Okay, photographer – does this sound like you?
Every so often, you post on social media – maybe Instagram or TikTok – to drum up conversation around your business. When you do, it’s because you’ve either just finished up a wedding with a client and you’ve handed over their final gallery. You have the time right now, so you devote some of it to making that post.
And you’re just hoping it goes viral or gains at least a little bit of traction.
Sometimes that doesn’t work. So you keep cranking out posts until you land the jackpot! Someone emails you an inquiry form and says they want to hop on a consultation call for their upcoming wedding.
A week or two goes by, and bam! You’ve booked another client. So, while you devote all your time to the new client, your social media, email list, and website all go radio silent.
Until you finish up with that client’s wedding, and then you start the process all over again.
Does any of that sound familiar? It’s okay if it does! All of us have been there at one point or another. That process is what I like to call the “post-and-repeat” process. Some others call it “luck marketing,” where you’re hoping you get lucky enough to land a client off of one of those posts.
But, I’m about to introduce you to a new system that is proven to work time and time again if you set it up properly. So let’s chat about sales funnels for photographers and why you need one for your destination wedding photography business!
A sales funnel (also called a marketing funnel) is a strategic tool business owners from all industries use to help them:
That’s really all it is! So don’t let the term “sales funnel” intimidate you.
So why do we even call it a sales funnel for photographers? Think of a funnel you use in your kitchen. It has a wide top and a narrow bottom. As a destination wedding photographer, your sales funnel will look exactly like that.
At the top, you have a bunch of people seeing your work, who you help, and how you help them. But some people may not be the right audience – for example, you’re looking to photograph couples on their wedding day. That may rule out people who are just looking for family photos. So immediately, some people who see your work decide you’re not for them.
But many people do! So they enter the funnel. Then they learn more about you and your business from your website. Some will decide that it’s not a good fit for their wedding day, but others will. Those that will move further down into the funnel.
It continues on like that until you have booked a client (or a handful!). But you can see that you don’t end with as many as you started with at the top of the funnel.
A sales funnel that’s set up the right way gets rid of that panicky feeling you might get once you’ve sent off the gallery of your last wedding client and your books are empty.
Unlike the “post-and-repeat” process I mentioned earlier, a sales funnel is a streamlined process that helps you bring in ideal clients, even when you’re working on your current couples for their wedding.
And that kind of system is what 9 out of 10 six-figure wedding photographers (destination or otherwise!) use to help them reach that six-figure (plus) mark, Lilly Red included.
It’s not that websites aren’t necessary for business anymore – they absolutely are. But it’s more about maximizing how your website works for you!
Fifteen or twenty years ago, businesses could create a website and that was all they needed. But now, the photography market has become so strong that potential clients need more from us.
They need us to tell them what to do next. They need us to lead them through the process of getting to know us and how we can help them!
And a plain website doesn’t do that anymore – unless we use it as a part of our sales funnels.
There are 5 levels for most sales funnels for photographers. I say most because let’s be honest. Not everybody will follow the funnel from step one to step “client booked.”
But since most potential clients will follow these 5 levels, let me walk you through each one:
First up, we have the awareness stage. This is when someone new first hears (or sees!) about your business.
Remember, the top of the funnel is wider than the bottom. That means that these people could be coming to you from all different areas! It could be from your Instagram or TikTok, or it could be from your blog and they found you on Pinterest or Google.
People can also enter the top of the funnel at this awareness stage when your previous clients shout your name from the mountaintops (but more on that in a minute).
Once someone knows you exist, the next item on their agenda is to figure out if you will fix their problem.
So they’re going to absorb as much information about you and your business as possible!
For a lot of people, that looks like:
Every single client goes through a consideration level. This is where they’re trying to decide if it’s worth it and if they trust that you’ll help them the way they need to be helped. Some people can move through the consideration level in a day. And for others, it could take weeks or even months!
The point is to keep showing up consistently so their trust in you never wavers. Once they’ve considered all of their options (and yours keeps coming back as the only logical one!), then they’ll reach out as a new lead!
So, you’ve opened up your email, and you see the bright shiny “inquiry form completed” email subject line from your new lead!
At this point, you know this potential client has moved from the consideration level to the “conversion level.”
In sales funnels for photographers, this usually looks like hopping on a video call or meeting them in person. This is the next big step for you and your potential client! Because we’re now talking about booking them.
If it’s a fit for you and for them, then they’re more than likely going to book you for their wedding! Yay!
Now, for many destination wedding photographers, once the invoice comes in, they think their sales funnel is “finished.”
But I like to take it a step further. Why? Because it’s the key to building amazing relationships with your clients who only want to recommend you to their friends, family, and random people they meet on the street.
And it’s the secret to keeping your sales funnel flowing on autopilot!
So, when you’re onboarding your new clients, you’ll really want to wow them. I mean go above and beyond! This could look like:
Of course, on top of all of that, you want to give them exactly what they came to you for.
The last level of a sales funnel for photographers is advocacy. At this point, the heavy lifting on your part is over. Now, you’re relying on your experience with your client to speak for itself!
But you’ll still want to follow up with your clients and ask them for reviews and testimonials. Many, especially those who don’t have their own businesses, won’t know the importance of glowing reviews! So don’t expect them to think of it first.
Instead, reach out to them a week or two after you’ve handed off the final gallery. Ask them if they wouldn’t mind leaving a review for you where it matters most for your business. A lot of times that means a Google review! But you could also create a testimonial and feedback survey and ask them to fill that out for you.
And don’t forget to ask them to refer your business to their friends, family, neighbors, and acquaintances! Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the best ways to get more people into your sales funnel. You might even give print or album credit for each referral they send that books with you.
Just like with the onboarding level, the advocacy level is what keeps your sales funnel flowing – even if you’re not actively seeking out new clients!
There are so many ways to build a sales funnel as a photographer. And really, a lot of it depends on your ideal client, how they invest in services, and where they’re looking for destination wedding photographers on the internet.
Still, I know it can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to carve your path forward! That’s why I’ve created a 3-step itinerary to help you build your destination wedding photography business. And yep! I talk about building sales funnels for photographers in it.