The good news is how easy it is to make changes. It takes time and consistency, but if you need to clean up your act a little, it's the "slow season" and what better time to start than right now?
- "There's no reason to listen to my clients, because I'm right!" The customer isn't always right, but you've got two ears and one mouth, so listen twice as much as you talk. And, when they're wrong, remember this is a word of mouth business. You don't have to cave on serious issues, just present a level of empathy and do your best to find a compromise solution.
- "Most consumers don't know what they're looking at anyway. They don't know what good photography is." So, it's your job to teach them. Show work that's unique, rather than what everybody else is showing. It's an education process. Tim Walden, in a Weekend Wisdom podcast from last year talked about the process they go through to help educate each client. They're not selling portraiture but an experience, and it's not a print, but a family heirloom to be handed down to future generations.
- Don’t give people a way to talk to you! This is a classic and I've written about it in the past. I'm still finding websites where photographers refuse to share a contact phone number. I get it if you work out of your home and don’t want to post an address, but give your potential clients a way to talk to you personally! I’m tired of template designed web email forms that allow me to contact to the photographer, but don't list a phone number. Even worse is artists who take too long to respond.
- "I don't have time to get involved in my community. I'm trying to build my business." This is one that just leaves me speechless. You're looking for the community to be good to you - so you've got to be good to your community! People like buying products from companies they perceive as giving back. You don't have to donate a kidney, just look for ways to be involved in a non-profit event or association.
- You've got a blog, but you only post once every other full moon. Your website is about what you sell, but your blog is about what's in your heart. It's the perfect vehicle to share your love for the craft, but when you don't share posts on a regular basis, your blog can actually hurt you. I've seen blogs where photographers only post every 1-2 months and leave their clients wondering if they're still in business. Blog posts don't have to be in real time. Build up a stash of twenty 200-300 word posts and then start posting twice a week consistently. Use one post from your stash each week and make the other one something fresh.
- Show your clients everything you’ve ever photographed. It's another one of my favorite mistakes. Your galleries need to be about quality NOT quantity. Trim them down to a dozen or so images in any one category, but make them your very best work! Only show "WOW" photographs, which are images so good you'd only have to show one to get hired. Stop confusing your audience by showing images anybody's Uncle Harry could get.
- "I love to slam my competitors, because it really shows how good my work is!" WHAT??? Seriously negative selling has never worked. Don't compare yourself to anybody, but instead highlight what makes working with you a great experience. Remember, your client is looking for reasons to trust you. It starts with the quality of your images, your passion for working with people and your ability to keep your promises. Be positive about why you're the best choice for them, and if they hit you with the question of why you're more expensive, then show them what makes your work the best.
Forty percent of the world's population is on the Internet. In the United States alone we're at eight-nine percent with just under three million Internet active households. And, if you want to check out other countries just click on the graph to the right.
Here's my point - every consumer has incredible reach today. That means for many of them they have the ability to influence thousands of people with just one post or tweet. You'll never be able to please everybody, but you can build a reputation that exceeds client expectations.
Make yourself habit-forming! Be an artist who your clients not only love working with but insist their friends get to know as well. Don't be afraid to show your passion for the craft, capturing memories and your clients. Be an artist who cares.