From Weddings to Portraits: A Client for Life with Lori Nordstrom
Most photographers, even wedding photographers, end up wanting to photograph portrait sessions. Weddings are essentially a series of portraits. But the wedding day comes with a lot more pressure than a traditional portrait session.
In the portrait world, photographers think in terms of a “client for life.” We want our clients to return over and over, so we think about the long-term goals for that client instead of just one session at a time.
There is no better time to start this process than with the wedding. If you are a wedding photographer, you have a premium opportunity to photograph portrait sessions. It’s built in. Once a wedding is photographed, you should have in your calendar a first-anniversary date. At the time of a first anniversary, you should offer an update session for your couples. Before the first anniversary, send out a card telling the couple that you would like to photograph their love story one year after their wedding. Note something memorable about the wedding day so that you are continuing the story. It’s another chapter.
Of course you will want to photograph any additions to the family, whether kids or furry kids (pets). Make this available to your clients by offering this session right from the beginning. Make your clients aware of these services, and remind them with update cards.
After a wedding, plan for follow-up. This is an area that photographers often forget about. If you photograph a wedding and then deliver great service and product in an heirloom album and wall portraits, your clients may believe that this is the end of the road. They should know that you would love to continue working with them.
Step one is with that anniversary date. Put a system in place to connect with your couples a year after their wedding. At this time, they have had the opportunity to work with you and have hopefully built quite a relationship with you.
If you don’t photograph weddings, you can still recommend dates to your clients that will encourage their next visit with you. Let your clients know when they should schedule their next appointment, whether you are photographing a business headshot, a birthday session or a family portrait.
It’s human nature to want to belong. We want to feel special and appreciated and a part of something. Create a membership program that gives your bridal couples a VIP status in your business. This also gives you a reason, or an excuse, to reach out when it’s time for an updated session. Send out a reminder letter 10 months after the wedding. Tell your couples that you are exited to see what their love story looks like one year later.
Follow up on their plans to grow their family. If children are in their future, make note and follow up. I always follow up with a note about their love story a year or two later instead of inquiring specifically about children. Following couples on social media will keep you in the loop about special events such as the announcement of a pregnancy, a pet adoption or even family members who are having babies or expanding their family.
Years ago I started a Birthday Club, and photographed kids during the month of their birthday every year. This gives clients a reason to return each year, and also gives me an opportunity to touch base periodically. I have created specialty products that moms will want to purchase year after year. A VIP or “client for life” program is an opportunity to give something special to repeat clients or clients who spend over a certain amount. Reward them with discounted sessions, a complimentary add-on service or free gift prints with each wall portrait purchase. Make clients feel like they will get something special for returning to your business.
Creating a client for life is all about building relationships. Follow up with your clients. Just because a client works with you once doesn’t mean she will return. Keep in touch. Stay on top of what is happening in their lives. Check in with your clients about the products they have received from you, how they feel about them and how they feel about your customer service. Surveys are great for this, and can be done through sites like PhotoBiz.com.
Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone. Working the phone has kept my schedule booked. Call past clients and let them know you are thinking about them. Say you would love to photograph them again, and get them on your calendar.
By communicating with your clients, you’ll keep your calendar busy and continue to work with people you know and like.