Curious how you can say “thank you” to your clients with a little gift? Here are eight ways to impress!

One of the first things we learn when it comes to good manners is saying “thank you.” Whether it’s at dinner or when someone helps you pick up your child’s toy that they’ve so graciously thrown out of the stroller, it’s a part of our culture to be appreciative of others.  The words “thank you,” are always welcome, but sometimes it’s nice to surprise someone by going above and beyond their expectations.  Today we are going to discuss the in’s and out’s of client appreciation gifts and why it will do wonders for you, your clients AND your business. They are spending their hard earned money on your talent, so why not thank them with something spectacular?!

First, why client appreciation matters.

Client appreciation is merely a way to pleasantly surprise your photography clients by going the extra mile. Not only will it make everyone involved feel good, but it’s also a great way to get people talking about your work, thoughtfulness and your generosity. Let’s face it, wouldn’t it be nice to get a little surprise gift in the mail?! I don’t think anyone dislikes them, especially when they are unexpected!

When your clients let you into their lives to take photos, from a family session to a birth story, all the way to a large wedding, they are giving you into an intimate part of their lives. That’s a pretty big deal! Recognizing that and appreciating their trust in you can set you apart from those photographers who are just in it for a quick buck.  You are creating real-life friendships in this business, so why not nurture those relationships too? Read on here for more tips on gaining more traction in your market!

client thank you gift

Set your intention!

One thing I like to do in every aspect of my life is setting an intention.  I ask myself what I’m trying to achieve when I’m planning on doing something. It may seem silly, but it sets the mood for action.  In this case, my intention for sending a thank you gift is to spread kindness and appreciation. It’s not for recognition or praise, although it’s a perk sometimes. When you go into action with the hope of making someone happy (and not for the sole purpose of making money), it does make a difference.  Guess what?! According to Psychology Today, every act of kindness increases levels of serotonin in the brain AND strengthens the immune system. You just never know…someone may need that extra boost, and YOU can give it to them!

What a little “thank you” can do for your business.

So picture yourself getting off work after a stressful day, and going home to find a little box with your name on it.  You open it to see some treats and a short note thanking you for a beautiful day, and how much your photographer enjoyed working with you and your beautiful family. Not sure about you guys, but I’d be pretty darn happy and shocked that anyone would take the time to put together a little gift for me.  Not only will it put a smile on your face when you drop it in the mail to your client, but you’ll also probably be a bright spot in their day as well! Think of it as a simple act of kindness that is putting good energy into the universe!

Aside from the gratitude, you will feel for making someone’s day just a little better; there WILL be a trickle effect on your business.  The next time someone in their social circle mentions needing a photographer, you better believe they’ll be gushing about how you went far and beyond their expectations.  We want this to be more than a commercial transaction! So many people want our work to MEAN something! We want to create a connection, full of love and service to those around us. I promise, by taking the extra time, you’ll set yourself apart from the competition FAST. In return, ask for a review or that they send their friends.

How much do I spend on client appreciation gifts?

You certainly don’t need to break the bank when it comes to gifts! There is no RULE for how much to spend, but you can come up with a percentage of your booking price and set that as a limit to their “thank you” gift. If you’d like, you can build it into your session fee.

So as an example, if your session price is $250, 6% of $250 would be $15! Anywhere between $10-$15 for a family session would be great! For a wedding, many photographers will gift their client a surprise canvas, that costs a little more (but still follows the same general principals). Make sure you are aware of shipping expenses as well, because those can sneak up on you if you aren’t careful.

client appreciation

Say your wedding client spends $3500 on your services, 5% of that $3500 could translate into a nice $175 canvas or surprise album. Any bride would be THRILLED to get a free product like that from their photographer! Not to mention, she’ll probably tell ALL of her friends. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a set percentage! Do whatever you feel is right for you and within your budget!

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So, without further delay, here are eight tips for how you can say “thank you” to your photography clients!

1. Include your branding in your gift.

A few things you can include in your client appreciation gift are your business cards, information on your referral program, or even a voucher for $50 off their next session. You can also allow them to gift that credit to a friend! There are great, and affordable, customizable printing options on Moo! You can order in bulk and make it a part of your workflow after a session is completed! This can keep the ball rolling when it comes to word of mouth. Your past client can quickly whip out your business card and offer it to a friend (along with a great recommendation and maybe a discount on your services)!

2. Listen carefully to what they talk about.

If you want to shock your client, listen intently to what they talk about. Make a note of things they mention and incorporate that into your client “thank you!” Once I was doing a Bar Mitzvah, and the mother of the young man was treating this like a wedding! It was a BIG deal. We met for coffee, and she mentioned how much her son missed being in San Fransisco because he was a HUGE SF Giants fan (and was living in France). I made a note, and four months later on his big day, gifted him a $15 Giants hat that I had ordered from Amazon.

Not only was he thrilled, but the mom was also absolutely floored! This took five minutes of my time and a little gift wrapping.  In instances like these, you can often ask for a review on Facebook or your website, and it will be an easy “yes!”

3. Send a gift through an online service!

client thank you gift

Whoever thought of this is a genius! Seriously, guys, Greetable is cool! What this service does is let you customize a little gift box and sends it off to your client FOR YOU.  You set your budget, choose the items (chocolates, soaps, organic honey, cute stationery, etc.) you’d like included, and input your clients’ address. Write them a little note, pay, and voila! You client gets a treat from you a few days later, and you never had to leave your house!

4. Send a print from their session.

A cool thing you can send to your clients is a gift print from their session! I usually ask my clients to “favorite” the photos they like from their session. I then choose my 1-2 favorite from that selection to print. You don’t need to put them in frames but will sometimes opt for the matted version to give the semblance of a frame.  These prints often don’t cost much but are a nice gesture.  So often, people don’t even print their pictures at all, and instead, share them on social media only. This can also be a great marketing tool for when people see those prints displayed in their homes! For a wedding client, a massive canvas above a fireplace can be a sure conversation starter for when friends and family stop over for a big dinner party!

photography client appreciation

5. Send a mini album.

Photographers can go the extra mile and send a client a mini album.  Many labs offer this in addition to regular size album for a small additional fee (or you can purchase them separately for more). These work great as a gift for grandparents, or other family members who are maybe out of town! They tend to be small, and include 5-10 pages of images. They range in price from about $20-$50 depending on the type of customization you include.

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6. Put together a slideshow from their session!

This is something that can get people talking! With new video collage software, it’s REALLY easy to create a slideshow to music of the images from their session.  You can offer this to your clients’ in their session upfront as a bonus, or surprise them with it to show off their gallery. Many people comment on how these surprise videos often bring the tears! There is something that happens to our brains when we see images of our family set to music! Animoto is a great option, but does have an annual fee to create slideshows! There are other slideshow options as well, so use the one you feel most comfortable with. You can even take small video clips and include those! It’s always a nice touch that tends to add to a slideshow.

To see an example of an Animoto collage video, click here!

client gift ideas

7. Send a sweet snack.

So maybe I’m just projecting, but anytime I get some free chocolate, I pretty much die from happiness.  Throw in a sweet little local specialty, and your client may just end up telling EVERYONE about your business. For example, macaroons are a specialty here in France. Why not throw a few in a cute box and send them off with a colorful print from a family session? I’m pretty sure if anyone did this for me, I’d have a new best friend. If you’re worried about dietary concerns, you can always ask on your pre-session questionnaire (although it may not be a big surprise gift at that point).

8. Opt for a handwritten note.

client appreciation

My grandma always told me that there’s just something extra special about sending a handwritten the note to someone.  In the age of technology, we so often go for the quick option of saying thank you via email or text.  Why? Because it saves time, energy and money. It’s such a novelty to get a real, handwritten gesture saying how much someone loved their day with you and why. You can mention a funny moment, or just say how much you enjoyed getting to know your client and their family. In the age of internet relationships, people crave real-life connection.  This is where you can make those moments count.

Overall, there is NO better form of marketing that a simple thank you after a photo session. This can be anything in any budget since it’s the thought that matters most.  Seriously, this will cost you LESS than advertising on regular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or photography geared sites. So put in the extra effort to show your clients how much you appreciate them and their business. After consistently doing that with every client for one year (even if you only have ten sessions), this will help with gaining new clients.  They are your biggest asset in this industry, so tap into that aspect of marketing and go full speed ahead!

Check out the video below for one session gift idea!

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