Business + Marketing
A stellar photo client experience is integral to every business model, not just for the clients currently being served but for those still deciding whether to do business with you. After all, happy clients write positive reviews that win over more happy clients, keeping a profitable cycle running in your photo business.
But it’s not just about the final result—a gallery of beautiful images isn’t enough to earn a glowing review (or referral!). Instead, clients need to feel as if your brand journey is designed to support their needs and simplify their lives.
[Read: 4 Strategies to Promote Your Photography Business in 2022]
As the average client shifts towards Gen Z, it’s essential for photographers to adapt their processes and remain mindful of what the market values in terms of a brand experience.
At the forefront for today’s consumers: technology.
While the pandemic has pushed all of us to adopt more digital habits, this shift is nothing new for Gen Z and young millennials who have grown up with computers, smartphones and other techy gadgets. For them, technology isn’t a “bonus” for a service provider—it’s an expectation.
As we head into the new year, consider how you can optimize your existing systems and processes with the latest technology to attract, impress and satisfy clients from booking to offboarding.
Here are four ways to use tech to enhance your photo client experience.
1. Respond to inquiries promptly.
In the hunt for a photographer, the average person will send inquiries to 6-10 contenders before making a final decision. Since you’re up against key competitors, it’s imperative to demonstrate a quick response time and attention to detail. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you have to be scanning your inbox every five minutes.
[Read: How to Get Photography Clients Using a Curated Portfolio]
An email response template is an effective way to engage leads right away, as you won’t have to worry about recreating the wheel for every inquiry. But it requires more than a simple “I’m working on this” memo. In addition to an estimated response time, it’s wise to provide additional resources to nurture the lead.
Consider including information about your services, links to helpful articles, answers to FAQs, or downloadable lead magnets to add value to your reply. By the time you sit down to talk in person, your prospects will already have a good idea of who you are and how your business can help them.
2. Streamline your booking process.
A common misconception is that the photo client experience starts when the ink has dried and onboarding has begun, but that isn’t the case today. It starts during the sales flow, long before someone is even considered a “client.” You are selling prospects on your brand experience, so they’re looking at more than just the services you offer; they want to know that you will make life easier and more enjoyable for them.
Tech allows you to remove the inadvertent mysteries that often surround the booking process. What’s next? How much do I owe and when? What does the timeline look like? When should I expect my first deliverable? Enhancing your workflow with a robust customer relationship management (CRM) tool can make it smooth and seamless for prospects to seal the deal.
[Read: You Can Outsource Photography Marketing in 6 Key Ways]
By automating the booking workflow, your clients can receive proposals, sign contracts, and pay deposits without any confusion. When each step is triggered by the previous action, there are no questions left unanswered about how to get started. Plus, you’ll have more time in your schedule without having to keep up with every lead manually.
A few choices to consider include Honeybook, Rock Paper Coin and Dubsado. While all are tried-and-true platforms, what matters most is how it fits into your business structure. Try out a few options until you land on the one that feels just right!
3. Make it easy to pay invoices in your photo client experience.
Nobody wants to jump through hoops and hurdles just to pay a bill, so it’s essential to remove any obstacles in your photo client experience that may discourage clients from following through on an invoice. The modern client already manages much of their finances online (and often via mobile apps), so it makes sense that businesses should meet them where they’re comfortable.
[Read: How to Price Your Photography—Key Factors to Consider]
It’s time to ditch the paper checks, wire transfers and any other payment process that requires more effort than necessary. Every business should be equipped to accept credit card payments through virtual means, as it’s the most secure and convenient way for clients to transmit funds.
Take advantage of invoicing software that can set billing schedules, automate invoices and payment reminders, accept payments and track revenue with minimal effort. Not only will this make it easier to pay you, but you’ll also find it easier to know your numbers and balance your books accordingly. Plus, you won’t have to chase down outstanding balances as much. It’s a win-win!
4. Take project coordination off your photo client’s plate.
From big projects like weddings and corporate events to smaller scopes like family shoots or graduation photos, you likely have a workflow that guides your process. It might even feel like second nature at this point, having gone through it so many times.
[Read: Creating a Wedding Photography Experience That Truly Caters To Your Couples]
However, be mindful that most clients are not as experienced with you. You may know that finalizing a shot list is the next step in your photo client experience, but it’s important to keep clients in the loop so they know what is expected from them.
Using a collaborative project management software allows you to bring your clients into the process so they can track progress and stay on top of their own deadlines. They’ll appreciate the hands-on experience and transparency of working with you.
It’s no secret that online reviews are treasured forms of social proof for business. After all, you likely read reviews before purchasing anything on Amazon and other online marketplaces! A stunning portfolio certainly goes a long way, but pair it with rave reviews from happy clients and you’ll see your sales skyrocket.
Nora Sheils is the co-founder of Rock Paper Coin, the first software platform to bring together wedding planners, couples, and vendors into one system for managing and paying contracts and invoices. She is also the founder and lead wedding planner of award-winning firm Bridal Bliss. In addition to recognition by Portland Business Journal in its 40 Under 40 series, she also earned a spot in The BizBash 500 for 2021.