My mom is a typical Southern belle from North Carolina – and she always carries herself with impeccable grace and greets everyone with genuine warmth and a smile. And like every Southern lady worth her salt, she never stands for poor manners – and my siblings and I would get a serious tongue-lashing if we ever misbehaved. Her ability to maintain grace, empathize and stay above it all has greatly influenced how I run my photography business.
I love the latest gadgets – and strive to learn more about the fast-changing photography world daily. When running my business, however, I prefer not to forget old-fashioned values. The world might have changed, but people’s desire for high quality and a trustworthy service provider remains the same. Here are a few old-school values that have helped me in my life and my business:
Build long-term relationships
When you build relationships for the long term, you build a reputable brand and the client base to support it. Too many businesses worry more about profit margins than the people they serve. If you take care of your clients, they will recommend you to friends and family and support the growth of your business. I firmly believe that the real proof of a successful business is when you consistently exceed client expectations creating outspoken “evangelists” for your company. A referral truly is the greatest compliment and strongest marketing tool.
Make something that lasts forever
My mom has an exquisite jewelry box that she’s had on her dresser for as long as I can remember. I love new things and I’m not big on nostalgia. But I do miss craftsmanship, where every item was a work of art and a result of dedication and conscientious effort. A lot of photographers are influenced by current trends of retouching, which seem really cool at the time of production, but your clients end up with images that might not stand the test of time. Be conscious of the difference between innovative advancements and passing trends to create timeless art that you can be proud of – 2, 5, 30 years on.
This seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes, we allow our ego or impatience to get the best of ourselves. You might not understand the specific needs of your client so take the time to listen. Then, reflect on what they are saying so you can understand things from their perspective. The key is communication and finding a solution that works for both your business and the client.
Honesty – still the best policy
We live in an age where people are fed so much data and so many sales pitches that in many ways, they’ve become jaded and skeptical. Be honest and completely transparent in all client communication (or all communication for that matter). Communicate your style of photography and pricing to the client, and you will attract the right people. You should not compromise on your style of photography or the value of your work for the sake of gaining a new client.
All these old-fashioned values require you to treat people with respect and recognize that you have to take time to nurture client relationships. Treat your client the way you wish to be treated – and you will not only build better and long-lasting client relationships, you will also build a better public perception of your brand.
This article is originally published on GoingPro2010.com.