We’ve all done the exercise. It’s the first thing you’re taught when you first start your business: Create an ideal client avatar.
This vision of your ideal client guides everything you do, including pricing (you can’t charge that single mom as much as you can the CEO of a Fortune 500 company), pain points (mom probably isn’t worried about shareholders), and even the color of your logo.
So you spend a few hours considering things such as:
- Age group
- Family status
- Lifestyle goals
Maybe you even write up a nice little story about your ideal client. You give her a name, a couple of kids, a husband who just doesn’t get it, and a load of student loans. You know quite a bit about her, you think.
But you would be wrong, and if you stop there, you may be missing a huge piece of the puzzle—and losing out on the best clients because of it.
Here’s something that’s rarely considered in the “ideal client” equation, and it’s arguably the most important part: personality.
If you’re snarky, sarcastic, fun-loving and loud, then a quiet, middle-aged mom who spends her time volunteering at the church may not a good fit for you. Sure, she might need your help, and she might love your photography, but this match-up could be a disaster if you are unaware of your communication style. Either she will be uncomfortable, or you’ll be miserable trying to reign in your natural exuberance.
It's important to practice observing different types of personalities and learn how to adapt your communication methods, so you don't end up with any awkward moments.
Value of Photography
This one can be difficult to calculate from the start, but once you recognize it (or the lack thereof) it’s worth paying attention to. The client without the value of photography—more often than not—only end up frustrating you both.
Better to end your relationship as soon as you see the signs of this than to waste your time going over your presentation again and again with someone who simply doesn't value photography.
If you look at your current and past clients, you’ll begin to see patterns. You can easily look back and see what made some clients a joy to work with, while others were a struggle. Think about what those differences are, and add them to your ideal client profile. Then compare any new potential clients to this ideal profile, and you’ll never again sign on with a less-than-perfect client.
Once you know who your client is and how they value photography, it is then up to you to nurture the relationship. This involves giving them value, not only in photography related matters, but to things that matter to them most. For the mom with 2 young children, it may be information on how to save money for college. Or for the professional, it may be tips on how to do well in an interview. Provide value on things that matter most to your client and over deliver with information and tools they will find useful.
You can continue to nurture the relationship with email and phone follow-up. We create workflows within 17hats to keep track of our communications. This allows us to instantly see where we left off with a client, what kind of communication we have had in the past, and track what kind of future value we want to give them. When you leave this up to the mind alone, it can be difficult to track and keep up with. Having a system in place is key to nurture relationships effectively.
Really get to know your clients, so you can speak their language, provide them with value, and build the like, know and trust factor so you become "the photographer" in their eyes.
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About the Authors:
Paul & Melissa Pruitt are the founders of Photographer Entrepreneurs Association, an online community that provides education, business coaching, and personal development to photographer entrepreneurs. Together they provide support and mentoring and speak nationally on small business solutions. Paul is an expert business and marketing coach with national speaking experience and a published writer with Entrepreneur.com. Melissa is a two time published author (including the Amazon best selling book PROFITographers co-written with Paul), TEDx speaker, and contributor for the Huffington Post. They have a love for travel and helping others grow personally and professionally.