In my last post, I shared How I Organize My Emails.
This time, I'd like to share how I respond to emails and business inquiries.
I try to be prompt
Clients are often emailing a handful of potential photographers to see who is available. Responding promptly might be the deciding factor of whether or not you book the wedding. I've definitely booked weddings because of quick replies. When deciding between two photographers, the couple went with me because my promptness in responding built trust and demonstrated professionalism and customer service. By the time other photographers had sent their first response, the clients and I had already corresponded back and forth a handful of times.
I also know a couple who decided to go with another photographer than the one they originally chose because their photographer always took too long to get back to them. At the end of the day, they felt uncomfortable with being able to depend on the photographer and went somewhere else (even though they knew that meant losing their deposit!)
Your clients need to trust you; responding in a prompt manner is the first step to build this trust.
My emails go directly to my phone, so I am often able to respond within a few minutes. Some people try to keep personal time separate from work time, but I don’t quite look at it that way. An email only takes me about 2 minutes to respond to, and I can do it just about anywhere! I've responded while waiting in line at the Starbucks, while sitting in the car with my kids waiting for my wife to come out of the house, and pretty much anywhere else—except on a date—don’t do that...wait until she goes into the bathroom ;)
Now, it's not always possible to answer right away, and often emails can wait. But the first few emails in the correspondence are particularly important—both for the client and the photographer.
I try to have brevity
The reason an email only takes a few minutes to respond to is that I try to keep them short, sweet, and to the point. I don't want my emails to be tiresome and feel like a burden to read. Most of my emails can be written in three to five sentences. I give the information they are requesting, congratulate them, ask them a few questions, answer their questions and set up a time to meet.
I try to be friendly
However, I never want to sacrifice friendliness on the altar of brevity. Brevity is essential to me, but brevity can be interpreted as cold and unfriendly if not done well. Impressions are important, so be friendly. A photographer should be someone who the couple likes (they have to spend their entire wedding day with you!). If you don’t give a friendly impression in over email, it’s likely the client will not want to follow-up with you further.
I try to follow-up
Along with being prompt, brief, and friendly, I always try to follow up. Couples are busy with wedding planning, jobs, families, and other important things and are not always super organized—that's okay! If they haven’t responded in a few days, it is helpful to send a follow-up email to make sure they have received my reply. Emails often are forgotten about, so a follow-up is always appreciated. It is also helpful because it shows you care and are organized and professional. Sometimes clients don't follow up because they end up booking with someone else, and sometimes they just get busy and forget! A follow-up email helps inform me whether or not a couple is still interested, and if not, helps me feel comfortable that I no longer have a responsibility to them.
These principles may seem like common sense, and they are! But sometimes the most basic rules are the most helpful for us to get down to an art. By focusing on replying quickly to your potential clients in a brief, friendly manner, and following up if you don’t hear from them, you will help keep the lines of communications open between you and your clients, which is essential to booking weddings and building strong relationships with the people who are entrusting you with a lifetime of memories.