Surprise and delight - a term that simply means making your clients as happy as possible. This is a practical move for your business, as happy clients do things like: come back and book again, sing your praises on social media and even refer you to their friends and family! On a personal level, it just feels nice to be nice.
The key to a great out of the box surprise and delight strategy for your clients is personalization. When you start surprising your clients in ways that are specific to them, that’s where the results of your efforts are really going to shine. Here are a few specific examples of how you can take tried and true surprise and delight tactics, and make them fresh and new by tailoring them to your clients!
Creating Fun, Tailored Content
Start from the most basic communications (emails, phone calls and any other regular touch points), and turn them into an excuse to make your clients smile! Instead of an email, send your clients a countdown video of yourself a week out from their appointment letting them know how excited you are. Make sure you include their name, the date and reason for their shoot. End it all by encouraging them to reach out to you if they have any questions or ideas leading up to the shoot.
Here's a great sample script to use as a jumping off point:
“Hi Abby! I can’t wait for your maternity shoot next week, and this is the official countdown! I’m so happy I get to capture this amazing moment for you, and I’m so excited to test out a new lens I just got (hold up camera). You’re going to look great in all of them, I know it! Let me know if you have any questions or new ideas, and I’ll see you in a week!”
Something like this will only take a minute or less to record, but your clients will be blown away at receiving an unexpected, personal video.
Another easy way you can make existing communications more fun is to edit your surveys! If you send out surveys to all of your clients after the fact, make sure you update the intros and even the questions based on what kind of photo shoot they had, how it went and anything personal or fun you may have talked about while you were together. And don’t forget to shout them out on social media! If they’re expected to be featured around the time of their shoot, wait a little while and tag them again when they’re not expecting it with a caption like “Another one from my awesome shoot with Britt, because they all turned out so great!” No better way to stay on the top of people’s minds than tagging them in a fun little confidence boost, am I right?
Giving Special Offers
A great way to surprise your clients is to hold monthly contests for those you have worked with in the past. Keep the schedule recurring and somewhat predictable, so it allows for people to get in the habit of participating, but make the gifts a total surprise that you curate for the winner! Say for example, you know an old client who just got a new job, make them your winner that month and offer them half off a new head shot. Or give someone who was particularly fun and silly to work with a personalized calendar full of funny, behind the scenes outtakes from their shoot. Afterwards, post on social what the winner received so that people know you are reliable, and that you’re always switching the prizes up as well as personalizing them.
These don’t always have to be monetary offers, either. They can also be experiential! Try aligning a fun, out of the box offer with a new creative project you’ve been wanting to try out. Think of the clients you have the best relationship with, the ones that feel like friends. Hit them up and with a, “I’ve been wanting to test out this new lighting technique I learned, want to come be my test model for the day? I’ll send you copies of the photos when we’re done!” It should be pretty easy to find a client who won’t take you up on a fun afternoon being a test model, and you’ll both leave valuing your relationship even further.
Sending Personal Gifts
If you can, work surprise and delight gifting into your budget and workflow! Consider it part of an important retention / referral marketing strategy. Leave yourself some budget wiggle room, while still allowing yourself to be spontaneous and cater to each individual (aka don’t stockpile a hundred of the same card and send one out to everyone). Allow yourself $10 or $20 a month to use on making clients happy, and use it whenever the time feels right. This will involve really paying attention to your conversations with people, and reacting in the moment. For example, if they let you know they got a new puppy, send a surprise box of dog treats. If they mention they’ve been feeling sick, maybe send a $10 e-gift card to Panera for some chicken noodle soup on you.
These are small acts of kindness that will go a long, long way.
Another aspect of this is remembering the little things. Let people know when they’ve hit milestones, especially less obvious ones that they might not even remember! Say you’re a wedding photographer. Your couple is obviously going to remember the day they got married, but they won’t be expecting to hear from you on the anniversary of their engagement shoot. Send them something small but sweet, like a new desk-sized framed photo. And include a note that says something along the lines of, “We did this amazing shoot a year ago (wow time flies)! Still can’t believe how fun it was to work with you. Here’s a little something for our ‘first anniversary.’
Never Stop Surprising
Adopting a totally client-centric mindset is one that takes a bit of planning and adjusting to, but once you master it, your business will be forever changed. Making the mental shifts and budget allocations we’ve suggested above will help you start to see surprise and delight opportunities all around you! You’ll be prepared and ready to act on your ideas easily. Your client will love you, then they’ll refer you, then those clients will love you, then they’ll refer you. And repeat ;)
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