This is a guest blog post from Missie Lafrenz of Missie Lafrenz Photography regarding using photography questionnaires and how to use them to improve your business.
Missie Lafrenz is a world-wide award winning Family, Senior and Wedding Photographer located in Indianola, Iowa. She’s been in business for 13 years and has been mentoring fellow photographers for the last 4 years. She’s passionate about authenticity and uniqueness within her work. Her greatest joy about photography is creating timeless, warm, and beautiful images for her clients to enjoy for years to come.
When it comes to having a successful business- amazing customer service & communication are the things that set a great business apart from the others. In an age of social media and online shopping, businesses have gotten away from their face-to-face connection with their clients. However, in the photography industry, we still work face-to-face. So how can we give our clients the best in-person experience when we haven’t even met them yet?
Client questionnaires have endless possibilities and work with all types of sessions- and all styles of photographers! From newborns to weddings, you as the business owner can use these questionnaires to give your clients a better experience before, during and after the session!
What To Include in Your Questionnaires
As a family photographer, I feel it is super important to know all the names and ages of subjects that are going to be at the session- and that just happens to be one of the first questions on my questionnaire!
Other important items of information are; favorite songs, each kids’ personality and their family dynamic (cuddlers, shy, goofy). I even have a drop-down menu with location options! I try to be as thorough as possible so that I can give my clients the experience they deserve.
Questionnaires Let You Take Control
The point of a good questionnaire is to allow your clients to give insight to their personalities and expectations for the session. However, it also establishes your expertise and professionalism as the photographer.
So many times I hear photographers say they lose control at sessions, their clients didn’t communicate clothing options, or the clients showed up with a surprise appearance from grandma who wants to be in the pictures!! All of these issues could have been solved using a good questionnaire!
It’s our responsibility as the photographer, to guide and control the session, this process starts with a questionnaire!
If you don’t guide your clients, it’s only natural that they will assume control. And in my experience, clients that have had to guide and control their own sessions are not as happy with the end results as clients who were properly informed by their photographer on Who, What, Where and When.
Keeping Surveys Fun
Remember: photographer survey questions are designed to help you and your client.
Finding the Right Balance
Not only are they great for building client information, but they can help you deliver that perfect end result. Happy clients are integral to any creative’s business efforts, so it’s important to keep your client’s time – and energy – in mind when preparing for a shoot. Too many questions might be off-putting, time-consuming and difficult for a client, especially for larger events. It’s your job to nail the questions according to the situation (e.g don’t expect a full character debrief for hundreds of guests attending a wedding), and adjust your survey accordingly. Not every question will be applicable for every client – so be prepared to get editing. Your client is worth the extra effort.
Make Some Questions Optional
Of course, as soon as you send a survey over, clients understand they are expected to put a certain level of effort in – but keeping questions skippable will help keep them happy. Feeling forced to answer irrelevant question after question might have the opposite effect you were aiming for. You always need to put some time into the surveys in order to get a result that makes sense to them, and they aren’t too long or difficult. Consider the types of questions in your survey from an artistic point of view as well as your client’s perspective in order to get the very best results possible. Making the survey questions longer or shorter based on the client and type of shoot can help keep things going smoothly.
Learn What Your Client’s Expectations Are
Photographers may also want to consider asking questions based on portfolio pictures that the new client can see prior to the shoot. Don’t be afraid to print edited versions of your sample photos with highlighting, outlining, and other details on them to help clarify the info you are hoping to get about what your client likes and doesn’t like. We all know how long editing can take, and understanding their expectations from the very beginning can help you save your own time, too. Helping your client involve their own imagination for the shoot can add value to your service as well. Inject some personality into your questions and keep an open communication style with your survey overall to help clients feel like they can open up on camera during your shoots, rather than feeling shy and hiding away! They need to feel comfortable, and so do you.
Leaving space in your survey for samples of scenery options and props may help people engage and get excited for your photo shoot as well. If you live in the same area as your client, you could provide portfolio examples from great local parks or historic buildings for your shoot site. Not only will this help keep your questionnaires fun, but it’ll help them feel involved in the decision making for their long-term happiness and referral marketing.
Using Iris Questionnaires
I use my questionnaires to get to know my clients and to understand what they expect from the session. I also strategically use the Iris questionnaires to let my clients know what they can expect from the session by using dropdown menus. Instead of using open-ended questions like “What locations do you like” or “Where do you want photos taken,” I use a drop down menu with a list of generic ideas (ex. grassy field, urban, beach, wildflowers). This allows me to still have control over the locations, because I know where the best beach is, with the best sunset…this will give the best end results and thus HAPPY CLIENTS!
Post Session Questionnaires
The questionnaires don’t stop at the “session prep”. You can also use these as a post session questionnaire. Send these post session questionnaires out to learn from your clients what you did well and what you can improve on! Any good business wants feedback so they can keep doing what works and stop what doesn’t. Acknowledging your weaknesses and allowing room to change is going to perfect your business structure and in turn give you clients that tell their friends and family about you! Word of mouth is the best form of marketing. To get your clients to shout your name from the mountain tops, you have got to be willing to put in the time & effort to get to know your clients through questionnaires!