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Presenting with Purpose: How to Approach Potential Clients

By Tony Colangelo

Last week, I was intrigued by a PFRE article on the value of face-to-face marketing when getting started in real estate photography. One of the marketing opportunities that RE photographers can explore in this regard is delivering a presentation at a real estate agency’s regular “all-staff” meeting. The agency’s Office Manager will, periodically, allow guest speakers to come in and deliver a 10-minute presentation to the team. If you’ve ever thought about doing such a presentation, then one of the most important pieces of advice that I can give you is to remember to be very clear on how your “features and benefits” are presented. As I noted in my most recent article on this very topic, the importance of highlighting benefits over features, simply can’t be overstated! In fact, whether it be at a group presentation or in a one-on-one meeting with a prospective client, a photographer HAS TO give some thought to what benefit they’ll be delivering to that client. In essence, we ought to have a sense of how we’d answer the key question that all prospective clients will have of us, which is: “What’s in it for me if I use your photography service?”

When given a chance to present to a room full of RE agents, I sense that most photographers will highlight the things that they’re more comfortable speaking to -- i.e., what camera and lenses they use, the lighting equipment they bring along, editing software, pricing, etc. These are simply features -- i.e., the facts of what they do. If you go this route, the odds are that you’re going to lose your audience because those features will likely mean nothing to them and, what’s worse, will probably make you sound exactly like the last photographer who presented to them! If, however, you spend your time talking about how your photography benefits agents, you’re more likely to grab their attention. Indeed, spending your time talking about THEM, their needs and “pain points,” will help you to differentiate yourself from other photographers. This is because you will have spent your time trying to address their concerns, rather than dazzling them with your knowledge of the tools you use or the quality of the images you produce!

I did a number of these presentations for RE agencies when I was shooting real estate. While some presentations worked out better than others, the more successful ones led me to be hired for a few shoots, which allowed me to build relationships with a small number agents. These new customers then went on to refer me to colleagues within their agency!

I know that a majority of people are uncomfortable presenting to an audience and that’s OK! If you’re up for it, though, I’d like to share an overview of my approach to doing these sorts of presentations. It is based on the premise that the purpose of RE photography is not to help the agent sell real estate but rather to help them find a way to distinguish their brand (IMO, a key ‘pain point’ for many RE agents.) The bolded headings, below, represent my “logic trail” for my talk, with the italicized text below each heading, being close to the actual speaking points that I used for the slides in my PowerPoint deck.

Create a Connection Right Away

“Thank you for your time; I'm so pleased to be with you today. I want to start my presentation today, NOT by talking about me and my photography but, instead, by talking talk about YOU and the types of challenges that each of you faces day-to-day.

Define the ‘Pain-Point’ Early in the Presentation

While I can't speak to the operational pieces related to being an agent, I can speak to a specific challenge that each of you faces, because to a large degree, I face it, too ... and that is, the challenge of creating or maintaining a brand that will allow you to distinguish yourself in a highly competitive marketplace.”

Create a Shared Reference Point

“While there are many great definitions of "brand", my favorite is one that comes from American marketing guru, Sergio Zyman, who's overseen numerous international brands, including Coca-Cola. (Here, you’ll have a slide prepared with the definition.)

He defines a brand as a “container for a customer’s complete experience with the product or company.” I find this a particularly useful way of viewing ‘brand’ because it focuses on the customer’s “complete experience” rather than a series of marketing tactics like brochures, websites, logos, etc.

Highlight Your Understanding of Their Pain-Point

“And this is where I think your world intersects with mine because I feel very strongly that great photography is a very powerful tool – one that can greatly affect the experience that your prospective clients will have about you when they’re looking to hire a real estate agent.

I think that, ultimately, the purpose of my RE photography is to generate this positive experience -- to evoke a feeling, if you will -- in the viewer of your listing photos that either prompts that client to contact you vs one of your competitors; or to visit one of your open houses vs going to someone else's. It also affects your current clients in that your use of professional photography is a visible and tangible example of you living up to your brand promise of doing everything you can, to sell their house for them.

Either way, that positive experience felt by the prospective client, or the current client gets associated with YOU!”

Show How Photography Can Augment Their Brand (i.e., Help Address Their Pain Point)

“To give you a sense of this experience that we’re talking about, let me show you some photos. As we go through these slides, I'd ask you to think about how you would experience them if YOU were in the market to buy a house yourself.”

At this point, you begin your photo comparison regarding rooms shot professionally vs those that are not. After showing them 4-5 sets of “pro vs non-pro” images, you can segue back into your presentation as follows …

Acknowledge Resistance!

“I know that many agents simply don't see the value in spending money on professional photography and choose to do their own photography. If that's the case for you, that's OK, too. If so, then please permit me to offer some important tips on how you can improve your photography.”

Here is where you would show them a slide containing 3-4 simple tips that can be used by agents who shoot their own listings (e.g., vertical lines being straight; highlighting the dangers of shooting ultra-wide; etc.) I believe that your credibility and sense of integrity is increased when you offer your support to those who were never going to use your services, anyway! However, for those who might be looking for a photographer -- either now or in future -- I choose to believe that such an act of selflessness (and confidence) will resonate with them enough, that they’ll keep you mind for a future shoot!

6. Q & A … Offer Thanks and Contact Info

Regarding other considerations for your presentation, you should rehearse it to the point that it comes out to about 6-7 minutes of speaking time, to allow room for a healthy Q&A within your 10-minute allowance. Your rehearsal should focus not so much a memorizing every word you’re going to say but rather, on making sure that the sequence or the “flow” of your main points go in the order that you want it to go. You should know your content well enough that you can speak to it naturally. The only thing you should memorize is about the first 30-seconds of your presentation because that’s when your nervousness will be at its highest. Having that first little bit memorized will allow you to “get your legs under you.”

An additional thing that I’ve tried when doing this type of presentation was to run a "draw." That is, everyone in attendance is asked to put their business cards into an envelope. You let everyone know that at the end of your presentation, you’re going to pick out a card for someone to receive a free photoshoot or a shoot done at a greatly reduced price or some other incentive. Not only does this generate a little buzz at the end of a presentation, but it also allows you to get the business cards of everyone in the office. Later, you can cross-reference their respective websites to see which agents in that office, are the real "players" (i.e., those who have good number of listings; are reflective of the type of agent you’d most like to work with; etc.) and, therefore, the ones you should target first, when following up!

And, of course, I know I’m stating the blatantly obvious in making this last point, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it: always send a hand-written “thank you” note to the office manager or the person who set up the opportunity for you to present to the team.

In any case, for those of you who’ve thought about doing these sorts of presentations, I hope this is helpful to you in some way. Please feel free to use it/modify it as you see fit so that it fits your own “voice” and speaking style.


11 comments on “Presenting with Purpose: How to Approach Potential Clients”

  1. Tony is 100% spot on. This is the perfect point by point road map to growing your RE photography business. Did this myself many years ago, and the rest as they say- is history. Best post of the year!

  2. As someone just starting out, who is literally preparing to do this right now, the timing could not have been better! This is some great advice Tony.

  3. I especially appreciate the point about acknowledging resistance. I didn't know there was a specific term for that... it's a good psychology trick to use. Thanks, Tony, this was quite useful.

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