One of the most frequently asked questions I get from new photographers is how do I book more clients? I always ask what their client experience looks like. If you can create a client experience that wows your clients, they are going to become walking talking billboards ready to sing your name each and every time someone they know is looking for a photographer.
We all know word of mouth advertising is one of the best forms of advertising but how do you start to get people talking? The answer is your client experience, give them an experience they can’t help but talk about.
So what exactly is client experience, or a client workflow? A client experience is a step by step journey each client will take with you from booking to session prep, to the session, and finally your final product delivery.
There is one key to this process that is so simple yet often the MOST overlooked and that is the simple concept of under-promising and over-delivering.
So where are some areas where photographers can under-promise and over-deliver? The first would be on turn around time when it comes to images. If you know it is going to take 2 weeks for you to edit images and get them uploaded into your online gallery and sent over then you should tell them it will take longer than that. Just because it should only take you 2 weeks does not mean that it will every time. Kids get sick, you get sick. Life can happen and suddenly you could be passed that two-week mark. By building in a week or two buffer you are giving yourself some room to breathe if something comes up. But if all goes to plan you look like a hero for getting images back to your client faster than expected.
Another area photographers can under promise and over deliver is on the number of images. If you generally produce 50 images during a family session or an engagement session, then only promise 35-40. This does a few things. It is over-delivering on the promise, but it can also make clients feel a little extra special, and give them a bit of a confidence boost.
Welcome packets are one of the easiest ways to start the client experience off on the right foot. A welcome packet can be printed for more of a high end feel, or you can even design a simple pdf that you email over. Inside your welcome packet you can send tips on what to wear, and how they can prepare for their session.
For weddings, you could include planning tips for brides, sample timelines, or a list of top vendors in your area. My bridal guide includes the pros and cons of doing a first look, as well as educating my brides on sunset photos.
The point of the welcome packet is to provide all the information clients will need to have a successful portrait experience. Answer questions before they even ask them and it also validates their decision to choose you as a photographer right away. With wedding photography, clients are often booking you pretty far in advance and putting down a pretty big deposit. Getting a printed welcome packet in the mail shortly after cutting a check can help build your client’s confidence in you, and gives them a reason to talk about you to others.
I think this depends on your price points. If you are on the higher end I would definitely suggest printed. If you are on the lower end I think digital is totally fine! I have found that printed material does tend to get read more than just an emailed PDF.
Communication between you and your client is also part of the overall experience. After each and every session I shoot about an hour after I will send my clients a quick text. This text is short and just thanks them for choosing me as their photographer, tells them how much fun I had at the shoot, and how I can’t wait for them to see their final images!
After the wedding, I send out an email that congratulated them on their first day of marriage, and thanks to them again. I remind them that their blog post will be up on Wednesday and that they can expect their full gallery within 4-6 weeks. I know that this will take me far less time, but it sets the expectation so that I can exceed it.
The next part of the client experience I want to talk about is client gifts. Client gifts are such a fun way to show off your personality, and brand, and surprise and delight clients. Client gifts don’t need to be super fancy or expensive. Even a handwritten thank you, card counts, and will only cost a few dollars between the card and the stamp. Client gifts are fun, but they need to be purposeful. I send out a client gift each time after my clients have spent money with me for a few different reasons. One it validates their choice and builds anticipation, but two each gift also serves as a trigger for my clients to talk about me.
The Biggest thing I want to stress when it comes to client gifts is that you figure out the cost and make sure you are taking that into account when you are setting your prices.
The next thing about client gifts is making sure that they are on-brand for you. As a wedding photographer, my clients are young and have just moved in with each other. My brand is a pretty modern farmhouse I love all things chip and Joanna from HGTV’s show fixer upper. When clients book with me I send out their bridal guide, as well as a candle from Chip and Joanna’s store magnolia. I also include a small heart-shaped ring dish, and a handwritten card. I have a small ring dish next to my kitchen sink, and next to my bed to keep my wedding right safe while I’m cleaning or when I’m sleeping.Client gifts are fun and nice, but they need to serve a purpose, otherwise they are just taking away from your bottom line.
When designing your client experience, you want to make sure you map out what needs to happen at each step along the way and be sure to account for the cost if any for those steps. Remember to track your packaging costs, shipping, and any other supplies.
If you are trying to come up with ideas for client gifts check out teak and twine .com they have beautiful creative gift boxes that they will ship directly to your clients for you. It’s also a great spot to get ideas for gift boxes you could put together yourself!
While client gifts are great and can certainly help you up to your prices. The biggest part of the client experience is under-promising and over-delivering. I have talked to so many people who have worked with other photographers who told them photos would be ready in a few weeks. But in reality, it took months to get them back. The thing is if the photographer had told them it would be a few months from the get-go they probably wouldn’t have batted an eye at it. But now the expectation they had wasn’t met. This conversation usually ends with “ I like this photographer, she does good work but I probably won’t go back again.”
That is not something we want our clients to be saying to themselves or to anyone else. Instead, we want them to be blown away by their experience ready to book again, and getting all their friends on board too!
So here is your homework sit down this week and map out each step your client will go through with you. When will you send reminder emails, when will you send a welcome packet? When can they expect images back, when do you actually plan to have images back?
I’d love to hear how you are under-promising and over-delivering in your business. Join our Wise Photographer’s Facebook Group and join in on the conversation.