Getting potential clients to inquire is half the battle. The other half is turning them into clients, whether immediately or down the road. Your goal is client inquiries is (and should be) about obtaining client information and using that information to convert these inquiries into booking clients.
I visualize this as though they are a client standing in my foyer. They’ve come to my website, they have inquired, I have responded. They are hanging out in the foyer of my house. My goal now is not to keep them in the foyer, but to pull them into my living room (or as a business, into my office!).
1. Client Questionnaire
Instead of an email address or client information form, create a questionnaire. Have your clients engage in the inquiry process with specific questions such as the date, type of session, and a personal fact about themselves. This information will allow you to respond with a personalized response that aids in helping to humanize the photographer on the other end of the inquiry. This will also allow you, as the photographer, to start brainstorming the session.
2. Send Information Immediately
In an age where everyone “wants it now”, give it to them now…or as close as possible. Client inquiries should be at the top of the response list. No clients, No income, No business. Commit to getting a response as quickly as possible. You can do this by either having it come to your phone, or have scheduled email checking times throughout the day. If you opt to call them back, call as quick as possible. Keep your background free of noise for easy conversation.
Have your information quickly on hand such as through a template email or a client guide.
3. Add to Client List
Clients lists are gold. Absolute gold. You often hear of companies having non-compete clauses and requiring confidentiality of client lists. This is because client lists are EASY to market to because you already have them in the door. (Visualize the foyer/living room scenario above). Use a newsletter service such as Madmimi or Mail Chimp to customize with your branding logo and colors – plus it allows you to set up for auto send and tracking of email recipient interaction.
4. Send a Follow Up
Always send a follow up. Whether there has been interaction about booking or not. Always let the client know that you’re still thinking of them. This can easily be automated by adding them to a distribution list (see #3) to automatically send a follow up in the future. Don’t forget to send an end of the year follow up/ thank you. This is essentially free marketing, you’ve already received their information, added them to the list, why not work at pulling them into your living room?
5. Incentivize & Call to Action
So in effort to get these clients out of our foyer and into our living room we need to incentivize and “call” them in. Your communications should use psychological words such as “only” and “gift” you can help the client feel that communication is just for them. That the incentive you’re offering is exclusive to them. You can do this if they don’t book after X number of months. Keep your name in front of them. Straight to their email inbox.
Okay okay I said 5 but I want to include 1 more. Sometimes a simple thank you. No marketing. No incentive. No call. Just a simple thank you to those that have inquired is enough to show customer service, your appreciation and do some subtle marketing for you.
Remember, all marketing takes some time. Most people don’t run out to book a luxury such as portrait photography all the time. Just because you aren’t hearing back immediately doesn’t mean they don’t want you or that your marketing isn’t working, give it time. The goal with all these tips to demonstrate to clients that you desire and value their business. Don’t give up. Business will not come out of the foyer, it happens in the living room.
Rachel Brenke, The Law Tog
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