How do you do the bulk of your marketing in your business right now? Is it all through your own efforts? Have you ever wondered how to have your clients market for you rather than you doing all of the marketing alone?
I recently got a question submitted through the recording option on my website that I thought would be such a good podcast deep-dive for one of my Ask Ashley shows! Miranda, a listener of the show, asked this: “I would love, love love to hear about having an ideal client experience that results in rinse and repeat clients or life-long clients where you’re just offering this perfect and wonderful experience for your clients. So much so that you don’t have to put all of, or really any more, marketing into getting new clients, but that your current clients do that enough for you.”
Miranda, thank you for your question! I am so excited to dive in with you and unpack what it looks like to have that ultimate client experience and have your clients do a large chunk of marketing for you. I’ll offer 7 strategies for how to flesh this out.
*disclaimer: You have to have clients in order to have this client experience that we’re about to talk about. It’s really important that if you’re in that that space right now, where you haven’t been doing this for very long, or maybe you’re in a new location and you’re in the process of building your clientele back up and you’re in that building stage, this is still an incredible episode for you. I want you to take all of this information and utilize it. But also, just know that you’re not going to ever be able to stop marketing completely. You’ll still always stay visible, but your client experience really can help do a lot of the heavy lifting.
Strategy 1: Always Be One Step Ahead of Your Client
Your client journey is one of the most important parts of this ideal client experience because you want to be able to map out what every step of your process will look like, how many times you’re going to check in with them, and what different things that they need to do with you.
Always stay one step ahead of where your client is on the journey, and make sure that they know what’s expected before they even think to ask. It’s important that you map out this journey and create a really sustainable system so that your clients know what’s expected. But also, you are not feeling like you’re flustered.
I always recommend starting small and starting with something. It’s better than having nothing, and everybody starts somewhere. So don’t go crazy thinking you need this elaborate client journey and client workflow, just start small and build from there.
Strategy 2: Providing Resources Your Client Didn’t Even Know They Needed
It’s really important that we educate our clients. A lot of our clients do not get their photo taken super often, and so it’s really important that we create this experience for them where they feel so well taken care of. This might look like providing a style guide, session tips, tips for dads, etc.
You’re giving your clients opportunities to make their session better, and you’re taking some of that guesswork out of it for them by providing help and resources. Creating Pinterest boards for style help, linking to actual clothes, etc. are wonderful ways to be helpful to your client.
Always be thinking of ways you can enhance your client’s experience. You know your ideal clients pain points, and this is the greatest opportunity for you to really utilize your knowledge and share that with them.
Strategy 3: Off-Boarding Your Clients Well
It’s so hard sometimes to know what to do, but I think sending a client gift and a handwritten thank you note is incredible as a personal touch.
I also think it’s really important to have some sort of nurture email sequence afterwards. I used to do an ‘After I-Do’ email sequence I sent as a wedding photographer. I just think it’s so incredible to have this way of staying in touch with your past clients and still being able to serve them, even though they’re not your client anymore.
All of these things are ways of creating that rinse and repeat client experience where they are going to keep coming back to you to refer other people because they’re going to know how well you cared for and nurtured them during their whole experience and time with you. I think this is just such a great way for them to remember who you are, and they get amazing education in the process as well.
Strategy 4: Incentivize your Past Clients to Book with You
This is something like having special pricing for them. So maybe when you raise your prices for everyone else, you give them a small loyalty discount, such as a past client discount. Maybe you could do something like giving them extra print credit. You also could do something like a membership program that allows them to get many milestones photographed at a discounted rate with prime dates/speciality locations, etc.
I think it’s a really awesome opportunity to incentivize those people who have worked with you. It just makes them feel so special and loved.
Strategy 5: Give Your Clients an Added Incentive to Market For You
If a past client refers someone to you, what kind of incentive can you gift them with? You could do a print credit, a handwritten note with a giftcard, etc. It’s so nice when someone takes the time to actually hand write a thank you note, thank you so much for the referral and giving them a gift card. I personally usually do 5% of the total session fee or wedding rate.
I know that a lot of people are not going to expect that, but what it does is it sets me apart from other people that they might have been referring who never took the time to thank them.
This act goes a long way. I’ve seen this so often that they will continue to refer, not because they want the incentive, but because they know you care, and I think that really helps boost your referrals.
I also do this with fellow photographers. If I get a referral from a fellow photographer, you better believe that I am taking care of them with a referral gift, because I 100% want them to continue referring people to me. So you can definitely use this tip for any other type of referrals as well.
Strategy 6: Pamper Your Past Clients
This strategy might not be for everyone, but if you’re really wanting that rinse & repeat experience, really pamper your past clients so they begin to do some of the heavy lifting of bringing your ideal, niche clients to you.
Hosting a past client party, or a client appreciation event of some sort is a great way to pamper your past clients.
Sending client gifts for the clients you’ve served in the past year, or all past clients is a great way to jog your clients memory of you and remind them that you’re still in business.
Sending personalized cards for their anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas cards, etc. are another excellent personal touch for pampering your past clients.
Strategy 7: Regularly and Personally Check-In With Your Past Clients
I know that you probably already do this intermittently here or there on Instagram and Facebook just as you see them posting, but I want you to take it a step further and actually make it a point in your month to set aside time to check in on these clients.
I want you to create a Google Doc or another spreadsheet where you’re going to keep a running list of all of your past clients, and then you’re going to make notes when you actually reach out to them.
The power of referrals is incredible, and this is an amazing way to utilize it.
Quotes to Note:
“I don’t feel like you should ever stop marketing, you just might not have to do it as much.”
“Instead of having to go out and find other people that are like your ideal past clients, your ideal past clients are going to be doing that heavy lifting for you.”
“The heartbeat of our business as photographers is relationships and referrals.”
“You want to make sure that you are not forgotten, you want to make sure that you’re always top of mind that you are something someone that they are always thinking of.”
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