The phone rings. It’s a client! They want an estimate … now what do you do? Today on The Slanted Lens, I am going to give you eight simple questions, or line of questions, to ask to make sure you can create a great estimate for any client that will earn money.
1. Be interested and interesting
Ask questions that make you sound interested in the project and interesting as a person. You’re trying to create a relationship with the client so he/she will want to work with you.
2. What is the budget?
The first person to say a price looses so you have to get an idea of the budget the client is working with. What have you done in the past? How much did you pay for that? Even if the person isn’t forthright with this information, he/she DOES have a budget of some kind. Everyone has a budget.
3. How will it be used and where?
Talk about usage. Most advertising agencies will lead with this, but some smaller companies might not understand that the way in which an image or video is used attributes more value to the piece. An image that will be used in a small trade magazine might not be worth as much as a billboard ad for a national organization.
4. Who am I competing against?
Knowing who the competition is will help you know how high or low to bid. When you are first starting out, you might not know any of the competitors. As time goes by, you will be able to get a better idea of who you are loosing out to, and who you have beaten out for jobs.
5. How did you find out about my work?
I ask this question for two reasons. First, I want to know how my own marketing is working. Second, where this client saw my work tells me a little more about what level he/she is in what the end product might be.
6. Is there an image or group of images that caused you to call me? Is there an image that matches the job in your mind?
Similar to the previous question, understanding what the client is responding to will give you a better idea of the client’s direction and will help you estimate better.
7. Who is on the team?
Find out about art directors, creative directors, art buyers, and inevitably who will be making the final decisions. Ask to speak to those people. You will get a better sense of the approach, and if you build a rapport with the decision maker, you are more likely to get hired.
8. Ask questions about their approach to the job.
As you have gone through this process, you probably have answers already but it is a matter of gaining the information and feeding it back to the client to show you have a grasp on the project.
Now that you have all the information, you actually need to create the estimate. Here are a couple bonus tips for creating the estimate:
1. Research the agency.
2. Create a quick schedule.
3. Take a day to think about it.
The reality is that estimating is kind of a complicated process. I have put together a class as a digital download that will teach you this process from my point of view. I walk through how to start, what to include and pricing for commercial photography, weddings, video and portraits. Purchase the video and learn more at http://theslantedlens.com/estimating
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So, the phone rings and the client says, we’d like to hire you. Now, what do you do? Here’s eight questions you should ask to help yourself set up a very successful estimating experience.
Hi. This is Jay P. Morgan. Today on the Slanted Lens, we’re going to talk about the questions you need to ask to set up a very successful estimating experience. When you asked the right questions, your clients can then give you the information you need to be able to give the client back what they need in an estimate. So, let’s go through those questions and let’s get started and see what we can do.
Question number 1. Well, I should say series of questions.
Number 1. Ask interesting and interested questions. They want to feel from you that you’re interested in their project. Ask them questions that show that you’re interested in what they’re doing. Well, tell me about this product. Tell me about what the demographics, the people that it’s going to appeal to. Help me get a good feeling about the product. So, ask them questions that show that you’re interested in the product.
Also, ask them questions that show that you’re an interesting person. If you say, “Well, that sounds really fun, I think I’d like to shoot that.” Who’s gonna hire that guy? You know if you go, “Wow, this is a fabulous shoot. I’m really interested in this. This reminds me of something I’ve been wanting to work on for my portfolio or something I’d love to do for. . .” It shows that you’re interested and you’re an interesting person and you have a perspective and you have something to bring to the party.
Number 2. Remember this very simple principle. The first person who says the price usually loses. You can be very upfront in the beginning and say, “Well, what’s your budget? Have you shot something like this before?” And if the person says, “Well, we just have never shot anything like this, we’re not really sure.” You say, “Well, have you ever done photo shoots in the past?” “Yeah, we shot some stuff last year.” “What was your budget on that. How much money did you spend on this project?” Just anything you could do to try to get them to give you some idea of where they’re at as an agency, how much money they have spent on projects in the past and even how much money they have for this project.
It is interesting, because most people say to you. “No, we don’t really know what the budget is yet,” which is not true. I mean, everyone always knows what the budget is. No one always call them and says, “Just give me a price, it’ll be cool.” No. They have an idea what they’d like to spend or they have an idea of exactly the most they can spend. So, the more information you can get to give them that information, the better.
Number 3. You’ve got to ask about usage. In today’s market, there’s a value to the image depending on where it’s used. And so, if you don’t get a good idea of where it’s being used and how it’s being used, then you’re in trouble. A really good agency will lead with this in their specs. They’ll say, “We’re gonna use it as a billboard. Possibly, we’re gonna use it as trade ads. ” They’ll line that all out for you.
But if you get a client who’s calling in is not as savvy. They’re gonna say, “Well we’re just doing this shoot.” You’ve got to help them understand that there’s value in the different areas that they use the image. Because if it’s only gonna be used in very small trade publications that’s much different than Pepsi is going to use it as a national ad. That’s a much different world that you’re living in.
Number 4. This is a very simple one. Who am I competing against? I’ve done this for 25 years. If I can find out who I’m competing against, it helps me to know how much I can charge. There’s a gentleman I use to compete with against in Los Angeles for years and years and I knew when he showed up on the bidding process, I couldn’t make as much money. But if I had another gentleman who’s on the bidding process, I could make a whole lot of money.
So, it just depend on the market. Some people price themselves too low, I felt like. Some people were just so far out there, that it made so that there was gravy for everybody. So, knowing the person you’re competing against will also give you an idea about the style. Here’s three photographers and she’s really this or he’s really that and it just gives you a good idea how do I fit into this mix.
Number 5. Is one I always ask. I wanna know how they found out about me. Was it a card I mailed out to them? Did they see me online? Was it through an APA site that I put up? How did they find out about Jay P. Morgan Pictures?
First off, it helps me understand what my marketing is doing. What’s successful and what’s not. And secondly, depending on where they saw me, I know the caliber of photographers and what that world is like. It gives me a good idea of who they are, depending on where they found me. There’s a lot of times that places people look for imagery. Gives you a pretty good idea of the tier in the market that they’re in.
Number 6. I ask, is there an image or group of images that you’ve responded to that cause you to call me. I do that because I wanna know if there’s an image in there that they said, Hey, that’s great. We love the tiger in the bathtub, call Jay P. Morgan. ” Well, now that I know that that’s the kind of image they want. It gives me an idea of almost the approach they want. Understanding what image they responded to will give you a better idea about their direction and will help you to estimate a lot easier.
Number 7. You’ve got to find out who’s on the team on the creative side. Who’s the art buyer? Who’s the art director? Who’s the creative director? Find out who all these people are. Try to determine by asking questions, like, “Who’s the one that came up the concept?” You know, is there someone I should speak to there about their approach for this concept. You wanna try to find out who it is that’s making the final decision. Well, the art director really is driving the process and they had this thought and they really like what you did. You wanna get that person on the phone.
It’s gonna help you to estimate better because you’re gonna get information from that person that’s gonna give you exactly what you need to know to be able to estimate. And it’s also gonna help you to get the job because you’re talking to the decision maker. And again, you wanna to be interesting and interested with that person, so they’re going, “Hey, I’d love to spend a week with this person and I think they have the right approach and know exactly what I want.
Okay, Number 8. This is a big one. It really is the foundation for how this entire process goes. You’ve got to ask them all the questions you possibly can about the approach. Now, as you’ve asked your questions up to this point. You’ve asked them about what image they responded to. You don’t say to them. “Well, do you really want natural window light.” When they said, they love your image that was shot on studio on a set. You don’t ask that question. You ask a point blank question. You say, “So, would you like to see this done as a set? With the tiger in a bathtub?” And they go, “Yeah, I’d love that.”
So, it’s a process of gaining the information, feeding it back to them in a manner that will help them to know that you’ve got it. And now, you’re more likely to get the job. And you also know the things you need to do to estimate the job, so you can be able to get an estimate that will reflect the money they can spend.
So, there’s your 8 questions or line of questions that you should ask when you start to set up your estimate. But now, it’s time to do the estimate. I’m gonna give you three bonus tips on doing your estimate.
Number 1 is, research the client. Research the agency. Know exactly who it is you’re dealing with. Get online. Look at their webpage. You know if you’re shooting for Coca-Cola versus Ted’s Soda, it’s gonna be a huge range. Coca-Cola is going to have a ton more money than Ted’s Soda. Ted makes a great soda, I’m sure, but Ted is not Coca-Cola. So, know the agency and know the client that’s gonna help you know how much you can charge.
Number 2 is create a schedule. Just a quick schedule that says, I’m gonna do this day. We’re gonna travel this day. We’re gonna shoot these two days. It’s lines out the job. That quick schedule becomes the skeleton and the foundation for your estimate, because now you know how many days your assistants will be working. You know how many days you will charge for. Putting together a schedule for me really becomes the beginning of the estimate. It helps me answer so many questions.
And lastly, take a day or so to think about it. You know, as much time as you can to think about the price, to think about the things you have included in the estimate, things you may wanna change. Just give yourself a little bit of time to let it settle, look at it with fresh eyes. It will give you an idea of exactly if that’s where you want it to be. So, there’s a few tips on doing the estimate.
But the reality is, estimating is kind of a complicated process. I put together a download that’s gonna teach you kind of the estimating process from my point of view. I talk in depth about how to put the estimate together.
I give you templates. I’m gonna show you exactly the things you need to do, include a walk-through estimate with you. I’ll talk about pricing. I’ll do it or commercial photography. I’ll do it for wedding photography. I’ll do it for portraits. I put all those things together as a packet of handouts that gives you great contracts and information that goes with the estimating process.
So, if you go to the SlantedLens.com/Estimating, you’ll see a great digital download there that’s gonna answer all your questions with regards to estimating. Gives you great information and it will help you feel secure when you put together your estimate.
I hope this has given you some great information that will kind of lay a foundation, so you can ask the right questions to set up your estimate. So, don’t be afraid. Ask the questions, do a great estimate, make some money. Keep those cameras rolling and keep on clicking.