August 21, 2012

Introducing:The Guide!!

“It was February of 2005, and we were on our way to yet another client meeting.

The sample albums had been packed. The gift had been wrapped , complete with a brand new box that we had just spray painted earlier that day in our drive way. So it was now a rich shade of chocolate brown…or, y’know, whatever Krylon’s version of chocolate brown was that year. And the ribbon was tied in our signature teal. Bought for $5 a roll earlier that week at our local craft store.I mustered up every ounce of courage & faith I could find. And we walked out the door. Together.

When we got to the couple’s house, we passed another photographer on his way out of just finishing up a meeting. We danced a sideways shuffle down the narrow walkway, as all three of us did everything we could to avoid eye contact. And as we rang the door bell holding our bags of sample albums, I couldn’t help but feel like the vacuum salesman. Readying myself to dump dirt on their floor. Instantly, my only very recently mustered courage & faith deflated. Like a Thanksgiving float, speared by a stray dart gun. They deflated. And right then I knew: this meeting was over before it had even begun.

We sat at their dining room table over stacks of wedding magazines and one “my dream day” binder, and made awkward chit chat. As my mouth grew dryer I silently prayed for a glass of water, but none was ever offered. And when we tried to find out something, anything, that we might have in common they just asked for our price list. Or more to the point, and what it felt like at the time….our resume.They were in the driver’s seat. The interviewer. The judge and jury of our fate. And we, well we….were in the hot seat. As we sat there waiting for our verdict, I couldn’t help but thinking: this couple is NEVER going to book with us. Right? Who among us hasn’t spent two hours getting ready for a meeting, only to be two minutes in to realize that this couple is never going to book with you? And yet, you still find yourself praying that they will. Because you just need to make rent that month. Your dog (or even better, your children!) have gotten accustomed to having food. And as you watch them scan that right column of numbers, adding and comparing you apples to apples with every other photographer they’ve met with that week without ever once asking to look at one of your images, you silently ask yourself if this….THIS….is what it is to be living the dream.

The first two years of our business are what we refer to as the job interview days of our business. These were the days of feeling like the traveling vacuum salesmen, of driving out to meet at the couples’ houses only to come back home empty-handed & empty-hearted, and finding ourselves sinking further and further from the dream. During this time with the job interview days of our business, we were booking maybe 1 in 5, or on a really good streak maybe 1 in 3, of the couples we were meeting with. And that’s a really terrible booking rate. Because it meant for the 4 out of 5 couples we were meeting with- or 80% of our resources, our time, our money, our energy, how we felt about ourselves- 80% of that was being wasted. More than that, we just started to feel really bad about ourselves.
This wasn’t life unordinary. The road less traveled. This was every cheesy wedding photographer in every movie ever made. And we started to ask ourselves is this working anymore.

Is it worth it any more?

Introducing: The Guide

The above is a passage straight out of The Guide, our brand new e-book all about how we took our business from those “job interview days” of just getting started and feeling like we constantly had to sell ourselves, to being in a place where we are attracting the kinds of clients who have already sold themselves on the idea that we are the only photographers in the world for them. The kinds of clients that we are actually really excited to work with every weekend. People who love us, and who we love in return.

The Guide is over 50 pages of new ideas, images, and information that breaks out step by step how we went from barely booking in our business, to actually getting to pick & choose our entire calendar’s worth of couples. We’ll talk about how we got our names out there, what we did to build up momentum when we were just getting started, and everything that we do to give potential couples the ability to decide that we are absolutely the photographers that they have to have with them on the wedding day….or not. And why either one of those outcomes is a win. Just some of the features that The Guide includes are things like our ideal client profile: what we look for in our clients. the top 5 red flags to look for when filtering, 10 easy ways to create more connection on your site, meetings in a box: 4 complete plans for how to set the room, what to serve & booking gifts depending on your brand, the three things we always say in the course of a meeting that allow couples to build the right package for them without ever once resorting to high pressure sales, 3 clauses you should always have in your contract to protect your bookings, our Lexus Theory of Pricing, and our complete a la carte pricing menu with all of our current prices included & more!

After working on it all summer, we are THRILLED to announce that we are now ready to launch The Guide & it is now officially on sale! The regular price of The Guide will be $150, but all this week to celebrate the launch you can grab it for just $99 when you use the code “JustinMary” at checkout! If you’re ready for a shake up, we would love to have you join us!

  1. Michelle Feeney

    Another great post and congrats on announcing The Guide. We’re soo excited for you. :)

  2. Tiffany Deming

    Wahoo! :D So excited to see this…love your hearts for sharing so freely and giving back to those of us making our way down the path!! OXO

  3. Seshu

    "I felt like a vacuum salesman readying myself to dump dirt on their floor." Love that line, by the way. The Guide couldn’t come into my life at a better time. Thank you for so honestly sharing your fears, expectations, processes and solutions so that we may all learn from you and adapt it to our own business situations.

  4. spring

    it’s about time you wrote a book ;) XOXO

  5. Adrienne O'Connor, Ruffles & Tweed

    This is great, congrats on the book! As a planner who just launched a company in 2011, I can relate to the same feelings and types of meetings – is The Guide geared towards photographers or could any business owner benefit from it?

  6. MM

    @Adrienne: Definitely! I think any small business that wants to really have a connection with their clients & do business in a relational not transactional way could use these same ideas!


  7. Adrienne O'Connor, Ruffles & Tweed

    that’s great, thanks so much – thinking I will be making a purchase! :)

  8. Dallas Curow

    Just purchased it, and can’t WAIT to read it. J & M, thank you so much for pouring all your love and hard-earned knowledge into this guide.

  9. Abbey

    Just purchased it Mary!!! You are such an inspiration to us newbies. Thank you for your honesty and openness….

  10. Liz and Ryan

    Yay! This is so exciting!!! Congratulations on Launching the Guide!!!! We are having a little dance party for you right now!!! Cupcakes on us the next time we see you!

  11. Christy Tyler

    YAY!!! Love that passage at the top, and I remember those days all too well (even had a meeting like that recently & I left shaking my head, & emailing the couple before they could email me – letting them know I didn’t think I was the right fit for them). Can’t wait to read what you guys have to say about everything! :)

  12. Jessica Frey

    Congratulations you guys!!! What an amazing accomplishment to pour your experiences into such a project that’s going to help so many in our industry! Love your hearts as always :)

  13. Emilia Jane

    Can’t wait to see you next week! Cocktails on me :-D yay!!!

  14. Alison

    So happy to see this happen! You guys have been such a HUGE part of how I have built my little studio. (And Yes, I am a portait photographer) and carried so much over into my personal life. I cannot thank you enough! I cannot wait to see how many lives this changes!!!

  15. Jessica Fike

    Just bought it! Going to the beach later this week…it’ll make a great read. :)

  16. amy

    Eeeeeeeeee! Purchased! SO excited to read this.

  17. Stephanie Stewart

    I LOVE The Guide! I must confess, I purchased it back when I listened to you on the Joy of Marketing’s shin-dig! So worth it! It’s beautifully written, stunningly bejeweled with tons of my favorite J&M images, and FULL of great tips, advice, and more! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  18. ashley barnett

    AHHH! I know how much of a labor of love this was!!! SO happy for you guys! So proud of you :) Can’t wait to snag a copy!

  19. Lisa

    Congrats you two!!! Can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this eventually when I have the funds!!

  20. Leslie Kerrigan

    Congratulations J & M!! This is awesome and I know it will help tons and tons of people! Love Yall!!

  21. Jenn Lawlor

    Yes yes and yes! Even though I can say that almost all of my clients book with me FOR me, not just my camera I have been struggling with the others who only want my price list. Nothing else. :(
    Would you say this guide works for all types of sessions or mainly focused on couples/weddings?
    Either way this is going to be mine soon. ;) Thank you J & M!!

  22. Lauren Wakefield

    Awesome! I’m so happy for you guys! I know how hard you worked on this! Totally getting me one of these! :)

  23. Tiffany Bolk

    Okay you guys, I just started reading the first few pages and I’m already getting emotional! These are some really heart felt words! But I really wasn’t planning on crying this morning! I need to get some work done! Jeez! But thank you and I can’t wait to read more! :)

  24. Kathleen

    I purchased The Guide last month, and we have already seen an increase in sales in response to improving our pricing sheet and philosophy on booking the best clients! Thank you! Quick question: Where do you purchase your engraved holiday ornaments? Thank you! -Kathleen, JoPhoto, Knoxville, TN

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