I feel the senior consultation is one of them most important parts of the client experience. It is the first impression, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, so you need to make it count! You may have a short phone conversation setting up the date and time for the consult, but you’re usually meeting the client in person for the first time at the consultation. This is where you tell the client why they need to schedule their senior session with you, this is where you get to know your client and learn about who they are and what they are involved in, this is where you need to build your seniors trust and the trust of the senior’s parents. During the consultation you go over the products you offer – so you also need to be a salesperson. Try not to pressure your clients; but, utilize this time to pre-sell to your client. Remember, the consultation is the point when you seal the deal or they decide to go somewhere else.
Most of your seniors are nervous, they have never had senior photos before and don’t know where to start. A lot of seniors have thoughts like, “I want my portraits to be unique and different and not like everyone else’s”; “I want them to be amazing, I want them to show my personality”; “I don’t think I’m photogenic”; or “What if my photographer is a weirdo”. This is why the consult is important, you will be able to gain their trust before you point the camera at their face. You will be able to go over their wants and needs and discuss their likes and dislikes and be prepared to create images that show who they are as a person. You can’t do this effectively without this first step of meeting them and building the trust. It’s important to build an emotional trust with your clients. Try to make it an emotional experience for mom and dad – “Your daughter or son will be moving out soon, this is one of the most important times in their lives and their senior portraits are a big role in that, you need to trust them to a professional”. Today’s clients want more than just amazing imagery they truly want to connect with you and have an amazing experience. If you make the entire process from the consultation to the view and order appointment an emotional experience where they connect with you and the images you create of them, it will pay off.
Here are a few tips on gaining the trust of your senior clients, throughout the entire client experience:
First, make sure you cover the basics of a first impression and remember you only have a few seconds to make that amazing first impression and you can never redo it so be yourself, dress appropriately, body language and appearance goes along way in today’s world. You need to smile even if you are having a bad day, but don’t overdo the smile and look insincere or cheesy, be confident, but not cocky. Be courteous and really pay attention to what they are saying, and always be positive! In a world full of negativity, being positive is so important, stay positive about everything and everyone. This also means don’t be negative about your competition, just tell your clients confidently why they should choose you over your competitors. Your clients are sensory beings. They watch your body language, they notice if your consultation area is comfortable, if there are pleasant aromas, when they touch the products you offer they are going to notice the quality, etc. Make certain you are conscience of these things, as all of it communicates to your client.
After you’ve covered the basics assure your client or potential client that they made the right decision in choosing you as their portrait artist, do this is by letting your passion for your craft and what you do show in every way. I have so many clients say at the consults ” I can tell you love what you do” ; “I can tell you care about making this a special time in my child’s life”; or, “Thanks for making this so fun” – your clients need to be saying these things!
Make the consultation an emotional experience, make your clients feel important, make them feel appreciated and special. If your clients are not connecting with you they will make a price based decision on whether they should go with you or the other guy.
Show your clients your credentials. Get involved in your state conventions and enter state print competitions, gain awards then have them displayed where your clients see them – even if you don’t say anything about them. Take it a little further, get involved in your industry, join the Professional Photographers of America and enter national print competitions, taking these extra steps will show your clients that you’re not just another guy with a camera, but you truly are a professional who cares for your craft and industry.
Educate your clients. Educate, educate, educate, I can’t say this enough! I wonder sometimes with the amount of people who call themselves “photographers” now a days, who are really just those people with nice cameras, I wonder how much bad photography that your clients see on Facebook or other social media sites everyday but think its art or its an amazing photo. You need to be teaching your clients about proper lighting and posing, when you teach them or educate them you become a true professional in their mind and then when a friend or family post a horrible photo on Facebook they will actually see the difference. This education should continue throughout the entire process, from the consultation to the session to the sales room. Give them your expert opinions, you’re the professional, you are the one that has studied lighting all your life, posing, color harmony, etc. You should be educating your client on what clothing to wear to their sessions, constantly tell them that you only do this once in your life, this needs to be done right and wearing the right clothing and having complete outfits adds so much to the final images. Again in the sales room you should be educating them on what they should be displaying in their homes, during the sale process. Educate your clients!
Lastly, you need to earn the title of a professional. As a professional your clients trust and want your opinions and experience. You earn it by constantly proving to your clients that you are a professional. If your client sees your professionalism there will be less price resistance and it also makes it more difficult for you competition to compete. You will be the photographer that is sought after.