Intro by Skip Cohen Photography is a word-of-mouth business, yet…
by Lori Nordstrom
Have you ever been to an archery shoot and watched the painstaking steps the archer follows before letting loose his or her arrow? Carefully, the three fingers of one hand are hooked into a strong “claw” that draws back the string until it is taut and even with the chin. With his or her other arm the archer steadily stretches the bow, pivoting the wrist slightly to keep the arrow in place. Eyes locked in concentration, the archer sights down the shaft of the arrow to the target, looking straight at the bulls eye and nothing else. Can you imagine the archer at that point? When everything is in place for making a perfect shot, just pointing the bow and arrow off in some random direction and letting the arrow fly? Hoping it might hit the target somehow? Ludicrous as this picture seems, that is exactly what we do with our efforts to build our business when we move forward without identifying our target client. We are letting loose our best shot with no target in mind. It has been said that the businessperson who doesn’t do any market research is the businessperson who doesn’t want to make money. Narrowly and clearly defining your target client is an essential step you must take for your business. Until we know WHO our target client is, we can’t effectively develop a marketing strategy to find them and reach them.
Why do they buy? When we determine where our client is spending her time and money, we can begin to understand what her needs and expectations are, as well as what she values to offer a product that will be in line with those things.
Ask yourself what expectations your target client has for the product you’re offering. If I choose to purchase my clothes at Siren in Des Moines, I know I can walk into the shop and they know me by name. If I tell them what sort of event I am going to, they bring outfits to me in my personalized fitting room. My name is written on the chalkboard that hangs on the door. Inside the dressing room they provide bottled water and chocolate. They find accessories for me, recommend a shoe style and when I’m ready to leave, everything is wrapped in distinctive packaging Siren uses that adds pleasure to my shopping experience. I spend more money than I would at some other place such as Kohls, but I have an expectation of getting extra value for what I spend.
Whenever I think about packaging, I remember going to the shopping district of downtown Chicago and seeing the little girls walking down the street carrying a red bag from the American Girl doll store. When I saw the American Girl store’s distinctive red bag, I thought about the entire experience of taking your daughter to Chicago to get an American Girl doll: having a tea party in the store, having their doll’s hair done, and how different that experience is compared to going to a get a baby doll at Target. There is nothing wrong with shopping at Target – I love Target! But if I want to create a memory with my daughter along with the purchase of the doll, I’ll go to American Girl, pay 5 times as much and be happy about it!
Which experience are you providing your client? What expectations does she have for that experience? How does your business and your product meet the needs of your target client? If you are puzzled on the answer to some of these questions, take a look at yourself…
• What businesses do you return to over and over again?
• Who are you loyal to?
• What are these businesses or services doing to earn your loyalty?
• Do they remember your name?
• Do they make specific suggestions that you believe are just for you?
• Do they say thank you in a special way?
• Do they take care of you after the purchase with exceptional customer service?
My son’s pediatric dentist is an example of good customer care. The dentist is great, but it’s the people and things he’s surrounded himself with that make us return each time. When Jaxon walks in the door, they know his name and ask him questions about sports or school. But, they don’t just ask about school, they ask how 5th grade is going or call his teacher by name. Jaxon gets to play video games while his teeth are cleaned and worked on. He loves going to the dentist! He always leaves with a little surprise and lots of smiles and hugs. They make him feel special and that makes me happy! There is no way that I could ever take him anywhere else!
What lessons have I learned from Jaxon’s dentist? Well, I am a businessperson and I know that the hygienists and assistants at the dentist office probably don’t remember Jaxon’s name, let alone his best friend’s name or his dog’s name. This tells me that after every visit, they log information about Jaxon, documenting the things that are important to him and then taking the time to read and review those things before he comes in. What a great practice!
Jaxon gets to do something he enjoys while having a service provided that’s not so fun. I can’t say I’ve never heard a child cry there, but there is plenty of things around to distract and occupy their hands and minds if a child does get upset.
How can we make our clients feel just as special? I want to make sure that moms leave my studio knowing how much I care about them and their babies and children. Think about the things that you can do, things that you’ve learned from other businesses around you. Meet your clients’ expectation of value with customer care and an exceptional experience. Keep careful records on your clients so that you can not only call them by name, but also remember little things that are important to them, as well as the milestones. After every contact with a client, write thank you notes. Do all of this while working with your client. Have mommy gift bags for new moms or a gift for the new baby, and don’t leave dad out of the pampering. Do something extra as a surprise for a nice order. Take the time to get to know your clients and their tastes. Ask about their homes and their décor and help them design their space beautifully. Thank them for referrals with a special gift or portrait credit. Offer extra services such as going to their home to show them their images or going back to their home to hang their portraits.
What’s happening in my clients’ lives is important. There are a lot of events that offer windows of opportunity such as marriage, a new baby, children’s birthdays, a completed family, tweens, a high school senior, last family portrait before a new addition to the family or wedding anniversary.
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