Is the customer always right?
Yes, having clients/customers to serve is a priveledge and I was raised old school. My mom and dad always took care of the folks that came into their business. Their attitude was one worth rendering as my life and career grows. I like that I have clients that do return business with my company, with me. I work and huge range of projects; editorial is loose and usually left to my devices to solve problems on the spot. To be conceptual and tell stories is a gift and a better gift to be assigned based on the fact that the editors love the way you think. Its an honor really! Advertising clients tend to have an idea pre-shoot and you have to deliver exactly what they want and why not, they usually pay more. I like to compare dinner to photography assignments.
When I go out and order a fish dish I don't want liver! Assignments are the same to me and I really try to think about my team, the client at large and bring exactly if not more to the table.
Developing relationships with art directors takes time. It doesn't always get cemented in the first project. You have to court them and care for them with kit gloves. Pamper your clients.
Its really important that they not only go back to their world with the images but with a great experience and sometimes a very memorable one. So many photographers, so many people just have a camera and proclaim they are a photographer! And guess what regardless of the quality lots of folks are getting jobs with little lighting or tech experience. Doesn't really matter anymore as long as the end result looks cool. For those of us who are craftsmen and women it puts a bug up our bums. We need to remind our client base that we see differently and that we are an asset to any job assigned.
Refreshing clients memories of your talent is really important. I have a rep and we need to send out promos all the time. Its really a job unto yet many dedicated days of research and making lists and updating and than posting. I am always busy making my next contact to get my next project going and sending out notes and a small smattering of promos to my regular clients.
Its part of the deal. Kicking back was never the way to be successful in the field of photography.
Contracts, estimates can lay out exactly some of the details that can pave the way to a clear and concise shoot. Especially with advertising jobs and even hook ups with friends. Writing it all down backs up anything that could be what I call loose. I recently had a shoot with an old friend and the art director came in after the shoot was done....two months later and says. I want it a different way! Well who do you think they wanted to do it for free? Should I do it ? One has to consider the relationship at hand. My client and friend of 20 years didn't like the idea of shooting and paying again! It was a gently realization that the photographer wasn't at fault here and he did come back to me and book another day. A flat rate was determined and I never charged him much in the beginning but I made certain to shoot a few images and email them to the art director in another state so she could approve going forward without me spending my clients money on a full days shoot. I tried to take care of this client the best way I could by being professional and taking him through each of the steps in a gentle way so he had his assets covered from the team he was working with out of State. They were not paying for the additional shooting. He was and if they didn't like this shoot he'd be in a pickle. So think about each job as if it were you investing your money into branding and TLC your client. I paid for lunch that day as he's a good guy and doesn't fully understand the workings of photography. Its always an education for most. http://www.Blinkbid.com has some cool forms.
Thanking your customers is key. Treating them the way you want to be treated. If they support your year...remember them at the holidays, write notes and check in and even go to lunch with them when you can afford to do so...it could be a cool little dive that is interesting or a picnic or an expensive cafe, your choice but make it interesting for them as most folks work in an office that is less than interesting. You could make a nice impression and when your done with lunch you may be the guy or gal that they call next for a big job. And remember no job is too small or too big. You can always hire a producer to get you golden.