How to Keep Your Client Relationship Alive

Question: Do the same photographer and illustrator marketing principles (email, mail, personal visits) work to maintain relationships, or are there better ways to keep a relationship going?

With marketing, goal No. 1 is to get noticed. In a sea of emails, phone calls and direct mail pieces, your hope should be that clients pause when they see your promo and say, “Hmmm, that’s really interesting.” That “hmmm” moment gets you on their radar and past the noise of the other promos bombarding them every day.

Let’s review a few photographer and illustrator marketing basics everyone should know about self-promotion:

  1. You can’t commit to a marketing strategy and be finished after a couple of communications. Marketing must be an ongoing process to be successful.
  2. You must target the right people with imagery they can relate to.
  3. Timing is EVERYTHING.
  4. Marketing isn’t a luxury – it’s essential to your business. You can never be too busy or too poor to market.

So you’ve built a marketing campaign for the year, and you’re onto third promo cycle. Now what? Even if you’ve been able to “stick” in the minds of some clients, chances are they don’t need your services today. And if they’ve only seen your marketing image once or twice, it’s highly unlikely they’ll remember you tomorrow or next month when they suddenly need you.

And by the way, just because you’ve worked for this client before doesn’t mean you’re above these routine promotions. Clients need to be reminded that you are still out there working hard to get their attention (again).

Goal No. 2: Consistency

Take a minute and pat yourself on the back. You made it past the first hurdle of marketing. You got the “hmmm” moment. Now you need to show this client you can really do what your image is saying you can do.

Here’s an interesting tidbit: A study done by the Association of Sales Executives revealed that 81% of all sales happen on or after the fifth contact. In the creative marketplace, that means your client isn’t going to consider hiring you until they’ve seen (or had) at least five solid interactions.

Goal No. 3: Follow Up

Following up is all about building relationships. Please remember, it’s going to take a client time to get to know you. If you’re doing everything right – right client group, right message, right schedule – over time they will eventually start to trust you.

This is how we build relationships. Don’t let your leads fall into a black hole. If you see someone is reacting to your emails or postcards, reach out and see if you can get a meeting. Chances are there is a reason they like the image you sent them; maybe you’ve captured an experience relevant to one of their brands, maybe your casting fits a book-cover series they’re producing this year. Through a conversation, you might be able to pinpoint the one thing that they’re looking for.

With this kind of information, you can start to customize. If they want to see more happy portraits, show them. If they seem hesitant about your ability to pull off an editorial feature, prove them wrong. You might find out this client shops at the green market every Saturday. Put an image of yours on a cloth shopping bag and send it to them. Look for them on Instagram and/or Pinterest.

Don’t stalk them, but genuinely connect with them. Striking a chord with a client is a wonderful thing, and you should never waste an opportunity to give them personal insight into your work. If they emotionally connect with what you’re doing, you’re more than halfway to getting hired.

About Karen

Karen D’Silva is one of today’s most influential creatives in the commercial photography community. She founded Karen DSilva Creative Services, a trend, marketing and research company designed to help photographers understand the marketplace, find where their images fit, and profile and market to clients who share the same photographic vision. Karen DSilva Creative Services

Related Articles:

1. Is Befriending Clients Bad for Your Business?

2. 7 Tips to Keep You On A Client’s Mind

3. Managing Client Relationships: It’s All About People

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