Walt Disney once said, “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”
What are your clients saying to their friends and colleagues about you? Their words are potentially your best mode of advertising (or most effective mode of destruction) and there are definitely some things you do NOT want potential clients to hear from current or past clients.
I’m Jodee Ball, client relations director, from JP Ball Photography and today we are breaking down those comments that could inhibit the growth of your business.
“He was cheap.” – No one wants to be in this category. Fast food is cheap. Discount stores are cheap. Heck, some thrills are cheap. But, you? No. You’re not cheap. And I can bet that you don’t ever want ‘your name + cheap’ to be used in the same sentence. For more reasons than one…
I’m going to be totally blunt. Those who value “cheap” don’t value you as a professional. And if you are nearly giving away your work, you are setting your own standard and pulling in clients who shop price only, not value.
When you are first starting out, you aren’t comfortable charging the same as other experienced photographers in your area. That’s smart and understandable. The key is how you explain to your clients why you are “less expensive.” You would possibly say that you are building your portfolio. You would make it clear that at some point, there will be a price increase. Your client will echo your words, not create his/her own.
What do you want clients to say? “He was WORTH the price!”
“The photographer didn’t listen to us.” – Everyone wants to be heard. Senior clients have lots of ideas. It’s important to build a positive rapport with your clients. You may not be able to make their vision come to life, but communicate your professional thoughts. Take time with your clients. Set up a pre-session consultation.
What do you want clients to say? “Our photographer sat down and talked through all of our ideas!”
“Our photographer didn’t have a personality.” – The artist behind the camera is what makes an image come to life. How can you bring out the best of your clients’ personalities without sharing your own. I’m pretty sure my clients all think I’m totally some old whack chick. But, that’s ok! I’ll take that over the personality-of-a-dial-tone any day!
What do you want clients to say? Anything mushy gushy – “He is so funny!” – “She was super sweet!” – “OMG, I love her!”
“All of her work looks the same.” – Well, that’ll draw in other seniors. NOT. Seniors want unique sessions. If you are working with many seniors, especially within the same area, this could be a realistic challenge for you!
There are some simple things you can do to ensure your client feels his/her images are unique. Location and style are two of those things.
We all have favorite locations, but make sure you vary them up and look for new niches within those locations. Go scouting. Find new settings!
Intertwine your style with your senior’s style. Kind of goes back to listening to your client’s ideas. How can you mix your styles? Unless you’re willing to turn away a client, find out. Most likely, they wouldn’t be coming to you unless they like what they’ve seen already. That is, unless, they are coming to you because they heard you are cheap. Ouch. It’s a tangled web….
What do you want clients to say? “I love my images! They don’t look like everyone else’s pictures in town.”
“I waited forever to get my pictures.” – I always admit a self-convicting statement and here is this week’s admission. I get overwhelmed, busy and then mentally shut down. My ordering get pushed back day by day. What I’ve learned is that I need to communicate realistic expectations of myself to my clients. I also set deadlines for ordering to ensure delivery before graduation. Thankfully, I have been blessed with understanding clients over the years, but that doesn’t change the fact that efficiency and turn around time top my 2014 senior season business goal sheet.
What do you want clients to say? “I was so excited to get my pictures in today! I can’t believe it only took a couple of weeks!”
“My photographer gave us a lot of free stuff because we asked.” – Bargaining is for garage sales, not professional services. Does this mean you don’t give? Not really. But if you cave when your client expresses that you’re too expensive and they want the cd tossed in, then you won’t be in business too long. You’ll be burned out, bargaining to sell your equipment on the internet.
To be successful, you must be fair. Fair to yourself. Fair to your client. If a client tells another client what they got for free from you, then be ready for the windfall. Either the complaints when you don’t say yes again or the loss of your profits and sanity.
Be open and forthcoming with your pricing guides and policies. Let them know before the ordering session what trades are acceptable within collections or packages. And it’s okay to say no. Some people will always ask for something for free. I’m married to one of those people! Sometimes, I want to crawl under a table and never, ever come out! But, what that has taught me is a) there is still work to be done in my marriage and 2) that he is just conditioned to ask. Most people say no and it’s o.k. with us!
What do you want clients to say? Haha – they won’t admit they asked for free stuff from you if you say no…just if you say yes to their request!
Well, there you have it. Things you don’t want your clients to say to others. I’m quite sure we have all experienced negative feedback behind our backs. The best way to receive it is straight on, though. Maybe you could do a follow up questionnaire with your clients to gather feedback (good, bad and ugly). I’ve yet to do this myself. Maybe I’m afraid. Maybe I’m too busy getting in my orders on time. Maybe it’s time to put on my big girls pants. Ya think?