14 Do’s and Don’ts To Win Over Your Photography Clients

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. [Read more…]

10 Ways To Love Your Photography Clients

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.
He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.
He is not an interruption in our work – he is the purpose of it.
We are not doing him a favour by serving him.
He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to serve him.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi spoke those words back in 1890. And in every way they still apply today.

The most important thing within your business is your list – your customers – the people that can give you the opportunity to run a successful business for as long as you choose to stay in business. If you want them to choose to spend their money in your studio, here are 10 ways to stand out from your competition.

1. Don’t set up your packages and promotions based on what you want to sell. Set them up based on what your customers want to buy. Listen to what they say. When you truly listen to your customers and modify things to make your products and services that much better, they will love what you do.

2. Go beyond order taking and showcase your expertise within the industry. Anyone can take orders. But a real professional will prove their artistic talent by building relationships and directing people on what to do next. Collages, albums, montages – you are the artist and show your clients how your vision is put together through your photographs.

3. Make reliability a key ingredient to your mission. When you do as you say and often times go the extra mile without having to be asked, your clients notice. [Read more…]

The Biggest Assumption About Marketing – Are You Guilty?

What is the first rule of thumb when it comes to marketing your photography?

Never, ever assume anything about anything. Ever.

Because the moment you assume someone knows something, chances are you’ll get your marketing all wrong. Because its almost never true.

Here’s why.

You’ve been dreaming about being a photographer for years. You might even have a strong business, and have been photographing clients for years. But as you live and breathe photography, it becomes a part of who you are. You think in shutter speeds and aperture settings. You look at the world through an imaginary lens – all the time. And you constantly look at how you can gain new clients by the marketing materials you produce.

But your prospects and customers haven’t. They don’t work in your office. They don’t read photography magazines. And chances are they haven’t thought much about the art of photography. She has other priorities. She’s living in her own world 24 hours a day, and that world probably doesn’t involve a lot of research in photography.

Until she’s ready for your services. Then she starts her investigation. But even at that level, every prospect will have a different way of doing things. Some will spend hours researching online. Some will be happy with a flyer they’ve received in the mail.

Which means some will be better educated than others. But the problem is you don’t know which is which. [Read more…]

Is Your Photography Business A Mac or a PC?

Are there differences between Mac’s and PC’s? You bet. And I’m sure if I asked each and every one of you, you probably have a strong opinion one way or the other. Everyone knows the two are distinctly different. And while there are some generalizations everyone would probably agree upon, I’m also willing to bet you have your reasons for staying with one or the other.

A few weeks ago I wrote several posts on our recent adventure – downsizing. As a part of our process, we converted from being a PC based home and  business, to a Mac driven home and business. And now after several weeks of running almost exclusively Mac, I have my opinions on the differences between the two. And also have made quite a few correlations towards running a business.

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Price Matters

One of the top reasons people end up with PCs over Macs is cost. If you need to buy several computers and laptops for your small business, plus a variety of software packages, the cost difference can be tremendous. You purchase PCs to save money. And you purchase Macs to own a true work of art. PCs control about 90 percent of the US market share, while Mac’s control about 10 percent. There is a difference.

The same could be said for photographers. Many people want a quick photograph to mark a period of time. They don’t care about the art form; they are looking for representation. They want the smiling faces towards the camera, and artistic expression isn’t in their budget. They shop around for “value” and are happy with more photos for less money.

A smaller portion of people want to create a piece of artwork for their wall.  They want something they could never achieve on their own with a point and shoot. And they want something they won’t see in any of the homes of family and friends. They are willing to pay what its worth in order for the experience. [Read more…]

5 Reasons Your Clients Don’t Do What They Are Supposed To Do

Have you ever noticed that people don’t always do what you expect them to do?

Whether its your prospects not following through to sign the contract, or current clients not ordering in a timely manner, there are a variety of things you can do to fix the situation.

1. She misunderstands what the next step is

What makes sense to you might not make sense to your clients. You assume she knows what the next step, yet in her mind it may be anything but clear. Sit down and write down your sales process, with steps for each thing you expect her to do. Then make sure you explain things along the way. Friendly phone calls, or even a postcard in the mail is a great way to remind her of what step is next in line.

2. She is in a hurry

Your client has a lot on her mind. She’s thinking about dozens of things every day. And because she may not realize the next thing she has to do, its up to you to walk her through the steps. Lay out expectations, and add dates when appropriate. For instance when we met with potential wedding clients, we didn’t push sales. If they needed time, we always gave them time to think things over – and gave them a specific date we would hold their date without booking, which was usually around 48 hours. If we didn’t hear within that time frame, we would place a phone call just to check in and remind them their date will be open to other potential customers. Friendly reminders can lead to more business. [Read more…]

3 Marketing Lessons I’ve Learned From Driving Around Town

Have you noticed it in your neighborhood too?

I was driving around this past week, doing my normal weekly errands when I suddenly started to notice how things have changed. Buildings are empty. Little paper signs are stuck in the ground everywhere announcing sales, closings and opportunities. And as I went into some of the places I’ve been shopping for years, I also started noticing how empty things were. The “stuff” is still there, its just the aisles are void of people.

Yet even as stores are closing down, still others are being built and hordes of people are lining up to get in. Ikea opened up down the street from us at the end of July, and the traffic lines look like we’re in Disney World. They’ve needed police to direct traffic for over three weeks.

How can you apply that to your photography business? Read on.

In Every Economic Time, There Are Winners and Losers

Yep, I’ve mentioned that before. Some of the biggest businesses in the world today were started out of a garage during hard economic times. And in many cases, I do think we’re going to see a ton of innovation over the next 15 years. Why? Because if you can’t get a job, you have to make one for yourself.

There will be many big businesses that come from this time period. But there will also be a ton of small, health businesses that start from a dream and a little work.

If you are just starting out in photography, look to people that have already made it big in the photography industry. Then take what they’ve done, and add your own twist. Give people what they want today, and you’ll quickly develop a strong following. [Read more…]

10 Steps To Delivering The Best Customer Service To Your Clients

What does the term “customer service” mean to you?

According to Wikipedia, the definition is:

The provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.

That definition is key to understanding why some photography studios are busy, and others aren’t. The difference is in their understanding of what customer service truly is, and how often and when they connect with their loyal customers throughout their business life.

Customer service isn’t just how you handle the customer in a face-to-face conversation. Customer service extends to every point of contact you have with a person, from when they first notice you, until the moment you shut your doors and close down your business.

If you want to move ahead of your competition, make sure you have these 10 steps in place.

1. Have multiple ways to connect with potential customers.

And more importantly, check each source on a regular basis. In today’s world, people can connect with us via phone, email, text, Facebook and Twitter. And that just scratches the surface. While it is important to have multiple ways for a potential customer to connect with you, its even more important that you check each communication source regularly so you can answer questions immediately.

2. Use technology wisely.

If someone leaves you a voice message, let them know what to expect in return. If they send an email, send out an autoresponder message with the details. No matter what tools you use, you have a way of further connecting with your prospects and customers. Use it wisely.

For example, it’s easy to set up different forms and email addresses for different parts of your business. If you have a wedding page, when people fill out the form inquiring about your wedding services, use an autoresponder back to explain your services in more detail, and let them know you’ll be in contact in the next 24 hours to discuss their plans. Easy to do – and puts you one step up on the ladder of professionalism.

3. Show up on time for appointments.

It doesn’t matter how you connect with your prospects and clients, being on time sets the stage for future business. If you set up a phone call, make sure you dial their number on time. If you’re meeting in a coffee shop, be there a few minutes early so you can pick the perfect table, and have your laptop and other materials set up and ready to go. And if you are there for the shoot, be ready to go, camera and ideas in hand at the exact timeframe you selected. [Read more…]

5 Tiny Details That Can Change Your Potential Customer’s Experience

Have you ever sat down at a great restaurant, and loved the food – until you spot a hair? Instantly your opinion changes, you push the food away, and always remember “the hair” when anyone suggests that restaurant. It not only changes your opinion, it alters it for always.

That’s because we focus on details that matter most to us. Every person has a different perspective on customer service. And if a store, restaurant or service doesn’t match our perspective, we form an opinion and take that with us wherever we go.

Think back for a moment; I’m sure there are several stores and businesses in your area that you won’t use because of an experience. It touched you, affected you, and you hold your opinion close to your heart.

The same can happen within your photography business. While you can’t avoid this completely – there will always be some people you can’t please – there are things you can do to put your best foot forward. It’s something that you can refine again and again, throughout your career. Here are 5 tiny details that impact you and how your customers perceive what you do.

Your Words

Every word you use has meaning.

We use to use the phrase “we shoot people for a fee”, and it used to be funny. Until Columbine happened here in Colorado. Instantly that phrase took on a completely different meaning, and it was no longer socially acceptable.

That’s a little extreme, but the same applies with many of the words we use every day.

One hidden word can mean all the difference in the world to your potential customers.

Dig Deeper: How Much Power Your Words Really Have [Read more…]

7 Ways To Handle The Negative From Prospects and Clients

If you own a business, you have to deal with the positives and the negatives.

While most of your clients will love what you do, there will be the occasional client that hates everything, and you just can’t please, no matter what. Likewise you’ll get a ton of positive energy and great feedback online and on your social sites. Yet occasionally the negative will pop in there. What do you do? How do you handle the negatives?

1. Change your mindset. The minute you listen to or read a negative comment, you start to feel rattled, and quickly grow from upset to angry. How could this person feel this way? Ultimately it’s a reflection on you, and in many cases it just doesn’t sit well. Take a step back and breathe. Calm yourself down before you act or speak, and look at it through different eyes. Could what they are saying in any way be true? Then approach it in a positive way, and look for a way to re-explain yourself or provide new information.

2. Think first, act second. The easiest way to get into trouble online is to react immediately. We’ve all seen the responses to a negative comment on Facebook or Twitter escalate to where its being retweeted tens of thousands of times. The bantering goes back and forth until it literally goes viral, hurting the business owner much more than if he would have left the original comment alone. The problem stems from quick reaction. Take a step back and count to 10. Go out to lunch. Take a walk around the park. Calm down and think about the negativity. Only after you’ve had time away should you consider responding. And even then, think twice. – See Social Media – Your Best Friend or Your Worst Enemy?

[Read more…]

Increasing Your Awareness In Slow Times

What are you doing to stay in touch with your customers?

Every business is seeing a changiStock_000003693793XSmalle this year. What you sold last year may not be selling this year. Your sales and profits are probably a bit different too.

But its not that there isn’t business to be found out there. There are a ton of photography studios making money – good money – even as you read this.

In the words of Jeffrey Gitomer:
“Business is not down, it’s different.”

So what are you doing to “be different” as well?

One of the greatest assets of my business was my quarterly newsletter. I filled it with a ton of information and dozens of photographed. My clients cherished these newsletters – they really were almost like a mini magazine.

[Read more…]