Do we know what you want?

Up until last spring my way of doing business was to simply look at what other photographers were doing and copy the norm. Many that I looked at had been doing the business for many seasons and I felt confident that they had worked out any kinks in their methods.

Things like mini sessions, pricing and props.

It wasn't until recently that I feel I matured to the place where I began to ask myself, what does my customer want?

There seems to be a place and time where you branch off in maturity of business relations. This past year has been a time just like that for me. I began to picture myself as a customer and asking 'what would I want for this amount of money?'. What would my expectations be? I began to listen to my customers. Both the pleased happy ones and and those who didn't seem as satisfied. Where could I grow to be what that person is looking for in a photographer? And importantly, was that the type of customer I'm after.

For my happy customers, how could I serve them in the future so they know that I want them back? I want to serve them over a lifetime and in that time make them know they are valued.

Pamper Your Customers

I began in a simple place. This autumn I offered my past customers a discount on their autumn sessions if they chose to have them done. Why not? These are people who have seen my work in the past and know what to expect. Also they may not know how I've grown in photography since their last session. In most cases their families had also grown since I last seen them.

All of the families I loved seeing again and I tried to make a point to go a bit more farther for them if possible.

A company's best customers may be their return customers. I told my husband recently, "I don't want to just be a families one time photographer. I want to be their lifetime photographer. Someone they come back to over and over again.".

Is this realistic? I think so or I wouldn't have said it. I think a family can grow as their photographer grows in talent and creativity. Would they EVER hire another person. Sure. Different perspectives. But in the end they would always remember, return and or recommend a lifetime photographer.

Bottom Line Costs.

My price point always leaned on what other photographers were pricing. I leaned a little lower and offered a c.d. or USB with images.

As a photographer I in-cure costs like pricy equipment, ongoing education, expensive computer software, time to learn that software, equipment rentals, fuel, props etc...

However, at the end of the day my customer quite frankly doesn't see that. They're not insensitive people. But every business has costs. What they see is a lady with a camera and a nature backdrop. What I would ask, as a customer is, what do I receive in my hand for this cost?



I never liked it. I never liked meeting with a customer to hand them this dinky little memory stick. And after that unimpressive exchange of goods, they say they will be bringing it to the local pharmacy printer to get printed. Oh my agony at those damn all-in-one-store printers! All my work would be ruined at their lack of ability to create the reds and whites. It would come out awful. And even though I tell them to maybe try a professional printer...where? Where do they go?

I decided I would be that printer. I connected with a professional printing company years ago for photographers down in the city. This year I began to upgrade my photo packages to include prints.

My wedding package got an overhaul including books for both the parents and the bride and groom. I beefed up my regular USB to an 'engraved in a box USB' that would be an attractive piece to put on a shelf. I included a small engagement booklet because as soon as you get your engagement done you want to show all your friends your photos. Why not a little soft cover book you could carry in your purse? And prints. Of all the edited photos. Because frankly I didn't want my brides having to print them anywhere else.

It just seemed right. Serve your customer top notch so they didn't have to go somewhere else.

Being Flexible.

I'll be real in just saying I'm still growing in this area. I'm a mom of 3, homeschooler and business owner. Flexible seems to look like a backflip somersault into the splits somedays.

Nevertheless, my customers view is on their upcoming special day. They're growing family that needs a good group photo before everyone gets any older, or a special occasion that needs some coverage and just can't wait.

I want to become more flexible to my customers in the future. I get calls last minute sometimes and it's hard for my brain to prepare on last minute timelines. That being said there is always room for healthy boundaries and quality work.

Putting in the Effort

We all like to think that we work really hard at our jobs. Some may describe it more like working smarter not harder.

I recently sat at a Christmas dinner where I heard a woman talk about a business man she had sell to her company. She described him as a fast talking, pushy millennial who just wanted to make money and not put any effort in to make that money.

I sat there very interested in this persons conversation as I learned about her wants and needs in business and customer service. She wanted to know she was valued, served and not taken for granted. She wanted this "pushy millennial" to know that her dollar was made with hard work and she wasn't just going to throw it away on whatever he was selling. She needed to know the product was quality.

Hmm..I thought. How can I relate and use this viewpoint in my own business life? How does my customer feel? Am I valuing their hard earned money?

I feel that I am in the sense that I am moving to provide quality prints in my packages. That I am not a pressure sales person and very much not a fast sales person. I know the photos I take may be the ones cherished for the rest of their lives. I want to do good quality work.

But what could I do more?

My goal for 2020 in this area Ill be looking into my backdrop set up for my autumn and spring mini photos. How can I make it easier for parents of children to come in, get some photos done and finish with little stress? What can I do to prepare for bad weather days when outdoor photos are not available? How about those Christmas backdrops for the cold days of November so parents are not struggling with freezing tiny tots?

In engagement sessions, what are the trends? What is my customer looking for? Do I need special props? They go get them and set it up. Put in the extra effort to serve the customer well.

What do you want?

For me to figure this out I had to ask two questions. What would I want as a customer? And what have my customers been communicating to me this past year or two?

I am looking forward to a beautiful opportunity to grown in business in the coming 2020. To serve better and learn more. To grow as a photographer in style and creativity. And to stretch myself and my business.

Looking forward to doing this journey with you.

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