“Do not just give to give, put thought and intention into every gift you give, otherwise your gift will fall flat and so will your passion to gift again.”
If you feel burdened by picking out the perfect gift or if you are just buying something you are not passionate about, how can you expect your clients or recipients to be excited or passionate about it? Right?!
So, this brings me to WHAT to gift your clients for ‘gifters' at every level of business/budget that BOTH you and your client can be excited about.
As “new photographers” we are not really in a position to break the bank gifting our clients when we are technically still in the “negative/red” start up stages, BUT that leaves LITTLE to NO EXCUSE as to why you cannot gift your clients with something that costs under 2.00 to create/buy/send. This blog post is geared towards those in the wedding industry, but these certainly can apply to seniors/family portrait photographers as well.
A Hand Written ‘Thank You' Card with or without a Surprise Print (5×7 or smaller)
This is by no means an extravagant gift with a hefty price tag, but what it is, is a simple action….a sweet idea….a way of showing your client that you care about them, want to spoil them, and give them an overall personal and rewarding experience with you. Your clients are MUCH MORE likely to save something from you that you hand crafted, or that has their name/photo on it. The hopes of this gift is that they immediately put the picture in a frame or on the fridge and pin your card on their bulletin board/desk. By doing so, you hope they pass it everyday, or get comments from house guests, and every time they will think of or mention you : )
A Hand Written ‘Thank You' Card and a Print Credit, or Personalized Keep Sake Photo Box with Prints inside. (WHCC OR MPIX PRO make these style gifts)
As you get further into business and you have a healthier income to work with, gifts can grow and change to reflect you and your brand. People often ask if they should or if I give a different gift to each client…personalized to what they like or a gift for the bride and one for the groom….and my answer is no. Though it sounds wonderful to be able to individually gift my clients and personalize them to each of their tastes, its just not feasible when you have 30+ couples a year to care for. Now, just because the gifts aren't specific to each of them, the gifts have meaning that all Brides/Grooms could enjoy. I have chosen to streamline my gift giving so that it ties in with my brand, the experience I want my couples to have, gifts that will leave them knowing how much I care about them and gifts they can and WANT to show off : ) Again, none of the gifts are bank breakers, but they do entail a lot of thought, a personal touch, and unique essence that shows them they are NOT just another date on my calendar….they are my family!
Once you streamline your gifts, gift giving becomes purely fun! Its simply a part of your workflow…not time away from your day stressing for the most perfect, individual personalized gift. I have brides-to-be that meet with me and before even signing they say “I cant wait to sign because that means I get those cute cookies everyone takes pictures of on Facebook/INSTAGRAM.”
[pullquote]Important Fact to Remember: Clients are NOT expecting gifts. Most are expecting you to show up on wedding day, on time, do your job professionally, and return gorgeous images. BUT….and this is a HUGE BUT….If you go above and beyond all expectations, you go from a hired vendor on the big day….to a FRIEND that is PART of their day that they will NEVER forget and you will have given them an experience that goes well beyond the end of the reception. [/pullquote]Once the last guest leaves, DJ is done, Food is consumed….all that is left of that day is in YOUR HANDS….you have the best and most opportunities out of any vendor to “wow” them and over deliver on every contractual promise you made. So if you had that chance, why wouldn't you take advantage of it!?
Ok…so gifting our clients is clearly important. However, it is EQUALLY important to gift the OTHER vendors you work with on a wedding day. Thanks to the amazingness of PASS, this is very easy to do. Take the extra 30 seconds to snap a photo of the coordinator and their team, the DJ working the crowd, the Videographer in action. Shoot some great styled images of those florals and of the venue. THEN…after the wedding…email those vendors, tell them what a pleasure it was to work with them, and direct them to the PASS gallery where they can easily find images of themselves or their hard work and allow them to use those images for any marketing purposes they may need images for.
Then, take this a step further: If you book another wedding because of one of those vendors referrals to you, GIFT THEM! Send them a box of sweet treats and a card for being SO SWEET to you, to spread such positive word of mouth about you and your business!
Lastly, here are some general helpful tips in terms of Gift Giving with Intention:
1. Send gifts for UNEXPECTED reasons. Don't just send an after session + Christmas gift. Send them a gift on a random Friday just to let them know you are thinking of them.
2. Give gifts that can be shown off, passed down (Photo boxes, lockets, heirlooms, etc)
3. For the order of gifts given, try to give clients something that first is an instant gratification and then something that will last forever. When brides are planning weddings, they always have to WAIT to see everything play out. Dont make them wait to enjoy your gift.
4. After the wedding, your clients would do anything to get the day back, do it all over again. So give them a gift that will allow them to recall moments of the day, something they can either hold in their hands or view and hold on to for forever. (Fusion Video is a great option here)
5. Steer clear of alcohol, flowers, scented candles (allergies) anything with political or religious affiliation, anything cooked with or near peanut oil, or can parish in transit. MAKE SURE you wrap your gift as nice as the gift is inside. Meaning, do not wrap it in a left over crushed box and frayed ribbon….make sure from package to gift, they are wowed! Wrapping is also a great way to show off your branding FIRST and foremost once a gift is in their hands : )
Your markets will in turn drive your gifts. This means that if you shoot more of an “off beat” style bride….chances are she is not going to want a white fluffy teddy bear in the mail. Pay attention to your market and your clientele. This is where gifting with INTENTION really matters! This is also why I can not tell you EXACTLY what gift each of you reading this should get because we ALL would give something different.
Once you gift, let social media take over. Promote the sharing of your gifts by sharing your gift giving process. Take an INSTAGRAM photo of you packaging up a gift, mailing it and maybe tag your bride or create a hashtag. This will show your brides and grooms you WANT them to take pictures of their gifts when they get them and share this whole experience with their friends and family as well. Let social media take over….excitement BREEDS excitement!
No problem, remember we all start somewhere right!? Ok…so to start, I would recommend hosting a giveaway on your social media outlets. Giveaway gifts that speak to you, your brand, and personality. Pick gifts that are on trend to draw in attention. (Toms, Alex and Ani, Starbucks cards, etc) This SETS UP and EDUCATES your clients and future clients that you are a person that likes to gift…that likes to spoil. It shows them you are not just a point and shoot wedding date kind of person. It shows that you are there to love on them and serve them from start to finish and then some!
WHAT NOT TO DO: Do NOT play favorites. Do not gift one client you may “like” or “connect” with more with a bigger and better gift. That is so rude and will get you into a lot of trouble. Everyone gets equal attention and love!
Be careful you are not giving anything outdated as well. As times change…brands changes….gifts will change. I switch some gifts up every other year to keep giving fresh and exciting gifts, not only for me but for my clients.
Two great resources are Etsy and Jane. Both sites are just wonderful for little nick/nack gifts and are super affordable : ) When sending your gifts, do NOT send your business card with them. Include the business card with the welcome packet and then you can resend one for their final gift or 1 year anniversary….otherwise, it just looks tacky.
PHEW! Ok so that was a lot of information….but once you find your niche with gift giving, it will become second nature. And trust me….it's always a good idea to spoil our clients and treat them with love and appreciation. Happy Gift Giving!
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