If your business is anything like the majority of photographers’, booking clients to fill your schedule requires constant effort.
While investing in marketing is absolutely worthwhile, many established photographers’ best source for potential clients is their past clients! Having worked with them before, you will have already determined them to be a target client and learned their preferences.
Past clients should be the easiest clients to book, provided you have delivered strong work and customer service with their previous sessions. But because what should be the easiest in theory is not always as simple in practice, we have a few tips to help you cultivate customer loyalty with your past photography clients so you can work with them again the future!
1. Keep in touch.
You do not want your past clients to completely forget you when they book their next photo shoot—and it does happen! It is likely that clients will go months if not years in between sessions; be sure you stay on their radar.
One simple way to ensure that clients remember you is to add them to your email newsletter list. You can read our tips for email newsletters here.
Seeing your name and a short message from your business in their inbox every now and then will help them remain connected to your business even when they are not in need of a photographer—and your name will be the first that comes to mind when they are! And being informed of your current specials (for Christmas card portraits, Mother’s Day shoots, etc.) may inspire them to book a session they might not have otherwise.
An email newsletter is a great first step, but look for opportunities to be even more personal. Photographer Sarah Petty describes on her blog how a 60-word handwritten note to a former client’s daughter brought in a $10,000 order (read it here). After seeing her client’s daughter featured for sporting success in the local newspaper, she sent a congratulatory card.
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This small gesture of writing a handwritten note (which most people now receive so few of) meant so much to the client and her daughter that they scheduled family and senior sessions soon after!
There are infinite ways to reconnect with past clients, from including them in your email list to sending a handwritten note to calling to inform them of current specials. The most important thing is that your clients hear from you regularly and feel taken care of and respected by your business.
2. Exceed expectations.
While meeting a client’s expectations is vital to success as a photographer, exceeding those expectations is what ensures that you will build strong customer loyalty. From the first interaction with a client, you should be considering what they expect from working with you and how to go beyond.
One way to apply this point to past clients is to contact them with something unexpected of value. Their session with you may have been last year or even less recent, but it is never too late to surprise and delight! This could be sending a small anniversary gift and card to a couple whose wedding you photographed, or retouching an additional photo from a session and sending a small print as a Christmas gift.
One inexpensive but valuable way to exceed past clients’ expectations is with StickyAlbums. Because a membership with StickyAlbums allows for unlimited custom mobile apps, we recommend users create apps for favorite past clients—the ones you would really like to shoot again. Surprise these clients with a text or email linking to their mobile app and don’t be surprised when they contact you to book a session!
3. Establish a VIP program.
Everyone loves to feel like a VIP—allow your past clients that chance! Schedule mini sessions only for your VIPs, offer discounts on print orders and exclusive specials, or give punch cards that allow VIPs a free session fee every few shoots. However you decide to honor your VIPs, creating an elite group with special access and pricing will contribute to the sense of loyalty your clients feel to your brand.
You should begin the process of cultivating customer loyalty from the moment you first connect with a potential client, but that process does not end when the order is delivered. If you make an effort to keep in touch, exceed expectations, and treat repeat clients like VIPs, your brand will have a strong and loyal following. The word-of-mouth referrals and repeat bookings that result will be well worth the time you invest!