Word of mouth.
Those three words sum up the marketing plan for the majority of photography businesses.
Rumour has it that if you do a really great job, are super friendly and deliver on time you’ll be granted entry to the ‘word of mouth kingdom’ where clients constantly call you like clockwork and you never need to worry about other forms of marketing.
No matter how much we pray and cross our fingers, we know that it just doesn’t happen like that, don’t we?
Even if you do an amazing job and tick all the boxes, chances are traditional word of mouth marketing where you simply hope clients mention you will only bring in one new client for every 20 you work with.
Those aren’t great odds.
How are you getting the other 19 clients?
Word of mouth marketing, or referral marketing as I like to call it should certainly play a big part in your photography business, after all, what others say about you is far more impactful than anything you say about yourself!
But it needs beefing up!
5 Ways to Beef-Up Your Word-Of-Mouth Marketing
1 – Ask
This seems almost too simple to list, but it takes the number one spot because after working with over 500 photographers, almost none of them actually ask for referrals.
The simple act of asking, no matter how you approach it (even if it’s the most awkward sounding thing in the world) will increase your referral numbers by a minimum of 300%.
How can anyone know that you’d like a referral if you never ask?
The main benefit here is that it simply brings the thought of referring into the consciousness of the client, so that if the opportunity arises and cousin Sally says “We need a photographer for our wedding next year”, your client is far more likely to remember you than if you said nothing at all.
If you try nothing else, at least do this.
2 – Partner with Local Businesses
This will depend on your particular type of photography, but try to set up partnerships with small businesses in your area who serve the same target market.
For example, florists who do bridal arrangements if you’re a wedding photographer, or toy shops if you’re a newborn or family photographer.
The deal can get as intricate as you like, but a simple “I’ll send you clients if you send me clients” is usually fine.
3 – Stay In Touch with Past Clients
After 12 months there’s almost no chance that your clients will remember you or your business, so even if they loved you and have an opportunity to refer, they can’t.
A simple solution is to stay in touch with things like birthday and Christmas cards. It’s inexpensive and doesn’t take much time.
Plus it’ll help get you repeat bookings over the years.
4 – Design a Referral Program
When someone refers a client to you that’s very valuable, and they should be rewarded, even if they simply did it because they really think you are the best.
The reward should match the referral, so you’d give more to a wedding shoot referral than a portrait referral.
5 – Say Thanks!
Another super simple thing is to say a heartfelt thank you!
It doesn’t happen enough these days and it means more to people than you’ll know.
Jump on the phone and let them know how much their referral means to you and your business, or write a hand written letter and post it to them.
If someone refers you and it goes unnoticed you’ll have a very hard time getting a second referral, but if you acknowledge them your chances of future referral skyrocket!
In summation dear photographer…
Referred clients are the greatest clients you can get. They convert from prospects to paying clients with far more ease because they’ve been pre-sold by someone they already trust, and they are far more likely to refer others in the future because they know how the referral process works.
If you’re playing the same old referral game everyone else is, step it up by using the 5 tips above.
Have you used any of the above tips, or do you have something even better? Leave a comment below and lets discuss!