Welcome to 2019. The year where the ghosting epidemic will hit an all-time high. As wedding photographers, being ghosted by inquiring couples isn’t a new things. In fact, it’s been happening for severeal years. But the frequency at which it’s happening has increased dramatically. But before you go calling in an exorcist, let’s talk a little bit about what ghosting a wedding photographer really means (no, you’re not going to need holy water and a bible – I promise!)
Ghosting: When a person who you were in contact with just disappears. They stop responding to you regardless of how many emails you send to follow up. They become invisible – like a ghost.
As an entrepreneur, we pour our hearts and souls into our businesses. The majority of us go above and beyond to accommodate all our inquiring couples, so it hurts when we get ghosted. Sure, maybe some people will say that we shouldn’t be wearing our hearts on our sleeves – but when you create art with your soul, you can’t help but be a little sensitive (even if your outer persona or brand is a bit toughter).
So why do inquiring couples ghost wedding photographers?
Awkwardness + Burnout
This is, in my opinion, the number 1 reason that inquiries couples will ghost a wedding photographer. They have some kind of reason that they don’t want to proceed with you – but they don’t know how to tell you that. Either your prices aren’t a fit, your packages aren’t a fit or they just didn’t feel a connection – no matter what the reason for them not wanting to proceed with you, they don’t know how to phrase it.
Despite the fact that millennials get called “entitled”, it can also be argued that millennials are suffering from burnout moreso than any previous generation. Even small tasks like replying to a vendor with an awkward “Uh… sorry but we’re going to go elsewhere.” may seem like a monumental task for some. Not all – but some. Add this burnout to the fact that the message they need to send may be awkward – and you can see how the easier solution is to just… disappear!
Timing isn’t right
Whether it’s because there’s something going on in their personal lives or with their finances (ie: they didn’t realize how quickly the costs of a wedding add up!) the couple may still genuinely find your services appealing, but they aren’t in a position right now to continue chatting with you. They may email you again out of the blue in several weeks time, if you’ve left the door open for them. Millennials are, after all, a generation that is quite loyal to businesses that they feel a connection with. So if they truly do like you and the issue it timing – they will be back. Keep the door open.
You got all “sales-y” on them
Millennials are generally quite apprehensive of the Gen-X style of selling. Think the trope of the “pushy used car salesman” when I say “sales-y”. If your approach to client communication is to get them into a sales funnel as quickly as possible or push them into an office to try to get a booking before they go anywhere else, they may be feeling that pressure and immediately want to back away.
It’s important to remember that a lot of the photographers who teach “Selling” techniques in the more well known workshops and education portals (like CreativeLive) are more in the Gen-X category than a millennials one – so the underlying values with which their approaches are based on don’t necessarily work for the generation of individuals that most of us are working with.
No clear instructions
This can be a tough one for some folks to understand because you put your heart into every email you write… but some people aren’t going to read it slowly and thoroughouly and if you aren’t super clear on what the next step is or what is expected of the client, the client may not realize there’s an urgency or even a next step that needs to be taken. Remember – you’ve been through this process dozens (if not hundreds) of times, but this is likely the first wedding your potential clients are booking – so baby steps!
Instead of just sending out generic information with “hope to hear from you soon” or “would you like to chat more”, be specific about what happens next:
“… The next step is to make sure that we really are a good fit for each other and have the opportunity to ask questions and make sure you have all the answers you need. Let’s FaceTime (or if you prefer in-person we can do that too). Once the consult is completed, we can talk about how to proceed to secure the date. I’m available z,y, and z – let me know which of those times work for you. If none of them do, that’s okay, we can keep looking at dates!”
“While we may not like being ghosted, being frustrated by it isn’t going to change the fact that it’s happening and we can’t control it.”
Ghosting happens everywhere – it’s not just isolated to couples who are looking for wedding photographers. Ghosting happens in the online dating world and even in places of employement! (Yeah – people will just stop showing up to work and not answer calls or emails… it’s a real thing.) While we may not like being ghosted, being frustrated by it isn’t going to change the fact that it’s happening and we can’t control it. All we can do is adapt to it as best possible.
Take this opportunity to reflect on the fact that ghosting is a behaviour that is quite common in this current generation of couples. Regardless of why it’s happening, it is happening and we can choose to let it upset us, or we can choose to reinvent ourselves and adapt.
- Keep your emails informative – don’t force couples immediately into a studio/office for a consult. Take the time to answer their questions rather than pushing for a sales session.
- Don’t be afraid to follow up once or twice. Keep it short, simple and kind. If you want to include more information, link to it so they can read at their leisure. “Did you get a chance to read my last email?”
- Give them a script to help bridge the awkwardness. “I totally understand if you don’t think we’re the best fit; choosing a photographer is super personal. Please let us know if you’d like us to close your file – no hard feelings, promise!”
- Move on. Ghosting is part of life now – if you don’t like it, then maybe it’s time to get out of the business.
Ghosting will happen no matter what you do; but there are things that you can do to help decrease the amount that it’s happening. Adapting to changes in behavior in your demographic often involves self reflection of your own processes and workflow and for some people that can be hard – but remember: reinventing yourself is part of what being a successful business person is all about.