The Importance of the Investment Menu for 'In-Person Sales'

The Importance of the Investment Menu for 'In-Person Sales'

If you are running a luxury photography studio but have not starting using in-person sales (IPS) you may be leaving money on the table. The investment menu is key to having a fluid sales session. But did you know the importance of where you place the collections on the menu? 

Every restaurant owner knows the importance of a well thought out menu from the style down to the small details. Photographers also have a menu, whether you display it in the studio or email your clients the list of prices. Each year my studio reanalyzes how the menu for albums, collections, and wall art performed the year before in order to re-structure if needed. While we do not spend weeks on this project, it is still an important task for the growing company. Knowing which items were bought the most, which types of wall art were rarely purchased, or even which full collections were neglected is key for the company to design a better menu for the following year to suite my clients' needs. Profitability and popularity are the two main components we look at when redesigning a menu. 

The Design 

Readability will be the first item a client will notice when looking over your menu. Is the font a script that makes it hard to follow? Is it just a piece of paper? Does it have a luxury feel as if they were in a high end boutique? These design components will be the first impact they will notice when you hand them your menu. In the studio I carry four menus printed on fine art paper placed on a 8.5" x 11" brushed finish bi-fold. I have purchased mine through a fellow photographer Sue Bruce who buys in bulk from a restaurant menu company. Two are for boudoir and two for the underwater Aqua studio. I carry two per brand for a simple reason: I only offer certain products with the underwater to keep it exclusive. 

The boudoir menus consist of one menu for the à la carte items such as wall art and standalone albums. The second is where the full collections are placed. The reasoning behind the two menus is to alleviate overload of items on one menu making the font smaller. The other is that each includes the session, makeup, one album, some digitals, and wall art depending solely on the images' qualities. Remember we are selling the images, not the medium it was printed on. This is key to have the clients choose a collection over à la carte in that they feel the ease of not having to piece together a collection themselves, it is already done for them. 

For example, the lowest collection contains a small album with nine images, the same corresponding digitals, and a credit for a wall art size of their choosing. Since the start of using these IPS menus, I have only had a small handful of clients in 12 years chose à la carte. Everyone prefers the simplicity of the collections. 

Another factor are the colors. Try to keep your brand consistent for the overall experience. In the studio, the boudoir design consists of rose gold and black, whereas the Aqua portion for underwater sticks to aqua blue and white. Not only does this work for the menu, but also keeps these colors consistent when you add client gifts at the delivery of their orders. 

Knowing What to Add

Knowing what items to place on your menu is all about your brand and trends. Staying ahead of the trends and never falling behind will help maintain your company as a luxury brand. Choose a few items not seen in many other surrounding companies. I chose a scroll album and tapestries from Jonathan Penney Studios for those clients who love the old world painterly feel in their portraits. The are a huge hit with the underwater clients.

 

The Placement

When it comes to your menu, you have a very limited amount of your client's undivided attention. Unorganized menus will decrease the the likelihood of having the client in the right collection for them and yourself as the artist. 

Whether your clients realize it or not, they are looking at the pricing menu the same way in which they would at a restaurant when ordering food. Next time you are in a restaurant take notice where you scan first. Studies have shown the first is the right side, then left, and then back to the top of the right page. By the time a person gets down to the bottom left their focus has faded. Place the lead collection where the profit is the highest on the top right page. The middle right is where is the best place for the collection that most purchase, and the bottom is the collection with the minimum where you can maintain the business expenses. 

Every January we analyze last years menu and find what performed the best and the worst. We explore how it is worded and what can be changed. This year the wording on the header image will be changed. My rule of thumb is if more than five clients ask for an explanation during the previous year, we change how the text is read. Whether it is the font, the verbiage, or even the layout. Redesigns help profit margins each year simply by listening to the clients' questions. 

With the new year there will also be certain changes in what is offered. Last year the bottom right collection sold only 17% of the total sales. It will be removed and the middle collection will be moved down allowing for a collection with a larger print credit to take the top right leads place. Before this was done, I ask the VIP Facebook group to ask what they would like to see on the menu. The top need was for a collection that contained all digital images. While normally most would never want to put an all inclusive option, pricing it accordingly and at a much higher price point than all other collections was key. Before we even reprinted, the new option sold five times in two weeks just by allowing the VIP group first access to this option. 

Another thing to consider is your pricing. Going off this menu, or buying a menu option from other photographers will not benefit you if your circumstances are not exactly the same. Each area handles different price points in various ways, so make sure to put yourself in a position of pricing that benefits you and your client. 

If you have anything that worked great for your IPS menu feel free to share here in the comments. Questions about it are always welcomed! 

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16 Comments

Jason Flynn's picture

Using the term “investment” to describe purchase pricing will unnecessarily add friction and resentment to the sales process, at least in the English speaking western world.

Jennifer Tallerico's picture

I have used this term for 12 years and so far never had any issues. But I am sure it doesn't work for everyone. Majority of boudoir photographers I know use the word investment over pricing on our sites. But thank you for the comment--this might help some other folks if they notice issues with using the term.

Lee Christiansen's picture

Not really. In the UK it is a term often used by photographers for pricing on weddings, portraiture and prints.

These items are often a long term purchase which will be enjoyed for many years. I often describe my albums as an heirloom rather than just an album. Often the terms we use are to emphasise the value of something beyond the material.

Michael Kormos's picture

The term is commonly used in mid to upper-tier sales.

Pretentiously used. It's a price list...

Jeff Walsh's picture

I don't know if it adds friction, but I do know that it is a word thrown around nearly constantly in sales, and has lost nearly all value in p2p interaction. You know what people hate? To be sold something, especially a lie. Unless you have a proven track-record where your work grows in value steadily, and consistently, over long periods of time, your work is not an investment for someone. People invest to see returns, whether it's money or time, an investment is expected to grow in value.

If your work does that, great, it's an investment for buyers. If it doesn't, or you can't prove it will, then using the word investment makes you look foolish. It shows that you are pretentiously using a term to try and add zeros to the end of your price-tag without the justification of doing so.

Call your work what it is. If it grows in value, and you know it will, and can prove it: investment. If not, then it's not an investment. It has a cost, it even has a value determined by the market, but it is not an investment until you can prove a return.

Motti Bembaron's picture

True. Investing in a Monet or Picasso is truly an investment. Our work is an expense that some are willing to dish out and some do not.

Michael Dougherty's picture

I've invested in a lot of photo gear over the years and it definitely doesn't gain in value. (tongue & cheek comment)

Lee Christiansen's picture

Well Jeff... I've made investments that have not grown much financially - but they were still investments.

And we invest in things that are not always financial. We invest in our families, we invest in our education of ourselves, we invest in keeping memories, we invest in our health.

So yes, if we have a wonderful portrait that will continue to give enjoyment over many years by hanging it on our wall - that is an investment in adding to our quality of life.

Not everything has to have a £££ value.

Jeff Walsh's picture

Just because they didnt grow doesn't mean that wasn't the expectation. You made those investments with the idea they would likely grow. Also, whether its financial or other, you still invest with the intent to grow. You invest in family to grow the bonds and relationships futher. You invest in health to avoid sickenss and extend life.

When it comes to a photo, if you are selling it as an investment, you MUST attach some form of growth to it, otherwise it simply isn't an investment. By it's very definition of the word it must grow to be an investment.

Sure, you can try and sell your photo as an investment to life quality, but again, how is your photo growing their quality of life, and also, good luck with that sell.

Kirk Darling's picture

It's always sounded pretentious to me, particularly in print. I think it works as part of an overall sales pitch where the photographer has been consistently using it in emotional rather than financial terms.

Kirk Darling's picture

Although I agreed that the use of the word "investment" is pretentious, I think Jennifer's ideas here are very good, and I'll look into incorporating some of her suggestions here.

Jennifer Tallerico's picture

thank you for your comment! With boudoir as my specialty I feel the investment is the perfect word that fits for my studio. But I am glad you can extract the suggestions regardless of the term!

Kirk Darling's picture

I have already ordered a couple of menu folders.

I feel, with a brief explanation, the term "investment" can be very appropriate. My 30th wedding anniversary will be this June. In recent years, I have gone back to those wedding photos many more times than I did in the early years. I have lost aunts, uncles, and cousins, all of whom were at my wedding and captured by our photographer. The value of those photos to me now is far greater than when originally purchased.