When you hears the word “investment” or the phrase, “you need to invest” you may traditionally think of the stock market. Maybe you envision a throng of investors yelling, “SELL” while manhandling five cell phones and pushing competitors out of their way all while smooth talking clients. Is it obvious I watch too much TV?
Investing can mean so much more than putting your money into a 401K, 403B, CD or any of those other portfolio things. As photogs, we get to invest in PEOPLE! How awesome is THAT??? And not just people, young impressionable people. People who may need our guidance, our encouragement, and our skills as photographers to show them what fabulous people they are becoming.
There are many ways to invest in our clients. Time is a big one. I know, I know, we all already spend a lot of time on our clients, more than they probably even realize we do, but it’s important to let them know THEY are important to us and we don’t see them just as a client. There are those of you out there who do pre-session consultation meetings to get to know your humans (yea, I said humans, I’m sick of the word clients and people, so I’m going to say teens or humans from here on out).
Those meetings are great if you are able to spend that face-to-face time with them. For those who do them, I hear nothing but good things. For me, it’s hard to make that work, so I have conversations on the phone and use texting. It may sound a little impersonal, but really, kids love to text if you didn’t already know that (and unless you live under a rock, you did!) It’s convenient for them as well as for myself, I can answer when time allows. The texting is great, because a lot of my girls especially, will send me photos of outfits to get my option and advice. I LOVE doing this and they like that I take the time to do so. It lets them know I want them to look and feel their best on the day of their shoot.
Another way to show them you care is find out what they are interested in. By surveying or speaking with them, you can find out what is special to them and incorporate it into their session. That could take the form of a special location, some props, a person or even just a conversation. I had a shoot with a great fella last summer, but he wasn’t too excited for his photos. Once we got on the topic of the CBS show “Survivor”, it was awesome! He totally perked up, especially when I told him I was also a fan. It just made the session feel like so much more than just photos. And I never want a session to feel like just photos. Blah.
There are a lot more ways to show your teens you are vested in them: package up their images and products all nice and sweet or send a heartfelt handwritten thank you note. I often throw in a little gift, either something a little extra that perhaps they wanted but didn’t purchase, or something unique I don’t really offer on my product list. Yea, I know, giving stuff away is not a way to pay the bills, but it’s just a little something. And sometimes, that little something can turn into something bigger. I can’t lie; I have a bleeding heart when it comes to teenagers, even though we all know they can be punks when they want to be (I say that with a lot of love, I miss teaching those little punks). So for them to know I care about them as a HUMAN and not just a client, well, that means the world to me. I like when people take vested interest in me…don’t you? Keep that in mind as you go over your workflow and processes, if we want them to invest in US, we must first invest in THEM.