One of my favorite branding and customer service accessories is thank yous! I absolutely love giving thank you notes and gift bags to clients. I’ve been known to drop random gift cards in the mail to my mentees. Why? We all need a little gratitude in our lives. Without your clients there would be no business. You’d be a person with a camera plugging away at a computer instead of making your art. Don’t forget to grab this week’s HB Photo code from monday’s blog post on packaging!
I come from a town where everybody knows everybody. Growing up, I always said I was going to get out and live in the city. And now I live happily in a town of just 8,000 people. So much for the city plans right? But I’ve realized small town life is the life for me. So when I opened my doors in October 2010, I decided I wanted to keep the small town feel as a major part of my business. My brand is rustic, laid back, natural, personal. Part of why people come to see me is they know they’ll be treated like family. When I see a client’s child in the newspaper, I break out my scissors, cut that sucker out and stick in the mail to them.
Each client gets a hand delivered (when possible) welcome packet. My thank you notes are hand written. My local graduating senior clients received custom cupcakes this year. The personal touch is so much a part of what my business is, I can’t see ever changing that. Many of my clients are high school senior girls. I just started, with 2013 seniors, gifting welcome bags when they arrive at their session. What is included in the bags changes with the weather and what’s on sale. In the cooler months, I’d put a Starbucks gift card in there. Now that it’s 100 degrees here in VA, they get a Tropical Smoothie card. There’s a mix of items they can use before or after their session. I wait until the nail polish or lotion I like goes on sale, and I go and stock up. Each hand stamped burlap bag ( there’s that natural branding again!) cost me less than $10 to fill up, but the value my clients see it in is worth so much more. Before you think I leave people out, I take care of my senior guys and family clients too! My guys get a local gift card, and for my family clients, I give the kids a little treat at the end of each session (usually bubbles and a sucker).
I originally purchased these drawstring burlap bags to package my accordion album sets in. When I decided to start doing gift bags for my senior girls, these were the perfect size for just a few goodies. I love a product that can pull double duty AND still match my branding!
I am a thrifty person. There are companies out there who will custom print bags like these, but to save a little money, I do them myself. The bags are purchased through Save On Crafts (http://www.save-on-crafts.com/ ) and the stamp was made from my logo at Simon’s Stamps (https://shop.simonstamp.com/Loginpage.aspx ). The twine to tie the bags around, since I just have to add a touch of color, is hand dyed by me to match my branding exactly.
As for the bag stuffings, again I take the thrifty route.
Each bag contains a $5 gift card to a local teen favorite. I change it up seasonally. In the winter, I do a Starbucks card, in the summer I do Tropical Smoothie.
I also like to include makeup removal wipes, since most of my girls have professional makeup done for their sessions. There are only two brands I will buy; either Neutrogena or Ponds (this comes from my personal sensitive skin tests!). Whenever I am in a drugstore or a Target, I look to see if the travel packs of these wipes are on sale. If they are, I snag them up in bulk to save some money without having to go the generic route!
While I shop at different drug stores, Target, Ulta, or Sally, I look to see what they have on clearance. This is where I pick up nail polishes, lip glosses, chapsticks, nail art and other little things like that to fill up the bags. Each round of bags is different because I buy the what I can get a lot of for a little money.
One of my favorite sales is the Bath and Bodyworks semi-annual sale (http://www.bathandbodyworks.com/home/index.jsp ). I can get the travel lotions for under $1. Their scents are all great and it’s a brand supported by the teen market! Often times, they have online only sales too!
My goal with these bags is to make my client feel pampered and appreciated. This is one way I set myself apart from any other senior photographer in my area. They receive a bag full of brand name goodies that should be costing $20 or more, but with my super savvy ninja shopping skills usually runs me about $12.
For my senior guys, I give them the gift card only, wrapped with twine and a tag (matching my branding) with a handwritten “Thanks for coming out today” or something like that.
These welcome bags and gifts are a big part of my brand. They make my clients feel appreciated and special, and set me apart from the rest.
Rachel Brenke is an author, photographer, lawyer and business consultant for photographers. She is currently helping creative industry professionals all over the world initiate, strategize and implement strategic business and marketing plans through various mediums of consulting resources and legal direction. Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is not legal advice, but general information on legal issues commonly encountered.
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