It's all about the experience.
What is the “experience,” right? Sal talks about the experience all the time. It’s a great word, sounds good, but what does it mean? While pictures might be your drug of choice to sell, Sal thinks the experience tied around it is really what activates the big sale.
Now again, put yourself in the consumer’s spotlight. You have never been on a real shoot with Sal, but if you have or if you ever see footage of it, what Sal would say is it’s a lot of fun. He doesn’t take his job too seriously, he doesn’t take himself too seriously, and when he’s on a photo shoot, he wants to have fun, he wants to laugh. If he is going to be out in the heat giving up his weekends, he wants to have a blast while he’s doing it. The clients remember that, they remember that experience as a positive one.
Sal just photographed a same-sex wedding this past weekend and the grooms came up to him and Alissa and they were like, “Our bridal party cannot stop raving about how much fun it’s been working with you all day,” and Sal told them, “Thank you so much for that feedback.” We all want that feedback. Sal said, “What are they referring to?” Sal doesn’t just say thank you, maybe he should, but he’s always curious, why, why are they saying that? And it came down to, believe it or not, when they were doing group photos and family photos, how much fun they perceived in our banter. What he means by that is, he’s moving the bridal party around, making fun of people, if they’re doing something stupid, he’s teasing them. They’re laughing, they’re moving quick. If somebody tries to step on his toes while he’s shooting, he “thumps” it right then and there. You’ve all been at those weddings, where there’s somebody there who knows more than you, and they’re all, “You should do this.” If somebody does that to Sal at a wedding, he can’t even control his thought process, because his mouth just starts running. “We should do this,” “Yeah, I know, but we’re not, so we’re not going to do that, because I’m in charge here today,” and then he just keeps rolling with it and then the bridal party will be like, “Oh, he just told you,” and it just starts this whole thing, and everybody starts laughing. If he really came across the wrong way, he would go up to them and be like, “Hey, sorry, I just have to be able to do my thing,” and then they’re always like, “No, I totally understand. I shouldn’t have said anything to you.” But they appreciate that, and Sal and Alissa are in control as part of the experience.
Sal thinks overall communication is a big part of the experience. What to expect, when to expect it. An experience is tied to response times. If you take a week to respond to somebody, that’s not a good experience, they’re not going to want to spend money, they’re aggravated.
That’s a big miss on a lot of photographers’ parts. The bottom line is that if people are frustrated, they’re not going to spend money. Not because Sal says so, but because it’s human behavior. You should be able to point to that same experience in your own life. If you get frustrated dealing with somebody or something, you’re just going to go to another business and spend your money there. Your money is how you vote, right? Nobody’s got a monopoly on photography, whether it’s wedding photography, senior photography. Customers are not going to deal with our bullshit if we’re not giving them a good experience, so we just have to understand that.