Other than selective color and the dutch tilt, The “D” word (DVD) has to be one of the most polarizing topics for photographers in the last 5 years.

In a world where we as photographers work so hard to balance and maintain a high level of quality control while maximizing effective business principles, you must be very strategic about the way in which you decide to deliver high resolution files to your clients.  While you have the ability to increase your revenue per event by $400-800, one wrong move can put 30 by 40 inches of garbage on your client’s wall.  To that end, I’d like to walk you through a few things our studio has succeeded in doing, maximizing client satisfaction, profit, and quality control through the delivery of  high resolution files (in form of DVDs).

When a business offers a product to clients it must ask itself a few things.  I want to walk you through my “four P” method when we look at when offering products at our studio, coincidentally, these things are a core piece of what guides our product decisions here at Pictage.

My four P’s of products

1: What is the client problem?  This problem will drive the decisions on how you create and offer your products to clients.

2: What is the product? The products we offer should address a well-understood client problem.  In marketing “The goal is to know and understand your customer so well that the product or service fits them and sells itself.”

3: How do we promote the product? With a problem-solving product in hand, the promotion is fairly straightforward. Just determine if your clients have the problem and then show how you solve it.

4: What place does the product occupy in my portfolio? While the corporate definition of “product place” is about distribution, in a small photography business I look at place more from the viewpoint of when & how in the sales cycle we offer this product to our clients to maximize the profit of an event.

The Client Problem

The Problem(s) that our studio solves by offering a disk of images are very straightforward.

  1. Archival: Our clients tell us every day that they have a strong desire to preserve their memories for the rest of their lives (if not longer).
  2. Access & Distribution: 10 years ago, client photos either ended up in an album, a box, or on a wall, THAT WAS IT! In a digital age, our clients want  their photos on their computer desktop, sent via email, included in scrapbooks, Facebook, Apple TV, iPads. Etc.
  3. My clients don’t want to be a schmuck: Most wedding books, magazines, and vendors these days are cautioning brides to be carful when selecting a photographer.  While these mediums challenge brides to ask their photographer a list of questions the one at the top of the list seems to be “make sure YOU get YOUR images”.  Not to be confused with the archival problem, the core driver of this problem is that the bride wants the Peace of Mind that she has made the right decision(s) for her once in a lifetime event.

The Product

With our problems defined (Archival, Access/Distribution, Peace of Mind) our attention turns to deciding what the product will be.  It is obvious for my studio that to address these 3 market problems I need to deliver High-Resolution images to the client. The decisions as to how to deliver the images becomes balanced by how effectively the problem will be solved and what the financial impact is to my business.  To balance these two business drivers our studio delivers a DVD disk of  the “straight out of the camera” files, “exactly as we’ve shot them”.

Why a DVD disk.  While we’ve considered hard drives, iPods, flash drives, online distribution, etc… The DVD is the most cost effective, accessible, hands free medium that has the least chance of obsolescence or novelty. Case in point, iPods are cool but become dated every 8 months, online distribution is future proof but requires a level of ongoing cost and maintenance, Thumb drives and external hard disks  are effective storage devices but are viewed by our clients more as a piece of hardware than a delivery of their content.

Why “exactly as we’ve shot them.” Two simple reasons, 1: I shoot a lot of images, editing 1000+ images per wedding to deliver a $400 disk is just not profitable.   2: If I give them the “straight out of the camera” files, I preserve my downstream sells of products, and retouched files.

The Promotion

We’ve created a low maintenance — cost effective product that enables archiving, image access & distribution, while instilling peace of mind.  Now we have to make sure we guide the client to use it appropriately. Our promotional strategy is not only important to the purchase of the product, but more importantly guides the way a client perceives and ultimately uses the product.  This promotion is key to ensuring that 30 by 40 inches of garbage does not end up on our client’s wall as well as making sure that we don’t quench the clients desire to buy other quality products from our studio. We are VERY intentional to address the market problems when promoting this product.

We are careful to enforce what the product is for:

“This DVD is great for sending some favorites to grandma Agnes in Mt Home Arkansas.”

“Brides love this because they know that the photos will be around for generations.“

“I had a bride that took the DVD and loaded them on her iPhone, while she only had 50 people at her wedding, just about everyone in her office got to experience the day through her iphone.”

More importantly, we just as careful to enforce what the product is not for:

“Of course we are still available to print your wall photos. You know that in a digital age, everyone’s printers are different and we’ve gone to great length that to ensure that every print that comes out our studio is hand corrected and printed at the highest quality to last forever.”

“We had a bride one time that printed some files at Costco and was shocked when their auto correction had made her husband’s eyes look like a raccoon.    We helped her with a retouched file and gave her a few instructions on how to ensure Costco didn’t apply their magical settings.”

“You will still have the same ability to share your online gallery photos with your friends and family.  Just tell them if they want to order something to log-on to the event.  Brides love it, in the past they had to write down orders for every grandparent and relative and friend.  Today love just telling them to “go to the site.”

The Product Place

As much as you might find this hard to believe, we’ve examined the post sales revenue from our studio’s events that do and don’t receive a DVDs from us.  There is ZERO financial difference to our post sales when we effectively guide their expectations.  The upside is we actually see this one tool as being responsible for at least 20% of contract conversions.

None of packages come pre loaded with a DVD.  Our strategy is to either let the bride purchase the disk, or use this small cost product as a bargaining chip to close the contract.   When a bride asks “Do you include all of the high res image files in your packages?” we light up.  The response is “We do offer the disks separately, you can purchase the Wedding disk for $400 and the Engagement disk for $200”

Then we sit back and wait..  Don’t say anything more, or anything less. Just wait and read their reaction.  About half the Brides, say “Ok I get it” and the other half get a bit bothered.  At that point we go into sales man mode.  If you are afraid you might miss out on the entire event, you tell them “ you know what let me look at my calendar I’ll be right back. You come back and pitch them, “I think I can just give you the disk(s) in package A,  I really think we’d have some fun shooting your event and I just want to give these to you.   Sometimes you up sell to another package, sometimes you just make sure you can book the date.  You have to look at the bigger picture.

All in all I hope this does two things for you. 1: Gives you a formula on how to introduce new products and services into your studio, and 2: Gives you a bit of insight on how increase revenue by delivering all of you high resolution images to your clients.

In the spirit of generating more revenue by selling high resolution images, Pictage is performing a promotion to your past expired events. If you haven’t already, play with our fancy calculator to see your potential earnings on this one-time special promotion. I think there is a good chance you’ll love what you find…

Written by Eric Cotter

Eric Cotter is an Orange County based Photographer with 8 years of experience primarily in the wedding space.  As a wedding photographer Eric shoots and runs client marketing for Jim Kennedy Photographers.  Their studio shoots approximately 300 weddings per year in Orange & LA Counties. For the past year Eric has also managed all physical products at Pictage as “Product Marketing Manager”. Visit Eric’s website or his Linked In profile here.

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