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Get People Off The Fence: Uncommon Suggestions For Creating Urgency

 Have you heard this line from prospective clients:

“I don’t have time now, I’ll have to book later” – ?

Frustrating, huh?

“I’ll do this later” is sometimes the last thing they say before they disappear into the night.  Putting off a decision can be, effectively, saying no.

Also, you know that “later” doesn’t always happen like we imagine.  Babies grow.  Houses and situations change.  Grandparents and pets may leave us.  You want people to understand how having your service now will pay emotional dividends they can’t see yet.

But people are pretty lousy at imagining how they’ll feel in the future, or considering how things might change.  So, when you offer services – especially nostalgia-laden ones – you have to fight your way to the front burner by making your offers seem more urgent.

There are some common tips for creating urgency – I imagine you’ve heard (hopefully used!) most of them.

They include:

  • Highlighting scarcity (“I only have 10 spots open this summer, book now!)
  • Showing that others are taking action – so if you don’t, you’ll get left behind (“I only have 10 7 spots remaining!”)
  • Creating a limited time product (the Pumpkin Spice Latte is the favorite example, but creating a limited type of session like “spring flower sessions” or “fall color sessions” is similar – you can only get it for awhile and then it’s gone).
  • Offering some kind of limited-time deal to generate financial motivation (“get an extra 30 minutes of session time if you book before Friday!”).

There is a time and a place for each of these strategies.

But the truth is they won’t work for everyone, all the time.

Scarcity does have a way of requiring people to get their schedules in order, and special deals help remove the financial friction of buying.  Use them wisely.

But sometimes people feel like their TIME is what’s really scarce, because often – it is.  When they’re hoarding time more than money, and have the illusion that they’ll somehow get more time later – that can stand in the way of even the tactics described above.

In fact, I get emails every year from photographers wondering what to do about people who pay session fees and then disappear.  They paid money and still didn’t show up because of lack of time.  If that happens, it’s certainly the case that there are buyers not booking at all because of lack of time.

So let’s deal with the issue of time directly, shall we?  Let’s look at some ways you can push back on people’s sense of time to create more current demand.

#1: Normalize clients’ lack of time.

When you post photos from sessions, do your words ever sound kinda interchangeable from client to client?

“This was such a fun family! We had a great time!”

There are plenty of reasons why this type of blogging is a missed opportunity.

One of them is: If all people see are gorgeous photos of a “fun” family, then what’s to stop them from thinking “My family’s life is just too crazy for this right now,” or “Oh I guess I’ll just do this when I feel more relaxed and can think about this”?

People might get the illusion that your clients are relaxed, magical creatures with all kinds of spare time on their hands.

What if you explicitly mentioned and normalized the experience of not having enough time?  Or even asked your clients after their session to comment on the time issue?  What if you sometimes had posts that looked like this:

As engineers, Jareth and Jane don’t get a lot of free time.  In fact, Jane told me that she wasn’t sure which weekend would work with all their work projects and family obligations.  But since a session takes less time than a nice dinner, they slid it into their schedule on a Friday night (and actually, they did go have dinner afterward!).

“I’m so glad I took the time to do this, we could easily have just stayed home and collapsed onto the couch with takeout like we usually do” she told me afterward.  “And we still like doing that.  But I was surprised at how many great images we got from a small window before sunset.  I’m so glad we have the photos.  We can have takeout another weekend.”

When you tell people that actual clients have those same time problems and did the session anyway, it makes it seem normal, and not a reason to hold back.

Here are some questions you can ask past clients to get useful quotes about time from clients:

  • If you hadn’t had a session that evening, what would you have done with the time instead
  • Do you feel like it was worth the time to do the images?  Why?
  • Do you wish you had waited instead of taking photos?  (If not, why not?)
  • Looking back on it now, do you feel like it took that much time as you thought it would up front?

2) Make the passing of time more concrete.

Although people will believe “oh these photos will mean more to you later,” that sensation of happiness is far in the future, and not terribly motivating now.  If you make the consequences of the passing of time more concrete, they become easier to imagine – and thus, easier to act on.

  • Go back to clients from 6 months ago or longer and ask them what their photos mean to them now. It’s one thing for you to talk about how much photos will mean, it’s another to post the words of someone currently in that situation!
  • If you have repeat clients, show photos from different years side by side and comment on how much the kids have changed (or quote one of the parents).  The contrast reminds readers that while photos can wait, kids don’t.  Chances are, you have audience members who have already waited a year to get photos done – and what have they missed as a result?
  • If you don’t have repeat clients, you can always share personal images that illustrate the same thing.  Documenting your own kids, your pet, heck – the tree you planted in your backyard – whatever is relevant – can show the passing of time and give you a chance to talk about how things change and show a clear example.

3) Use the principle of consistency – ask people to relate their own experiences.

People love talking about themselves – take advantage!  Start conversations regularly about people’s own experiences with images:

  • Ask your blog/social media audience to send in an image from the past that is more meaningful now than they could have imagined when they took it.
  • Ask what image they wish they had, but don’t.  (If you do this, bring tissues.)
  • Challenge people to take a picture this week and send it to you.  I did this for everyone on my email list this past week!

When someone tells their own story, it forces them to organize their own thoughts.  It makes them articulate opinions that were only vaguely floating around before.

It’s easier to get people to act on their opinions than to act on yours, so asking them to express their opinions is a good way to push them to doing something.

Consider:  If I said “donating animal shelters is good – click here to donate,” some people would do so.

But if I said “Hey, do you think donating to animal shelters is good?” and you answered “Yes,” and THEN I said “will you click here to donate?” – a much higher percentage will click to donate.


When you get people to express an opinion or a value first, and then ask them to act, they want to stay consistent with what they said.  It feels awkward to say in your own words that something is important – and then not do it.  No one wants to feel hypocritical, and that slight discomfort of going back on their word pushes them to act.

By making a lack of time seem normal, concretely showing the passing of time, and asking people to be consistent with their own beliefs, you’ll enhance the power of any other promotion you run.

Get on it!  Let me know how it goes.


Psssst:  Ever wish you had an audience that just couldn’t wait to see what you do next?

Two of my courses, Irresistible Words and Irresistible You help you do exactly that.  They teach the nuts and bolts of persuasion, plus everything you need to know about pulling people in (no, you don’t need exotic Instagram photos or cool shoes – just a trusty set of tools that work in any situation.)

Check them out:





“I feel like you just gave me a paintbrush and colors I didn’t even know I have and they will be such a perfect compliment to my photography. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jenika!!!”  – Helén


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  1. Linnae Harris on May 16, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Your blog post are amazing! I get so much value from them. Thank you so much for giving away so much of your talent.

  2. Lisa on December 7, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    I love this blog because it combines two of my favorite arts – photography and psychology. I have a psych degree and can read relevant articles all day long. I’m just learning photography – or learning manual shooting. I’ve been taking photos forever but not at the level that is apparent in this blog. Your writing reads like silk and I just really enjoy the topics. Thank you for creating this awesome blog!

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