Nobody wants an angry customer. Here’s how to prevent confusion, avoid conflict, and keep your photography clients happy—from first call to final delivery!
Want happy clients? Here’s what to do.
From wedding photographers to family photographers to school photographers to event photographers: we all want our clients to be happy with us and our work. After all: happy clients = higher sales, repeated bookings, and prequalified referrals.
Let’s explore a workflow that will keep your business running smoothly and your clients raving about how awesome you are! Keep reading to learn how to:
- Prequalify your clients
- Get real about what you do (and don’t do)
- Be brand-forward in everything you do
- Deliver amazing follow-through
#1: Prequalify your clients
Sometimes, when we really want to book a client, we’ll (perhaps unconsciously) glide right past aspects of our workflow that those prospective customers actually need to know. If you want to fill your calendar with your ideal clients, however, you need to qualify your leads. This means you need to connect with your inquirer and make sure they’re the right fit for your small business.
Create a pre-booking workflow
Frisco, Texas, photographer LaJune King guides all of her potential clients through an intake process. This includes a free 15 minute consultation before they’ve even booked her.
She has two customer service goals during this consultation:
- Find out what product or service her potential client wants and needs
- Share how she can (or can’t) help them get what they want and need
Ask questions like these to better understand your customer:
- What are you looking for in a photographer?
- Have you had experiences with any other photographers in the past?
- What do you hope to get out of your photography experience with me?
- Do you have any specific concerns we can discuss?
Use your prospect’s responses to guide your own replies.
“I reassure them that they’re going to have an amazing time—especially those who say they’ve been burned by a photographer in the past. Because photography is a huge investment. My family clients invest upwards of $4000 with me, so I need them to know that their one-hour shoot is going to be the best hour of their lives!”
#ShootProofPRO Tip: Sell what people want to buy
It’s a well-known truth that people happily pay for solutions to problems and good feelings. If you can deliver both to your clients, you’ll have loyal fans for life!
#2: Get real about what you do (and don’t do)
Now that you know what your prospect wants and needs, it’s time to reveal what you, as their photographer, want and need. Remember: a fantastic client experience is ultimately a collaborative effort. Here’s what that means…
Speak confidently about your rates
Invest time into developing data-based pricing—prices based on your costs and income needs. When you know your rates are grounded in logic and reality, you can share them with confidence.
Be clear about your shooting and delivery process
Do you only make portraits during the “golden hour”? Is a second-shooter required for all event coverage? Do you limit the number of images included in your photography packages? Is there an extra fee for retouching?
Don’t just put your photography session details in a contract then call it a day. Walk through your contract and package details with every single client. Setting expectations like this opens the door for questions, and helps prevent someone from later claiming, “I didn’t see that part.”
“I tell people up-front that my family usually joins me at portrait sessions. So now my clients expect to see my kids and my husband, even if they are just off to the side giving out water. It’s at the point now where my clients are disappointed when I don’t at least bring my son or my daughter!”
#ShootProofPRO Tip: Get face-to-face
It’s often impractical to meet a potential client in person for a simple consultation. But you can still establish strong customer relationships by connecting with them “in person.” Use Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, or even a simple phone call. A person-to-person connection goes a long way toward helping you and your client determine whether you’re the right fit for one another.
Don’t make promises you can’t keep
It’s SO tempting to say “yes” all the time. But if you’re going to run a successful business and develop strong customer loyalty, you have to learn to say “no.”
- don’t photograph posed newborns; but here’s a referral to someone who can!”
- won’t change your body shape, but I’ll gladly retouch any non-permanent blemishes!”
- can’t offer a discount on that service, but I’d love to include a complimentary 8×10 with your session!”
It’s also okay to say, “Hm, let me put some thought into that and get back with you.” If you struggle with saying no or providing viable alternatives, that simple phrase may just save you from yourself!
#3: Be brand-forward in everything you do
You’ve probably heard people talk about how to “set yourself apart,” and that can sound like you need to make photos unlike anyone else, or that you need to somehow achieve rockstar status with your photography. The truth is much simpler than that!
LaJune King defines her brand personality with a simple, common candy.
“I don’t just promise my clients a five-star experience; I give them a Pink Starburst Experience! There’s a jar of pink Starbursts on my desk during calls. I hand them out after a session. And when I send a client their photo products, I include a thank you card with a pink Starburst enclosed. It’s an inexpensive way to show my clients I care and provide stellar customer service!”
How to define your brand personality
A well-defined photography brand envelopes everything you do. It’s in your style of editing, the way you write your emails, your logo and photography website, the thank-you gifts you send, the boundaries you set, the paperwork you deliver, and your overall work ethic.
Here’s how two major brands enhance their brand experience:
- Westin crafted a signature fragrance that fills their hotel lobbies and is available for purchase
- Coca-Cola designed personalized bottles for their #ShareACoke campaign, which currently has over 650k tags on Instagram alone
You don’t have to be a multi-billion dollar corporation to create a fun brand.
These creatives use their website contact forms to advance their brand personality! And LaJune speaks directly to her target audience by defining herself as a “Personal Branding + Family of Color Photographer.”
#ShootProofPRO Tip: Your brand isn’t actually about you
That’s right. Your brand isn’t about you. It’s about the people you want to attract, book, photograph, and ultimately convert into lifelong clients. Consider how your brand personality will come across to potential customers. Can it help help you gain happy customers? Will it help you build word of mouth?
#4: Deliver amazing follow-through
A great client experience doesn’t end at booking, or when the session is completed, or even after your client’s products have been delivered. If you want your business to become synonymous with “photography” in people’s minds, then you need to follow up and follow through.
“I try to find a way to give everyone the Pink Starburst Experience, even if they don’t book with me. Because one day that person may be ready to invest in luxury photography, and if I’ve done my job right, they’ll remember me and want me to be the photographer that they spend money with.”
Stay top-of-mind, year after year
Blog newsletters, holiday postcards, hand-written thank-you notes, anniversary reposts on social media, quarterly print and product sales, referral programs, repeat client discounts: these are all ways of building a community, solving problems, and delivering on your brand promise long after that first 15-minute consultation.
When prospects and clients get the ongoing sense that you care, want to connect, and are available to them when they’re ready, they can stop comparing prices and will instead begin comparing client experiences. And they’ll want what you have to offer enough to invest their hard-earned money.
So stop trying to be the “most affordable.” It’s time to create an experience that will guarantee happy clients and a thriving business!
Written by ANNE SIMONE | Featuring LAJUNE KING, PHOTOS BY LJK