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Client Experience & Gifting

August 2, 2022

Each year, sometimes twice a year, I go back through my client experience for both weddings and branding sessions and see if there are small ways I can better serve my clients. While it may not sound like a super exciting task, I actually really enjoy it! And here’s why:

Client experience is everything. From the moment that potential client inquires, I want to show them I have value and can help them with something, serve them in some way. I feel that as a service-based provider, that serving is my duty. But what if I wanted to push beyond just the service aspect of being a photographer and really show my clients that I appreciate each and every one of them?

Well, that’s why I do a little gifting throughout the process!

Throughout the wedding client timeline, I have found that there are three major turning points:

  1. Directly after booking: We are both excited to work together; they have just taken another step toward planning their perfect wedding; and I have a new client…yay!
  2. Directly after their engagement session: We [may have] just met each other in person for the first time; they had an incredible experience that only makes them even more excited for their wedding day and the images that will come from it!
  3. Directly after their wedding day: We have just spent a full day together; I have met all their family and feel like part of the family too; and they’re newlyweds!

These three opportunities are perfect to seal the deal on client experience. I do this by giving gifts to my clients after each of these major turning points. But what to give? That depends on who your ideal client is! What my clients may like may not be the same as yours, but I will tell you what I gift my clients at each opportunity.

  1. Welcome Gift – The Welcome Gift is a simple white box that contains three items.
    • I purchased Katelyn James’s Bridal Guide and personalized it to fit my brand and of course include my images. If you’re looking for something tangible to give your brides that is comprehensive and magazine quality, I recommend it! Originally, this document was only editable with Adobe InDesign, but Katelyn just came out with an editable Canva version as well, making the entire process of customizing it much less intimidating and more user-friendly. I envision this on their coffee table along with a copy of the other bridal magazines they may have picked up throughout the planning process. Not only is it a resource, but it’s also a talking piece that fits in well with the decor in their home.
    • Some champagne gummy bears for the bride because they are pretty darn cute and come in an acrylic box.
    • A “Romeo & Juliet” cigar for the groom. As a prior English teacher, I tie that part of my background into my brand by telling couples I “tell and preserve their love story.”
  2. Post-Engagement Session Gift – After the engagement session, I send my couples a small mini-album that looks almost like an accordion. I get these from Mpix, which is a pretty affordable printing company. They offer lots of different options for photo-related gifts if the accordion album is not something that your client would enjoy. The reason I choose such a small gift is so that they can quickly and easily put it in their purse and show their family at a family gathering or their coworkers at work. This is a great way to spread word of mouth because this little token is so easily tote-able! I honestly have one client that says she uses it in her decor at her house; it has a permanent place on her mantle!
  3. Post-Wedding Gallery Delivery Gift – This one may be my favorite gift because I think it is my most unique idea. I gift my couples a gold-framed glass box with prints from their wedding day. This is one of those gifts that can also be displayed in their home that serves as a talking piece whenever they host anyone. It’s neutral enough to match most people’s decor, so I have always gotten really positive feedback from it!

These three gifts have a few things in common:

  1. I always include a handwritten thank you note. I believe handwritten notes and cards are a lost art of this world. They show that the person sending it has really taken time to think about you and put effort into the gift they are giving you/message they are writing you.
  2. They all incorporate my actual images. All of these gifts reinforce the fact that I am a versatile photographer with a ton of experience because the work from the bridal guide is taken in all different lighting scenarios, plus the engagement and wedding images are images of the couple themselves, so it adds an extra layer of sentimentality to it all.
  3. They can all be used as decor and, thus, are a marketing tool for me. Word of mouth results in the best and most reliable leads. If my client is hosting someone in their home or knows someone at work, then those are the people I want to know about me and my work because they are more likely to trust the social proof (and will have seen my work too!) from someone who is going/has been through the experience!

Sprinkling gifts that appeal to your ideal client is a great way to elevate the client experience. The rule of thumb on how to plan the expense portion of this is something I learned from Katelyn James: Use 3-5% of the overall package price to budget for all gifts throughout your client experience (don’t forget to calculate packing supplies and postage!). This is the rule I use as I put together my client gifts.

If you are already gifting your clients items throughout your client experience, I would love to hear what they are in the comments below! If not, did any ideas pop into your head as you read this post? I’m curious, so comment below!

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