October 29, 2019
Reader question from Lina Grübler
Sent by Jonathan Stark on October 29th, 2019
Fellow list member Lina Grübler wrote in to ask how a photographer can quantify their results numerically (shared with permission):
Hi Jonathan, can you give an example for this in the photographers case: “try your best to have your clients quantify the results you have delivered to them using numbers.” Thanks for always providing different industry examples, I just forwarded this to a photographer friend who is struggling with clients who always show up late and she charges by the hour, so obv struggling to deliver the same result when her clients show up late. Best, Lina
Here are a few general things to think about:
- There’s a difference between B2B sales and B2C sales. B2B is easier to quantify numerically than B2C. In my original message, I was talking more about B2B engagements.
- Quantifying your results numerically does not necessarily mean quantifying them financially. There are lots of other numbers that business owners care about beside dollars, even squishy ones like net promoter score or five-star ratings or projected customer churn.
- The seller doesn’t quantify the results, the buyer does. If you’re not sure what your past clients value about your services, you should ask them for testimonials.
- Once you know what business outcomes your buyers desire, you can think creatively about how to deliver those same or similar outcomes at a lower cost to you (thereby increasing your profits).
Okay, with all that said… here are a few thoughts for photographers specifically:
- In most cases, B2B photography is probably going to be easier for togs to tie back to numbers, possibly even dollars. So instead of things like boudoir, newborn, or senior photography, you could specialize in shooting architectural photos, corporate events, or luxury products (e.g., superyachts, private islands, historical artifacts, etc).
- It’s not enough for your clients to say, “we just want to like the shots” or “we just want beautiful photos”. These are too vague... you have to dig deeper. Ask what they’re going to do with the photos next, what benefits they hope to gain, or what would be a disappointing outcome. You are looking for an answer like, “Right now, our outside sales force is reluctant to share our marketing materials with clients because they’re embarrassed by the photos. We want our sales people to be proud to share our materials,” because this is something that can be measured.
- Business clients don’t know what focal length or white balance or depth of field are and they don’t want to! They want to sell more products or to win more awards or improve the morale of the sales team or whatever. If you can move needles like these with photography (and you probably can, for the right clients) then that’s what you sell, not “beautiful photos”.
- Once you know what business outcomes your clients want, you might be able to help deliver them without taking a single shot, without lugging 200lbs of gear around at an event, and without retouching hundreds of images. Your clients might just need advice, guidance, coaching, or oversight. You can charge for things like this, and they can be extremely profitable. Think more broadly about how you can bring the most valuable aspects of your expertise to bear for your clients.
I hope this helps!