Photography is important almost solely because your job is to preserve memories. Clients and customers come to us and trust us to capture a moment, an hour, or an entire day with an event that they want to remember forever.
This is the number one reason why the client always comes first in our business plan. While every photographer’s goal is to grow, create art, and be profitable, all of that comes down to customers and how we make each and every one of them feel.
Everyone Has Needs
While photographers have needs too, the needs of the clients always come first. Always. They are the paying customers, and they are the mouthpiece of your business even when their session might be over. Their needs are specific and sometimes extreme, and that’s why photographers are closest to magicians.
It’s your job to satisfy these needs to the absolute best of your ability. There’s a certain sixth sense of special super power that photographers have that aligns their own needs with those of the client so that everyone can win, but there are also customers who are difficult to deal with.
They send you images of a style they want that doesn’t match the style your entire portfolio suggests, but they insist on you being their photographer. It’s still up to you to give them what they want while making sure to do your business justice. It’s a tough path to lead, but it will make you a more flexible and valuable business owner.
They Have Wants
Wants are different than needs in many ways. You know how the saying goes, “you can’t always get what you want?” Well, this is usually only true for you. The client will have wants, and you must try to meet their needs and wants.
There are a lot of factors that influence wants and the largest and most influential are the trends of the industry. Maybe a dark and moody style is your personal taste, but the trend is leaning toward the light, bright, and airy style. It’s a difficult thing to stay true to your style while still pleasing those clients who insist on following the trends.
The most important part of this section is communication. There has to be clear communication based on what the client wants and needs and a plan created by all parties to make sure this happens. Photographers also must be okay with saying “no” sometimes. Not all clients are ideal clients, and it’s much easier to say no now and then to regret working with someone a few weeks down the road.
You have to deliver. Now that you have determined the needs and wants of your clients, aligned (or not) those with your own style and goals then you must follow through.
Don’t’ promise more than you can give because you never want a client feeling unsatisfied. The follow through is one of the most important parts of being in the photography business because that’s how future clients are made.
One good experience for one person is not enough. It should be your goal to try and give the best and most flawless experience to each and every client you work with so that they will want to share those experiences. The most people who have positive and above and beyond experiences, the more likely those people are to share those experiences with others.
This is a ton of work and is something you can practice and get better at. Giving someone a great experience is not a “born with it” kind of skill. Though there are plenty of examples of photographers who are really good at customer service and communication, everyone can do something to improve themselves in this area.
The customer might not always be right, but they are never wrong. Remember, sometimes it’s okay to say no, but if you do say yes, the client always comes first. It’s a game of balance and bravery knowing when to take the lead and when to let the client lead the way. Photographers are amazing in how they mash together so many skills from art to technology, to customer service all in just a few hours.
If you can identify and clearly communicate the client’s needs and wants and match them to something you are able to follow-through with confidently, then this will help give the best experience possible as a photographer. It’s a journey, and each client is a lesson in the book of business and taking each of these small pieces of advice and implementing them will allow you to reach a more prosperous place in your future.