It seems odd to me that, in this new world of intense connection and social interaction online, good old-fashioned politeness seems to have been thrown out the window.
Our ability to communicate almost instantly with anyone, and the expectation of an immediate reply, appears to have had the unexpected effect of reducing the overall quality of our communication.
Many of the emails I see in my inbox, for example, are curt almost to the point of being brusque and rude, and the general niceties of communication seem to have all but disappeared—victims of the need for speed.
And therein lies a fantastic opportunity!
While politeness might be an endangered species, it’s far from unappreciated, and often comes as a pleasant and much-welcome surprise.
Hard to believe, perhaps, but simply taking a couple of extra moments to be polite in an email can set you far apart from others who have let such things go by the wayside.
In this section, I want to talk about the top 5 important aspects of communication in your business, and how you can use them to make more money with photography in the long run…
#1: Customer-Centered Emails
One of the biggest regrets I had in my own business was failing to build an email list from day one.
Had I done so, I would have seen much more growth in the early years and wasted a lot less time on other less-effective marketing channels.
Email marketing is actually one of the best (and most overlooked) channels we have, but it has to be used correctly in order to make it work.
Building an email list the right way is not that hard.
You just need an account with a reputable email service provider (such as ActiveCampaign), a signup form for your website, and a free gift (aka lead-magnet) you can give away to your new subscribers that will be interesting and useful for them.
However, the most important thing for success in email marketing is to keep your email communications as customer-centered as possible.
By that, I mean talk more about them than about you or your photography business.
For example, you can take your free gift (whether that’s a PDF guide, a series of videos, or a cheat sheet), and then use your follow-up emails to talk about small sections of it in turn, each time focusing on how the client can benefit from what you’re saying.
Write your emails just as you would if you were writing a physical letter, with proper salutations, formatting and an appropriate sign-off.
You can also use the PS section at the end of your email as a soft reminder for something you want them to check out further.
Make sure, too, that your “from” name is recognizable to the intended recipient as you, the owner of the business, and that your name is properly capitalized.
For example, “John Smith at Smith Photography” is much better than “jsmith” or “john smith”.
#2: Be Seen As A “Go-To” Resource
Some of the most useful people we know in life are great at being “connectors”.
These are people we trust to point us in the right direction whenever we’re in need of something but we’re not sure where to go for the best information.
Whether you’re a natural “connector” or not, you can make good use of this by helping to solve the most common challenges your target market tend to experience.
This could be through valuable articles or videos on your website, a detailed FAQ section, posts on your blog, direct advice via email, or jumping into social media conversations where you can add real value.
Eventually, you’ll be seen as the “go-to” person for all kinds of things your target audience commonly need, which can help to increase people’s trust in you and keeping you at the top of their awareness.
In essence, this is another facet of content marketing.
#3: Consistently Under-Promise And Over-Deliver
Nothing is guaranteed to send a business relationship sour faster than broken promises or lackluster service.
We’ve all had personal experiences where things have gone pear-shaped in a business transaction, sometimes very quickly and in spectacular fashion. Worst-hit are those occasions where we had really high opinions of the business to begin with, but then they let us down really hard.
Don’t let this happen to you!
At the risk of sounding clichéd, it always pays to under-promise and over-deliver for your clients, and to keep communication channels wide open, even when things are not going quite as smoothly as everyone expects.
Bad things happen and problems are a fact of life, but your customers will appreciate you far more, and be more tolerant of delays, if you keep them in the loop and make them aware that you’re on the ball.
#4: Surprise Your Clients To Create A Positive Experience
One of the best things you can do to enhance communication between yourself and your clients is to surprise and excite them with something unexpected.
Done with true sincerity, and with enough unpredictability that no one expects it, this strategy can generate true passion about your business in your clients.
It doesn’t matter what genre of photography you specialize in, I’m sure you can find ways to go above and beyond in your job to make someone’s day really special.
#5: Help Your Clients Promote You To Their Friends
Word of mouth is often cited as the most powerful form of marketing there is, and it has the added benefit of being free.
Creating lots of positive word of mouth marketing can be a challenge, and isn’t something that just happens all by itself.
Certainly, the experience of working with you must be exceptionally positive in every aspect.
In other words, there has to be something worth talking about for your clients, and something they just can’t wait to share with their friends.
Is it possible to engineer this?
First, follow the previous ideas of under-promising, over-delivering, and creating unexpected amazing surprises for your clients.
However, you can also create a form of online word of mouth marketing using your blog, for example, by offering an incentive to your clients for sharing a post about their photography with their friends, or for attracting more than a specified number of comments.
This works amazingly well with portrait and wedding photography, but you can also experiment with other genres.
The key here is to get creative and to motivate and inspire your clients into action.