Chapter 6: Communication
From the beginning you should consider how you prefer communicating with your clients. Looking back over your notes from the Know Yourself section and taking into account what your daily life looks like right now, what will work best?
Are you an excellent sales person and have a super sharp personality over the phone?
Is it very important to you to meet with your clients in person before deciding if you want to take on a job?
Do you love the spontenaity, speed, and personal approach of direct messages on Social Media?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with either of the three options above. But years ago I decided email was the only way to go for me, and eventually actually removed my phone number from my website, and here are some of the main reasons why (all of them based on past "mistakes")
I have two kids and an always unpredictable everyday life. I can't be shopping for groceries at five in the afternoon with two impatient kids and suddenly have a potential client on the phone.
I am not good at thinking on my feet. In the past I have agreed to prices and conditions over the phone that I would never have, had I had time to think it over.
I have been told that my writing is compelling, and I like to construct my sentences carefully.
I like the order of not only having everything in writing, but also having an overview of my agreements and correspondances at my fingertips through folders in my email, instead of having it in 4 or 20 different conversations threads on Facebook or Instagram, some conversations on the phone etc.
I prefer to set my own working hours as much as possible. I alone choose when to respond to an email. I can't choose when a client decides to call me.
My clients either live abroad or very very far from me, so personal meetings became too expensive, too time consuming travel wise, or just plain unrealistic.
A clear disadvantage of not using the phone or being able to meet in person, is that it can sometimes be incredibly difficult to read intentions, emotions, and tone in writing. So should any misunderstandings arise, big or small, it is always better to pick up the phone than to risk escalating a negative situation that could have been avoided.
Once I have responded to someone's email once, they have my full contact information including my phone number because all of it is listed in my email signature. But it also clearly states that email is the best way to reach me and phone is only by previous appointment.
When a client has found your website and decided you are interesting enough to get in touch with, there are often two scenarios:
The couple is basically just looking around and primarily want to know your price.
The couple is actually already ready to book you. They really want you to photograph their wedding day. Or its down to you and just one or two other photographers.
In the first scenario, you only really have the chance to book them if you are within their budget, and if not, only if you are able to wow them and make them fall in love with you during the first few emails.
In the second scenario, you have a great opportunity to cement the feelings the client already has, when you first respond to their enquiry.
I have yet to meet a photographer who books every single client that enquires with them, but to save yourself time and make sure you stay consistent, I suggest you create email templates, that you can then modify slightly to fit each enquiry. And even when a couple doesn’t end up booking you, make sure you respond in a positive way and wish them well. Maybe they have a friend who is getting married the year after and who would be a perfect fit for you or who is working with a bigger budget. You want them to still pass on your name and have had a positive experience with you, even if they don’t book you for their own wedding.
Time is important! Especially with wedding clients, fast responses are always appreciated! Don’t feel like you have to be glued to the computer, but I highly encourage you to respond to first enquiries within 24 hours tops. And if you do that there is no need to have a permanent impersonal auto-reponse.
In the Bonus Section released at the end of the course, you will find the exact emails, word for word, that I use for various scenarios in my correspondance with my clients. It has taken me 10 years to refine the wording of them to suit me and my ideal client perfectly. If you choose to use my templates, I want you to make changes to them so they feel authentic to you and your brand. There can be significant differences in tone or degree of formality depending on nationality or the type of client you are pursuing. In Denmark we are relatively casual, and for years now I have intentionally pursued very relaxed, international, free spirited, untraditional couples, all of which is reflected in the language I use in my emails.
Decide what type of communication suits your personality and everyday life best, and make changes to your website, email signature etc accordingly. Don't feel like you have to be available 24/7. You have every right to a personal life, just like everyone else.