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We like to buy from people we like
Couples will book you if they like you and they like your work. That’s obvious. But how can you be certain they’ll like you, without seeming needy or being manipulative?
We like to buy from people we like and we like to like people who like what we like.
Before I sound any more like Dr Seuss, I’ll explain how to be someone your couples will like—and book.
(This has to be genuine. If you fake it, people will sniff it out and you’ll socially fall flat on your face).
Find things in common
Ask them what they like to do together, what movies they like, what sports team they support—whatever! Pick things to ask about that you’re interested in and when you find similar interests, chat about them.
Stuff you can find in common includes hobbies, sports teams you support, political affiliation, music and movie tastes, travel destinations, hometowns, who you follow on social media, etc.
Of course, it’s best to avoid controversial topics, but if they volunteer this info and you find something in common, by all means jump right in.
If they mention a viewpoint you don’t agree with your best bet is to ask a couple of innocuous questions related to it that won’t introduce disagreement, then move on. Don’t just drop the topic, because it kills the flow of the conversation.
“Oh, you went to a rally to support eating live babies? How was that? What’s one thing about being there that surprised you?”
Then ask your next question.
Even if they’re into stuff you’re not, there’s always something about it you can find to relate to.
I always ask what they like to do together, partly because I want to get to know them, but also so I can incorporate their interests into their engagement session. This has the bonus of making their photos extra personal, so they connect to them more strongly.
Commonalities can be unpredictable, so be prepared to jump on whatever comes up. Last year I flew around the world to be the second photographer at a wedding for a couple I’d never met. Turns out the groom and I went to the same elementary school! What are the odds? If you keep talking you’ll find something to connect you. Just keep the conversation natural and flowing.
We like people we look like
Know thyself. Know thy target market.
Photography branding guru Mike Allebach carved a niche for himself by targeting tattooed brides. He’d played in a punk rock band and he could relate to the same stuff his couples related to and they could relate to him.
For high end weddings or clients outside of the box, it’s important to wear similar styles to indicate you understand what it’s like to be on their level. Pick styles that naturally reflect who you are, because if you fake it you’ll be awkward and your clients will pick up on it.
Unite against a common enemy
This is easy if you’ve identified a sports team or political party you both support.
It feels good to unite against a common foe, but keep it light and fun. Don’t make it a grumbling session, because that’ll sour the whole meeting. It works best if you’ve just achieved a win over said enemy and can relish in the victory. If you can’t make it feel upbeat, let it slide.
Find something to disagree on
People won’t trust you if you agree on absolutely everything, even if you really do. It’s incredibly rare to find someone who agrees with everything you say and they’ll feel suspicious. So find a safe point to disagree on. This is best if it’s just a matter of personal taste.
For example, “Oh, your favourite vacation place is Disneyland? Why is that? OK, that’s fair enough. I prefer going overseas when we go on vacation, because I like to see different natural landmarks.”
Keep in mind you don’t actually want to try to win an argument. You just want to be more interesting than a predictable yes-person.
I got hypothermia on my wedding day and ended up in hospital, missing the wedding reception.
That’s the condensed version of the story I tell my couples to illustrate how important real moments are to me. I explain to them that even though the photos looked great, when I saw them later I thought, “There I am, freezing half to death.” Because the experience at the time wasn’t enjoyable I didn’t have a strong positive emotional connection to the images later.
I tell my clients I learned an important lesson that day that I carry with me to every wedding: Not only do their photos have to look amazing, but they have to feel genuine positive emotion at the time they’re taken, so they can walk past that wall print in years to come and remember exactly how they felt the moment the photo was made and relive that love and connection.
I could easily just tell them, “Real moments are important to me!” But that has no impact. It just sounds like I’m trying to sell myself and people are skeptical when it comes to sales. But a true story with a lesson? That shows them I value the same thing they value. They can trust me that I know the importance of capturing them at their best and feeling genuine love and connection.
Find genuine ways to connect through common interests and sharing anecdotes. It makes your couples like you and more likely to book you, but it also creates a genuine bond. That will help make your photos more personal and you’ll both enjoy your time together more—win-win!