Work hard to rethink and reshape your approach to business in order to incorporate the values required for the task of weeding out the clients you don’t want.
6 major areas that I believe have the greatest impact on this weeding-out process:
Personality and Professionalism
You’re a professional photographer, not an amateur wanting to make a few extra bucks on the weekends (nothing wrong with that, by the way), but someone who has invested time, hard work, and money into the creation of a real business.
You can’t expect your prospects to take you seriously when you’re sending them messages that you are not a serious photography BUSINESS.
They may not consciously notice, but it registers with them nonetheless, in your general demeaner, the way that you dress, and the way that you act, and the level of professional enthusiasm you have for your business.
For example, it’s very easy to get frustrated when things are not going well, but are you allowing your customer to see any hint of that?
Mood and emotion come across very clearly in person, of course, but they can also be felt on the telephone, and even by email.
Even when you write your emails, write them as you would a physical letter in a friendly business tone, and a professional sign-off.
The Look And Personality Of Your Website And Blog
You must have a premium website, but the way it’s presented makes all the difference in the world.
Make sure you are using conversational marketing copy in an effort to build a relationship with the prospect or are you being “fluffy” and relying on just your photographs no calls to action?
Make a stand and show your difference.
You can’t afford to be the photographer who is willing to do anything and everything, as that comes across as appearing to be desperate.
Focus on one major thing, and aim to be the absolute best you can be at it.
Your Social Footprint
Social media has ingrained itself in our society, and we can’t believe that there was a time when we didn’t have it.
And that has made us lose sight of what social media really means for business.
First, if you’re using your Facebook personal profile for business, stop it and set up a business page before Facebook finds out and terminates your account.
Next, as business owners we can’t always use social media in the same way others do.
That means keeping religious and political views to ourselves, not bad-mouthing other people, eliminating profanity, and not engaging in those viral “games” that seem so popular at the moment.
As professional photographers, we are our own personal business ambassadors, and it’s important to make sure we put our best social footprint forward, as it were, at all times.
#4: Setting Proper Expectations
One way to make sure you keep a hold of the clients you want is to manage their expectations.
Do they know, from the very beginning of the business relationship, what they should expect from you, and what they can do if those expectations are not met?
Do they also know what you expect from them?
You don’t have to go all “corporate” on them here, but this is where your policies should be clear and unambiguous. For example, what can they expect to happen if they miss an appointment with you, or want to cancel a print order, or need to reschedule a session?
The sooner you can set the right expectations, the better off your business relationships will be.
With respect and trust, comes prestige and a higher perceived value…
Again, the people you should be working with will appreciate this level of openness, while the rest will quietly go their own way.
#5: Pre-Booking Consultations
This is where too many photographers are making a big mistake – by missing out this step altogether.
How are you going to really know if the client is a good fit for you unless you meet them personally, before you allow them to make a booking?
The same applies to them, too.
Meeting prospects face to face gives you the opportunity to make sure they know everything they need to know about you, your business, your policies, how you are the right photographer for them, and what they can expect from you.
You can also discuss every aspect of the process with them, to make them see you truly care about them, and every element that goes into the creation of your photography.
As before, this will weed out the remainder of the people you probably don’t want to work with, while keeping the ones who really resonate with you.
#6: The Client Experience
Finally, what is the experience of working with you like for your clients?
Are you over-delivering in every conceivable way, and wowing your clients to the point that they can’t help but rave about you?
What could you do to make the experience of working with you utterly exceptional?
Think about your own experiences with other businesses.
Who would you rave about to your friends, and why?
Which businesses have you dealt with lately that have been, well, totally forgettable?
Trust me, your clients are not going to talk excitedly to their friends about you unless you totally screw up (not a good thing) or you sweep them off their feet.
I Deliberately Missed Out Price
Note that I did not include price as a means to filter your prospects and clients.
Why is that?
Because price should be the very last factor upon which a client bases her decision on whether or not to work with you…
If she doesn’t have the money to work with you, that’s one thing, but if the decision comes down to comparing your prices with another photographer, then you’ve failed somewhere in the communication process to establish a relationship, build trust, and demonstrate the intangible value of working with you.
I hope this has helped give you something to think about – this is one area that many photographers are neglecting, meaning that you have a wonderful opportunity to be different and shine.