OK, so I mentioned having a referral program in place in a post on Facebook today, so thought I should elaborate a little more and throw a few ideas at you.
The problem with many photographers is that they are either too shy/embarrassed to ask for a referral, or they simply think that they shouldn’t have to since their photo’s are so amazing and referrals should come naturally.
If you struggle with the first problem, you’re in luck, because it’s not too hard to overcome! The best advice I can give you is to just start. Once you start asking for referrals, it will become easier, just like anything in life. Practice makes perfect, and this is a skill that is well worth investing some time into!
If, on the other hand, you think that you should never need to ask for referrals because the quality of your work is far superior to anything else… I have bad news for you!
It may be true that you’re an excellent photographer and you produce beautiful work, but that doesn’t mean your clients will tell their friends and family about you. There’s a few reasons for this, but the main one is that they simply get nothing out of it. Referring you to a friend or family member is like giving your their personal guarantee. If things don’t work out, then the blame is “on them”. They’ll feel like they let their friend down, which is why it’s difficult to get referrals even when you’re a top photographer!
So What Should You Do?
It’s obvious isn’t it? Well, it’s not really a cliffhanger or anything since the title of this article is “Referral Reward Programs for Photographers“!
What that means is that you need to offer something of real value to ANYONE (even if they’re not customer) who refers a job to you. No, it can’t be something like “10% off your next photo shoot”, or “$20 voucher to spend on photo’s”. This just seems sleazy, and it’s obvious to people that your’e just trying to force them to use you again.
So below are 4 of my tips on creating a Referral Reward Program
Give something of real tangible value to the referrer! Actual cash works well, but you can also try things like a $100 day spa voucher, or $100 pre-loaded onto a shopping center card. You can make these amounts higher or lower depending on the referral type. For example, if someone refers a wedding that is worth $5,000 to you, then $200-$300 would be more appropriate!
Don’t be affraid to make the reward really big, especially if your margins are big. It might seems like you’re taking your profits down to $4,700, but it’s a job that you likely wouldn’t have, and getting an extra job like this each month because of your reward program means a huge profit spike for you!
Don’t stop there! The referrer knew about your reward program when they referred, so that gift will be appreciated, but expected.
Really “WOW” them, by also giving them a personal gift. This will be smaller, but more personal, and most importantly… totally unexpected!
You need to know at least a little about the referrer for this tip, but some quick examples are;
- Does the referrer enjoy a certain band? Concert tickets would be great!
- Do they like cooking? A new “SlapChop” would be funny and useful (you may have seen the infomercial)
- Enjoys running? A heart rate monitor would definitely be appreciated!
Keep going! The goal is to make it as personal as possible. Not just like an email asking for their paypal address so you can wire them some money!
SO… write a letter! If you could write something by hand that really gets attention. It can be on a blank sheet of paper, or a “Thank You” card. You can also type it if you really hate writing, but make each one personal, including their name, who they referred, and explain that it’s people like them who make you love being a photographer. Most people have NEVER experienced something like this!
Keep in touch! As a photographer, you know that most clients come along for a wedding, or to get some headshots done, and then you never hear from them again, but this is wasted referral potential!
It’s been proven that each month a client goes without hearing from you, they lose 10% of their relationship with you. So after 10 months, you’re as familiar to them as any other photographer in the Yellow Pages. If you think they’ll remember you name, let alone refer you to anyone, you’re dreaming!
So keep in touch! Get their address, or at least an email, and send out a monthly newsletter. It doesn’t have to be anything amazing. Just a list of some jobs you’re working on, interesting news, special offers etc.
This keeps you in their mind for MUCH longer, so that when their friend mentions a wedding photographer in 3 years, they’ll still remember who you are because they’ve been hearing from you each month for the last 3 years! Those 36 newsletters (for 36 months) if sent by snail mail would have cost around $1.00 each. That’s $36 total, and that could net you a job worth $5,000+! If sent by email, obviously the cost is $0
Build a great referral program into your business and start seeing the benefits within the next few months! Make sure you let all your customers know about the program, and even give them a copy of a sheet that explains your program in full detail!
If you’ve tried a referral program in the past, let me know what you’ve done in the comments below!