10 Ways to Find and Keep Clients for Life
by Alycia Alvarez and Kevin Jairaj
May 01, 2012 —
The marketing aspect of running a photography business isn’t always the most enjoyable part for a photographer; however, to be successful, it is the most important part. It’s a fact that a mediocre photographer with mad marketing skills will ultimately be more financially successful than the most talented photographer who does not know how to market and run his or her business. In today’s economic climate, finding clients can be a challenge, therefore once you do find a great client, it’s crucial that you do all you can to cultivate that relationship and keep that client for life! Here, Kevin and I have put together our top ten tips for doing just that.
1. Advertising: One of the 4 Ps of marketing is promotion, which is key to getting the word out about your business. A fellow photographer once told me, “Running a business without advertising is like winking at a pretty girl in the dark—you know what you’re doing but no one else does.” I have always remembered this and taken it to heart. There are many forms of advertising, such as printed media (magazines, newspapers, directories), postcards, business cards and direct mail. It is important to understand who your target client is and to get your name in front of them as often as possible.
2. Web Site/Blog: Having a nicely presented Web site is very important for photographers these days, as it is often your first interaction with prospective clients (we like to use www.bludomain.com for templates). Make sure to keep your site updated and fresh with your best images, showing only the type of work you would like to photograph. Also, be sure to include your contact information. A blog is a great way to share your most current work. I like to include personal posts on my own blog to show a little personality so that clients can get a feel for who I am as both a photographer and a person. Updating blogs and Web sites on a regular basis also increases your SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Last year when I moved from Florida to Texas, I hired an SEO analyst to help me get my Web site and blog listed on the first page of Google. This was a huge success and out of my last 10 clients, 9 of them found me by doing a Google search. If you would like a FREE consultation to research and analyze the potential to reach the first page of Google in a few months, we recommend Arif Burr at Juggernaut Marketing (732-535-6709. Mention Kevin Jairaj or Alycia Alvarez for the free analysis.)
3. Social/Viral Networking: If you don’t already have one, I highly recommend creating a Facebook Fan Page. Utilizing Facebook, you can create a “buzz” about your business, exciting others to want to “share” with their friends. Some ways to get the most out of your Facebook page is to run/share current promotions and specials, post some favorites from your latest sessions (and tag those clients so all their friends and family will see, too), create contests, announce new products—the sky’s the limit! Other popular social networking sites we use are Twitter and Pinterest. In fact, our blog company (www.photoidentities.com) just implemented a “pin this” button on our blogs so that readers can pin and share our work with others, allowing us and our work to reach people we may not have otherwise reached, and hopefully creating new clients in the process!
4. Networking: Creating relationships with other businesses and vendors in your area is a win-win for everyone. One way we use our networking is to offer gift certificates to our local businesses for them to share with their best clients, even using their own logo on the certificate at times to show the gift is from them. This allows them to reward their best clients and send them to us at the same time. Some local vendors we work with are florists, jewelers, bridal shops, children’s boutiques, pediatricians, realtors, spas, etc., any business that targets the same market you desire.
5. Displays: Having displays is a guaranteed way to find new clients. Most of the time, being allowed to have a display up in a local office is free, with the only cost being for the prints and/or framing. It’s also a good idea to have a set of business cards or postcards at the location. Also, be sure to visit the office often to replenish your cards, check on your prints and nurture the relationship with that business. I sometimes even take a goodie basket to the office when I visit! Suggestions for office displays include: pediatrician, dentist, bridal shop, jeweler, children’s clothing stores (really, anyone you would consider networking with as mentioned in #4).
6. Creating The EXPERIENCE: The “Experience” refers to many things in a photography business, the obvious being how the actual session goes. Is the client having fun? How can you make it fun for everyone? I make it my goal to make every session upbeat and fun. The Experience also relates to other aspects of your business, such as your logo, branding and packaging. As wedding and children photographers, we know that our target market is women, and women love pretty things! I explain it like this: a gorgeous pink Victoria’s Secret bag with pink tissue paper is much more impressive (and fun!) than a plastic grocery bag. Don’t go broke on packaging, but don’t skimp either.
7. Quality Products: We firmly believe we are only as good as our weakest vendor. We have hand-selected every vendor we use, from prints to albums to frames. We only want the best and highest quality for our clients. (Some of our favorite vendors are whcc.com, azuraalbums.com and gnpframe.com.)
8. Unique Products: In my children’s photography studio, I offer fun “extras,” such as custom handbags and jewelry (ginaalexander.com and kimbrastudios.com). I also try to create new products for different promotions I may be offering. For example, I created a series of “Kid Quote Album” templates geared toward younger children as a Mother’s/Father’s Day promotion. I send a list of 50-plus questions to my clients and have them interview their children with them. The answers they give are just adorable: “What are daddies made of?” A four-year-old’s answer: “Skin.” (Kid Quote samples can be seen/purchased at rrwebstore.com)
9. Client Referral Rewards Program: Your clients love you and tell everyone they know. Reward them for this! The best kind of advertising truly is word of mouth. For every client referral, I mail a handwritten thank you note with a $50 certificate toward prints or a future session. Some other ways I have rewarded clients is with gifts, including notecards (using prints of some of my fine-art work), or if I know they love the custom jewelry or handbags, I will order them one as a surprise!
10. Giving Donations: Donations are a great way to get your name out there and is just good karma all around. I often give donations to many different causes and events. I always have a nice display with a print or two and some business cards included with the donation. Some of my favorite places to donate (either my time or with a gift certificate for a session and a print credit) are The Junior League, private schools (often my clients’ children go there), The Heart Gallery, various Golf Events for different causes or any worthwhile charitable gala/event that approaches me.
Alycia Alvarez is a portrait photographer specializing in babies and children, and has studios in Dallas, TX, and Tampa, FL. Alycia’s objective with each person she photographs is to create an image that will reveal something truly unique about the individual—sharing a little bit of who they are, instead of just what they look like. Her goal is to create portraits that are not only loved and cherished by friends and family, but to create works of art that make complete strangers stop and admire. www.alyciaalvarezphotography.com
Kevin Jairaj is a wedding and portrait photographer out of Dallas, TX. He uses techniques he learned as a fashion photographer to achieve distinct results and create dramatic shots that leave his clients delighted. He has won first place in WPPI’s 16 x 20 and 8 x 10 competitions; he has been in the PPA Loan collection numerous times; he’s been awarded a Top Knots of Wedding Photography by PDN; and he has had his work published in countless major newspapers and magazines around the world. www.kjimages.com.
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