Finding and keeping the right clients is a key business strategy that takes proper planning and implementation. For example, do you know who your ideal clients are? What market are you truly trying to target?
Before creating a strategy to earn and keep the business of your ideal client, you must first know who your clients are.
Here's an example:
I'm not a wedding photographer, but I'll approach a real world example of how this getting your ideal client might work.
Jerry Ghionis - Ever heard the name? Here's what the Google description says for his JerryGhionis.com: Widely regarded as one of the top five best wedding photographers in the world, Jerry Ghionis is based in Beverly Hills, California and Melbourne, Australia.
If you want to become one of the five best wedding photographers in the world and start getting higher end wedding photography business, you need to know what your target market wants and needs and work toward fulfilling their wants and needs. You cannot keep shooting $1,000 weddings and providing $1,000 quality if you want to get higher end weddings. The brides willing to drop $5,000+ on a wedding photographer (top guys are at $20,000+) are NOT, I repeat, NOT, as a general rule even going to talk to or seriously consider the $1,000 wedding photographer.
A friend of mine is a wedding photographer and absolutely loves doing weddings. He keeps a close eye on Jerry Ghionis and Brett Florens. I've seen two key things happen with my friends business over the last 18 months: 1) His work has drastically improved. 2) His pricing has increased.
It can be very frustrating in the early stages of capturing the attention of your target market especially if you continue to talk with potential brides that say $1,000 is too high and you keep hearing that over and over. But the market that you want does exist in every segment of photography unless you just want to photograph rotted trees and sell those images for thousands of dollars. Who knows? That market may even exist.
If you don't want to have the client below, then do something to change that. I will say that my experience with higher end clients is typically much better than the days of working with those that are all about price, price, price and price.
Photography is a service business. If you don't want clients like the one pictured above, you need to work extremely hard to provide service above and beyond. OK, I already know what you are thinking. You cannot please everyone, there is always one in every crowd, etc. etc. Yes, even if you offer the most amazing service on the planet, you may still have the occaisional client go a little crazy on you. You'll have to come up with your own systems of handling that. One really good one is kill them with kindness and keep your composure.
Is the problem the market you are targeting or you? Before I move on with more info, I will also add that if you have screaming clients on a regular basis, you may need to look internally to see what's up. There may be something deeper that you are overlooking.
Most career minded photographers and videographers want to do what they love and get paid doing it. However, so many photographers and videographers get frustrated with the price shoppers. They get stuck in a rut and attract the same clients over and over. They never seem to get beyond where they are and it can kill the spirit real fast.
I've found a few things that play into the scenario above which I'll dive into below:
1) THE CHOSEN MARKET
For example, residential real estate photography in the Raleigh market (not sure about yours) pays just under $100 to maybe $150 per average size home as a general rule. Some photographers don't mind that and to it based on volume: 3 houses per day for 15 houses per week at $150 per house equals $2,250 in gross revenue per week, so I get that a one guy/gal operation may do well with that. However, if a photographer wants to be more like Mike Kelley and command Mike Kelley prices, the photographer will have to start targeting beyond the average size home or even commercial properties, start doing better quality work and start charging more and more money. As long as the quality of work is there, charging more for photography can often not only attract a higher end client but keep attracting more and more of those higher end clients.
2) LOOKING FOR CLIENTS IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES
If you haven't figured this one out yet, trying to post photography services on Craigslist and meet your ideal, high end client on Craigslist is generally a waste of time. Also, although Thumbtack.com is far better than Craigslist, you will typically not find high end clients there. They are few and far between. FYI, I have been on Thumbtack for about 3 years and Pass, Pass, Pass is one of my most popular buttons to click on. I'm there to be a troll and find the occasional needle in a haystack. However, if my business were dependent on Thumbtack, I'd go out of business pretty soon.
If you want to find the right clients, you need to find out where they are. For example, NOT every bride that visits a wedding show may be the client that you are after, but it may be worth considering to be involved in a wedding show to potentially find who you are after. Another example is finding an association that may have your target market as members. Often times, these associations have affiliate members for those that are not a core member.
The key point is to work hard to find out where your target market is and to not waste your time on places they are not.
3) YOUR ATTITUDE COUNTS
You can choose to be happy (most of the time) or you can choose to say, "poor me, nothing ever goes my way." You can make excuses about not having enough time, enough money, enough gear, enough of this or that or you can say, "I will rise above it all and make it happen one war or another.
If you want to attract and keep the right clients, you need to have the right attitude. Yes, the quality of your work needs to be up to speed with client expectations which is a give, but your attitude will 100% play into attracting and keeping the right clients.
If you can stay focused on "Attract" - "Convert" - "Retain," it will go a long ways in getting to the next level in your photography and/or videography business.
What are you doing to attract the right clients? Do you know who your ideal client is? Do you know where to find your ideal client? Does the quality of your work appeal to your ideal client? What changes do you need to make right now, not next week in your business to attract the right client?
If you are serious about getting to the next level, don't just read the questions. You should take immediate action and start creating a plan. But a plan without implementation is a waste of time.
What's the #1 reason that you don't convert new clients? I know mine. It's price. I'm fine with that because I know how my pricing lines up with the market and I'm competitive for a commercial photographer and corporate video producer in the Raleigh market. If I were way higher than everyone else all the time and could never close any new business, then it would likely be time to look at adjusting my pricing or target clients in another area like New York City where Peter Hurley can get $1,200 for a headshot. Yes, he is well known and does a great job, but I don't think he could get $1,200 in the most remote area of Montana. So there is something to be said for location, location, location.
What can you do to convert more clients? Assess past conversions and ask your clients WHY ME? Even if you only have 3 clients under your belt, learn from those 3. Oh and the ones that don't convert can be helpful. How do I know price is the #1 reason? I ask potential clients WHY?
What does your conversion funnel look like? Funnels are all the rage these days. If you think about how a funnel is shaped and what it does, you can get the picture (pun). In other words, what is the process/path that you lead your prospects through to convert? For me, there has to be a process/path because I'm often dealing with very large companies. If I just say, "here's the price, let's do it," that will not always work.
Retention is critical to long term growth. I have a lot of clients that keep coming back over and over and over. It's so nice not to have to focus on attracting and converting. I've found that retention is much easier as long as I continue to provide a quality product/service and provide consistent service to my ongoing clients.
Retention also leads to referral business.
Retention is key to a successful business. One and done is not the way to go. I often mention to new clients that I'm hopeful that we can provide other services in the future. I want new clients to know that we don't just do photography or videography, but we do BOTH photography and videography.
I hope that I have said something the will encourage you to go after the market that you really want to work in. This post is by no means a cure all, end all. It's just a little something to get the ideas going in your head. The next step is to MAKE IT HAPPEN.
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