Working with other photographers, mentoring, and encouraging colleagues has always been a pleasure of mine, so I’m excited to offer tips on obtaining lifelong clients and creating a legacy program.
For photography professionals, marketing is the lifeblood of a successful business. I believe the key to marketing is building relationships; nurturing those relationships; and consistently letting your clients know that you are still there, what changes are occurring in your company, and that you continue to be committed to providing services to the community. We consider our clients to be family, and refer to them in that manner. It’s good to frequently let clients know how much you value their relationship and patronage.
It’s of vital importance to give back to your local community. One of the things that has worked wonders for us is conducting several portrait fundraisers to benefit charitable organizations and providing gift certificates to numerous local schools and organizations to assist them in their fundraising. In addition to local schools, some of the charities we’ve worked with include: Susan G. Komen, Locks of Love, Operation Smile, the Foundation for Prader Willi Research, Food Bank of the Rockies, and the Denver Dumb Friends League. The name recognition from these endeavors is invaluable. You can also connect with medical organizations to find new clients. For example, we’ve had success placing displays in the maternity ward of local hospitals, pediatrician offices, and general practice offices.
One tool you can use to create lifelong clients is to acquire those clients while their family is growing. Our baby program includes pregnancy sessions and a schedule of portraits of babies at three, six, and 12 months. To follow up, we have a toddler program that includes sessions at 18 months and two, three, four, and five years of age. After that, our clients return for our Limited Edition series of sessions. We have several offerings, and clients are sure to find some that appeal to them. After you’ve photographed a child through all those stages and ages, you’re likely to be the photographer chosen to do their senior pictures as well. And thus the cycle continues.
Another way to ensure continued contact and patronage for years to come is to create a long-term program. Ours is called the Legacy program. Clients pay a Legacy membership fee, and the benefits include:
- A complimentary Legacy family session every two years
- 20% off Legacy family orders
- Complimentary senior sessions for each of their children
- 50% off any standard session fee (for portrait sessions in addition to their biennial sessions)
- Web and archival files of their ordered prints (for any order over $500)
- 10% off any other session that is not a special event or baby program
- $50 credit for referrals
- Unlimited gift certificates for sessions for friends and family who have never visited the studio
- Monthly specials only available to Legacy members
And don’t worry, your clients will be enthusiastic about embracing a program like this. Here are some responses we’ve received from our clients:
“I’m so giddy with excitement; today was really fun. I love my Legacy session images. I can’t wait to have them in my home! The timing of this session was perfect—the age of my kids, our 10-year anniversary, moving to a new home this past year. It was just an awesome experience all around. Thank you!” ~TJ
“Well, I officially feel like a rock star! We had a fabulous time with the one and only Mrs. Sandy Puć. She and Daniel were awesome! The kids had a great time and stayed focused 95% of the shoot. And hey, what else could you ask! I cannot wait to see these portraits! If she offers The Legacy project within 100 miles of you, I would definitely jump on this opportunity!” ~TF
You can also use the media to market your work. Showcase your images in magazines, public and professional buildings, billboards, and on television. We make it a point to let local media know we’re available to share our abilities when they are in need of professional expertise, and we have been featured on television and radio as portrait photography experts.
If you follow these three steps — maintaining contact with clients, cultivating a presence in the community, and continuing to offer irresistible session opportunities — you too can enjoy the many benefits of acquiring lifelong clients.
Sandy Puć, owner of Sandy Puć Photography, is an internationally acclaimed photographer. She delights in sharing her knowledge, experience, and passion for photography through her many U.S. speaking engagements, international tours, and her educational website, Sandy Puć University. A 20+-year veteran of photography, Sandy served on the Board of Directors of the Professional Photographers of America for many years. She holds the prestigious titles of Print Master and Explorer of Light from Canon U.S.A. Sandy’s commitment to community inspired her to co-found the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep foundation in 2005. She lives in Littleton, Colorado, with her four children and her dog Canon.