Thursday, September 23, 2010

Business Day Thursday: Is It Time To Do Something Really Special For A Client?

Good Morning Everybody,

Wow!  What a crowd and a warm welcome we had in Kansas City last night! Nearly 250 excited photographers showed up for my program and they were fired up.  I’m always amazed by the distance some of our attendees travel to come to my CBTL2010 program. 

That was true again last night with a few folks traveling over 8 hours to come to the program.  When I hear the effort they made to attend, I am both honored and humbled.  My heartfelt THANKS to all that made the effort to be part of last nights seminar, especially those that came from great distances to be there.

We had another first last night.  While talking to a few of the seminar attendees before the show started I found Austin Piper was attending the presentation with his parents.

Austin Piper and Greg Walker

That’s Austin on the left. They were telling me how he follows the DPT blog and has watched my Kelby training videos.  Austin is 16 years old – about the same age I was when I shot my first wedding.  Austin also won the NIK Viveza software package – he was thrilled.  Way to go Austin!

At break I was also introduced to another young fan, Greg Walker on the right. Greg just celebrated his 18th birthday last week and loves photography. 

To see these two you guys excited about photography at about the same age I was turned on to photography was a little bit of déjà vu. Greg and Austin, the best of luck to the both of you.  Remember, always aim for the stars, never give up on your dream, and grab your energy from your passion for photography.

Is It Time To Do Something Really Special For A Client?

Something SpecialWe have an order going through the studio right now - it's a Bar Mitzvah order. It happens to be the fourth Mitzvah I have photographed for the family. As a matter of fact, I photographed the parent’s wedding about 25 years ago!

Thinking about that recently, I began reflecting back on my relationship with my client over these many years. I remember photographing their wedding many years ago - it was THE largest wedding to take place in the city of Cincinnati for that year! The clients loved the results and placed a substantial order.

I had only been in business for a few years and was building a reputation as the "go to photographer" for the big events in town. Photographing this wedding cemented that thinking in the Cincinnati, Ohio area.

My client and her family members, over the next 24 months, sent several referrals to my studio. Nearly all the referrals converted to bookings. I can still remember photographing a few of the referred weddings.

The father of my bride would many times be a guest at these events. As I was photographing the table in which he was sitting, he would point at me and exclaim to his table mates, "See that camera he's using? I bought that camera for him." He was referring of course to all the referrals he and his daughter has been sending my way for so many months. In reality his remark was half true.

Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.

Anyway, about that same time, I learned that the bride was expecting a baby. I discovered when her baby was going to be born and marked my calendar. A few weeks after the baby was born I contacted my client and offered her a complimentary portrait shoot of her new baby. She was happy to accept my invitation.

We scheduled the session and I subsequently photographed her new baby, Amanda. I took several photographs of Amanda, along with mom, and even with Amanda's grandmother who was also present for the shoot. This was back in the film days but I still took a few hundred photographs.

A few weeks later my client made an appointment to come by my studio and review the images. At the end of our meeting she had selected  50 images which we planned to bind into a beautiful leather album. She also selected several images for family and friends. It was going to be quite the order to the tune of a few thousand dollars.

Clients - LRHere is the point of today's post. I wanted to acknowledge the fact that she had referred tens of thousands of dollars worth of business to me over the preceding months. I decided to GIVE all the photographs to her at no charge! I wanted this gesture to be my authentic "Thank You" to her for all the business she sent my way. Although she initially objected, after I explained why I wanted her to have the images with my compliments, she graciously accepted. She continued to refer clients and eventually I photographed all four of her children's Bar/Bat Mitzvahs 25 years later. Talk about customer loyalty.

So how often should you make that kind of gesture to a client?  That was quite a large gesture 25 years ago and I certainly have no regrets having made it. I have continued to make similar gestures to my clients over the years.

Maybe a better way to describe a client that refers so much business is to name them as a patron - someone who goes out of their way to refer business to your studio. Yes, I think saying "thank you" in such a generous way is both an appropriate response and it's good for business too.

You may have some stand out clients like this right now that are making referrals to your studio. Offer them something special that acknowledges their support of your studio. That "something" may be as simple as a $50 gift card up to a complimentary family portrait, or even an album. It's all up to you and is based upon the level of patronage they show you.

One of my favorite wedding clients is having a baby in about 5 months. We've offered her a newborn baby session at no charge because she is such a great client. These gestures are just good for business. It's the size of the gesture that makes you stand out from what the competition might be doing.

Anyway, it's something to think about. How do you want to respond to your special clients?  Remember, you build your business not only by building sales but build a strong client loyalty too. How do you want to make that happen?


Hey gang, that's it for me today. We continue to head east to St. Louis for this evening's CBTL program. Be sure to come up and say HI if you are planning to stop by this evening.

Also, Don't forget to stop by DPT for my final installment of "It's A Lonely Job: Shooting A Wedding Alone - Part 3".

Everybody have a great rest of the day.

See ya' soon, David


  1. Dave you are up early. I helped last night in KC, had a great time and learned a lot.


  2. Very sound advice!

  3. Thanks for a great seminar last night. I learned a ton and it was worth the five hour round trip for me. I am excited to put to use some of the information you shared with us! Safe travels to STL!

  4. I was lucky enought to be able to attend the program last night. It was awsome! Thank-you so much for sharing all you experience with us. I can't believe you'er up and have a blog posted by 6am! I know I didn't leave the program untill 11pm and you were still going strong then. What dedication! Thanks again for all you do to promote photography and help new photographers.

  5. Hi David. I was at your seminar last night and it was great -even if I didn't win anything :) Quick question - the link that was given to us for WPPI / Rangefinder - it doesn't seem to be working. Anyone else report having the same problem?

  6. Thanks David for posting the picture from the KC
    program last night. I had been looking forward
    to the program for weeks. You are so passionate
    about your photography! Thanks for giving 500% in
    sharing your wealth of knowledge. I plan on using
    the back lighting technique at our wedding this weekend. Thanks again!