Aug. 13, 2021

The importance of client retention

The importance of client retention

💯 💯 💯 "If they can advise me on how to do my job just a little bit better, than they will naturally feel a little bit more open to suggestions that I might make as well, which then leads me into more of a role of a strategist and not just a photographer"

EP 33:  Most businesses spend the majority of their time and energy on client acquisition, and while those efforts are not without their merits, forgetting about your current clients is a mistake we cannot make.  In this episode, I'll talk about prioritizing the client relationships you currently have.  

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Michael Der  0:02  
You're listening to Artrepreneurs, a podcast that inspires photographers and visual artists to live their best creative lives. My name is Michael Der and I am a full time photographer with nearly 10 years of experience in the freelancing world. And I'm sitting down with an amazing community of visual artists to talk about process business in the lessons that have helped them grow. So let's get to it. Artrepreneurs starts right now.

All right, what is up everybody? Welcome to Artrepreneurs. Season One, we are on episode 33 of this weekly show. And today, I wanted to expand our view on what marketing should include Aside from the obvious. Now if you've listened to this show before, you already know that I'm a big proponent of proactive marketing, which means you are initiating marketing towards new leads, as opposed to hoping that they're going to come to you after you've built a nice website, or put together a good body of work. Much of the purpose of this show is to try to encourage people to be less reactive because that game works for a very small minority of people. If you want to play that game, you're going to have to either be among the elite level talent in your field, or prolific in your own personal work to attract that level of attention. And at the very least likely really well connected for new work to volunteer labs without having to work for the rest of us. We can't play that game, we need to focus on attention building and lead generation to get the work we want to do. But the term proactive marketing often implies an emphasis on new clients and not current ones. And so today I wanted to talk about bringing balance to your marketing, not just by chasing new leads, but also by nurturing the relationships you have with your current clients. 

In the American version of the TV show the office, the intern Ryan Howard asked his boss, Michael Scott, whether it is more expensive to sign a new customer or to keep an existing one. Michael Scott clearly unaware of the concept and embarrassed to be outdone by a business book of some sorts, guesses that they are both equal to what Ryan responds with, it is 10 times more expensive to sign a new customer. Now whether that statistic is exaggerated, or even selling itself just a little bit short. The principle maintains the same client acquisition is costly, and it's usually going to yield a very small ROI. In a Forbes article, they state that the majority of customers visit your website or your brick and mortar location only one time, all the marketing efforts and money that is spent on driving traffic to your business results in most customers only giving you one shot. So with that being said, folks, it takes hours to research a client, it takes a lot of time and energy to produce a project, craft a pitch and then market to them on several touch points like phone calls, emails, print promotions, and lead magnets. If you ask anyone in business and sales, they're going to tell you that it's far harder to get the first dollar from a client than it is to get one the second time around. And while I'm always going to implore seeking out new work and seeking out new clients, it's also vital for us to focus some of our mental bandwidth on the clients that we currently serve something I know many of us do a poor job of ensuring so today I wanted to give you three basic retention principles, each with a few strategies that can help you maintain good standing with your clients. So that you can hopefully maintain a consistent income stream going forward. 

Number one, appreciation. So the first principle for me is appreciation, it's important that I don't take my clients for granted. The honest truth is you may not always love your job that's part of this business, you will invariably take some of the jobs where you're burned out, not feeling it or even resentful of it. Because the assignment is beneath you or not to your artistic standards. Whatever the case may be, it is our responsibility to articulate to our clients that they are appreciated and hurt. One of the ways I do this is to simply make sure that the communication between us is not exclusively transactional, whether it's in person on the phone, text or email, I try to make sure there are personal touches to each point of communication. And it's not a trick. It's a genuine point of emphasis to get to know the people that I'm working with. Does that mean I'm bombarding their inbox with questions about their vacations or their families? No, but the more people you work with, the more you get to know them. And I have no problem asking someone how their trip was or how their family is doing if the moment calls for it. For instance, during the volatility of 2020. I was reaching out to existing clients just to touch base on a personal level because I had no idea how hard people were experiencing the social, the medical, the political economic struggles going on. So for me, it was just important to reach out and let them know that I was wishing them well. And I asked myself, What if there were a natural disaster near my family something far away? How fast would I touch base with them to see if they're okay? And that's what I did with my clients. I wanted them to know that I thought of them like family. And whether they hire me back or not is irrelevant. I'm always appreciative of the opportunity. The second form of appreciation is just learning how to say thank you in meaningful ways. So for me, I like to send video messages to clients and podcast guests for collaborating with me, while for others it might be a voicemail or a handwritten letter. And I can tell you every time that I've received a handwritten note in the mail thanking me in some small way, I've absolutely cherished it. So what can you do with your clients that says thank you in a special way? What about prints? What about photo books? Have you ever sent a print to someone that wasn't expecting it and seeing their reaction? If you

like leaving a wow factor. It's one of the best methods that I know. Also, during the holiday season or at the start of the new year, I often send my clients holiday cards or even small client gifts, not in the bribing way. But quite simply as an appreciative gesture of the work that we've done. Once again, this is about appreciation. And nothing says I appreciate you quite like a jar of cookies. 

The second principle for me is value, what are you doing to continually add value to the client, or at the very least adding value to the relationship with that client, maintaining the status quo makes it increasingly difficult to exceed any type of expectations in for my services, I'm always thinking of ways to go above and beyond. I may not always get there. But that's what I'm always thinking about. So if you have an online business as an example, what new features product or educational services will you bring out going forward? And trust me, I know in order for me to keep this entrepreneurs community growing, those are going to be some of the aspects that I'm going to have to address and I definitely look forward to doing so in the future. And what if you're working for clients directly? What services can you add that will improve their experience? Recently, for a magazine client, I started providing them client galleries on my website, so they could view the whole take and decide which frames they wanted edited. It's a very small gesture that takes no additional time for me, but it's going to give them a greater sense of control and viewing enjoyment. Another way to provide value to your clients is to take the time to walk them through the creative process. For b2c shooters out there, like wedding and senior photographers, I honestly think this goes a long way, maybe even more so than b2b creatives, because your clients don't want to be treated just like another paycheck. If they have a question, get back to them, make sure that you're listening to their concerns, and that you're going to walk them through that process. every customer wants to feel like you're pulling out all the stops for them, and might be iteration 500 for you. But it might be the first and only time your client is getting married. And even though the nature of that wedding or that graduation or that Kingston yetta is a one time event by prioritizing the client experience, you may receive referrals and calls for future work. And for b2b photographers like myself, it still applies. I've worked with several creative professionals that were learning the industry for the first time, I am more than happy to educate a client on licensing costs, just like I would happily lead my art director on the best possible shooting location. This is what makes you stand out from the rest. So what can you do to continually add value and make your clients lives easier. 

And number three, the last principle for me is client feedback. This is crucial, because it acknowledges that your client is heard and respected. So I want you to do me a favor. Imagine taking out the word client and replacing it with the word customer. How would you feel about a company that ignored and neglected customer feedback? Would you want to patronize that product or service knowing that they're not listening to you? I doubt you would. And as someone who comes from a marketing background and not a journalistic one, how my imagery impacts my clients target demographic is important information. I not only welcomed the feedback, I actually invited I initiate the conversation, I asked my clients, what imagery is missing? What do you think this brand needs more of? How can we deliver this going forward, I make sure my client feels comfortable enough to provide constructive criticism, and not make them feel like they're walking on eggshells with some sort of surly contractor. Folks, this is a relationship building trustful, and guess what, it's actually cyclical. If they can advise me on how to do my job just a little bit better, than they will naturally feel a little bit more open to suggestions that I might make as well, which then leads me into more of a role of a strategist and not just a photographer. This feedback loop is all about communication. It leads to connection, which leads to long lasting relationships and trust, there's no question it's a very vulnerable place to be to be open to critique, but you will be better for it, and so will your clients. 

Now after I've listed those three principles of appreciation, value and feedback, you're probably saying to yourself, Well, that doesn't require a lot of time. And that's exactly the point I want to make. If you say to yourself, wow, that was easy, then you will win more than you will lose my friends. It doesn't take much effort to make a client feel appreciated, to feel heard, and to be rewarded. But it will go a long way. This is the definition of the 8020 principle in full effect. If you want to receive maximum ROI, you just need to find the actions that take less energy, but yield the higher results. studies find that a mere 5% increase in retention rates may lead to a profit increase of up to 95%. Ensure your creative business may not be the same as the next person's but the point is that a customer becomes more valuable. Over time, a client will become more valuable over time, they will lead to more work more projects more connections. When one editor leaves, they may connect you to the replacing editor as well as keep you on file for their next position. So the more emphasis you can put on the retention strategy, the more long term clients and customers you will find to serve. I want to thank you all for tuning into this show. I wish you all the best in your marketing endeavors. Whether it's acquisition or retention based, be sure to be proactive in your efforts and stay focused my friends. Artrepreneurs season one continues to roll on. My name is Michael Der and I am out of here. Enjoy your weekend everybody and I will see you next week.

Hey everybody, this is Michael Der thank you so much for making it all the way to the end of the episode. I hope you'll follow tag and engage with us on our Instagram account at @Artrepreneurspod. We've also launched our website It is the central hub where you can sign up for our newsletter, read our blog posts, send us voicemails, and even access discounts from our amazing affiliates. It's also the perfect spot to shout out Artrepreneurs with what would be an immensely appreciated five star rating and review. And if you're feeling extra generous, you can even make a small donation that's really going to help accelerate the growth of this podcast. But no matter what you do, folks, I just want to say thank you so much for supporting this program. There are a lot of great photography podcasts out there, and I am just grateful to have gained your trust even for a moment. Take care everyone and see you next week.

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