Part and parcel of running a photography business are the ups and downs. The good months, the better months, and the straight bad months. Dealing with and anticipating the ebbs and flows the best we can, and getting those all important repeat clients through our doors. Most clients, certainly individuals, will come to you maybe once a year. But in the time I’ve spent running my headshot photography studio in Scottsdale, Arizona, I’ve found that by far the most likely to be regular clients, i.e. once a month or more, is corporations. In truth, we couldn’t live without either the once a year individuals, or the once a month corporate clients. But time and again I hear photographers ask the question “How do I get in with more corporate clients?”
And so I’ve compiled a short list of tips to help you out if that’s what you’re seeking. I’m not going to go over the more obvious points, like having a website which is easy to navigate and get information from, or the great SEO which all of us with a website should be striving for. Instead, the list will go over some less obvious points that have helped me gain several amazing corporate clients here in Scottsdale, who use my services once a month or more.
Have A Quality Product
I said this list wouldn’t include the obvious, right? Well having a quality product, in my case headshots, should be on the obvious list. But the reality is that more often than not, it isn’t. You don’t just want to attract any type of company, you want to attract the top level companies, who pay on time, who don’t try to nickel and dime you after agreeing on terms on your services. You want Executive Assistants calling you, because their CEO wants the best headshot on the market, and they’ve seen your work. These companies take pride in their brand and company image, and more often than not, they want the best photography product that they can find. Now obviously price comes into the equation at some point. But assuming you’re priced fairly, you’ll see great benefits in upping your game to provide the very best product that you can. If you struggle to objectively judge the quality of your work, and let’s be honest, it is difficult to be objective about something we put so much time and effort into. The Headshot Crew is a great place for headshot photographers to go to for positive, honest feedback on the quality of your work.
Where’s The Value?
A lot of people think that all corporate clients are price driven. While that might be the case with some of them, it’s definitely not all. What they all are, however, is value driven. There’s a big difference between price driven and value driven. Price driven people will use the lowest priced product, despite the quality of the work. They are not your clients. There are more ways to offer value to a company than to slash your prices. One way is to take the advice of the first tip and offer them a great product. But the most important way that I can think of to offer value to any client, is great service. You can do this by being properly organized. Call them when you say you’re going to call them, deliver images when you say you’re going to deliver images. Have a workflow which suits them as well as you. If you can save them time and manpower by doing these things and keeping to your agreements, it’s worth much more than money to a busy company who would rather be doing just about anything else than calling you asking why Shelley’s image isn’t retouched in the way you had agreed. Companies don’t want to look for a new photographer every time they need one, it’s a time-consuming hassle. Take care of them, value their custom, and they’ll reward you by calling you whenever they need somebody they can rely on.
Be a Professional
To attract professionals, you have to be professional. This means being prepared at every juncture. When you get the initial inquiry, have your information to hand so that you’re not stumbling over your words trying to get details out. You might discuss numbers on the initial telephone call, if you do, no matter whether they sounded interested or not, always follow up with an email, politely thanking them for contacting you and reiterating the numbers you spoke about. The person contacting you for a quote most likely isn’t the decision maker in the process. He or she will be relaying the information you have provided them to their bosses. One of the biggest mistakes I think that people can make when they send information over to potential clients is that they’re too casual about it. Remember, to attract professionals, you have to be professional. So don’t just send an email with a courtesy hello, some small talk, and then numbers typed out below. Send a quotation document. I mostly send mine in PDF form. If you have a system like Square or 17 Hats, they generate personalized quotations through your account with them. But if you don’t, not to worry. A quick Google search of quotation templates will bring several of them up, and you just have to fill out the details. You can never take a chance in this situation. Even if you’re in a rush, make time. Imagine the value to them when everybody else is sending quick emails scribbled out, and from you, they get a great looking PDF which is easily understandable and professionally presented. Make it easy on them to forward your quote on to their boss, to make the final decision. I know which photographer I’d rely on to get the job done for me.
Know Your Client
If a company contacts you about your services, or you have a call scheduled with somebody who is interested in working with you, do some research on the company beforehand. If a company calls me unexpectedly and I’m in front of my computer, I get straight on to their website as I’m talking to them so I can be informed. It takes a little bit of time and effort to do, but it’ll make a huge difference when you know things like whether the company has an About Us page, their color schemes and branding, whether they are getting new headshots, or replacing old ones. It makes the person who is calling you feel like they’re in safe hands if you are on the job, researching and preparing before they’ve even booked you for the assignment. The more information you have going into a conversation, the more prepared and professional you appear to your potential client. Preparation, preparation, preparation!
Understand Why Corporate Clients Need Photography Now More Than Ever
I think that as well as providing the photography that our clients need, it’s very important that we know and understand exactly why they need them. Businesses need all types of photography, but I use headshots as an example because it’s what I know best. Do companies need headshots so that somebody calling them up, knows what the person on the end of the phone looks like? No, what use is that to anybody? They need headshots because, in today’s digital age, impressions are formed on companies and individuals before we meet each other. That’s because we’re all doing digital identity digs on each other. If I’m potentially doing business with a company, as I mentioned earlier, I’ll Google them for information. From their website, we get impressions on what type of company they are. From their headshots, we get an impression of what type of person they are. These impressions are made subconsciously, we really don’t have much conscious control over them. And so it’s vital that companies portray the correct image to somebody researching them or their employees.
It’s great news for all of us, that forward-thinking companies are fast finding out that a headshot is the modern day equivalent of a firm handshake, small smile, and a confident look in the eye.
Let’s recap on 5 ways we can attract, and keep, more corporate clients.
- Up your game in terms of the quality of your photography. If you provide the best work in your market, you’ll stand out amongst your competition, and be able to charge accordingly.
- Provide excellent service. Service is easily measurable. Properly presented, great service is worth more to a company than a discount on your price. If you can streamline a process for them and save time, that’s a much more valuable tool to have in your pocket than a lazy discount.
- Be a professional. Be on time. Provide what you promised, present yourself and your company in a way which organized businesses can relate to. Professional businesses only work with other professionals.
- Know Your Client. Digital Identity Digging. Otherwise known as a quick Google search. It’s a great way to start the process off when dealing with an inquiry. Surprise them on how knowledgeable you are about their company. Make them feel like they’re in safe hands because you come prepared.
- Understand your client. It’s simply not enough to show up and just get the job done. Go the extra mile by understanding why they need your services. This puts you in a great position when discussions about the shoot take place. You’re the professional here, and they will value your input on their needs.
Doing all of the above leads to my favorite outcome when dealing with all clients. It all comes down to this. Building relationships. If you want long-term clients, if you want referrals, if you want reviews, if you want to improve your bottom line, simply build relationships. Not only is it logical and correct for your business, it’s genuinely a great feeling to know that a client is happy with what you have provided for them. It’s great to get an email of thanks, a glowing Google or Yelp Review. My clients have brought me whisky, books, coffee. It’s not about the gift, it’s about the gesture. Knowing that I’m building lasting relationships with a person (businesses are people), because they’re happy that I’ve done a great job for them, is a fantastic feeling for me, it’s probably my favorite thing about my job as a headshot photographer.