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How To Talk About Tough Things Without Feeling Awkward (Target Client Mastery 4/5)

Have you ever told someone about something that was bothering you, and they waved their hand and said, blithely, “You don’t need to worry about that” and moved on?

(Variations: “You’re overthinking it,” “Nah, it’ll be okay,” etc).

They may have meant well, and perhaps they were right that you didn’t need to worry.

But when you need to get something out, it’s sometimes just the feeling seen and heard part that makes us feel better. This is why mirroring is so powerful; that shocking moment of seeing your private thoughts splashed on a screen will always grab your immediate attention, whether you’re shopping for a car or looking for a photographer. “Wow, they get it” is an instant, tectonic shift inside.

Yesterday we divided client worries into two big kinds: practical worries (what about the weather, will this product photography actually impact my click-throughs, etc), and deeper emotional concerns (people will think I’m weird for getting photographs of my pet, who am I to have photos taken of just me, I need to lose weight before I can be seen on camera).

Practical concerns can be easily handled in website copy. That immediate recognition of ‘wow they get it’ followed by an on-target short explanation usually resolves it.

Emotional concerns are a bit different.

You need to take a little more time and thought here, because if you bring it up and dismiss it too quickly, you may come off like that friend who is all “Nah, you don’t need to worry about that.”

All that does is teach your ideal client that they can’t trust you with their feelings.

If you get your replies back and see an emotional concern strongly echoed across most of your target clients, like “I’ll do this after I lose weight,” you have to first consider what kind of service you offer.

If transformation is a big part of what you do (hair and makeup, coaching, posing, lighting), then one way to handle this concern is to show them a before/after shot. A photo snapped right when they walked in next to a finished portrait. A visual confirmation that yes, you work with normal-looking people and make them look their best is a great option.

But this might not work as well if you do, say, a lifestyle family shoot where you’re not doing a focused transformation on one person. Here you might need to talk through the issue with empathy. Here’s one way that could look:

  • Start by echoing their concern, using language as close to what people actually have said to you as you can get:
    • “Some moms have told me they don’t feel naturally photogenic, and worry that everyone in the family will look great except them. 
  • You might add that perhaps they’ve been there too – give them room to admit it to themselves, or not:
    • Maybe you’ve been there – you might love every single photo you take of your beautiful kids, even the blurry ones, but look at one of you and scrutinize everything you don’t like.
  • Validate their thinking, then slowly start to give them a new way to look at it:
    • It’s not wrong to want to look your best, and it’s hard to trust whether someone else will make us look like we want to be seen.  No one wants to go to the work of arranging a photoshoot and then not even like the results, so it’s tempting to just put it off.
    • Here are a couple things you should know about working with me.  First, we give your family space to play, because nothing could ever be as beautiful as bringing out the love you have for your kids. 
    • But second, know that I’ve got your back in making sure I see you how you want to be seen. 
  • You might give an illustrating example so they see you’re not making it up:
    • Here’s an example – two shots from the same moment of a mom playing with her kids, having a blast.  The photo on the left caught her looking down, and from where I was standing that caught an awkward angle.  But that’s no problem.  I quickly slid to the side and took photo on the right.  She cried when she saw it.
    • Some people who say they dislike how they look in photos have probably never had a photographer who paid them the right kind of attention.  Someone who balances making you feel good and look good.  Who knows that angles and flattering lighting are their challenge to solve, not yours.  And when you see a photo of yourself where you can see how much you love your kids, and shows you as you want to be seen, you will never stop looking at it.  If you trust me, this is what I will create for you.

Express empathy, validate their concern, put yourself on the same team, then address how your services are different. It helps them feel like they’re not alone, while giving them a new way to think of things.

If you’re thinking “Yeah but that seems kind of long – do I really need to put that on my website?” Hang tight. I’ll give you the last piece of that puzzle here shortly.

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