Warm-fuzzy, not cold-prickly clients for professional photographers

freezing_the_stick_figure_400_clr_10817Fred (my dog) and I have a lot in common.  We both prefer to be around warm-fuzzies, not cold-pricklies.   And YOU should as well, at least when it comes to your photography business….

Case in point:

I observed Fred over the last month, when driving a detour twice a week.  We drove past a children’s daycare center with a large playground in the back.  Every day that we drove past it, Fred would bark like crazy, even though there was no one outside.  Fred would bark and bark at a large black dog, and the very unfriendly dog would never respond.  According to Fred, that was a very cold prickly dog – to not even return the happy barking greeting.

I hated to tell Fred, but the dog that she was barking at , was a black metal cutout, hooked on to the fence.  I like to think that Fred is really smart, and I tell my wife, Cheri, all the time, how smart our dog is.  But this really shook my confidence!  Perhaps I should just blame it on Fred’s age (14 years old)?  Eye sight not soooo great anymore?

But, what we have both learned by observing life, is that it is more fun to deal with “warm-fuzzies” (as I call them), who respond to us, than to try to find a way to convert consistently “cold-prickly” people.

In short, “warm-fuzzies” are people who are upbeat, happy, emotional people.  They are “warm,” they express their pleasure for things.   They are wonderful to be around, and they LOVE and appreciate photography on an emotional level.   Conversely, “cold-pricklies,” are people who, frankly, are kind of cold to others.  They don’t seem very happy.  They don’t express joy outwardly very often, and they are generally not fun to work with.

So, how can YOU apply this principle to your photography business?

In my consulting and photography business, I learned many years ago, that cold-prickly people do not respond to fine portraiture  They do not value it, and it is an uphill battle to try to convince them to commission a fine portrait.

The same holds true in marketing photography.  Sometimes we just need to accept that everyone will not respond to our marketing.  We only want warm-fuzzy clients, no matter what our business is.  So we meed to use warm-fuzzy photographic marketing to attract warm fuzzy clients.

Look at the marketing that you’re doing in you photo business right now.   Look at your website.   Look at the locations of your displays and exhibits.   Look at your lift-cards, your mailings, even your in-studio price-lists.   Are they all designed to specifically appeal to WARM-FUZZIES?   If not, tweak the wording of them, change the locations of your displays, do whatever it takes to make your marketing appeal on an emotional, warm-fuzzy level.

Don’t get caught up in what I hear from so many photographers:   “But some people don’t like all that mushy emotional stuff.   Some people just want the facts.”   Trust me when I tell you, the people who just want the facts, and who do not respond to honest emotion, and your wanting to build a good rapport with them – those people are generally NOT the people we want as clients.   They will more often than not end up not working with you, or if they do, they will often be trouble clients, who don’t listen to you, don’t respect you as an artist, and end up not investing much with you if anything at all.

There are always exceptions, of course, but I’m giving you my 40+ years experience here, and this has overwhelmingly been the case, time and time again.

In fact, check out the marketing going on around you.

I love to watch advertising in magazines and on TV, to see who goes after warm-fuzzy clients in any industry.   Ads that use families, babies, dogs, etc. , appeal to warm-fuzzies.   My clients also love their family, babies, and dogs.  Watch for ads and see what I mean – it is a great education in marketing.

Fred would agree, since she was upset about the cold-prickly dog, until I explained the situation to her.  Fred now, does not bark at the metal cutout.  See, she really is very smart, just needs an explanation once in awhile.   Fred has learned a lot from me, but she really does very little marketing – she just observes.

I love working with my clients and students who are compassionate, friendly, family based, and value a great product and service.

Those are the same types of businesses that I frequent in my community. Life is too short to spend it around cold-pricklies.

Another LIFE observation from me and my best friend, Fred.

Please feel free to comment below if you agree, or disagree.   Don’t worry, I won’t take it personally if you disagree.  I’ll figure you’re disagreeing with Fred, not me!





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4 Responses to Warm-fuzzy, not cold-prickly clients for professional photographers

  1. October 17, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Hello Charles
    It definitely works this way for us. Warm fuzziness spend more. Funnily enough we recently had a family come in. Parents and one child. Came back for viewing and mum was a cold prickly and dad warm fuzzy. The mum won the argument and left with just a small upgrade. It’s also mums that decide on buying portraits. If the mum had been the warm fuzzy and dad cold prickly I’m sure the sale would be different.

    I do have a bone to pick though. Last week I spent a good part of my night listening to your webinar and I wrote a question which wasn’t answered I then emailed you after the webinar and no response. I would appreciate you practicing the warm fuzzy business owner and answer correspondence please.

    • October 24, 2013 at 1:54 pm

      Paul, well, this comment is bitter-sweet! LOL…. I’m glad to hear that the “warm-fuzzy” approach is working so well for you, as it is for so many of the photographers studying with us. As for your question that didn’t get answered – I’m so sorry about that! On the webinar, it’s tough, as we are tight on time sometimes, so we can’t answer every question we get (and we get a lot), but we try to respond to all emails that come in for sure! I seem to have missed your email – maybe it didn’t come through. Can you resend that email to me? – Charles Lewis

  2. October 17, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    I know you are right, basically. I also think the in the pursuit of warm and fuzzy images or customers , it could be easy to rely on corny or sentimental imagery.

    • October 24, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      Dana, thanks for your comment. There is a find line between being “emotional” in your words, and coming across as too “mushy or corny.” But it can (and MUST, in my opinion) be done if you want to be a true success in photography. It’s really about finding out what motivates the potential client, and what moves them, and building rapport.

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