The key to a great business is having great clients. Here are some simple rules to ensure that your customers love you and want to use you again and again. And again.
Do find your competitive edge.
What makes you special? What makes you unique? Its not just your passion or your love for the business. It has to be your approach to photography and the way you run your business. Find that one unique thing that sets you apart and use it to bring in a ton of clients.
Don’t badmouth your competition.
You probably have one or two competitors who you think very little of. They run their business completely against your ethics and you know “dirty little secrets” about them that makes you have anything but trust. Don’t tell. As much as you know about them, its important to turn the other way and simply ignore. The clients that are best suited for you will quickly figure that out for themselves if they visit that business. Just stay true to your word and do the best you can do.
Do find ways to build relationships.
The most difficult way to build a business is to focus on bringing in new client after new client. If they’ve never heard of you when they begin their search, it will take time to educate them on who you are. Instead, keep your existing clients happy, and they will refer you to all of their friends and family.
Don’t sell, sell sell.
Your job isn’t to sell what you do. Instead its all about building strong relationship with pillars of the community. If everyone is talking about you, everyone will have to use your services. Avoid the temptation online and off to spread your message as “would you like to buy from me?” They will find you when they are ready.
Do look at every potential client as an equal.
If a potential client loves your ads and your reputation, keep that image up throughout your time together. Every potential client is equal in opportunity, whether they can afford you or not. We once had a potential client who couldn’t afford us, yet she referred us to two friends who could. And at each of the weddings we saw the prospect at, she praised us and let us know she loved what we did. Every referral counts in this business.
Don’t prejudge someone because of a limiting belief.
Does a prospect dress differently than you? Are they holding an event in a location you’ve prejudged? Before you do it, stop. One of our best clients ever held their wedding and reception in a local park – for free – and played volleyball at the reception. Yet photographs meant the world to them, and we built an incredible wedding album set by taking them around time for intimate portraits. The lesson we learned was clear – never judge a book by its cover.
Do have a strong sales presentation that you believe in.
If you don’t like the packages you’ve created, or aren’t sure if they are the best thing for your customers, your customers won’t believe in them either. Everything you create should have a purpose and should be something you believe in and can sell to anyone.
Don’t be afraid to make little changes.
Occasionally you will have a client who doesn’t fit the norm and needs something tweaked. Don’t instantly give in – again, believe in what you have to offer. Yet find ways to make them happy without compromising your profits. If you can’t come up with something immediately, let them know you’ll think about it and get back to them. That gives you time to run the numbers and make sure it doesn’t cut into your bottom line.
Do work to keep your clients happy.
If you are bringing in the right clients, the majority of them will be happy with everything you do. Work hard to keep their trust. Concentrate on giving them what they expect, and throw in a little extra from time to time. These are your best referral sources, so go the extra mile when you can put a smile on their faces.
Don’t assume a client is always right.
Every once in awhile you’ll have a client come in that you simply can’t please. You photography wrong. The photos are wrong. They wore the wrong clothes. The sun was in the wrong position. Stop. You don’t have to take it. Simply walk into your office and grab your checkbook. Refund them their money and take back all of the images – they can’t keep what they haven’t purchased. Don’t think twice – you should be spending your time in positive ways working with people that really love what you do.
Do evaluate every opportunity for what its worth.
When a potential new client comes in and begins describing what they are looking for, you’ll either see yourself working together … or not. Some projects just won’t build up your excitement level, and that’s okay. A consultation works both ways; the client interview you and you interview them. If you don’t have the desire to take on the work, don’t.
Don’t jump at an opportunity just because it seems to be a great one.
The reverse can also be true. In some cases a great opportunity will come your way. It will put you together with industry giants and give you recognition in places you’ve only dreamed of. Before you jump, evaluate if you are ready. Don’t let fear get in the way. You can do it if you are just a little nervous about the situation. Yet if you simply aren’t ready – you don’t have the right equipment, or you haven’t built up your skills enough – then turn it down before you get into something you’ll regret later. Its better to pass now then destroy potential opportunity in the future when you are more comfortable with the situation.
Do show your true personality.
With 7 billion people on earth, there are more than enough potential customers out there that are perfect for you. Don’t jump at the one’s you have questions about simply becaue the checkbook is open. Show who you are. Be honest in the way you show yourself both online and off. If you believe in something, say it. Show your true colors. People will resonate with you and love who you are all that much more.
Don’t be afraid to shine.
If you don’t “toot your own horn”, who will? When you run your own business, never be afraid to “brag” about who you are and what you do. Its really not bragging. People want to know what makes you you, what you’ve accomplished and how you got where you are today. That’s what makes you stand out. Its what makes you YOU!