I am having a hard time thinking of a business that only wants their clients to purchase from them one time and never come back. It just doesn't happen. As photographers we count on repeat business. Who wouldn't love to have an ever growing client list with loyal, repeat customers at it's base? While the main goal of your marketing is to get new clients in the door, let's explore some ways that we can keep those customers coming back over and over again.
Build a Relationship:
This doesn't mean you have to "do lunch" or babysit each others children. Building a relationship with the client means that you get to know them in the course of your session, sales, and consultations. Ask questions about them and their family. Find areas where you have similar interests. Maybe you have children the same ages. Maybe you went to the same college, or a rival college. There is no rule that says you can only talk business. You will provide a better, more personalized service if you know your client. I never meet a client the first time at their baby's session. I schedule a consultation first. I find that most of the time my new moms don't really know what they want. By getting to know them I can provide them with exactly what they wanted even if they couldn't articulate it.
Provide Amazing Customer Service:
Obviously this should be second nature to a business owner. But let's take it a step further. Personalize the customer service experience to each client. I have a client who has become a dear friend over the last three years that I have been photographing her son. She did not expect to ever have children and she waited a very long time to adopt her little boy. She brings him to me every three months. It's important to her to capture every stage of his development. She also really likes prints and has them hanging on every wall in her home. She is my most loyal customer. Because she spends so much time and money with me I will go to her home to do a personalized sales session. I help her find the right places to hang new prints and I make suggestions as to how best to display the images she will not be hanging. Some clients are more low maintenance. They trust me to make the decisions on backdrops or locations. They always order the same sized prints, and I see them once a year. They come back to me because they know that I already know what they want and they don't want to have to think about it. In both cases I have learned my clients needs and I make sure that have an amazing experience every time they come to see me. In exchange they are my best cheerleaders.
Keep it Fresh:
Even the most loyal of client is prone to boredom. Your business is comfortable for them but we don't want anyone getting too comfortable do we? Make sure you offer a new product every now and then. Give your repeat customers a special promotion. Add a loyalty program so they can earn free products. Referral programs are a win win. Your clients need to know that you appreciate their business. They need to know that you consider them friends.
Our industry give us a unique opportunity to become friends with our clients and their families. If we take advantage of this opportunity we create clients for life.
Next week we'll discuss the issues that may arise because of the relationships we cultivate with clients and the joys and difficulties of doing business with family and friends.