Yesterday (and that would be Sunday, as I am writing this) I did a family portrait. It was more for a friend than a straight-up client. (Note - they paid the sitting fee). I said it would be a few days for them to see the files, and they'd be able to see the images online. It was also done at the end of the day - you know- golden hour light. Park setting, creek below, family on a bridge. You get the picture.
So, what do they want?
The photos now, of course. Yes, they saw them on the back of the camera and were happy. No, they don't need them until the end of November (or so they said), but they do want them now.
What do I do? What do I say?
They want the online gallery. I'm working on it right now - the files are processing as I type this missive. By delivering to this client when they want, how they want...what will they do? Aside from place print orders, they'll tell their friends! "Man, this guy who did our portrait, he was so easy to work with, and we got our photos so fast it was crazy!"
Three years ago, I ordered 1,000 custom silk-screened CD's. It was somewhat costly, yet it's amazing how, when a client burns a duplicate of my CD (and few have figured out how to do that on the machine in their cubicle, surprisingly) and hand-writes with a Sharpie on it the information, how, somehow, they call and say "can we get a second CD burned and sent. We like the way yours looks." Sure, no problem. Those CD's have paid tenfold what it cost me, just because of the appearance of the disk. (For a CD output charge that's $175, a second CD runs 50% of that, or $87.50. Check pricing at dc photographer pricing, for more on those charges/fees.)
Yet, we are running short on those, with just a few hundred left, and more and more of our clients are looking for online delivery. No more FedEx/DHL shipments. Clients want them uploaded instead. I foresee a day in the next 12 to 18 months where a majority of my clients will have shifted to online delivery requirements, just as they transitioned from wanting digital over film. I already have over a dozen who want online delivery, and no CD's.
Anticipating what your clients want, and assisting them in getting exactly what they want, how they want it, and, where necessary, hand-holding them through the process in the beginning, will make you indispensable to them. Further, delivering it when they want it too, ensures you can continue to enjoy their good graces, and the longevity of benefit that accompanies them.
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