Nov 14, 2019
One of the most frequently asked questions I get from new
photographers is how do I book more clients? I always ask what
their client experience looks like. If you can create a
client experience that wows your clients, they are going to become
walking talking billboards ready to sing your name each and every
time someone they know is looking for a photographer.
We all know word of mouth advertising is one of the best forms
of advertising but how do you start to get people talking?
The answer is your client experience, give them an experience
they can’t help but talk about.
What is a Client Experience?
So what exactly is client experience, or a client workflow?
A client experience is a step by step journey each client
will take with you from booking to session prep, to the session,
and finally your final product delivery.
There is one key to this process that is so simple yet often
the MOST overlooked and that is the simple concept of
under-promising and over-delivering.
Under Promising Over Delivering
So where are some areas where photographers can under-promise
and over-deliver? The first would be on turn around time when
it comes to images. If you know it is going to take 2 weeks for you
to edit images and get them uploaded into your online gallery and
sent over then you should tell them it will take longer than that.
Just because it should only take you 2 weeks does not mean
that it will every time. Kids get sick, you get sick. Life
can happen and suddenly you could be passed that two-week mark.
By building in a week or two buffer you are giving yourself
some room to breathe if something comes up. But if all goes
to plan you look like a hero for getting images back to your client
faster than expected.
Another area photographers can under promise and over deliver
is on the number of images. If you generally produce 50 images
during a family session or an engagement session, then only promise
35-40. This does a few things. It is over-delivering on the
promise, but it can also make clients feel a little extra special,
and give them a bit of a confidence boost.
Welcome packets are one of the easiest ways to start the
client experience off on the right foot. A welcome packet can
be printed for more of a high end feel, or you can even design a
simple pdf that you email over. Inside your welcome packet you can
send tips on what to wear, and how they can prepare for their
For weddings, you could include planning tips for brides,
sample timelines, or a list of top vendors in your area. My
bridal guide includes the pros and cons of doing a first look, as
well as educating my brides on sunset photos.
The point of the welcome packet is to provide all the
information clients will need to have a successful portrait
experience. Answer questions before they even ask them and it also
validates their decision to choose you as a photographer right
away. With wedding photography, clients are often booking you
pretty far in advance and putting down a pretty big deposit.
Getting a printed welcome packet in the mail shortly after
cutting a check can help build your client's confidence in you, and
gives them a reason to talk about you to others.
So should you do a printed or a digital welcome packet?
I think this depends on your price points. If you are on
the higher end I would definitely suggest printed. If you are on
the lower end I think digital is totally fine! I have found
that printed material does tend to get read more than just an
Communication between you and your client is also part of the
overall experience. After each and every session I shoot
about an hour after I will send my clients a quick text. This
text is short and just thanks them for choosing me as their
photographer, tells them how much fun I had at the shoot, and how I
can’t wait for them to see their final images!
After the wedding, I send out an email that congratulated them
on their first day of marriage, and thanks them again. I
remind them that their blog post will be up on Wednesday and that
they can expect their full gallery within 4-6 weeks. I know that
this will take me far less time, but it sets the expectation so
that I can exceed it.
The next part of the client experience I want to talk about is
client gifts. Client gifts are such a fun way to show off your
personality, and brand, and surprise and delight clients. Client
gifts don’t need to be super fancy or expensive. Even a
handwritten thank you, card counts, and will only cost a few
dollars between the card and the stamp. Client gifts are fun,
but they need to be purposeful. I send out a client gift each
time after my clients have spent money with me for a few different
reasons. One it validates their choice and builds anticipation, but
two each gift also serves as a trigger for my clients to talk about
The Biggest thing I want to stress when it comes to client
gifts is that you figure out the cost and make sure you are taking
that into account when you are setting your prices.
The next thing about client gifts is making sure that they are
on-brand for you. As a wedding photographer, my clients are
young and have just moved in with each other. My brand is a pretty
modern farmhouse I love all things chip and Joanna from HGTV’s show
fixer upper. When clients book with me I send out their
bridal guide, as well as a candle from Chip and Joanna’s store
magnolia. I also include a small heart-shaped ring dish, and
a handwritten card. I have a small ring dish next to my kitchen
sink, and next to my bed to keep my wedding right safe while I’m
cleaning or when I’m sleeping.
Client gifts are fun and nice, but they need to serve a
purpose, otherwise they are just taking away from your bottom
When designing your client experience, you want to make sure
you map out what needs to happen at each step along the way and be
sure to account for the cost if any for those steps. Remember
to track your packaging costs, shipping, and any other
If you are trying to come up with ideas for client gifts check
out teak and twine .com they have beautiful creative gift boxes
that they will ship directly to your clients for you. It’s
also a great spot to get ideas for gift boxes you could put
Don't Run The Risk
While client gifts are great and can certainly help you up to
your prices. The biggest part of the client experience is
under-promising and over-delivering. I have talked
to so many people who have worked with other photographers who told
them photos would be ready in a few weeks. But in reality, it took
months to get them back. The thing is if the photographer had
told them it would be a few months from the get-go they probably
wouldn’t have batted an eye at it. But now the expectation they had
wasn’t met. This conversation usually ends with “ I like this
photographer, she does good work but I probably won’t go back
That is not something we want our clients to be saying to
themselves or to anyone else. Instead, we want them to be
blown away by their experience ready to book again, and getting all
their friends on board too!
So here is your homework sit down this week and map out each
step your client will go through with you. When will you send
reminder emails, when will you send a welcome packet? When
can they expect images back, when do you actually plan to have