I've decided to be more intentional and transparent about how I do business and just life in general. I have this desire to SERVE couples (and families!) in an authentic, meaningful way and I realized something important. How the heck can I do that without them knowing who I am as Kenzie, and not just Kenzie Packrall Photography?! So, you will be getting a lot more from me- the happy moments, the struggles, the celebrations, and everything in-between. Today's discussion is for all my business peeps out there! I thought there wasn't a more fitting way to start off then focusing on what I consider my own business mission and life motto: "...but through love serve one another." Galatians 5:13.
In a way this is a two part discussion because first, I want to talk about those two words that seem to have taken the industry by storm. You know them well and so do I. They may even keep you up at night or have you feeling like you aren't where you should be. Those words are "ideal client". And just to further elaborate, an ideal client can be broken up into two categories- 1. the type of people you want to work with and 2. the style and overall aesthetic of the weddings you want to shoot, plan, etc.
Now I'm not writing this post to say these are bad words. In fact, I use them myself and describe my ideal client here because it helps potential clients understand the type of photographer I am and the types of couples I will most likely connect best with. But I have to just share something that I feel needs to be said... It is OKAY if you do not book that client who aligns with everything you have written down or listed in your head as ideal. And you may be at a place in your business where you feel like you are booking your ideal client and that is so awesome! But if you aren't just know that you too, my friend, are awesome and it doesn't mean you're failing! And no matter if you are always booking "ideal" or not, you have something beautiful and meaningful to give your clients! You're service. And I don't mean the actual service they are paying you for, I mean that real-authentic-time-giving way people know you truly care about them.
Keep reading below to learn 4 ways to better serve clients...
So please keep reading because my hope in this is that you leave feeling refreshed and lifted up, no matter where you are in your business journey. And maybe even have some new ideas that help you give your clients the type of experience that not only they deserve, but you want them to have!
Now, I wanted to mention the words ideal client because sometimes I can feel a shift in my own thinking about how I view the client. At times, I start thinking more of "How can they help me get to the next level?" instead of "How can I serve them?" And personally, I don't like this train of thought! AT. ALL. Because although it is perfectly fine to have those ideal/dream clients, I (and maybe you are with me on this) need to remind myself why I got into the industry in the first place! Which was to help create lasting memories for people. And that is the part of the equation that I know I sometimes fall prey to forgetting- that we are serving PEOPLE! And maybe I'm alone in this, but I don't think so. In today's social media world there is a huge amount of stress put on us as wedding vendors to create the prettiest, biggest, and most innovative images, decor, etc. And if we feel like we aren't doing this for every wedding, then we are failing because those bigger blogs that-will-not-be-named won't feature you. But if you don't take away anything else please remember this: it is NOT true! You are not failing if you don't get published, big name recognition, etc!
My hope is that we can go back to measuring our successes by how well we serve our clients, and not how many likes, features, and recognitions we get. Those things are wonderful and have their place for celebration, but they should not control our mindset or our business model! So, my challenge for myself and for you is to take a step back. Remember we are dealing with people who deserve our best and deserve to be cared for in the most real way possible! So, here are the four things I believe can help any business owner better serve their client.
1. Give them your time.
For this, I mean beyond what they paid you for! Show up early to the wedding day. Meet with them in person or via FaceTime/Skype for the consultation and don't put a time limit on it. Stay longer than the hour for the engagement session! Send them an email, text, or phone call during the planning process just to give them encouragement! Create questionnaires that you can send clients that ask if they need anything from you and then be willing to follow through! But y'all, there are so many more wonderful ways you give a client your time and I'm sure you're already doing them! If you do something special I would love to know what it is :)
2. Show them some love.
Probably the easiest, and maybe the most fun way to show clients love, is gifts! Sending them a welcome gift, or a surprise gift after the event is always something that will make them feel good. I mean who doesn't love receiving a gift? I certainly don't ;) But on top of the client receiving gifts, I feel like you, the gift giver, also gets a joy for serving the client in that way. I don't know about y'all, but I'm always excited for family and friends to open gifts I give them because it creates happiness and furthers your connection with them. I think the same is true for you and your clients. And you don't have to stop there! You can always show them love through the intangibles like giving them your time (see #1).
3. Learn about who they are.
Nothing will impress a client more and make them feel comfortable around you then showing them you actually listened to what they said. Learn about who your clients are as individuals and a couple. One great way to do this is sending a questionnaire! Another great way is just talking to them! At their engagement session ask meaningful questions (no shame in already having them planned out!) and take note of their answers. Be face to face with them for a consultation so you can see their expressions when they share their wedding vision.
4. Be there even after the event is over.
There is nothing that shows you truly care about a client then continuing to reach out to them and letting them know you are rooting them on in life even after you have been paid and the images have been delivered! You can do this in so many ways. It can be as simple as commenting on their posts or as big of a gesture as sending them a Christmas gift! Just be you and do what feels authentic for you and the client's relationship!
If you aren't already, once you start implementing these things, I believe you will inevitably attract more of that ideal client because you will be making a name for yourself that makes couples think, "Wow! They really care about people!" So, you will get brides and grooms that want to work with you for not just the service you provide, but for the person you are. You will find that your couples are authentic if you give them an authentic experience. And, as an added bonus, maybe you'll get that inquiry in your inbox for a destination wedding in France. (Is that anyone else's dream too or just mine?!)