With so many amazing print products available on the market today, it’s easy to get caught up in the trap of wanting to offer everything.
But, much like finding your ideal client, there’s value in finding your ideal print products. The products you offer can enhance your brand and further enforce your position of authority as a photography expert.
I’ve been in business for four years and I am just now starting to feel like I’ve found my sweet spot when it comes to what products I offer my clients. I used to offer everything under the sun — prints in three different finishes, metal prints, canvas, image boxes — but nobody was ordering anything!
In retrospect, it’s because I wasn’t clear on what I valued, so my clients weren’t convinced it was worth their money.
Over the years I’ve worked on refining my product line and now offer three different options that truly reflect my brand: fine art prints, a coffee table album, and a luxury heirloom album. I meet with my clients before their session and am proud to bring my products along with me to each meeting to showcase them. Clients ooh and ahh over the quality, and as a result, my product sales have significantly increased.
Here are five tips to help ensure your products are right for your brand.
1. Ask questions of your clients.
Here’s the thing: You’re probably not your ideal client. I know I’m not mine!
I love huge wall prints all over my house and have no problem rotating prints out a few times a year. I assumed my clients were the same, but I now know they aren’t.
Last year I created a really short survey and sent it out to my newsletter subscribers and posted on social media. Former clients and potential new clients answered the survey (honestly, I was surprised at how many people took the time to respond). In the survey I asked them to respond “yes” or “no” to simple statements such as:
- I value albums over prints.
- I prefer small prints that can go on a shelf over large wall prints.
- I want to change out my prints at least once a year.
- Ordering prints intimidates me.
It became very clear that my clients value albums over prints and small desk prints over large wall prints. From the data I gathered, I started switching up my products, eliminating wall prints, and adding a second album choice.
2. Think about their personal style.
I primarily shoot in my clients’ homes which gives me a really great glimpse into their style. For the most part, my clients are modern minimalists. Their homes are decorated in neutrals with high quality furniture and not many knick knacks.
Also, because of the brand I’ve built, my clients don’t tend to be overly frilly or traditional. They don’t gravitate towards pink or lace or flowery items, even for baby girl nurseries, and instead tend to prefer gender neutral tones with pops of color. I’ve taken note of these preferences and have tailored my products around them.
The high end album from Dekora Album Co. that I offer is distressed leather that is timeless yet still approachable. I compare it to a really good cup of coffee. My clients have fancy espresso machines on their kitchen counters and want one really good shot over a whole pot of so-so coffee. The heirloom album is strong yet smooth; it’s beautiful without being over the top.
3. Consider their lifestyle.
Although I love the heirloom album I offer, and many of my clients do too, it’s also important to keep in mind the homes your products will live in. I photograph a lot of newborns and families with young children, and many parents want an option that they won’t have to keep up high on a shelf or have packed away in a box, scared to let their kids touch.
My solution to this is the Storybook Album from Pikto, which is a coffee table book that has lustre coated photo pages. The pages are thick enough to not tear easily yet are also more immune to little finger prints than the matte pages in the heirloom album. The Storybook Album is my best selling album and a few of my clients order one each year. It comes in a huge variety of colors and can accommodate imprinted text on the front.
4. Offer what they can’t get on their own.
One of the biggest jumps in my product sales happened when I narrowed my offerings to items that weren’t available at big-box consumer labs. Ninety-five percent of my clients purchase the digital images after their session and I know that they are printing them on their own, and that’s OK as I’ve priced my digital files accordingly.
The reality though, is that my clients will never be able to walk into a big-box lab and order the hand-torn fine art prints or the leather bound album I offer. If they’re looking for a special gift or want the rich colors of my fine art prints, then they will come back to me. I found it incredibly hard to sell lustre prints that were very similar to what’s available at every lab (consumer or pro) but matte prints with a hand-torn edge almost sell themselves.
5. Don’t let the experience end at the products.
One of my favorite parts of print products is the packaging and delivery. I love sending little gifts throughout the booking process and delivering prints and albums is no exception.
My mom is a sewer and she hand makes album and print envelopes for me. I buy the fabric when it’s on sale and purchase thread that matches my brand colours. I also custom order fabric labels that I sew on so that each time they open the envelope they’re reminded of my business name.
When I show my clients the print samples I don’t use the envelopes so that when I deliver their final products in a beautiful envelope that keeps their products safe, they are surprised. It’s a really inexpensive add-on but has a big impact.