Three Ways to Make Your Past Clients Your Biggest Cheerleaders

Matt Irwin for Vogue, Russia

June 11, 2013


I didn’t grow up in America so I never really understood the whole cheerleader thing… well except what the movies told me of course. Correct me if I’m wrong but it’s my assumption that they’re basically squads of popular girls who dance around, wear really high ponytails (do even higher kicks) and who’s main goal in life if to make the football team feel special. Putting our cultural differences aside, I can see the appeal… well, for the footballers at least. I mean who wouldn’t want some gorgeous babes telling them how awesome they were every time they scored a touchdown?

Cheerleaders don’t have to be confined to pep rallies and game days, did you know you have your own little cheer squad just waiting in the wings? Today I’m going to tell you how to get them shaking their pom poms for you and your business.

You past clients are an amazing source of (often untapped) publicity. After all they’ve experienced what you do first hand, and if you’ve done a good job and they love the results, they are more likely than anyone to sing your praises and recommend you to their friends. Apart from obviously delivering a brilliant product there is one thing that will make them love you, and shout about you from the rooftops – fantastic customer service.


1. Keep it real

Being professional at all times is important, but don’t confuse professionalism with being stuffy or lacking personality. Build a rapport with your clients and get to know them (and let them get to know you!) as people, not just a pay check. Connect over the things you mutually appreciate – art, music, trashy tv shows, clothes, pets – and use this as a strength and to differentiate yourself.

Think about it, who would you be more likely to recommend to a friend – someone who did a great job, or someone who did a great job but you loved as a person, you had loads in common with and you enjoyed spending time with too?

Don’t feel like you have to keep it all business all the time. Become their friend as well as a business transaction.

2. Communicate

I am an over-communicator. I always want to keep people in the loop and because of this I am a prolific emailer… probably to the point of irritation. I don’t ever want to be working on a project and for someone to be like “Er what’s going on here, I was never told that!”

Make sure everything you tell your clients is crystal clear and understood. Similarly, keep them abreast of any changes or anything you might need in order to do the very best job possible. Having a one-sided conversation is never fun. Just think how you’d feel if it was hard to get hold of someone you really wanted to work with. Frustrated? Angry? Annoyed? Communication should be top on your list of priorities. It shows you care and appreciate them, and who doesn’t want to feel appreciated?


3. Under-promise and over-deliver

Always strive to go above and beyond. If you’re a photographer and you usually deliver around 600 images, tell them they can expect 500. If you’re a stationer and you usually give people three revisions, promise them two. If you usually reply to emails within 24 hours tell them its 48. Send small gifts of thanks afterwards. A box of chocolates or a bottle of celebratory champagne won’t cost you much, but the lasting impression will be priceless.

Delivering more than you’ve promised with instantly make the client feel special (“wow, they said only 500 photos but they shot 600 at my wedding, it must have been the best wedding ever!”) and shows that you care. Who’s not going to recommend someone who does that?!

Fantastic customer service sets the tone for everything you do…as it will if you’re terrible at it. Your past customers can become your biggest champions or your worst nightmare, you only have to look at those watchdog style message boards full of slating commentary to know that. A few bad reviews on Yelp, Review Centre or Trip Advisor can damage a company’s reputation forever.

One cheerleader raving about you to all their friends can be much more valuable than any other marketing campaign because their friends will trust their opinion as being an honest one. So make sure you’re hanging out behind the bleachers with them and that their review of you is a high kick, an award winning routine and an enthusiastic shake of some oversized pom poms.