Thursday, June 25, 2009

Business Day Thursday: 17 More Ideas To Keep Your Clients Coming Back (And Getting More Clients Too); Contest Winner Announced!

Good Morning Everybody,

Winner - Happy-Hooray_000001999168XSmallWOW! I mentioned my free Webinar yesterday and only 20 hours later we have almost 200 people signed up for it - I'm stoked.  If you want to be part of the fun, here is the info and registration link.  Register soon because the limit is 1000 attendees.  At the rate people are registering we might hit that by early next week.

More good news - I'm announcing the winner of my contest, "12 ways to Keep Your Clients Coming Back."  We didn't quite hit 20 suggestions as I had hoped, but we got 17 very good ones.  I listed each of them in this post along with my comments about each suggestion.  Want to find out who has the $50 B&H gift certificate heading their way?  Hit the "Read More..." link below for the rest of the story and lots of good ideas!

Also, don't forget, I've got one more contest running too entitled, "Business Day Thursday: Booking Weddings, How About Booking 5 Bonuses To Seal The Deal?" I'll pick that winner next week.  Get your ideas listed so you don't miss out on another chance to win a $50 B&H Gift Certificate.

OK gang, time to check in with those great ideas and see who our winner is. 

Here we go... 

Debbie Hogshead suggested...

1. Give a gift card when a previous client refers someone who becomes a client and purchases a package.
2. Give them to high school coaches and drama club teachers with an offer to photograph their students in action with the option to purchase a softcover album. This could have multiple album sales because once others see the album they and their parents will want one too. And add an incentive to purchase the album by giving a gift card for a future portrait sitting. Include space for the kids to write something to the coach too. Don't think just football... lacrosse, swimming (diving), track & field, basketball, baseball, clubs & events. Could also include posters or small brag books, locker magnets.

David says... "I love idea #2. Why not expand on that and work with the PTA, teachers, and coaches on rewarding the kids for a job well done with the gift cards.  I agree with Steve Kalman at the end of this post, that the card should result in at least something tangible for the person it was given."

Sandy suggested...

3. When events ask for donations for door prizes give gift cards in different amounts to your studio, for seniors, families or baby portraits.

David says..."I like it, but still the one given the card should receive some tangible benefit from the card.

Dianna suggested...

4. Send a gift card for a free Christmas Portrait session to all wedding clients for the current year. It's a great way to keep in touch with them.
5. I've also been considering a gift card for a free 1st Anniversary Portrait session.

David says... "Another good one."

Adalia suggested...

6. Clients can earn a gift card to apply to their next order if they get 10 people to comment on their portraits on your blog.

David says... "I like the viral aspects of this one - instead of spreading the work, keep the word spreading."

Danielle suggested...

7. My idea is since photography is all about preserving the special moments that make up our lives, you can at each session give them a card for the next chapter in their lives or milestones.
Examples would be for a wedding client give a card for $100 on Maternity session, then at their Maternity session give them a Newborn card, then at that session a child's first birthday. You get the point.  It keeps them always coming back to you for all their special moments throughout their entire lives.

David says... "Yep, this one was one of my favorites - it's keeps then coming back and when tied to some of our other great suggestions here, you've got a dynamite guerrilla marketing plan for any small studio."

Vendor Buddies - iStock_000003393797XSmallCrystal suggested...

8. Give some to various vendors (caterers, wedding planners, DJ's, etc) that you've developed a relationship with so that they can pass them on to clients they encounter.

David says... "I always like these vendor - business building ideas."

9. Send them out to families on Mother's day, encouraging kids to give mom a really special gift - a portrait of themselves. It could work for Father's Day and even Christmas.

David says... "How about sending them out to the kids to give to mom?"

John suggested...

10. Give a gift card when a client makes a minimum order of Prints. For example, give a $25 gift card when a client orders $250.00 or more. Give a $50.00 gift card when a client orders $400.00 or more.

David says... "Be sure to make it on future purchases. Nice way to close the sale."

Theresa B suggested...

11. Offer a different business card each month as an online raffle prize. People can earn entries by friending your Facebook business page, suggesting you as a friend to others who then "friend" you. Same thing for Twitter. The more they help with free viral advertising, the more entries they earn!

David says... "I always love the ideas that get other people to talk about you."

Jimmy suggested...

12. The better the package ordered, the higher value gift card they will receive towards there next session. This will encourage clients to step up their order. Also, I would put a year expiration date on the card so my client wouldn't be tempted to sit on it for to long.

David says... "It's a great incentive to build the sale and keep them coming back for more."

Ty suggested...

13. Partner with a florist for a major "flower" holiday -- Valentines Day, Mothers Day, etc. Design a special gift card that promotes the florist, and offers the value as a "Thank You" for using your services. The gift card is the same size as the message envelope, and goes inside with the card. When the delivery is made -- everyone looks good. The florist impresses a client, the recipient gets added value, and the whole thing looks like part of the gift, which I would hope would make it more likely to be used.

Nospam101 suggested...

14. Give your "partners" (the florist, cater, etc.) cards to hand-out to their clients. Creates a stronger partner bond and swings more business your way.

David says... "Similar to above idea, but still thinking in the right direction."

15. Also, (tongue-in-cheek) you could hand-out cards to folks for coming up with new marketing ideas.

David says... " I actually think this is a great idea - businesses use focus groups all the time for ideas.  Each client becomes part of your "focus group" with your invitation.  That's how we recently came up with a new product at my studio. Ask for your client's suggestions and listen - hey, they are the ones that will be coming back for more.

Frank Wilson suggested...

Hey gang, here is the guy that started it all. Let's hear what he has to say. -David

Thanks a bunch for the post about my gift cards, as they continue to do wonders for me.

16. Another way I use my gift cards is in my bridal gift registry. When I book the client, I ask them to include me on their gift registry and to let their guest know that. When a guest registers with me, there is a $50 minimum, I will send my client a confirmation that $50 has been applied to their account from Mr. or Mrs. John Doe. Mr. or Mrs. John Doe would get a $50 gift card from Frank Wilson Photography for a portrait session or maybe images from the wedding. It's a win-win situation. Mr. or Mrs. John Doe gets credited for a gift to the bride and groom and in turn, they get a gift also. The bride and groom has $50 less to pay on their account or apply it to a package upgrade. How about that for a $3.00 piece of plastic.....Harry Potter Magic! Thanks again David.

David says... "Frank, you are the master of the gift cards.  I think you inspired a lot of good ideas here too."

Steve Kalman suggested...

17. With regard to professional photography, rather than promising existing clients something for a referral (thus starting with zero) promise something for two referrals, but give them credit for one (the job they gave you already). Then tell them they're half-way to the prize and need "just one more".  Differential cost to a studio is zero, but improved results are likely.

David says... "I agree Steve, there are some times when the gift card should have tangible value as I mentioned earlier."

I'd like to recommend a book by Howard Goldstein. It reviews psychological tendencies of people and explains how they can be used to increase or close sales.  One particular anecdote comes close to this discussion of gift cards. He talks about loyalty cards and cites experiments where some recipients got cards that were blank (buy 5 get one) and some were partially filled in (buy 7 get one, but starting with a credit for 2).

   As a second comment, I'm always annoyed as a consumer when I win a prize that costs me money. A gift card to a studio is useless unless I pay for the professional services.

If a charity needs a gift, give a card that promises to make one free 8x10 print of the winner's choice. Accept the image via email, but make them come in to get it. You might sell them a mat and frame to go with it. At that time, give them a gift card with a discount offer.

Sure, it costs a bit (and you might want to make the picture better with some simple editing) but it will establish the winner as an existing customer rather than as a possibly unhappy winner.

There you have it gang - 17 great ideas on how to keep your clients coming back and how to get new ones in the door.  Thanks to all who took the time to comment and share there ideas with our DigitalProTalk readers.

And the WINNER IS... drum roll please.  Danielle High FiveChristiansen for suggestion #7.  What I liked about Danielle's idea was the fact the she was being very pro-active with her clients on an individual level.  Each new gift card was targeted to enhance the client/studio relation even more.  Her idea results in "Clients for Life."  Hey Danielle, "high fives" for your great idea.

One last note from me.  So many people never get around to acting on good ideas - why is that?  Because we use the excuse that we are already too busy.  Folks, if that's the case then you don't need any of these ideas to begin with. That, by the way, may be the excuse, but it is usually never the reality. Time to give ourselves a "kick in the pants" and get moving on building our business.  I love what I learned from Wayne Dyer almost 30 years ago - "There are NO excuses. You are responsible for your own success, nobody else."

-Food for thought.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. The bags are packed and LaDawn and I are heading out for her nephew's wedding this weekend.  WOW! We get to be guests at this one! See everybody tomorrow for another episode of "You Light Up My Life" Friday.  See ya' then,  -David


  1. Sweet!
    The Milestones Gift Card really caught my attention as well...

    Good job Danielle!

  2. Great advice! I offered to give a portrait session to a local non-profit for the price of a lunch out. All of us had fun that day. That was my first "professional" session, which led to me being recommended for a small wedding.