I get a lot of emails from people asking how I manage to bring in so many new clients as well as keeping the ones I have to build my business.
One thing that I wanted to share here is the basics of how you might view winning a client and the actual reality of things from the client’s perspective.
To be successful, you need to be able to give your clients what they want; you may perceive that to be a set of amazing images. However, just doing that is not going to get you across the line. You are a professional photographer, so it’s your job to produce high-quality photography, it’s not your selling point…
Clients may well have a library of image assets already. Part of why they contacted you may well be to do with the fact that your ’style’ fits in with what they already have in play within their business. The most important thing to remember here is that it’s not all about you and what you want. It’s about them.
Here’s a very simple graph to explain a few key points and where many people fail to understand why they are not getting the right clients when they are producing good work.
It looks at ‘Photographic ability and style’ over ‘Reliability and trust.’
Your style is important, and it should be consistent, not changing all the time. However, you need to be professionally capable enough to shoot off that style should your client require it.
Reliability and trust are how your client feels about you. Can they trust you to get the job done, get it organized. Will you be able to fix the issues that crop up along the journey, and do you have a track record of being able to do this professionally. You will be representing their company at times; can you do that properly.
Do you have a reputation for getting it done…?
He’s a great photographer, has really good images, and has a strong style that he likes to use all the time. He is not great at answering emails and does not really know how to quote for a job properly. The client has no idea what’s happening most of the time, and they cannot get the shoot signed off because the quote is too loose, and there is no real planning being suggested.
He’s on the up and up, his work is competent, and he is serious about what he does. A little inexperienced on some things like quoting and usage, but he applies himself and has learned that talking it through with the client not only helps him understand what’s required for them but also educates him so that he is always getting better.
He’s the dream, great work, and a vast amount of experience with big blue-chip companies. Solid track record and he has seen most things and can look at a brief and know exactly what questions to ask and how to approach the planning, so it makes sense, and the client can then take that and get the sign-off for things to move forward. Only downside is that he’s a busy boy, and it’s always touch-and-go on his availability, so clients can never be sure that he will be in it 100% for them if something shifts or they need him to be flexible.
Solid body of work and has been building his experience over the years, so he understands the clients and how they work. He has not seen it all yet, but he has a good idea of what ‘it’ might be and what he needs to do to get it over the line on sign-off and start the planning with the client.
He has built a good body of clients, and that’s growing each year. He does not think his work is outstanding, but he is confident that it is improving, and each year he grows. One of his main goals all the time is to give his clients ‘consistently’ what they need and understand the best way to do that. He is very focused on becoming part of their team and being viewed that way.
If you are focusing entirely on your work only and believing that it alone will get you the clients that you want, then you are Mr. Blue, and it’s going to be a very slow burn probably.
If you are Mr. Yellow, then keep going and build that knowledge along with your technical abilities as it’s just a matter of time, and you will grow.
Mr. Red, well, he’s not reading this because he got bored 2 paragraphs in, and he really does not want to take on more work. He is good, but his main fight is constantly to try and stay ahead of the pack and maintain his position. He will do that technically in his work but will only get stronger through the clients he works for by being part of their team.
If you are Mr. Green, then the chances are you are the one getting most of the calls from new clients. They love what you do, and it’s obvious that you are capable. You have a solid body of clients already, and you clearly do understand the process. Perhaps you have not seen everything, but you are growing for all the right reasons, and it’s these factors that attract clients to you because they need the safety of that.
One final very important point is that we did not mention ‘cost’ here. If you talk to your clients correctly and you deliver something that adds real value, then cost is something that is a negotiating point, not a deciding factor. If you do this correctly, then your clients should view you as an asset, not a cost…
You’re in business, so act like a business. Which color are you?
About the Author
Tim Wallace is a UK-based commercial photographer specializing in transport photography. He’s worked for companies like McLaren, Aston Martin, Peugeot, and many more. Tim also has classes on Kelby One, where he talks more about his business philosophies as well as photography. You can find out more about Tim and follow his work on his Instagram feed.