Client's NEVER Read Anything

Clients don't read

Want to know the #1 complaint I see from photographers all over in Facebook Groups and private forums?

"My clients never read anything I send them."

Sound familiar?

I see this so often I sometimes wonder if an entire generation of photography seeking clients have simply forgotten how to read.  But I don't think that is the case. 

One of the things that makes photography so rewarding for me are the relationships I build with clients. Whether it's photographing a family, an individual, or even just capturing someone in their natural surroundings - there is nothing better than hearing feedback from my clients about how much they enjoy working with me and seeing their reaction to the photos we take together. It never gets old!

But. . . that doesn't mean that all those interactions are without bumps and awkward moments.   I mean there are times when I have told my clients something several times, provided it in writing, and even had them sign off on a contract and they STILL ask if the digitals are included.  (insert facepalm emoji here)

In running my studio over the past 13+ years I have discovered a few things that has made this process a bit easier and maybe some of this will help you too.

1.  NEVER ASSUME your client knows how this works.  They might have hired photographers in the past, maybe even done a session with you, but with every session, don't take shortcuts.  Always follow your communication workflow.  It not only helps avoid miscommunications but a clear, defined communication workflow makes you look more professional.

2.  DO NOT TRUST THE WRITTEN WORD ALONE.  You must go over important details in writing and verbally. 

3.  TELL THEM MORE THAN ONCE.  If it is important to you that you get paid at their selection appointment.  Be sure and tell them that payment will be accepted at this appointment EVERY TIME you talk about that appointment.  And then send a reminder email, specifically addressing payment two days before the appointment.  If it is important to you, then say it out loud, in writing, on your website, in your social media, at the session, when you book, in the contract, at every opportunity.  Don't worry about sounding like a broken record.  That is better than a client sitting down and saying, "oh, I forgot my credit card so I will send you payment tomorrow."  Because we all know how that works out.  

4.  USE WORDS THAT ARE CLEAR.  It is amazing how many photographers are so scared of being direct they actually use words in their communication that are misleading and confusing.  Don't say, "when we meet to go over all your images, we will talk about all the images you want to purchase, then at the end of the appointment, when you feel comfortable, we can run your credit card." 

No, No, No.  Keep it simple.  Instead say, "At the selection appointment we will be processing your payment for the complete order."  or even better "It is studio policy that payment is made in full at this appointment.  We accept all major credit cards, cash, or checks." 

Here is another blog post about the importance of using words and phrases that are clear you might want to check out.

5.  SAY IT WITH A SMILE.  Whenever I discuss policy and processes with a client, I smile.  Even if on the phone.  A smile really does change how something comes across.  Try it. 

6.  CHANGE IT.  Here comes the tough love.  If you are seeing the problem of clients not following your policies on a consistent basis (to me that is three times over a period of four months or less) then it is up to YOU to fix it, not your client.   It is not up to them to suddenly start reading everything you send or start to pay attention.  That isn't their job.  Your job is to make sure that YOU are communicating clearly, in various ways, and often, the pieces of information that are important to you.  After all, it is no big deal to them if they forget their credit card, but you know that is a HUGE deal.  So YOU need to be the one to make sure they know that they need to bring it with them when they place their order. 

Lastly, remember your clients are just like you.  They are busy, sometimes forgetful, have many other things going on in their lives than just your session.  We don't read the updated terms of service from Apple or Adobe when we get those emails or pop-ups, they don't either.  Help them out by reminding them of the important things.  They hired you because they know they want to work with you, make it easy and clear for them to do so throughout the entire process.


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