The most important skill for boutique portrait photographers to have is to be able to start conversations with people, whether you know them or not.
You may be horrified at the thought of striking up a conversation with a stranger.
The good news is that talking to strangers and transitioning a conversation into an opportunity to mention your business is a skill that you can learn and be great at.
Today I’m sharing one conversation starter framework that I teach to my coaching students so that they can book sessions.
I want you to have the mindset that everywhere you go and with everything you do you can find a reason to start a conversation with every single person because it’s free marketing.
Before I go into the framework, I want you to start with little habits like commenting on something they are wearing or giving them a compliment.
For example, look at your cutie little dog or oh my gosh, I love your necklace. You’d be amazed at how much you can tell from a person when you just start a conversation
I think a lot of people struggle with shifting the conversation into talking about their business.
As I built my business and I started getting more and more clients, I started teaching my systems to photographers.
I had to figure out how to create a system where someone can read it or listen to it and learn it and then go do it and get consistent results.
This little framework that I’m sharing with you can be a game changer for you.
This “TEST” formula will give you a starting point and some basic structure to shift your conversations with strangers into conversations about your photography.
First is the “T” in the “TEST” formula. T for touch on their problem.
You might be wondering what I mean by their problem.
Here’s the reality… if there’s no problem, there’s no sale.
When I say problem that means challenge or opportunity.
The problem might be that they don’t have any artwork on their walls.
They might have a new baby or a new pet.
They might have an elderly grandparent and through conversation you realize that they have five generations of women in the family who are still living and wouldn’t you want to document that?
That’s a problem we can solve.
So many opportunities out there.
But the key is we’ve got to find out why they need portraits right now.
We’re investigators, we’re looking for an opportunity here.
Number two is “E” in the “TEST” formula. E for emotional connection.
We want to create an emotional connection.
People make decisions with their emotions and then they justify with logic.
If you get into their emotional state, whether it’s pain or joy and you touch their hearts with your story, that is where progress happens.
That’s when they start coming closer to you and to your ideas.
So perhaps their dog is getting older and you’ve just gone through the same situation.
This can be such a great connection.
To be able to tell stories like that that really connect us together is important.
Number three is “S” in the “TEST” formula. S for solution.
I’m looking for a bridge of how I can explain that my portraits are the solution.
If it’s a dog situation, I tell the dog story.
If they have a new baby, I find a story from that time in my life or a friend’s story.
The solution I’m presenting to them is maybe something that they haven’t thought of.
Number four is “T” in the “TEST” formula. T for temperature.
I want to feel them out by asking them a question, how they feel about this.
Does this resonate with them? I may say something like, “Have you had your kids photographed lately You’re saying they haven’t been home from college.
Have you even thought about that lately?” And I just let them answer me.
They might say, you know what? We haven’t, Sarah.
You do that, don’t you? Tell me about it.
Or they might say I’m photo’d out.
I don’t take it personally, I just make it part of a conversation.
I think if you start having more of these conversations, you’ll start getting good at realizing who your ideal clients are and how you can solve any type of challenges that they are going through.
After being in business 25 years and coaching hundreds of thousands of photographers, I can tell you the best thing you can do to learn about your target audience and how to persuade people is to talk to people. Just get them to trust you enough to engage with you.
It’s not rocket science, but with some practice, you can master it.