If you make a promise, you have to keep it. Seems pretty simple right? It seems pretty simple, and yet - most of our frustration in interacting with businesses comes when they fail to do what they said they would do. Ever had a delayed flight? Ever been stranded at an airport? We've all had experiences where we were let down - and chances are, we remember those experiences.
Unfortunately, (if we're all really honest) in our business, we often fail to live up to what we promise as well. How many times have we promised to get a client their proofs in a week, and we take two. How many times have we said we would call someone back - and we forget, or we get busy.
The truth is, every time we make a promise - we ABSOLUTELY have to keep it. People remember when we don't, and it effects their entire impression of us, our business, and our product.
On the other hand, people also remember when we exceed their expectations by beating our promises. If you want your clients to tell their friends about you - do something different than what you promise (either good or bad). Most of us prefer that our clients not say bad things about us, so that means the bar is pretty high. That means we have to do more than we promise - do better than we say we will.
It's almost discouraging that all it takes to stand out - is to do what you promise. It's almost elementary to think that clients will appreciate - and patronize - business that keep, and exceed, their promises.
Imagine what people might say about an airline that never cancels it's flights. Imagine what they might say about an airline whose flights are never late, has clean lavatories, always greets every customer with a smile, and as a bonus - has comfy seats and serves a fine Cabernet in coach class (for free!). Imagine what they might say.
Now imagine what people say about your business. Imagine what they might say if you always delivered proofs a week early. Imagine what they might say if you always delivered their orders in fine packing, in person, and early. Imagine what they might say if you offered a disc of their images (as a gift) after they place their $1500 portrait order. Imagine what they might say if when they arrived in your studio, you served them gourmet coffee and fresh baked cookies. Imagine what other vendors might say if you gave them free images without them asking (especially when you said you were going to).
Doing what you say is a great place to start. Doing more is the key to a business that never lacks for customers.