Makayla Jade of The Harris Company shares how selling products and prints transformed her business, and she shares some tips for getting started with in-person sales in your own business.
Makayla Jade, co-owner of The Harris Company, developed a brand distinguished by providing an elevated photo and cinema client experience, propelling the company to reaching multiple six-figures and beyond in less than 3 years by serving a niche clientele that places a high value on printed products & photographic art. With a background in business consulting and marketing, paired with a passion for the creative industries, Makayla Jade has been featured in Rangefinder, fstoppers, and Click Magazines, sharing techniques involving business systems, brand marketing, and unique approach to educating clients about the importance of print and investing in heirlooms.
Her shining moment was the day she snatched her handsome husband David atop the peaks of the Berkshires and vowed to embark on a lifelong adventure of messy memories and worldwide travels.
Her biggest accomplishments are her two adorable kids, Blake the builder and Princess Lia who are the foundation of her why and the reasons for her craziness.
Follow Makayla: Website | Instagram | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest
You have to check out her… How to Find and Book More Dream Clients – Free Guide and 5-Day Challenge.
Show Sponsor: Showit – The website builder for photographers and creative entrepreneurs. Use the code BTBSHOW to save 10% on an annual subscription.
A note about the transcript: The interviews are transcribed by an online app, and there may be errors in the transcription. While we do our best to correct errors—especially those that may change the meaning of what a speaker was trying to say—we do not catch every error. Thus we ask that people refer back to the audio/video for quotes. Also, please refer back to the audio/video if something is not clear in transcript; however, if you are hearing impaired, feel free to email us for clarifications.
Makayla Jade: 00:08 … I can almost guarantee you there’s a giant percentage of them that still haven’t done anything with their images and for you to show up in their inbox and say like, ‘Hey, you know, I know you’ve been married almost a year over a year, but, let’s put together an album that’s going to be a huge weight off their shoulders and an easy sell for you because they know ‘I thought it would do it myself, but I did…’
Davey Jones: 00:35 Welcome to the Brands that Book Show – where we help creative businesses find more clients and build their brands. I’m your host, Davey Jones. Today’s guest is, Makayla Jade of the Harris Company. Makayla and her husband have developed a brand distinguished by providing an elevated photo and cinema client experience, which has propelled their company to reach multiple six figures in less than three years. These serve a niche clientele that places a high value on printed products and photographic art. She’s been featured in Range Finder, F Stoppers, Click Magazine, and today she sharing with us how you can effectively increase customer value through print and product sales, and a few tips for becoming better at in-person sales.
Davey Jones: 01:23 Allright. Awesome. Well thank you so much for joining us today. I know that you’ve been super busy. You’ve been traveling already here in the beginning of 2018. You were across on the west coast, right? For Mystic?
Makayla Jade: 01:23 Yeah, in Portland Oregon.
Davey Jones: 01:39 And you were speaking there. What were you speaking on there?
Makayla Jade: 01:42 I was talking about sales there, so print sales, virtual and in-person sales at that show. And that was awesome. It was, I was one of very few business talks, so it was very exciting for sure.
Davey Jones: 01:55 Yeah, that’s awesome. Well that’s perfect because that’s what we’re talking about today for sure. And then you were down in Tennessee, right? For Imaging?
Makayla Jade: 02:02 Yes. Yeah, that was awesome. Miller’s brought us down there to do some product photos for them. They rented out a really cool, Airbnb house that we able to use to shoot some products and stuff like that for their marketing, which is fun.
Davey Jones: 02:15 Yeah. Awesome. And you do a lot of work for Millers, right?
Makayla Jade: 02:18 Yeah, we do. I mean we use Millers as our primary lab, so we love to collaborate with them for sure.
Davey Jones: 02:25 Cool. And in the midst of all of that, you’re moving into a brand new studio?
Makayla Jade: 02:31 Yeah, we just moved in at the beginning of this month, so the walls are still bare, but we’re starting to get some furniture in, so that’s exciting. It’s nice to have a dedicated space downtown. So we’re excited.
Davey Jones: 02:44 Where are you guys located?
Makayla Jade: 02:45 We are in upstate New York in a town called Saratoga Springs, so it’s famous for horse racing. The track is here, so it’s kind of a summer town. A destination summer town.
Davey Jones: 03:00 And sre you having somebody move for you or are you guys doing it yourself?
Makayla Jade: 03:03 No, we did everything ourselves. I mean luckily we are coming from our home. We weren’t coming from another studio, so a lot of it is new, so a lot of it we’re just having delivered here, a lot of the furniture and stuff like that. We ordered all new sample products for our walls and stuff like that, so it’s all being delivered, but we had to take a few trips back and forth from our house to bring some of our stuff here too.
Davey Jones: 03:26 Sure. And I think that moving is probably the most miserable experience. I read somewhere that the biggest stresses in marriage are having kids, things like that, like stuff that you’d normally expect, but high up on that list is moving. How are you guys, how, how is it working together? First of all, I mean like I’m just thinking about me and Krista, we have, we definitely have our discussions as we work together. But moving I think is where we have some of our bigger arguments.
Makayla Jade: 04:05 Yeah, definitely. I think it’s just a stressful time to begin with. Especially because we’re ordering new stuff. And David and I joke that he hates more than anything to assemble furniture. It’s instantly a marital dispute, like something is going to happen without a doubt, but we also don’t want to pay for everything to come assembled. So it’s like a catch 22. You keep ordering all this furniture that has to be built and we’re spending so much time on it and it’s always an aggravated hour or two hours. Um, but we finally, we get it done, right?
Davey Jones: 04:41 Yeah, absolutely. And furniture of all things. We’re putting the other baby furniture right now and I don’t know who puts together these directions for these furniture companies with these pictures that are awful, but at least once, whenever I’m setting something up I have to go back take it apart and then reassemble it because I put on something backwards or something like that. So good luck to you all as you set up the rest of your studio.
Makayla Jade: 05:09 Thank you.
Davey Jones: 05:10 And I have so many questions too about just, you know, the studio and why you guys have a studio and all that. But before we get there, I wanna I wanna talk about how you guys even got started in videography and photography. How your business came to be, and then of course, you know, get into the good stuff around print and product sales and how you guys do that so effectively. So tell us a little bit about your business and how you got started.
Makayla Jade: 05:38 I started as a photographer when I picked up a camera because I wanted to learn how to take better photos of our kids. I was pregnant at the time and I wanted to blog for our family that we didn’t live close to. And so I started a blog just on my pregnancy story. And, there really wasn’t any other motivation other than that I just ended up really loving it. And occasionally some of my friends would ask me to take photos for them and it just kind of fell into something that I really enjoyed doing and I didn’t want to go back to a corporate career after having my first child. So I said to my husband, David, ‘hey, what do we have to do to make this work so that I don’t actually have to go back to a corporate career and provide childcare for our son’, – our newborn at the time. And, and so that’s kind of when the business side of things started to kick in – just trying to make whatever I needed to make in order to get through month by month. So I didn’t start out with these big aspirations to be owning a studio in downtown area or any of that. Or having my husband come full time. It really just started out not wanting to pay for professional photos of my own family. So I figured out, Hey, let me do it myself, myself. And then, the business side of things just really took off. And I had a huge passion for growing the business and so that’s kind of what allowed us to grow pretty quickly. We were shooting weddings and David was just a second shooter with me at the time and we started getting requests for like, ‘Hey, could you think you could do video?’ We’re like, sure.
Davey Jones: 07:20 What were you guys doing before that? So, before you started, like what was your corporate job?
Makayla Jade: 07:26 So I was a business consultant and I worked for Subway restaurants as a field consultant for them.
Davey Jones: 07:36 That was my very first job – not on the corporate side though. I was just making sandwiches back in freshman year of high school.
Makayla Jade: 07:39 That’s amazing. Ultimate Sandwich artist, right? Yeah. So that, that’s what I was doing. I was doing business consulting for them and David was in the financial world. He was a portfolio analyst for a French bank in downtown Boston and he loved what he was doing and so he would just work with me on the side. So on weekends, you know, before we got super busy with our kids, we would go and shoot weddings and my parents would help out. We started getting requests for video and so we decided to learn that and so David took on the video role and I started doing photography and we would shoot weddings together that way. And then it just kind of grew from there. We started getting more interest and eventually he came full time with us as well.
Davey Jones: 08:29 So how did you make that decision for him to come full time? We get that question a lot, with husband and wife teams and they’re trying to bring the second person on full time. Did you guys set any goals even for you leaving your corporate job before you did that? And then certainly before, David left his job, did you have certain markers in place where you’re like, OK, now we can definitely support the both of us in this business?
Makayla Jade: 08:56 Yeah. You know, we didn’t. I mean, looking back on it, it’s probably, it probably would have been smarter to do it that way, but um, we didn’t have any financial benchmarks or anything like that that we needed to meet before, before it felt right. I think it was just, it had become so stressful on us and our family to have him working all day and then editing at night and then shooting on the weekends that we just got to a point where like, this isn’t feasible anymore, we can’t do this.
Davey Jones: 09:26 I know we felt the same pressure. I was teaching at the time and Krista had already taken the photography business full time. And so one year I decided, you know, I was going to try to both teach and help Krista more with the business and it really was, you know, to a certain extent, a miserable year just in that, you know, at the end of a long work week you don’t want to go and do more work. There needs to be some, rest component in there. And the other thing too that I found was that with a second person you could theoretically do more. You know, you could book more, but you can’t really make that leap until you commit full time. So I think there is a component of trust that, once you leave whatever job you’re coming from that this will work out. So as you get started your business, what were some of the biggest challenges early on?
Makayla Jade: 10:25 This is kind of a common, a common challenge for everyone when you’re first starting out and you’re looking for clients, right? You just don’t have enough clients. And so that was definitely me. I mean, outside of like my family who didn’t want to pay me anyways, I could not find people to photograph. And so I was doing a little bit of everything, right? I was shooting absolutely anything for anyone that would offer me payment. And I think that was a little bit of a disservice because while it did allow me to figure out what style of photography I enjoyed most, it didn’t allow me to really hone in on a system for anything in particular. And so I wasn’t serving my clients in a way that was good for them or good for my business.
Makayla Jade: 11:19 Once we decided to niche down serve wedding clients that place a high value on photographic art, we really were able to resonate with the right fit. And then in turn we were able serve them on a higher level and establish a brand that was centered around that particular service. And so it really elevated our business when we actually started saying no to other other projects.
Davey Jones: 11:46 Sure. So you really just trying to focus on the kind of work that you wanted to continue doing. And you built this business in Boston right? And then you’ve moved it successfully to Saratoga Springs, which is fascinating – especially with a service based business like photography or videography. Word of mouth is certainly a component, but even like other things like search engine optimization and social media, like you’re really, I’m sorry, you’re really focused on serving people in a specific area. So do you come up and move, you know, especially with your family. Could you talk about what made that transition possible and so successful?
Makayla Jade: 12:28 Yeah, I mean there was a lot riding on it because David’s full time job was in Boston and so we would be up rooting our family and our business and our security essentially. So, when we were moving to a smaller town, now the cost of living was quite a bit lower so we were able to finally get this, you know, single family home that we wanted, but at the same time we were kind of thinking, well, if we can’t pay our mortgage, that doesn’t really matter. Right. So we were very strategic about, networking and moving into a new town by basically putting absolutely everyone first. I know it’s kind of like an industry term that the dream 100 to kind of put together your list of 25, 50 a hundred people that are currently serving your audience, the audience that you desire to serve.
Makayla Jade: 13:23 And so we started doing that. We started writing down all the prominent people in the area that we were moving to, that were already serving our ideal clients and we thought about all the ways that we could offer value to them. To open that relationship and asking them to allow us into their world. And so for a year we did free work for promotional videos or headshots or photographs for florists, collaborative events, things like that. Just kind of putting ourselves at the disposal of the industry that we were moving into. It allowed us to establish friendships and relationships with those people. And those relationships grew into referrals and a really solid network, which ultimately, I mean, I think is what we can contribute our success in this area too. Because especially in a small town, you can’t just show up as the new guy and start, you know, booking everyone on it. So that was the only strategy that really allowed us to grow so quickly in a brand new town.
Davey Jones: 14:33 Yeah. We talked to, people, especially military couples, I feel like we talk with a decent amount and people who are moving every couple years and in the context that we’re talking to them, it’s often in, in terms of SEO and trying to build SEO in the area you’re moving to. But at the end of the day I think that there’s nothing that replaces what you’re talking about. Really going out and hustling and making those relationships and creating friendships in the area that you were going. And even if you’re just getting started in an area, you know, I think that is probably one of the best strategies that you can take. So that’s awesome. So last year, right, was your first year a full year in Saratoga?
Makayla Jade: 15:16 Two years ago, was our first full year.
Davey Jones: 15:19 And how many, how many weddings did you all work that first year?
Makayla Jade: 15:28 We hadn’t made the decision to move to Saratoga Springs like a year in advance. I think it was like in six months we were like, OK, let’s move to Saratoga, let’s close on a house. Then we were uprooting our business. It was very quick. So a lot of our clients were still back in the Boston area because they had booked us a year and a half in advance so that first summer was a lot of traveling back and forth to Boston. But we were doing that initially with our kids anyways. Um, my family is from this area so we would be dropping our kids off then going back to New England to shoot and then coming back to the area to pick them up. And so this was easier because it was less time in the car for them, which was really nice. But I would say that first year we had, we still had about 20 weddings.
Makayla Jade: 16:11 A lot of them were back in the Boston area. We try to cap ourselves to about 25 or less per year and the following year. So last summer we are, this past summer we were at 25 and an additional, I think eight that were just video clients. So we had 33 weddings total and it was our busiest year in a brand new town. So it was, it was pretty exciting and we not only were we able to sustain the pricing that we had in a big metro area, but we were also able to increase our pricing. So I’ve heard it wasn’t something we thought we’d be able to, to manage, but it worked out really, really well.
Davey Jones: 16:51 And, that’s what I want to move into is talking about pricing with you guys. And you know, print and product sales. So I think in total, the trend has been more “shoot and share” – the philosophy. So the idea is you, you have a couple of collections people book that collection and then they kinda, they just get all of the photos, all the edited photos. Right. I would say that that’s pretty typical that before that shift started happening in the industry that it was much more common to have a sitting fee or have a session fee and then to sell prints and products on top of that. And I think the pendulum is swinging back in that direction for sure. But then there’s people like you all, who have been doing that the entire time – successfully. And I think people get nervous about selling prints and products because they think, man, I’m, you know, I’m charging so much for my service to begin with how I justify charging anything more to sell prints and products? But you guys have done that so effectively. So can you talk about your pricing strategy and if from the beginning, did you all include a prints and products in your pricing?
Makayla Jade: 18:06 Yeah. So, I mean, everything that you’re talking about, everything from like the fear of, of selling to um, you know, the pricing aspect or like those were all things that we struggled with as well. When I first started my business, I didn’t have a huge client base. I wasn’t a high volume photographer. I wasn’t even shooting. I mean I wasn’t busy, right? I needed to make more [money] because I didn’t want to go back to the corporate world. So I thought well maybe, if I could make more per client, I wouldn’t have to spend as much time away from my kids. At that point I wasn’t experienced enough to charge a higher rate for my services. So I thought, well maybe this is a great way to supplement my income and make the amount I needed to.
Makayla Jade: 18:50 And initially when I first started dipping my toes in the water, it was like, well, I mean anything would be better than nothing. Right? So even if I have a $200 sale or a $500 sale, like, that’s better than nothing. So I set my expectations very low and was just kind of like, OK, if I can just make a little bit more, that’ll be good. And I think, you know, my first sale, I offered an album that I had printed up as a sample. So I didn’t have anything else to show them other, other than what I had just printed for them in hopes that they would buy it. And it was like an $800 sale, which doesn’t sound like a lot now. But at the time I was ecstatic, it was an extra $800 when they probably paid $1000 to $2000 to shoot their wedding.
Makayla Jade: 19:40 I was just starting out. And so that sale was a huge light bulb for me. It was kind of like, well, if I could do this, I could get faster with my album designs or I could sell more next time or I could offer them this or I could’ve said this, and you start kind of tweaking your system, just like when you’re learning to be a photographer, right? You try and do something better each time. It kind of became an addiction because I wanted to learn how to communicate the value of these products better. I wanted to learn how to listen to my clients better to actually provide them with solutions that were meaningful. And I also wanted to grow my sales. I mean, I was in business, so I also wanted to see a return on the profit side as well. So it started out very small. It wasn’t anything crazy, but from there it was just kind of like each time I started to get better and better at it.
Davey Jones: 20:36 Yeah. And I mean, that’s, that’s incredible. You’ve almost doubled that customer’s value just in that one album sales sitting there. So I’m sure that was back then a huge win for you. When you first got started, did you have anybody that you were kind of looking to learn this stuff? Or was this stuff that you brought over from your corporate job? Just that sense that, hey, you know, I can either become more profitable by trying to book more clients or I can, um, you know, increase the value of that customer.
Makayla Jade: 21:10 I mean, so it was in 2012 when I started doing in-person sales and there were certainly people in the industry that we’re doing it. A lot of it was around portrait portrait sales, but I think I had attended a workshop from Sal Cincotta and he was talking about print sales and things like that. And it just, you know, you hear about the potential and you just roll your eyes, right? Because you’re like, there’s just no way, like whatever, you know. And, and so that was me in those seats and I’m like, OK, that works for him because he’s this amazing, insanely talented photographer and I just never thought that it could work for me, but I really wasn’t in a position where I had any other option. It was either go back to work and spend time away from my newborn son or figure out how to make more money in this photography thing.
Makayla Jade: 22:02 And so that’s kind of where I was like, well, I just needed to, to rationalize with myself. I knew that there were certain ways of doing this and it didn’t feel right. I knew that sales mentality meant being pushy pushy collections and discounts. It just didn’t feel me. It didn’t feel right to me, but I knew that if the potential is there on such a wide scale that all these people are talking about making thousands of dollars more per client. If I could make just a couple of hundred dollars more per client, that would be great. Right. So I just took it, you know, and tried to adapt it more to fit my personality. And see, well I know that this client would love to have an album, so let me make a small album and this is what I would have to charge them and start off.
Makayla Jade: 22:48 And I think, you know, when you talk about pricing and other educators on the in-person sales market, I think this is one of the things that so many people education wise make a huge mistake on. Um, you know, there’s like all these industry standards of like, you need to charge this or you should make this profit margin. But the reality is in a creative industry where none of us are insane, crazy business owners, it’s so scary to tell your clients for the first time what you want to charge. And so if you’re, if you’re learning, in-person sales and someone’s telling you you have to charge x amount for what you’re offering and that doesn’t feel right to you and you’re not confident in the value of that item, you’re never going to be able to sell it. So if you don’t believe in what you’re offering and you’re trying to charge more than you feel it’s worth, it’s you’re, you’re just setting yourself up for failure.
Makayla Jade: 23:38 So I almost recommend like do the math, figure out what you need to make on these products so that it makes sense and you can be confident in what you need to charge, but don’t listen to everyone else saying you need to charge this, this, this, and this. Because if you’re new to sales and you go into a sales room and you are presenting someone with a product that you feel is way over priced, it’s going to show so easily. You’re clients are going to be able to read right through you. You’re going to look like a car salesman and you’re going to fail and then you’re going to be afraid of sales. So if it’s just a matter of like, Hey, this time I’m going to charge, this is what I feel like I need to charge. I’m going to go in and maybe this year I see how that feels and see what, what, what I can sell. And next year I realized I need to bump my pricing, then fine, make those adjustments. But if you don’t allow yourself that wiggle room to get comfortable and get competent with your sales, it’s just gonna. It’s going be a mass.
Davey Jones: 24:33 I bet that is so liberating for people to hear right now, especially people who are just thinking about. Or maybe you’ve never thought about doing in-person sales or product sales or anything like that in the photography business or you know, their, their creative business. How did you decide…
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New Speaker: 26:06 How did you decide what products to offer?
Makayla Jade: 26:14 I offered what I liked. I mean it was very simple and maybe a little bit selfish, but I offered what I would use in my own home or with my own family. I thought about things would be simple, so I didn’t want to offer a ton of customization because at the time I didn’t, I couldn’t learn them all. I couldn’t learn all the options, but I also thought, well, if I, if this is overwhelming to me, then it’s going to be really overwhelming to my client. So let me just hone in on a few solid items that I feel my would look really well in and just offer that. And I think that by providing simple solutions, it’s actually better for sales because you’re not bombarding the client with a bunch of different options. And now just with a few questions of asking my clients what they feel they want in their home, I’m able to provide them with one or two solutions that would be a good fit. And so when you can simplify it in that way, you’re a lot more likely to close the sale because you’re not providing them with a million different options and overwhelming them.
Davey Jones: 27:17 So what does your process look like? You know, you send out your pricing and I’m sure you have sort of a set fee, you know, so that you show up to the wedding or whatever that collection amount might be. But then beyond that, do they know like, Hey, I’m only going to get you give away any of the photos or do a certain amount of photos come with each of the collections? Or do they get all the digital files? How has that stuff all broken down?
Makayla Jade: 27:44 This is going to be personal preference, like when you’re setting up your business, but in what really feels right to you. But I think more than anything, whatever you decide, you have to be 100 percent transparent right from the beginning before they book. I think so many people are guilty of, and I’m guilty of this myself, of saying like, oh, well if they don’t ask about the print pricing, I won’t tell them until afterwards because I’m afraid they won’t book me. But the problem with that is, you’re just prolonging the inevitable. It’s going to be this really awkward conversation. And so it’s better to be 100 percent transparent with your process and your pricing upfront before they even make a final decision so that way you know, you if, if it’s something where they have zero desire to have a wedding album or are they hate the idea of putting pictures of themselves on their walls – all of that needs to be cleared from the beginning because the worst thing that could happen is, you know, they end up booking you and you have these expectations that they’re going to invest all this money into printed product and then you invite them into your studio and they’re like totally on a whole totally different mindset.
Makayla Jade: 28:48 Right? And then it’s really awkward and now you’ve created this animosity in your relationship that is only going to perpetuate terrible referrals. So 100 percent transparency has always been the most successful approach. But for us with weddings, I think it’s another misconception that you can’t do in-person sales if you’re giving away the digital files. Our business contradicts that statement. As a married couple, we wanted to have digital files, just for security reason, but we also value the quality and the sanctity of those moments and want to have them printed professionally and done well. You can absolutely find clients that are willing to invest more in high quality product and the experience. We were joking briefly about Ikea furniture and building stuff and there are times when I would much rather pay for someone to come in and fully install everything for me if it just saves me a little bit of time. And that’s essentially exactly what you’re doing when you’re specializing in that full service. Of course those clients can go to Costco or Groupon and do all the work themselves or Shutterfly or whatever else is out there. But sometimes they just want someone to do it better and do it well and do it for them. And, and that’s the position that you’re putting yourself in when you choose this, this type of business model.
Davey Jones: 30:16 Yeah, for sure. And I think when you think about just the things that you purchase, a lot of those things you could do yourself, you know, we could do so much on our own, but we don’t, you know, and the truth is that we want to go and find somebody that will provide that service better than what we would do ourself or you know, that would save us time. And I imagine, you know, just by being upfront about your pricing and your products, if someone says, Hey, I’m not interested in ever printing my photos, I would, I would assume that that’s a sort of a red flag to you all. And it’s probably not an ideal client, you know, even beyond them not paying you more money even beyond the profit aspect of it. I got to imagine that that’s just not the kind of client that you would prefer to work with because you would prefer to work with somebody who does value art and cherishing that memory beyond just the digital file.
Makayla Jade: 31:11 Yeah, I think it’s interesting because those types of conversations are what a lot of photographers fear. Someone saying that they’re not interested in any of that. They just want the digitals and I think it’s what keeps a lot of photographers from choosing to offer printed product – especially in weddings. But I think it’s a really awesome opportunity to open up a discussion that, otherwise we kind of ignore, right? There are so many online blogs that are telling brides, just make sure you get the high resolution files or like the rights to the image. There is a lot of misinformation out there and that’s all they know. That’s all they’re hearing. So that’s what they’re going to ask for when they come to you. But if you take that as an opportunity to just really ask why and figure out, OK, I understand that this is what you want, but why do you want these things?
Makayla Jade: 32:00 Why is it important? Because ultimately we’ve found so many times, someone would come into our studio and say “we don’t really need all the extras, we’ll do that later on”. And, and really what it comes down to is, that’s not actually what they want, that’s what they think they want. But when you start talking to them about like how they want to relive these memories and what they want to do with these photos and, and we’re able to show them, you know, the alternatives, sometimes it’s like a little light bulb for them as well. I really believe that ideal clients are not necessarily just found, sometimes they’re created. Sometimes you have the opportunity in front of you opportunity to have someone that’s never had a professional photographic experience before and they don’t know what an album design entails. And so in their head, maybe they think like, “There’s no way I could afford it. So I don’t want it now.” And really it’s our job as photographers to kind of understand that and listen to them, but also say, hey, you know, I’ve also been in those shoes before and I wish someone would’ve told me to hire a photographer that would have done all this for me because I still don’t have a wedding album, you know, that type of thing.
Davey Jones: 33:12 Yeah, that’s such a great insight around educating clients because especially when it comes to weddings, they probably haven’t done it before. They’re probably getting married for the first time. And so I just, I think that’s such a great insight around the importance of educating clients, and just around the idea of ideal clients as well. I think in many ways, some of that conversation is overblown in our industry, especially when you’re first getting started. You know, sometimes it’s just working with people to figure out and you might figure out, you might think, OK, this person’s not an ideal client, but then by the end of it, you know, I love that kind of client or you know, as you said, it’s an opportunity to make an ideal client through education. That’s great. So, when you move on to, so moving back to product and print sales when you’re actually doing the selling. Do you sit down with people afterwards? I know you have a studio now, but it’s at one point you didn’t right. There was a transitional period where you didn’t have a studio. So how did you do in-person sales without necessarily being in person?
Makayla Jade: 34:25 Even still we, you know, we have a physical location now, but the majority of our clients come from larger metro areas and get married in our hometown because they either grew up here or their families would come here during the summer or it’s just kind of a middle ground for people from Boston and New York. It’s like this nice little destination hub. And so about eighty percent of our current clients do not live locally. They live at least like three hours away.
Davey Jones: 34:52 So for them, you’re probably meeting online or something like that.
Makayla Jade: 34:59 Yeah we do a lot of online metings. We do virtual sales sessions like this where I’ll hop on a zoom, we use zoom to do screen share and um, you know, they’ll see products in the background and they’re able to kind of see what some of that stuff looks like. I’m able to show them, walk them through some of the products and I can screen share. We use Fundy Designer to just kind of go through the entire sales process from the album predesigned through the wall galleries that we’ve put together for them and help them pick out exactly what they want to walk away with. And so it’s very easy to do it that way and still have that flexibility for the client where they don’t have to travel in person.
Davey Jones: 35:38 So Zoom and Fundy, we’ll include that in the show notes so that people can access that. The products when you show them, are they clients pictures in those products? Or are they a sample couple maybe that you shot a long time ago?
Makayla Jade: 35:54 Yeah. So when we have them in person, obviously we have physical sample products available and I think anytime you can have someone hold those items, it’s a lot more effective than doing things in just a picture online. So when you are doing virtual sales, it’s really important to make sure that those clients are seeing that tangible product throughout the entire process all the time, being reminded about that. And the nice thing with Fundy is you can actually do mock ups and show them their exact pictures inside rooms. Or we do the whole album pre-design where we can walk them through the album, their own images and all of that. So yes, it is their own images that we are mocking up for them virtually.
Davey Jones: 36:36 OK. So they are virtual items, so you haven’t actually had to purchase an album to show them physically. And Fundy has all those tools built in so you can mock up, frames with pictures in them or the albums, things like that.
Makayla Jade: 36:53 Yeah, exactly. You can choose your lab and I’m right in the software or you can even order direct through certain labs right in the software. And so it’s super easy. I mean, in terms of all that’s out there in for affordability in the effectiveness with sales, if you’re hesitant about the technology behind all this, this is absolutely the easiest, simplest, most affordable option. It’s super great. It allows you to do everything start to finish with this sale and with your clients and not have anyone get overwhelmed because it’s all in one place. So we really enjoy using it.
Davey Jones: 37:30 So for somebody who, you know, they’re, they’ve been nervous just listening to this, this episode, but all of this sounds incredible. You know, the idea that you could make a couple thousand extra dollars per client through in-person sales. Somebody who wants to try this out, know, do you have any advice or strategies that they can implement, you know to become better in person, salesman or saleswomen?
Makayla Jade: 37:57 There’s probably a million pieces of advice that I could give myself if I look back on my trajectory with learning and fumbling over sales, but the reality is if you don’t start, if you don’t just try, then you’re never going to have the opportunity to tell yourself those things. So if you’re on the fence about diving in, just try. Just start. I mean, it doesn’t. Even if it’s something as simple as reaching out to a past client and just saying, hey, you know, we started offering albums to our clients and it’s really beautiful to see these images in print. I’d love to put together a pre-design for you. If you want to come in, we could meet up online and I can show it to you because the reality is you start doing that for every client, even past clients that just had a digital gallery. I can almost guarantee you there’s a giant percentage of them that still haven’t done anything with their images. For you to show up in their inbox and say like, “Hey, you know, I know you’ve been married almost a year over a year, but let’s put together an album,” that’s going to be a huge weight off their shoulders and an easy sell for you because they know, I thought I would do it myself, but I didn’t.
Davey Jones: 39:05 So do you find that when you sell albums to your couples that it often turns into parent albums and other products? And when you ask about whether people want to see them do you lead with one product and then try to sell them other products during the meeting? Do you have any tips for making this not as overwhelming sounding to the client?
Makayla Jade: 39:30 Yeah. So I can tell you what works for us. I think again, it’s gonna depend on what you feel works best in your business. But we do include an album in every one of our wedding collections because it is our highest revenue generating item. So I believe that if you’re going to build out collections, make sure you have some revenue generating items in there and that is our number one revenue-generating item – including the beginning of that album. So we include a 15 page spread album in every collection and it’s a sweet spot because it’s easier for people who come in and say, know, I don’t think we really need a huge robust album – this is a great solution. It’s a very basic album. It’s just 30 pages at least then, you know, you’ll walk away with something and then it’s also a great starting point for people who do want a bigger album. They know, OK, I can upgrade it later on, I’m going to start to plan for those investments. And so it’s a really great sweet spot spot to start with that and every collection because it opens up the conversation. And then from there, I mean we pre-design and album anywhere from a hundred to 300 images in that pre-design to show them and then we narrow it down with them in person or virtually.
Davey Jones: 40:44 When you pre-design that album, how often do people decide to go with more photos than what initially comes in their collection?
Makayla Jade: 40:53 Like 99 percent of the time. I think I’ve had one client this year that was like, no, we really just want to stick with what we already paid for and sure, that happens. But on average you’re bringing in what, $4,000 in upgrades. So taking one client that doesn’t want to is you’re going to have that. It’s going to happen. But when you show someone their story beautifully with music and the album design all put together for them, you can’t say no because it’s beautiful and they know that more than anything years from now, that’s what they’re going to want. So when you start having those conversations with them up and then by the time you get there after the wedding, they’ll pay for it, and they know that that’s important to them and they want to invest in that.
Davey Jones: 41:43 Yeah. I just read an interesting book and it’s a new book by Daniel Pink and it’s called “When” it’s really more about productivity and things like that. But, one thing that he mentions is that people tend to underestimate how much they’re going to value a memory. So essentially these people were asked to put together something in a time capsule and their asked how excited they think they would be in six months to see what was inside that time capsule and what they found was when it actually came around to looking into the time capsule that they were much more excited to look than what they initially thought. And I think the same thing is true for photos, especially for guys. We find that guys aren’t quite as excited for things like engagement sessions – which is something that we push really hard.
Davey Jones: 42:25 But at the end of the day people are really glad that they did things like that. They were really glad that they got albums and they have those photos printed. And I think from a value perspective, I know you touched on this a little bit earlier, I think if we don’t push clients to actually print their photos that oftentimes they just don’t think we are adding value in encouraging them get prints and to get albums. And like you mentioned as well, if they go to Costco and do it or they go to Walgreens, there’s a good chance they’re gonna press a color correction button or something, and they’re just not going to get the same quality as what they see online. As a result of album and product sales, just last year you did over $500,000 in print and product sales, right?
Makayla Jade: 43:27 Well, we did about $180,000 in just print and product sales. And over $500,000 with everything together. So yeah, I the profit potential is really amazing and more than anything, this year we were really proud of our per client average. We average two and a half albums per client. And so that was a goal we were trying to get past. We have a lot of parents that come in and, you were mentioning knowing that value, and that’s huge for us with parents because they have been there before. They know that they know the value in having the album and reliving those memories. And for us, being able to open up that dialogue with them and have them weigh in on the couple getting the album and has drastically helped our sales as well. And so for the first time this year we were able to start utilizing that profit and giving back in a much bigger way. That was a really huge benchmark for us because being a small business, it’s great when you can support yourself and your family, but it’s, it’s even more rewarding when you’re able to start really giving back in a bigger way as a result of what you’re doing with your business.
Davey Jones: 44:47 Yeah, I mean, that’s incredible – just making $180,000 in print sales alone. That’s what a lot of people hope to make in a year. So I think there’s just incredible opportunity there and I do think that it enhances the customer’s experience when you do that well. So if people want to learn more, and I know that you have some education around this topic, so if people want to learn more from you, where can they go?
Makayla Jade: 45:21 So we offer a few free resources on our education site. Uh, it’s just http://education.theharrisco.com. You can find some of our free tools there. We do have some paid programming if you’re looking to really dive in and learn absolutely everything you can about in-person sales or personal print sales. We also have that as well, on my Instagram page. I post a lot of tips and things like that surrounding sales for business owners in general, so not just to geared towards prints, but even if you’re not ready to 100 percent dive in on the print side of things and you just need some help booking clients or getting around navigating the awkwardness of sales, you can follow me there as well.
Davey Jones: 46:05 And I’ll tell you anytime I’m thinking about it, you know, and so Krista and I both try to do things each year just to grow and learn. But one of the main questions we ask ourselves is, ROI. What is the return? If I take this course, if I read this book, if I go to this conference, what’s the return I’m going to get on doing that? And I think with print and product sales and in-person sales, the kind of stuff that you have to offer, the ROI is in the same. So I would encourage people to, at the very least, check out those free resources. But if you are interested in a business model like The Harris’ have set up, you should go and you should check out, some of their paid a options as well. So, thank you so much for joining us today. I know that you are a super busy. I mean we’re barely through the first month of the year and you were at two different conferences and you’re moving into a studio. Are you speaking anywhere else this year that people might be able to catch you?
Makayla Jade: 47:09 Yeah, I am. I will be at WPPI. I’m actually doing a master class on authentic in-person sales, it’s perfect for those of you that don’t want to come off as a car salesman but still want to be able to provide an elevated service to your clients. And that’s an awesome class. You can find me there. And then after that we do have a few conferences that we’re planning on attending. We’re looking at doing some more smaller intimate workshops surrounding those conferences as well as some intimate stuff here in our studio so that way we can work a little bit more hands on with a smaller group and help adapt some of those sales strategies to their own businesses.
Davey Jones: 47:51 And how many Iron Man’s is Dave going to run this year? I think last time we talked to you, you hot to decide the location?
Makayla Jade: 47:57 I think that’s probably why we still don’t have one on the calendar because it’s been up to me. Yeah, we have not decided on that, but I’m not sure where we’ve been looking at different countries. I want to kind of take it out of the country and he loves, absolutely loves doing the Iron Man, but it’s a huge commitment for him and for our business.
Davey Jones: 48:21 Marathon might be on my bucket list, you know, I can’t even imagine, you know, the mental step up that you would have to tasted it to dedicate yourself to, um, participating in an iron man competition.
Makayla Jade: 48:32 And quite frankly, the definition of insanity. I mean, I see some of these people and I just, I’m just, I’m floored. It’s just insane what you put your body through, but um, it’s a really cool experience and um, you know, it’s fun to see how much he enjoys it despite all the training and everything else.
Davey Jones: 48:49 Yeah, I mean just the amount of time and with all the stuff you guys have going on, that’s just impressive. Well thank you so much. I’m sure if you have a workshop or anything like that, let me know and I’ll be sure to share in the show notes.
Davey Jones: 49:05 OK, awesome. Thank you. And thanks for tuning into the brains at book show. To stay up-to-date with the latest episodes and make sure you hit the subscribe button.
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