In what will seem to some as a logical exercise in cross-promotion, and to others a step too far, disruptive start-up Emotion Wedding Photography, featured in Inside Imaging two weeks ago, is now cross-promoting with gift voucher-fuelled portrait franchise business, Viva Photography, one of the subjects of last week’s lead story.
The marketing link is that Emotion Wedding Photography is offering a ‘completely FREE’ Viva professional studio portrait for clients who book a wedding photographer from Emotion Wedding Photography.
‘This includes a 1-hour professional photo session values at $250, and $450 product credit to put towards stunning prints, albums and wall art.’
As outlined last week, Viva uses ‘free’ portrait photography vouchers extensively to drive business, and this has led to some clients complaining about feeling trapped at the post-shoot sales meeting, and that ‘high pressure sales techniques are used to pressure people into spending thousands of dollars in overpriced prints.’
Another marketing technique used by Viva is to offer photo shoot packages as prizes and giveaways: ‘Register Your Details to Receive A $600 Pet Portrait Package’; ‘Enter the draw to WIN a Photography Session and products to the value of $1500. Runners up will receive a portrait session and discount to the value of $600.’ (There doesn’t seem to be a limit to the number of lucky runners-up offered the consolation ‘prize’.)
Several AIPP members have told Inside Imaging that our story on portrait studios practicing what some customers at least perceive as misleading promotion and high press sales tactics, has opened up a healthy debate on the topic, with reference to the AIPP Code of Professional Practice.
One sticking point is the requirement in the AIPP Code to allow a ‘cooling off period’:
I shall, if engaged in any imaging or photographic genre which involves direct contractual relationshiops with domestic consumers (Business to Consumer) allow the client three working days, after the placement of an order or the signing of a contract, during which time the client may change without penalty the extent of such order or contract.
This seems to be directly contradicted in the Viva Photography legal terms and conditions:
Choose carefully as we do not refund and there is no cooling off period for in store purchases. As our artwork is uniquely created for you, and you have the opportunity to view your images before making a purchasing decision; we do not allow you to change your order. Once the order agreement has been signed, we immediately proceed to creating and finishing the artworks.
Another is the thorny issue of where exactly the line exists between ‘high-pressure sales tactics’ and skillful sales techniques. And who defines which is which. Principles and best practices in the AIPP code seem to rub up hard – at least according to some disgruntled customers – against sales techniques used by some portrait studios:
9. I will not utilise any form of ‘high pressure’ selling tactics to book clients or influence clients to place orders.
10. I will reveal all material facts; avoid concealment of information and refrain from the use of innuendoes in advertising and selling that might cause consumers to be misled, so that the truth about services of products may be fully understood. I will provide a complete and comprehensive written price list outlining my services and products prior to undertaking any photographic assignment.
16. I acknowledge that every client entering into a contract with an AIPP member is entitled to receive a copy of this Code of Professional Practice.