If I had to choose one of the above, it would always be service. Why? You could be the best technical and artistic photographer or illustrator in the world, but if you were rude, bad with deadlines, or were unresponsive to your client, they would most likely find an adequate substitute to replace you on the next shoot.
Of course, there may be the odd occasion when a less experienced photographer shoots so poorly that a client has to have another photographer reshoot the job. My post assumes that you are professional and proficient enough with your skills.
Let’s define “service” for the sake of this post. To me, service is the chain of events leading to a client’s overall impression of you. And like marketing, service is an ongoing effort.
Ever wonder why some of your illustrator or photographer colleagues, who may not be as accomplished an artist as you, are always getting more jobs? It’s most likely because they’re providing better service and possibly marketing themselves better – but that’s another discussion.
– APhotoEditor.com‘s Rob Haggart, referring to Mike Kohlbecker, associate creative director at Crispin Porter Bogusky, Los Angeles.
This is in no way a comprehensive list, but if followed, it should give you an edge over your less-refined competitors.
Tip 10 reminds me of an experience that I had about three years ago. A photo editor from one of the most prominent business magazines in the country called to ask if I could recommend a portrait photographer to shoot in Southern Vermont. I emailed them several appropriate URL’s, and the photo editor replied almost immediately: “Oh, [Joe Photographer]! I’ve hired them before, and they did a great job. Thanks for reminding me!”
So yes, even keeping in touch with clients is providing them a service. They otherwise may have tried somebody untested and needlessly taken a risk on a photographer that they didn’t already have a relationship with.
There are many excellent photographers out there. Your client may have initially picked you for your excellent portfolio, but they’ll stay with you for your great service!
Neil Binkley is a photographer's marketing and portfolio consultant. He co-founded Wonderful Machine, where until 2010 he was Marketing and Publicity Director, his work garnering winning entries in Print Magazine's Regional Design Annual and PDN's Photo Annual. Neil has shared photographers' work with top ad agencies, magazines and corporations, and he regularly appears on industry panels, photo contests, and portfolio reviews. ©Photo by Bill Cramer
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