How to Create Lifelong Clients and Build Customer Loyalty

January 25th, 2016

As a photographer, creating lifelong clients is one of the most important things you can do for your business. Pro Team member Sara Kauss exemplifies this process in her photography business, so we sat down to pick her brain on building customer loyalty.

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How often do you do wedding, family and newborn shoots? How many of these are new clients versus returning clients?

My business is comprised of about 50% wedding photography, 20% family portrait photography, 20% commercial & musician photography and 10% newborn photography. Seventy percent of my family and newborn photography are returning clients.


Describe the process of building customer loyalty?

There is absolutely nothing more important to me than creating lifelong clients, mostly because lifelong clients often become lifelong friends. This story has happened so many times over the years. I will meet a couple who is getting married, photograph their engagement, and absolutely love getting to know them on their engagement shoot. Then, I’ll photograph their wedding, and typically we’ll meet for dinner or drinks the next time they’re in town or I’m in their town shooting a destination wedding or event. Then, they call and ask me to photograph their new little miracle—sometimes it’s a baby and sometimes it is a new furry friend!


What strategies do you use to encourage wedding couples to come back as lifelong clients?

The strategy for encouraging lifelong clients has been to be myself—I love building relationships with people. And through that, organically a friendship is developed. I know the couple and their families so well that it simply makes sense that I am their photographer for all the most important moments of their lives. I recently photographed a birthday party for a previous groom. Jay’s wife, Kelly, called me and asked if I could be a part of the next milestone in their lives, Jay’s 40th birthday! I’ve been their photographer from their engagement session, to their wedding, to the birth of their two children, to now all future events. It’s something I do not take for granted and truly makes me elated when they call.


What kind of online tools do you use the most to reengage your clients?

Keeping up with previous clients on social media is a must. Facebook is such a fun way to catch up. I also send Miller’s lab Christmas cards to most of my clients who I still keep in touch with.

Do you use prints/wall art/gifts as part of your reengagement of clients?

Something fun that I’ve done is send little anniversary presents—prints and wall art from Miller’s are a personal touch to remind each person how important they are to me. I also give referral gifts of prints and folios.


How often do you reach out to old clients? How do you stay on their radar?

In 2016, I’ll be starting a newsletter to past clients, which will be a reminder to wedding clients that I would love to continue to be their portrait and event photographer for years to come. I also keep in touch with clients through social media.

How do you go about creating packages for your clients?

Our package structure is customized and yet simple. We charge an hourly photography rate that includes everything from the digital files to the Zenfolio online gallery for friends and family of the clients to purchase prints. We offer custom Miller’s albums as an add-on, and have a straightforward price list that features our album pricing, per page, gallery wrap pricing and prints.


What products seem to get the biggest reaction from your clients?

Archival wedding or portrait albums. We all are computer and digitally driven these days. However, the printed photograph album has withstood the test of time. No one can sit around the couch comfortably and hold a USB drive and show off their images. An album is a timeless, beautiful display of the art that we’ve created as photographers.


How do you use social media to promote your business?

Instagram, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest are all so vital in creating a great online presence. It’s important as a photographer to utilize these tools and also utilize the great SEO that Zenfolio has. I also frequently use Zenfolio to quickly share images from galleries I’ve created.

Which social channel works best for your brand? Is it important to use them all?

Each social media channel serves its own purpose. Facebook is great for tagging your clients and sharing blog posts with clients’ close group of friends. Instagram is great for communicating with vendors connected with an event you photographed, or hopping on the hashtag of your client’s wedding or event. Twitter can connect you with celebrities who you may not have access to otherwise. Pinterest is a must if you photograph weddings! Brides search Pinterest all day long, planning and sharing ideas for their big day.

*Promotion valid until March 31, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Promotional discount off the subscription price of a new Portfolio, PortfolioPlus, ProSuite annual plan will be automatically applied at checkout with code ZENFOLIO50. Discount applies to the first year only. Cannot be combined with any other promotion.

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