up, but just sometimes because you get so many inquiries that once I respond to one I'd forget to then even follow up. But when I had an office manager I would make sure that there'll be one of the things through. I use 17 hats and to set those little reminders to check like how if I heard from them and then after a week or so I'll write back like, hey, just checking in, wrote back something like that. Like would love, we'd love to chat. And then sometimes people write back neck, oh my gosh, I'm just so busy and you know, wedding planning and working and that I wrote back, I get it.

Perry Vaile: 22:22 Have you heard of the magic email before? Do you use it? No. No. Okay. So I used them Sato, um, which is like 17 hats I think. Yep. Um, and so there's a lot of. And you can also view the view of a client is opened your email and 17 hats. No. Okay. So this is nice because then I can see if they've opened it and how recently they've opened it, which I really like. Um, but something that I use on there that I will automate after the fact if I don't hear from somebody is something called the magic email, which I think is used more in like marketing, like, you know, salespeople online. You can google it, but it's a certain way of phrasing and directly asking in a really, I guess soft way about their, their continued interest basically saying like, it's no pressure if you don't want to, you're really busy.

Perry Vaile: 23:07 But essentially, um, I, you know, I'll just close out your inquiry if you're no longer interested. So there's some way, and I haven't actually typed it myself in a while because when I send the magic email it's just, it's a, it's a copy and paste, but it's a form and it's amazing the ghosted, the people that I considered to be just off in the wind forever, they come back because of the way that the email is phrased and tell me, you know, either it was too expensive, which is most always what I hear back or that they just had gone in another direction or something like that. You should try it if you ever want to catch some of those lost ghosts because it's, it's really amazing. The percentage of people that will. It's like a psychological thing. It's like the way that it's phrased, but you can see it online. They, I think they sell it, but you can find free versions.

Braedon Flynn: 23:52 Totally. Yeah. So I feel like I didn't know if that was like a tool that you use it

Perry Vaile: 23:57 specific wording that I feel like it's like 80 percent response or something

Braedon Flynn: 24:01 amazing. Yeah, I'll take that out. I feel like I'd write something sort of similar and it does sometimes get that response of just giving an explanation where like, oh, you know, like we went. Sometimes people are like, oh, we changed our data, were confused. Or sometimes they're like, I've done that for people thought for sure that it was dead. And they wrote back to Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry I've been busy. We want a book. And I was like, Oh for a massive wedding. That just happened recently too. So I completely, I literally completely wrote you off and going to be a really cool wedding.

Perry Vaile: 24:31 Yeah, that's okay. Well that's really interesting. Um, so you have your conversation 30 minutes with them. Can you continue to have face to face discussions with them throughout the process or do you then kind of move it to email and make it simpler and that kind of thing?

Braedon Flynn: 24:45 Then I move it to email. So from there I will say I've got a little email that I'll send afterwards where follows up. Um, you know, I try to write something that we talked about and then I say, here's what I'll need. If you guys want a book, here's what I'll need from you, here's the info that I need and I'll put together a contract and let me know are, you know, a lot of the couples that I'm shooting, their weddings are full weekends. I was like, Hey, listen, how many days of coverage are we doing? Are there other events that we need to do and let me know and then we can sort of. And then from there I do have, even though I've told them my pricing, I have an actual pricing sheet with some different options to telling them. And I also, you know, something we talked about in our other interview that I did with you was that I do customized pricing for each wedding. I try to figure out what it is that they need and want. And I don't want to just send like five packages. I will send something, I will send two options, one with the different days that they want and then another one with an album.

Perry Vaile: 25:37 That's it. Yeah. That's interesting. And how, um, so when you ask them their pricing in the, you know, in the face to face, you have the ones that are like $2,000 in. They're shocked and terrified at the pricing, but what about the ones that are in the middle that do you have a decent budget but we're not expecting to spend what your rates are? How often are you able to talk them up and how do you kind of stretch them into coming up a little bit higher on that budget ceiling?

Braedon Flynn: 26:06 Yeah, that's a great question. And it, it's happened when I first started my very first year of shooting weddings, which was, I don't know, again, like 11 ish 12 years ago. My base price started out at $5,000. And this, I'm actually, I've got a podcast that'll be coming up that I recorded a while ago that's talking about pricing and pricing strategies and pricing. Brandon and. But I'm. One of the things that I would do is I knew that most couples, not everyone would be able to look at $5,000, but pricing is a perception, so there's this element of like when you, if you are $2,000 photographer versus the $5,000 photographer just looking at a product bag versus you know, a gap bag or banana republic, there's, there's an instant reaction that happens and so pricing, it's a perception. So by having a higher price but even lit know knowing that you would take a wedding for $2,500, you can, I would still come in and ask the question, be like, Hey, do you have an idea what your budget is?

Braedon Flynn: 27:09 Sometimes they'd say $3,500. Sometimes they say $6,500 and at that stage would say if it was $6,500, well hey usually I started about 7,500 but would love to. I think I could work with you. Other times, you know, if it was $5,000 again, if I liked the couple, it was either a way to be like, hey, or let's say I did not like the couple of very much and or I just felt like it was going to be like a really difficult painful wedding to shoot at a venue that was just going to be like I hate this venue and the. So I would use pricing as a way to weed them out and be like, hey, sorry I can't budge, you know, like this is my price. I'm sorry, but if it was a couple that really charmed me and I was excited about their venue, they're like, I could tell they had style at that stage and let's say they were coming in at 3,500.

Braedon Flynn: 27:58 I would say, hey listen, usually I start at 5,000. Do you feel like you have any wiggle room? Like I would really love to shoot your wedding. Immediate answer sometimes. I mean sometimes that is their budget. Sometimes they, I mean I would say a lot of couples don't have any idea. Sometimes it's just a number of their parents have given them and you educate them. Do you say most photographers are in this range? You go that far. Sometimes I would say. I mean when someone comes in at a really low. Like today, if someone comes in at a really low budget, I say hey listen, I, I'm not gonna be able to pull that off, but here, let me give you some advice. Like I don't think I feel like any photographer, and I'm sorry if you're listening on your price at this level. I think maybe if you are priced at this level and you've been shooting for a long time, I think you are underpriced not talking to you Perry.

Braedon Flynn: 28:45 This is for anyone listening. But like if I tell couples, I listen, if you're, if you're booking a photographer for less than $3,500, they're either brand new or they don't really know what they're doing or they are shooting a massive volume of weddings and you're not going to be a very special client to them. You know? So like realistically defined a good photographer and I can tell by, you know, this is what I'd say to them, it's like, it can tell you really like photography that like I, you need to be looking at someone at a minimum of $5,000 and you know, and I've talked to a certain wedding planners, as they say, they won't refer people, they won't refer photographers that are less than certain price points, like less than $6,500 because the wedding planner knows if you're less than that price, you're probably newer to the game.

Braedon Flynn: 29:29 You probably don't value your own work. You don't, you can't justify a price that's higher than that know. So for those of you that are listening and you are priced at that level, you need to probably raise your or you really need to like build your own, I guess portfolio and experience so that you can raise those prices if you don't feel like you can justify higher prices in that. Yeah. Yeah. No, I agree. I think it's really interesting too, because a lot of clients come in without any clue besides the [inaudible] dot com, which is not giving them accurate information. Well, you know, I love the night, um, but sometimes the way the averages work with people in weddings doesn't necessarily reflect the images they are seeing on instagram and the quality that they're seeing with what those budget weddings were and stuff like that.

Braedon Flynn: 30:16 So I think it is interesting to find a way to educate the clients in a way that is not off putting, you know, is not saying your budget isn't high enough, but it's just saying to protect yourself, this is what you're really, what your expectations are, you know, this is what the price point is or something like that. So I think that's really good. Do you ever have like when you have. So for example, the planner inquiries, which don't ever come through my inquiry, those come to me directly, you know, depending on how close of a friend that planner is. Sometimes via text, you know, they're just asking me what date, if I have open, how much do you require to communicate with those clients? So I would say that is, I always will even at that stage because I know that that planner is giving them probably three or four different people, you know, and I want to give a little caveat here that I was going to say at the end, but I just, I really love our industry and especially the photographers because for again, those of you listening, Perry and I are potential competitors, you know, we were friends with the same planners were friends with this, but just this really openness of being able to like share pricing strategies and share like how to book clients better.

Braedon Flynn: 31:26 You know, it's um, I think it's really special. So hopefully you listening just recognize that as well, that this is a special thing, but it's also like a really cool industry that we're in. But back to your question is with planners, I feel like they are giving a prequalification that this client can afford you. And, and that also, I know certain planners that have macs that they're booking couples out at like 10,000 would be a really high price. And then there's other planners that I know I'm getting bid against the. They'll tell me I'm getting bid against Jose. I'm getting bid against Elizabeth, I'm getting bid against, you know, Katie. And at that stage I know that obviously those couples have a pretty massive budget if that's who they're looking at. So there's a big range, but I still, as you know, because you said this in other interviews, a lot of times planners are just booking you.

Braedon Flynn: 32:17 You never even meet with a couple. They like, you, they, the pricing works you're in. For me, I still, that happens probably 50 percent of the time. The other 50 percent of the time I still will say like, listen, I know that you're shopping them around and they're looking to some other people. Can I get in front of them? Because I, I know that if I can get in front of them I can, like, they'll like me and I can convey like what it is that I do. And I think that'll make a difference if they're just looking at portfolios and pricing. So I always push for that because I really feel like it's my biggest asset and, and I'm, I'm really, I would say I'm really good at the sales process and the charm process.

Perry Vaile: 32:56 Able to get through the doors of the planar client relationship to put your face in front of the client.

Braedon Flynn: 33:03 It's 50 percent I would say, but really it comes to like, I've got a CA, a wedding planner that I'm talking to right now who, it's an NDA. They can't even tell me who the couple is. They can't even tell me where they're getting married because there some celebrity that I don't, you know, I until I get the contract and they want to book me, I won't know. And it'll be after I sign an NDA. So that stage I'm probably not meeting with them and you know, I still would like to, if that's, I've, I've been able to meet with people who are like celebrity types and, and even at that stage, like I feel like I can lay on a bit of charm and like make it relational because I don't want to show up and be like on walking on eggshells a little bit and, and, you know, yeah, I, I like being able to have trust, mutual trust.

Perry Vaile: 33:52 Yeah. You should send one of your little text message video to the planner. Just send that to them. Let me get a little bit of my friends. Um, okay. Cool. Yeah, I always thought that was interesting because I always try to, you know, I want to respect the planners because the planner wants to be, you know, the Queen Bee all for her clients and she is because she does or he, you know, they do so much work for him and I never wanted to I guess overstep it. Um, but I think it is important to find a way to get in front and you're right, you get so much more of an understanding of who a person is and you would never want a client to show up on a wedding day and then realize, well I don't really like their photographers personality, you know,

Braedon Flynn: 34:32 I don't really think it's them in, in regards to asking you, I don't think it's the planner feeling like the Queen Bee. I think sometimes the couples just are busy and they don't care to me, you know, they put full trust in the planner and they're going to look at the portfolios and they're going to make a decision and they just don't have the time or the care to meet. And at that stage it's okay. People are like the people that are dealing with that sort of high end planner who is, who is taking the very handheld approach and, and really acting as their concierge. They are probably very wealthy and very successful. So at that stage they're used to things being done for them and they're also used to just like making quick decisions and going

Perry Vaile: 35:13 so quick with it isn't totally not drawing that out forever. And decision makings. Alright, that's interesting. So you have these clients, sometimes you can talk them up, sometimes you don't have to worry about it. How often after the wedding or after the contract do you, are you able to increase them, like to to get them to more hours or to get them to more albums or

Braedon Flynn: 35:38 how. How were you able to kind of flex that? That overall budget? I would say when I'm able to send out my regular pricing, I don't really try to increase it. I think like if I, if it's having the conversation, the only thing I could say is that possibly it would be if they are looking, they're having a four day event, but like, uh, I don't know. We're not going to include the first day or the welcome dinner or we're not gonna include that. Sometimes as it gets closer we'll say, hey listen, I'm going to be out there. How about I shoot it for a little bit less because I mean I always fly out a day early anyways and maybe let me just come for an hour because realistically the cocktail hour is the main part. I need to be shooting. I don't need to shoot you guys while it's dinnertime and you're eating so why don't I just come for an hour and I'll reduce my price by 50 percent.

Braedon Flynn: 36:20 And so it's like I've already flown out there. I'm already there. I don't need to go sit in my hotel room and work more, which is what I would do. So I'll come and shoot. And because for me I feel like that's an added bonus that I now, as much as I'm creating more work for myself on the post, I get a little bit more connection to their guests. I get more connection to their family and all of that makes a big difference. When I leave on Sunday or Saturday, the amount of people that come up to me after the wedding and tell me what a great job I've done and how much I made their day easy and blah blah blah. So those, those things. I really liked being a part of weekend wedding. So I think that's a way to do it. It's like as it gets closer, maybe reducing the price on that extra day and then they add it or.

Braedon Flynn: 37:00 Yeah, stuff like that. And then for the couples that are not coming from planners and maybe my budget was higher, my pricing was higher than their budget. I, I let them know like, hey listen, where do you feel like you have any wiggle room and your pricing and like this. A lot of it depends on the date too because sometimes I don't have any wiggle room and sometimes I do, you know, and if it's a February wedding or if it's that or I mean I've got an inquiry right now for Thursday wedding and I'm guessing they, you know, they said they shifted it to Thursday because they needed a cheaper place and it's like shoot, what am I doing on a Thursday outside of being with my family?

Braedon Flynn: 37:38 Yeah. So, so at that stage, like I want to have a conversation with them and see what we can work out. Like there's, there's obviously shooting film, we have expenses and then it spending a day and it's also spending, you know, a day or so on the back end as well. So you've got to think about like, okay there's certain prices I'm not going to go under and, and I don't necessarily like the underbidding game for like big weekends as well. It's like let's say I'm up against you and a few other people and then to just come in at the lowest price, like that's. Have you ever read the book Blue Ocean Strategy Blue Ocean strategy strategy? It's a really great buckets. More so when you're thinking about starting a business, but I mean there's, there's a lot of. I listened to a lot of Seth Godin, I read a lot of his books and you know, he, he talks about things as a race, as a race to the bottom and it's like you don't want to be in a race to the bottom because at that stage no one wins and you don't want to be continually dropping your prices so you can beat the next competitor because that's just turning the whole market and that's hurting it for everybody.

Braedon Flynn: 38:44 And the Blue Ocean strategy, it's talking about there's blue ocean versus red ocean and the red ocean is like blood in the water and that's from competition. And the bigger the competition, the bloodier the water is. And so you want to be in a blue ocean strategy like you want to be where there's not a bunch of blood in the water. So what can you do in your business that creates this blue, blue ocean strategy?

Perry Vaile: 39:09 Yeah, that's awesome. That's interesting. Yeah. It's always disheartening when you're really into a couple and then you know, I've actually had a photographer where a couple had signed the contract. You hadn't paid the deposit because they were going to send it via the online and they wrote the other photographer back to say, hey, we went with somebody else, you know, just letting them know, and the photographer said, what is she price? You all go lower. And I was like, oh, and I know who he is, but it's hard. You know, I, I agree. I never tried to do that. I always try to just have my own prices that fit for my lifestyle, my clients and not to be undercutting because it just makes it sticky and you don't want a client who's going to ultimately choose you because you're the cheapest one that's not the kind of client that's going to be able to appreciate the work ultimately.

Braedon Flynn: 39:55 Totally. And we're. I think you and I are in a better spot than like people who. I think it's a really hard place to be in that middle of the road pricing. It's really hard to be in the really high end pricing because there's only a few. Realistically it's just economics. There's only so many people that can book at that price, but I feel like there's so many photographers in that middle road pricing that it's like really how do you stand out and then if, if you are a photographer listening that isn't that middle of the road pricing or lower end pricing, you really need to be thinking about how you differentiate yourself. Like what is gonna make you stand out out of jail. Like there are a lot of photographers with really pretty portfolios, really great instagram feeds. There's a lot of people who have huge instagram followings that weren't really photographers before their instagram followings and now they're photographers.

Braedon Flynn: 40:43 And so was magic, you know, so like really you, you have to stand out and be different. So thinking about how to do that is, and they don't know, even even within our, like level, like each, each bracket you're getting bid against people. So what, what is going to make someone book you versus the next person? And sometimes it is just portfolio. And um, but yeah, what is it about what you offer and how do you, didn't I, I actually think that you do a great job of it on your website because you have a handful of videos that answer that people can see your personality and I think that's great. I just changed and filmed a video that's on my, about page that is me talking about what I do because again, like I feel like if, if people are just emailing I want as much of me in front of them as possible versus just looking at my photos because I feel like there are a lot of photographers, great portfolios and I offer my self, you know,

Perry Vaile: 41:34 it's a whole set. It's a whole separate side of, of the selling yourself process because your work speaks for itself and you know, the pricing obviously is a part of it. But I feel like there are so many clients that I want to know who I am because maybe they aren't, they, they won't click with me, you know? So there's the whole other side of it is I want them to know enough about me to, for us to realize like, oh, we don't, we don't Jive, right. You know, or something like that. So it's also finding the clients that are going to be the happiest with the work that you're creating and understanding and personality and, and not just personality doesn't have to be big personalities like we are, you know, because I, I would not be surprised if there have been clients that have met me in, they're like too much, too much don't want that, which is, I mean to each their own and that's the beauty of somebody that I think has even acquired or personality or a more reflective personality or just different, you know, because they're going to be clients that fit that and they're looking for that.

Perry Vaile: 42:33 You know, they don't want somebody with bright red lipstick and big earrings and is going to come in and be distracting or you know, or something. They just read it differently. So I think to anybody listening, like you were saying, it's not to think that you have to be somebody's overly gregarious or over the top if you're not because they're going to be clients that want you for who you are and that might even sell you more so because you'll be different, you know?

Braedon Flynn: 42:56 Totally. And I would say personality wise is I, I'm meeting with couples because I'm trying to figure out who they are and who I jive with because you could be a person that is quieter, more reserved and the people that you're booking are more like you and they actually are craving someone who's going to be quieter and more reserved. And you know, for me it's, I'm looking for. I like the flip side. Sometimes it'll happen where I have the quieter couple and they really like me because I come in and say, listen, I'm really directive. I'm going to take care of you. I'm going to tell you exactly how to be so that you can be and you can relax and not be stressed. You know? And there's, there's that sort of thing. But then there's also, I would say I'm really good with brides I've always been, I've always been good with the ladies that I've just always had a lot of girl, like not girlfriends but a lot of friends and I just relate really well with women, you know,

Perry Vaile: 43:52 for weddings. I'm sure. I'm sure it helps a lot, you know,

Braedon Flynn: 43:56 and, but, but being able to give that comfort and let them and be able to convey like, listen, I'm taking care of you and I get you in. But on the flip side, like being a, being a woman has such a different advantage of you are like, oh girl, I got you. You know,

Perry Vaile: 44:11 I understand. I'm always telling them, you know, I have some photographer friends and they'll say, oh, when a bride asks about, you know, retouching or if she might look fat in a dress or you know, those are red flags. I'm like, AH, no. I'm worried about if I look fat and address, what are you talking about that's not a red flag. So I definitely can find ways to connect to them, you know? And I've had clients that, like, I, I have at least one or two that I consider some of my very best friends in the world and they were brides, you know, so they're mixed in with the rest of them to be sure. Um, but it is interesting because like you said, I've had clients that come in that aren't that well you would think would be really quiet and they just, they love somebody leading them.

Perry Vaile: 44:49 And I, there's a photographer, um, that she's not film, she's super vibrant, colorful digital in Raleigh called Caroline Scott. And I always thought she did an incredible job of deciding who her clients were and, and really kind of serving them in every point of the process because she puts where she used to. It's been a couple of years until like, did she put her pricing right on the website because she knew her kind of people. We're not the ones to be wanting to get into it. And you know, she, I think she has like a moon and backs on her website and just like the quirkiest if court, which I just think is so cool. And I'm always so amazed when I would look at the blog and the client that she was getting. I'm like, yes, like they're not the ones that you necessarily would see on the front of the style, me pretty or the Martha Stewart, but she found her base and they get her and I'm like, get it girl, you know, just a perfect example of somebody that wasn't, you know, doing the light and airy or the film, just finding her own way on that.

Braedon Flynn: 45:47 And that is a crucial, crucial thing is like if you are not standing out by being you and actually figuring out what your voice is and really showing that voice, you're just going to be another photo in the crowd. And it's tough. I would say your look is very distinct and it's your personality. It's bright and airy and um, but, but it, it shows a lot of that personality. But I think that's a really important thing is like defined your niche and find your people and really go after that.

Perry Vaile: 46:20 Yeah. And to relay that to them so they know they're your people because sometimes they need to be told

Braedon Flynn: 46:26 for sure. Okay. Anything else on that little list of yours?

Perry Vaile: 46:29 Um, I don't think so. I think we've kind of nailed all of these. I think it's been good. I mean I feel like it's so good to hear how somebody else does something because even at both ways work, you know, because I mean I wouldn't be doing it the way I do it if it didn't work, you know, but I always love trying things so I'm certainly gonna try, um, to be a little bit more intentional. Maybe set aside some time to, to go after every single lead in a little bit more of a personalized, uh, you know, and distinct way I guess. So it's been very helpful.

Braedon Flynn: 47:05 I really hoped you love that episode and I'm curious if you did like it, if this is a format that you enjoyed or. I mean I've done another one back, I don't know what episode it was, but it's called freelancing is hard. Where it's just sort of me talking and giving some advice. Is that something you want to hear more of or do you just want interviews, say less of you Braden, more of other people and yeah, so just again, trying to constantly figure out ways to help uplift you, the listener and encourage and educate and all that sort of stuff. So if you can. I just think I enabled on the photo report dot Com. You can now leave comments on the blog post. I didn't realize they were off, but hopefully you can do that. Go find this one there or you can always direct message me at Brayden Flynn B r a e d o n on instagram and chat with me there. So until the next one. Adios.