You’d think that with all the work photographers have to put into landing a new client, they’d hang onto them for dear life. Most try — and many succeed — but lots of clients are still lost every day by photographers who didn’t think too hard about what they needed to do to keep them.
1. Arrive late, leave early
Sometimes, the cause is simple. Poor punctuality can often irritate a client enough to cancel a job before you’ve even a taken a shot. That’s particularly true in corporate photography where time is money and executives can react strongly to being kept waiting. Few things will get you canned faster then keeping a CEO tapping his foot before his portrait. You might include a penalty clause in your contract to protect yourself against clients who make you hang around for hours, but clients pack a similar clause — even if they don’t mention it.
If you don’t turn up on time, there’s a good chance they won’t pay.
2. Miss empathy
Punctuality is pretty clear and even if it’s not stated, most photographers accept it. Lack of empathy though is much harder to define. Photographers have to work for all sorts of people and even if they only have real chemistry with a few of them, they need to avoid friction with all of them. Sometimes, just being yourself isn’t enough.
When different personalities feels like they’re getting in the way, the best strategy is to retreat is into professionalism. Forget about the jokes and the rapport, and just focus on the shots.
3. Equipment failure
Just as keeping a relationship professional can help you to keep a client, so being unprofessional can lose one fast. If your lights won’t light, your backgrounds won’t stay up or you keep your client waiting because you can’t find the off button on your mobile phone, you won’t be able to call the shoot a success. And it’s unlikely the client will call you again.
4. Overpromise, underdeliver
One of the biggest mistakes that marketers make in any new business is to promise the moon, then fail to deliver. You might have done a fantastic job, but all you’ll get out of it is disappointment on the face of a client who expected you to make her look like a cover girl instead of just beautiful.
A better strategy is to do the opposite: underpromise and overdeliver.
If you can keep a few bonuses aside, such as a disc full of images or some free outsized prints, and not tell the client about them before the shoot, instead of being disappointed they’ll be pleasantly surprised.
And instead of canning you, they’ll tell their friends about you.
5. Finishing the job
This is probably the biggest reason that photographers lose a client in a day.
They finish the job… and fail to follow up.
Not every job can lead to another one, but every photographer should be thinking about how they can turn this job into a long-term professional relationship. That might mean just adding the client to your Christmas card list, letting them know that you shoot christenings as well as weddings or contacting them when it’s time to update the image.
If you can come up with an idea that will get your client thinking, you’ll still have him the next day.
Photo by turkguy0319
[tags] marketing to photography clients [/tags]