The Business of Boudoir »

Your amazing client experience cannot come to a halt simply because they’ve already paid you.  It’s essential to extend your customer service well beyond the financial transactions to show your clients how much you care.

Along with the last 4 parts of this series, you can continue to create a kick-ass client experience by means of your product delivery. Here’s how:

1. Under-promise and over-deliver.

If you’ve done your job right, you’ve already let your clients know how long their album/wall art/prints, etc, will take to be printed and delivered. Do yourself and your client a solid and give them a date estimate that is the longest possible turnaround time (plus a cushion). Then, you’ll be the hero and they will be pleasantly surprised when their products are in EARLY.

Lack of communication on turnaround times can be SO devastating to a client’s perspective of the way they were treated and the level of organization you execute. Keep them in the loop, don’t give them an unreasonable turnaround time promise, and get your orders submitted within 24 hours of your client placing their order. Under-promise. Over-deliver. ALWAYS.

 

2. Choose your products wisely.

This bullet point should have been included in an earlier installment of this series, but offering a product line that you are proud of, and that reflects the amount of money your client is spending with you, is important. Your albums should stand the test of time and look awesome. Your prints should be far nicer than what they could print on their own. Your line should offer something unique that not just anyone could get.

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3. Make it pretty.

Your product line should reflect your brand, should be aesthetically pleasing (this IS art, after all!), and should leave your client feeling like their purchase was worth every penny.  Charging $900 for a photo book you paid $20 for, and presenting it to your client in the cardboard shipping box it came in is simply unacceptable and will leave your clients feeling cheated.

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Does this mean you have to invest in packaging? Yes. This cost needs to be factored into your per-client budget and should be a contributing factor in setting your prices. The amount you spend on your product presentation isn’t necessarily the sole indicator of how well it works for you, though.  Spend wisely and make sure that what you are handing your client is something that represents your branding well, and that it is something both you and your client will be proud of.

My brand aesthetic is encompassed with black and white with hints of metallic, clean lines, and an upscale feel. So I choose to deliver my digital files on crystal hard-drives with my logo laser etched into them, a black satin ribbon tied around albums (which are great quality), placed in a re-useable branded tote bag.  The same black ribbon is tied around wall-art and prints. My thank you cards are ultra-thick luxe cards that are branded and obviously personalized.

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If your brand is rustic chic, opt for twine and feathers. If your brand is industrial, look into metal album and print boxes. Your packaging is an extension of your brand, please don’t forget that.

4. Include a thank you.

Thank you cards are a HUGE deal. When I shop at a high-end store (which isn’t too often), I LOVE that I get a little hand written note with my shoe or handbag purchase. It’s a small touch that only took a few moments, but makes me want to come back. Your thank you cards should be branded. Your note should NOT be the same for each and every person. I also have recently made it a practice to include a self-printed polaroid snapshot of the client and I with my thank you cards (that I take at the end of their shoot). I often get emails or texts from my clients of a picture they took of my thank you card and their picture with me tacked up on their refrigerator or cork board. It MEANS something to them.

In addition to the thank you card, I will also put some chocolates in the bag as well as either of tube of lipstick or a gift card for a blow out to a local blow dry bar to keep their newfound (or newly improved) self-esteem going. My clients, on average, spend about $4000 with me…so a $50 gift is not out of the question. Your thank you gift can be adjusted to fit your average sales if you prefer…but even a small token can mean the world to them.

5. Take some time to chat.

When your client comes in to pick up their products (or when you drop them off), take a few minutes to catch up with them. Ask them how things have been going since the shoot. Ask if their significant other, if applicable, suspects anything. Find out what their plans are for their products. Have some snacks and beverages while chatting. Don’t make them feel like you are just trying to close a transaction and get on with your life.

So what if you don’t hand-deliver your products?

If your client lives out of town and you have to ship products to them, I HIGHLY encourage you to have the product shipped to you first, if possible. That way, you are able to still wrap their products up as you typically would and they can still experience your awesome customer service. Of course, this will mean a slightly longer turnaround time and more of shipping expense for you…but that, to me, is as a small price to pay for stellar customer service. Your client is worth it. Just remember to fully educate them on turnaround times (and don’t forget to under-promise and over-deliver!).

ALSO, set a reminder for you to call the day after their products arrive to still have that chat with them! Make sure they got everything ok, and see how they like everything! A client who has actually TRAVELED to shoot with you certainly should not receive any less service because they don’t live locally.

What are some of your favorite ways to offer an awesome experience with your product delivery? Leave them in the comments and let’s elevate the industry together!

Thanks for tuning in to installment 5 of this 6 part series. If you’re a bit behind, here are the easy links to catch up on how to create a kick-ass client experience throughout your entire boudoir process!

Part I: Your Website

Part II: Inquiry and Booking Process

Part III: The Shoot

Part IV:  The Reveal

  • September 17, 2015 - 1:06 PM

    Anthony - Hi,
    i am planing to start my own website as a photographer.

    what is the best price to start per photoshoot so i can create my portfolio and increase my visibility?

    Thanks for any help

    AnthonyReplyCancel

  • February 16, 2016 - 12:54 PM

    Veronica - This is so perfect! I need this right now and I’ve going to go through and read this entire series!ReplyCancel

This month on my journey to something new, things have been good. Better than last month. I did some shooting, ordered some marketing materials, worked in the business as well as on the business, and found the most amazing gay bar that I plan to collaborate with in a few months.

But also, the inevitable happened.  View full post »

  • June 20, 2015 - 10:46 AM

    Petra - Fucking bravo!!ReplyCancel

  • June 20, 2015 - 9:43 PM

    Leslie Cersovski - hell yeah! I hardly know you and I’m so inspired by your bravery. Keep it up because my feeds like a little change from scantily clad women.ReplyCancel

  • December 11, 2015 - 11:17 PM

    Cate - Bravo to you!!! I love your boldness and your perseverance. You are awesome JenReplyCancel

Let us get emotional

..shall we?

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 11.15.48 AMPIN Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 11.15.31 AMPIN

 

 

 

 

 

Expressions and emotions go hand in hand, especially in boudoir. This is key to understand since many times we think of the “expression” as being in facial features only. Body language is an incredible way to convey emotion through the expression of the poses.

 

View full post »

  • June 18, 2015 - 9:28 PM

    Victoria Elizabeth - I love your technique of asking clients to recall a memory to bring out different emotions. It’s a great way help your subject feel comfortable in front of camera and helps bring out their inner beauty. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • July 23, 2015 - 12:55 PM

    Victoria Elizabeth - I love your technique of asking clients to recall a memory to bring out different emotions. It’s a great way help your subject feel comfortable in front of camera and helps bring out their inner beauty. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • February 16, 2016 - 12:49 PM

    Veronica - this is definitely something I’ve been wanting to make sure to add to my photos…it gives them so much more life and makes them much more than just a pretty photo.

    I’ve been working on a list of cues I could use to elicit emotion from my clients and I cant wait to try it out with my very next client.ReplyCancel

To be a successful boudoir photographer, you absolutely must provide an outstanding client experience. If your photos are bomb-diggity but you leave your clients feeling a little “meh” about their interactions with you, you are unlikely to excel.

Hopefully you’ve been following along in this six part series in which we’ve been discussing ways to provide a kick-ass client experience in your boudoir business.  If you’re just tuning it, I’ve got you covered! Read up on the first three parts here and here and here. 

WHAT IS A PHOTO REVEAL?

If you are in the boudoir business and are not currently doing in-person photo reveals with your clients you are doing yourself and them a great disservice. There are so many facets of this business that can be customized based on your business situation, but I HIGHLY encourage you to change it up if you aren’t doing reveals now.

A photo reveal is your opportunity to blow your client’s socks off with their finished images. After you’re done showing off their images, you will assist them in ordering what they need (and DEFINITELY what they WANT).  On top of it resulting in a major increase in sales, if executed properly, your client will feel far more fulfilled and like they’ve just been a part of a luxury experience as opposed to a half-assed sales tactic.

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EDUCATING YOUR CLIENTS ABOUT THE PHOTO REVEAL

If you’ve been following my tips in the first couple of articles, you should have already educated your client about the entire boudoir experience process from beginning to end.  However, as with most things in this industry, your clients need a little reminder.

After their shoot, remind them of the process from that point forward. Let them know roughly how many images you will be retouching, what you will do at your photo reveal, the average most clients spend on photo products, and how long it will take from that point to have their products in-hand. Then we actually schedule their reveal appointment right then. That way, there is no question about how long it will be before they see their images, and no question is left unanswered.

Setting them up to know how much to expect to spend is so incredibly important. This should be at least the 2nd or 3rd time that they’ve heard this figure range from you.  I tell them on my website where my packages are, again when I respond to their inquiry, and again in preparation for their reveal appointment.

2 days  before their photo reveal, they receive an auto-reminder from my studio management program reminding them of parking instructions, how long the appointment will take, exactly what we will do at the appointment, and (again) that they should be prepared to place their order (and what payment methods I accept).

GETTING READY FOR THE REVEAL

I take my reveals seriously, y’all! You know when a woman is about to take her clothes off for a stranger AND a camera and she stuffs her face with pastries and mimosas? Yeah…me neither. The reveal is your time to pamper her and offer her to something special.

My signature studio scented candle is lit (EXPERT TIP HERE: SIMPLE scents like citrus, or lavender will aid in getting people to buy more over complex blended scents. No joke.) at least 30 minutes before they arrive. I make sure the place is spotless. A neat space is calming and luxurious. Clutter creates anxiety. I change my sign to say “Welcome back, Laura!” (having a little sign at your studio is just one extra touch to personalize the experience), and I set out some goodies.

My reveal spread will change depending on what time of day, and what my client is like. Sunday morning photo reveals are my favorite! I offer up loads of french pastries from local bakery, set out all the goodies to make different mimosas, a little plate of chocolates, bottled water, and pretty napkins and plates. It’s basically a mini bar sitting on the table right in front of them at their reveal appointment.

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Music is huge. While my music for a photo shoot will be upbeat and runway-esque, my photo reveal music of choice is the “Electronic Chill” station on a radio subscription service. There’s little to no words, it’s not as formal as classical (which wouldn’t suit my target client), but it still gives an upscale trendy vibe.

I set my albums out in a not-too-neat stack (ANOTHER EXPERT TIP: If things are TOO neatly stacked, a client is less likely to pick it up on their own because they won’t want to mess it up.) off to the side of the table. I also keep all of my products nearby. I prefer not to crowd my client with every product under the sun so not to overwhelm them.

I have the slideshow all cued up and ready to roll on my TV (via Apple TV, but you could also just do this on your computer screen).

THE GRAND REVEAL

I first show a slideshow of my favorite favorites (usually 20ish) from their session. We watch that a good 3 times and each time point out new things we love about certain images. I gush about her and tell herhow freaking incredible she looks. I give her verbal permission to praise herself because oftentimes women otherwise hesitate to say anything positive about themselves and just sit there in stunned silence.

I turn to her and say… “WELL!??!” at which point she inevitably lets out an inaudible squeal and grabs an album to envision her own images in.

I will then review her entire collection with her on my computer (in Lightroom). I let her know that she doesn’t have to flag any images at this point, we’ll just go through them first and then review her options. After I go through the whole collection, I will ask what she had in mind for products, though with all the communication we’ve already had, I likely already know.

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Showing her absolutely everything is not necessary, though I do show at least 2 products that she may not have mentioned, likely because she didn’t know it existed. A great add on for me is a “HERS” mini album and a nightstand image folio. Digital downloads are almost always a given.

After she has a good idea of the product offerings and how awesome her images will look in them, we’ll go back through the images one by one and I will ask her to say “KEEP” or “PASS”.  “Pass” means that she is removing the image from the pile, never to be seen again (they aren’t deleted, just moved out of the pile). “Keep” means that it’s going in the “YES” pile, which CAN later be narrowed down if needed.

I used to offer “Yes”, “No”, or “Maybe”. “Maybe” was a giant time waster. “NO” just sounds negative and if you have a few “no’s” in a row, it can be a big ego crush for your client AND for you!

Make sure you have a pretty price list for her to look at so it’s not like you are pulling figures out of thin air. Also make sure your payment acceptance system is easy to use and professional.

If your client has purchased something like digital files from you that will be leaving the studio with her, be sure to have pretty packaging on-hand!  My clients almost always leave with a branded crystal hard drive in a little black silk bag on the day of their reveal.

If this all sounds like a whole lot of work and preparation… you’re right. But all of these things combined will ensure that your client feels over-the-moon satisfied with the level of service you’ve provided her at her photo reveal appointment.

WHAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE A STUDIO?

Not having a studio does not mean that your level of customer service has to fly out the window. In fact, coming to her home could be viewed as an even higher level of service because it’s likely far more convenient for her. Bring a picnic basket full of wine and goodies, have a tote full of your products, and still over-communicate just the way you would if she was coming to you.

If you prefer to meet in a public space, make sure that you are finding a great place with privacy and showing up plenty early so that you can secure a booth in the corner of the room so that no one else will be able to see your screen.  Oh, and pick up the tab. Just do it.

 

 

So go forth and kick ass with your customer service by offering photo reveals, and doing the shit out of them!

What’s a metallic canvas and where do I get it?

About a year ago, I saw an announcement that Simply Color Lab was offering metallic canvases. I was a bit intrigued at the term. I had never heard of it before and wondered if it could be interesting for boudoir.

Was it metal? Would it still be like a canvas that my clients like? I really could not envision what it would look like. I did a little search of the market and it seemed that none of the major labs were offering these. None of the images online showed how it would really display.

I’ve always been impressed with Simply Color Lab’s quality, so I decided to just go wild. I took advantage of a canvas sale (they are all priced the same) and bought a 30×40 with a favorite new image.

I was surprised. It was not really what I expected, but had an elegant pearly finish.

Simply Color Lab’s metallic canvas was too subtle for clients to know it was a novelty, but was just special enough to make show them my work looked phenomenal.

It immediately became part of my product offering, this was simply my “new way” of presenting a canvas.

I am thrilled to add this medium to my offering. They are gorgeous, novel and make skin tones and metal, pearl or satin finish surfaces look amazing.

Recently, I asked Jonathan Penney Printmakers if they would plan to carry these and he did. They were the best kept secret, so Jonathan put them into The New Jersey and NYC Boudoir Cate Scaglione Boudoir Collection he features on his site (oh, how I blush Jonathan!). Called the “Philosophie” metallic canvas, I noticed a very different texture and sheen. It looked more metal and less pearly than Simply Color Lab.

Jonathan Penney Adjusts Files to Perfection

Metallic canvases are a new, novel way to show off boudoir images in a fine art fashion.PIN

Metallic canvases are a new, novel way to show off boudoir images in a fine art fashion.

At the risk of sounding political, I actually love both products. They are just…different. Depending on the image, each brand holds its purpose. But, I do love the added artistry Jonathan brings to the equation. After ordering my first from him, I noted it had the true effect of a painted canvas — glossy, textured and artistic. Jonathan had also optimized my file so that the metallic and highlighted areas of the image would sing. Sing, they did. The client loved it and ran her fingers across the metal areas several times, as it actually looked a bit
3-D.

Price

I don’t like my clients to shop on price alone, so I also follow that principle when I choose vendors. As a boudoir photographer in New Jersey and New York City, my upscale market is saturated. I need to deliver the best goods possible to clientele with high-end homes. Top quality is my first priority always before my cost of goods.

30×40 From Simply Color Lab: $250.51 plus shipping

30×40 From Jonathan Penney: $262 to $277.00* plus shipping
*(includes “Printmaker’s Tweak” option)

Risk-Free Sample & $15 Store Credit

Although Simply Color Lab did not offer a sample of the metallic canvas for me to preview, Jonathan Penney did. For just $5 you can get a sample swatch that shows how an optimized image looks. To get your sample, click here.  You will automatically receive a $15 store credit towards a future purchase!

If you’re itching to also try out Simply Color Lab’s version, they often offr a Buy 1-Get 50% off sale on canvases (sign up for their newsletter). In this case, you can purchase one regular canvas as you normally would and buy a smaller sized metallic for trial.

 

DISCLOSURE: Although Jonathan Penney carries a collection in my name, I am not financially incentivized in any way to promote or benefit from the sale of these products.
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