A Complete Guide to the Best Client Gifts for Photographers
If you’re considering gifts for your photography clients, you’ll definitely want to check out this guide! It covers WHY and WHEN to give client gifts, plus lots of great ideas!
Updated: March 21, 2023
Why giving client gifts is a good investment for your business
You’re here reading this guide, so you probably have some idea already that client gifts are a great way to show your clients some love and maybe earn some repeat business.
But before we get into the details on gift ideas and when to give them, I wanted to shed some light on just how important gift giving can be–when done right!
Here are just some of the reasons why gifts for your clients are not only a good idea, but can be a good investment of your time and money.
1. Client gifts show your appreciation for your clients and let them know they are important to you
This one is the most obvious, but not any less important. As photographers, we truly do appreciate when our clients trust us to handle documenting the special moments in their lives like their wedding day or newborn photos. That trust is huge!
Gifts are a great way to say thank you for trusting me and also to build that mutual trust between you and the client.
2. Exceed expectations and make your clients happy
Have you ever heard this saying?
Reality – Expectations = Happiness
What this means is that when our expectations for a given situation are higher than what actually happens to us, we tend to be unhappy. On the other hand, when our reality is even better than our expectations, we tend to be much happier with the situation.
This is where an unexpected gift for your client can help you exceed your client’s expectations and make them even happier with you as a great service provider.
The bonus here? As small business owners, we know that when our clients are happy, WE are happy.
That feeling when you get a great review? Or when you client texts you that they are so excited about something you did for them? Those feelings of when we make others happy actually help us with our own job satisfaction and feeling happy with what we do every day.
3. The right type of gifts can actually help solve your client’s problems
When you really really get down to the nitty gritty, people only hire other people or businesses to solve their problems.
You don’t actually hire a car mechanic because you care deeply about spark plugs. You hire them so you can get from A to B without your car giving you problems.
You too, as a photographer, help people solve their problems. You ease stress on their wedding day by making it so they don’t have to worry about whether their important memories are being captured. You help parents who want to send out Christmas cards but don’t have any good or recent photos.
The right kinds of gifts can help build your credibility as a problem solver for your clients, and making you a person they want to come to when they need help.
So what types of gifts help solve problems? A couple of good examples would be something to relieve stress for your wedding clients, or a date night book for parents that you know need (and will thank you for!) time to reconnect in their hectic lives.
4. Client gifts can be a POWERFUL marketing tool for your business
Think about this: When we are excited about something, what is one of the first things we do nowadays? We share it on social media!
When you send a “shareworthy” gift or something your client will be excited about or grateful, you increase the likelihood that your client will open up their Instagram or Facebook app and post about the awesome gift they just received.
On the other hand, if you send something beautiful the client will want to have displayed in their home, anytime someone asks about it, their response will likely be “Our photographer gave this to us!”
Word of mouth advertising is one of the most powerful types of marketing, and if you can create brand ambassadors for you by gift giving, it will be well worth the investment!
5. Client gifts are part of your client’s experience
Let’s build on that last point we just made about client gifts being a marketing tool, and take it one step further.
As professional photographers, we know that our industry is more competitive than ever before. It’s easier to learn photography than ever, and it’s easier to learn business than ever.
More and more of your competitors are online and in Facebook groups learning how to improve their client service, improve their marketing, SEO, social media, and more.
What does this mean for us photographers? That taking good photos is no longer enough in our industry.
Yes, you have to take good photos, but that is the minimum standard.
So how the heck do we set ourselves apart from our competitors? By creating a BRAND EXPERIENCE. When your clients work with you, they aren’t just hiring a photographer. They are getting a whole experience.
And guess what? Clients WILL pay more for a good experience.
How they FEEL working with you is just as important as the photos they receive!
Giving gifts can be a huge part of that experience, but they have the be the right kind of gifts. This is where it’s important to really sit down and think about your marketing, your brand, and the type of experience you want to create for your clients.
For example, if you are an adventure elopement photographer, show your clients that you understand what they enjoy (the same type of things you probably would enjoy) and that you want to build an experience for them that speaks to who they are.
A good example? These custom prints of TOPO maps that you could have printed for the specific National Park or location where your clients are having their adventure elopement!
When to give gifts to your clients
A common question I see from photographers is WHEN to give gifts to their clients.
The truth is there really is no right answer here. It really depends on your client process and the types of clients you are serving (e.g., wedding, elopement, family, etc.)
The best advice I can give is to try to put yourself in your client’s shoes and imagine their whole experience with you, from the time they first find you (whether that be on your website, social media,through a friend, etc.) all the way through their last point of contact with you. What do you think would be most meaningful to them? What would be most meaningful to you? What will really make the difference in your client’s experience?
Here are a few different options, as well as some things to consider with each.
1. Right after booking
Many photographers give a gift to clients right after booking (around 1-4 weeks after booking). Why is that?
Because it’s well known that buyers remorse is highest right after you actually put down that cash to make a big purchase. It’s even higher when you don’t actually get to have what you bought right away. Photography is not like going to buy a new flat screen TV where you get to come home with a shiny new toy and try it out right away.
When a client hires a wedding photographer, they usually put down a large amount of money and aren’t actually getting anything tangible for up to a year or more.
Giving a gift after booking helps to reassure them that they made the right choice hiring you, and that you truly care about them and their day as much as they do.
2. Between booking and the actual photo shoot date
This is another option when there is a long lag period between when they hire you and when you actually take photos for them.
For example with wedding photography, sometimes there is very little (if any) contact between a photographer and client from the time they book until the wedding (except if you are doing their engagement photos).
A gift in the interim lets them know that you are thinking about them and really excited for their big day.
3. After photos are delivered
This is a great option if you don’t have a long lag time between being hired and your photo shoot date. It’s great to give them a little something extra when they receive their photos as this can go above and beyond their expectations.
4. Around holidays
Finally, I love this option for clients that you want to turn into repeat customers.
This doesn’t just go for family photographers either. Wedding photographers who have been around for a while know that your wedding clients can turn into maternity clients, newborn clients, family photo clients, and even vow renewals.
Holidays that you might want to consider would include Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Valentine’s Day, or your client’s anniversaries.
What to give your clients
Before we jump into some specifics on ideas, let’s cover some generalities.
Make sure it’s on brand
When thinking about what you want to give to your clients, one of the most important things to consider is giving gifts that are on brand!
- Is your brand all about luxury? A quality gift, like a beautiful luxury scented candle, is probably more important than quantity, like a box full of random items. Is your brand all about adventure? Then think about items that your outdoorsy, adventurous clients will love.
- Does your brand have any colors that you want to keep theme with?
- Can you (or do you want to) incorporate your branding or logo in any way?
Make it useful
Try to make sure it’s something your client will want and be able to use. The last thing you want is for your gift to end up in a closet or drawer to never see the light of day again.
This doesn’t mean you need different gifts for every client, but it might mean that you have a few different options that you send based on what you know about each client.
How much do I spend?
This is another common question I see among photographers.
And the answer really depends on your type of client and what you are charging. The typical range that most photographers spend on gifts is from $10 to $100.
Your gifts should never be something you cannot afford, so you are going to want to look at things like your average booking, cost of doing business, etc.
Most photographers increase their prices over time as their skill and competence also increases. So if you are just starting out with your business, you might also start out with smaller gifts and increase this over time as you are booking bigger and more clients.
Here are some gift ideas that you might want to consider
- Handmade soaps
- Wedding ring box or ring dish
- Vow books
- Bath salts
- Notepads with your logo
- Date night book
- Stickers for National Parks
- Camping mugs
- Custom location maps
- Coffee mugs
- Starbucks gift cards or other local coffee shop
- Gift cards to a local boutique gift shop
- Wedding planner
- Knitted items (like a baby cap)
- Leather luggage tags
- Printed items from your photo session
- Christmas tree ornaments
Gift Idea Examples
A final note: How you send your gifts is just as important as what you send!
Here are a few tips you’ll want to consider when sending your gifts
- Including a handwritten note with your gift can be a really meaningful extra step. I highly recommend this as it takes very little effort but goes such a long way.
- Order your gift items and packaging supplies ahead of time, especially if you give your gifts at the time of booking. You don’t want to have to wait on items to come in or risk out of stock delays.
- Consider custom boxes with your logo stamped on them. If you order these in bulk, they are very affordable, and can really add to your brand experience! For example, these custom logo boxes come out to just around $3 a box.
- Beware of sending perishables. Some things, like cookies, very rarely arrive in tact no matter how carefully they are packed.
What do you think about client gifts? Tell me more in the comments below!
Hi I’m Kim, a Denver, Colorado based photographer specializing in Adventure Elopements in Colorado and worldwide! Photographing couples on the most special day of their lives is a true honor for me. But I’ve made it my mission to take it one step further than that. When you work with me, you’re getting more than just a photographer. I’m here to help you with all of the planning resources you need to have the most amazing elopement day ever! That includes everything from assistance with location ideas, timeline planning, and lots more free resources. So you can forget the work, and focus on having fun!
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