What does the average company do when times are tough? They tighten their belts, take away marketing campaigns, and delete services that cost money. They try and get by spending as little as possible, while still trying to bring in clients that will pay a ton of money.
And because many companies are running their businesses this way now, it’s almost become the norm to accept poor or low quality service. So why not change that around and give your clients something that makes them say “WOW”.
That’s the difference between a solo professional photographer and a franchise or a big box location. When you are on your own, you can do whatever it takes to bring in the best clients, and make them happy for life. The true value of a client can be worth thousands of dollars to you. So why not invest some of that money back into your client to make sure they are happy?
1. Start with making your product exceptional. Look at how your photographs leave your studio. Are they loose prints, or do you mount every image on matboard or foam core? Do you put them into a plastic bag, or are they wrapped in paper and boxes with your colors and logos? Think about the difference between buying a shirt at Walmart, and buying a shirt at Nordstoms. Walmart employees throw your purchase into a flimsy plastic bag. Nordstoms employees wrap your shirt in tissue, place it into a beautiful custom bag, and presents it to you buy coming around the counter to hand it to you. Think about the impression you are leaving.
2. How do you talk about your work? Do you shoot pictures, or do you capture original imagery? People value things more when there is more value associated with it. And because you can change an opinion just by the way you talk, you should definitely start with your presentations. I once had a photography mentor who put on white gloves to handle all of his work in front of clients. Necessary? Probably not. But it definitely left an impression with his clients – and they valued his work all the more.
3. Always give the surprises. When a client comes in to pick up their finished product, give them more than what they expect. If they buy a box of 8 notecards from you, include 8 stamps in the box so mailing is easier. If they pick up a large portrait in a frame, include a small hanging kit, including nails, hammer and a level. While the little extras don’t cost a lot more, they really leave an impact on your clients.
4. Invest in notecards. As a photographer, you should be mailing out notecards to your clients all the time. You can buy greeting cards from the store, have greeting cards made from your favorite images, or print greeting cards with your clients’ images. Or a combination of the three. Then mail to your best clients over and over again. Mail them for birthdays and anniversaries. Mail them if you see your clients in the news, or if something in the news reminds you of a client. Mail them before holidays – not just the big ones, find little ones too. You can always come up with something fun to celebrate National Ice Cream Day.
5. Have a giveaway just for your clients. I know a great realtor here in town that holds a giveaway once a year for all of his clients. He gives away some great prizes: weekend trips, 50” televisions, and more. It’s helped him double his business year after year. Take that idea and run with it – it doesn’t have to be on a large scale. Maybe a digital camera and a half-day training on how to use it.
6. Hold a party for your clients. If you have a studio with beautiful grounds, bring your clients in for a party. If you don’t, talk with an event place in your area about hosting a party. Especially if you are in the wedding photography niche, you can probably bargain with event sites and caterers for a great deal on the services by holding your event on an off time – October instead of holiday months, or Thursday night instead of the weekend. Combine it with a giveaway, and your party could quickly become the talk of the town.
7. Send surprise gifts for no reason at all. List out your top clients, and start learning more about them. When will they turn 30 (40, 50, etc)? Send a bouquet of flowers or balloons to add into the celebration. Or send a lunchbox filled with nutritious snacks in August before your top client’s first child starts kindergarten. Little things like this don’t take a lot of money, but the thought behind it speaks volumes. And if you have a client that just spent $2000 on a family portrait, what’s a $50 gift worth, especially if you book them again for another $2000 portrait next year?
8. Set up client exclusive events. There’s nothing more beautiful than a winter portrait, with the snow softly blanketing a field, and a family enjoying the peacefulness of the moment. The problem here in Denver is that is a hard scene to create. While we do get many snowy days, you never know if you’ll have snow – or blue sky – until you wake up. Put your top clients on a list for an exclusive portrait experience, and you’ll plan it based on the weather forecast. The only way to get on the exclusive list is to be a client. Use this concept for your local area, and come up with exclusive events that only your clients can get in on. Then advertise for it. Nothing sells better than exclusivity.
A happy client is a referring client. They will tell everyone around them about you. And thanks to Facebook and other online tools, even that can expand exponentially. So invest a little into your clients, and build a strong, healthy business.