In Weekend Wisdom, Don Komarechka talked about crowd funding and his relationship with his followers over the two year process to publish his book, Sky Crystals. Michele Celentano talked about the relationships with her clients for family portraiture in Mind Your Own Business. Over and over again, ask any successful photographer the secrets to their success and you'll hear something about building strong client relationships.
It's not rocket science, but it does take dedication and time. With new clients you have to take the time to get to know each other, which for wedding photographers is the biggest benefit of an engagement session. With portrait, children and family photographers, it's about keeping in touch all year long.
So, here are just a few suggestions to help you get stay on target...
- Everyone is always talking about finding new clients and new databases. Well, your best database of all is your past subjects. Pick up a phone and check in now and then with your top clients. Keep track of birthdays and anniversaries. Make yourself a caring part of their lives.
- For wedding photographers, David Ziser once described the perfect anniversary gift for a past bride and groom, a free anniversary portrait sitting. Think about the power of a bride telling her friends about how her photographer contacted her to wish her happy anniversary!
- Put everyone in your database on your press list. Keep them in the loop on events, new announcements and promotions of anything new you're doing in your business. They're your best ambassadors.
- Then there's what I call the "just for the hell of it" approach. You already know the importance of constantly practicing new techniques and fine-tuning your skill set. Pick up the phone and call a past client in the area. Set up a visit to try out a new technique you're practicing and use them as your subjects. You don't have to have a blatant purpose to sell anything. Just use the images to build some great content for your blog and let them be the ones to help spread the word.
Maintaining great relationships is critical to the growth of your business, but don't forget the shooting session itself.
Good buddy, Matthew Jordan Smith, talked about it once in a podcast. He spoke about the importance of doing his homework and knowing what each client liked for music during a shoot, foods...anything that made them feel special and at times beautiful, even with a subject like Vanessa Williams. How you make your clients feel during a shoot will almost always trump your skill set!
In this video, thanks to Profoto USA, Matthew talks about making the shoot fun...again, it's about his long time relationship with the subject.