uilding a strong referral base is one of the best ways to get a consistent flow of inquiries streaming in. There is a ton of added value in shooting weddings that you are referred by. You’ve probably already built trust and a relationship with your client, so someone in their family, bridal party, or one of their best friends are all really good referral possibilities. There are obviously countless ways of getting a referral base going, but here are 5 ways that I’ve found to work the best.
1. Build a unique relationship with your clients
When a couple is planning their wedding, they are usually booking about 8 or 9 vendors at the same time. That is usually a pretty stressful factor for a bride, so making your booking process with them easy, smooth, and fun is key. You have a real opportunity to stand out right away! Take time in your first meeting to really get to know your client. Ask them a lot of questions — you can ask how they met, when it turned to love, how they got engaged, what their favorite things are about each other, what are the plans they’ve made for their wedding… all of those go a long way in building rapport with your clients.
One of the best things you can do throughout the process is make your clients feel as if they are some of your closest friends. Not only will your clients feel really cared for, it will also make your job and experience more fulfilling. There are an unending amount of ways to serve your clients well and treat them in a way they’ll remember you. You can send them personalized gifts beforehand, be helpful with planning the schedule and giving them the best recommendations on light, research their favorite stores/restaurants and send gift cards for a date on you, bring them a “bride and groom” box with little gifts and treats (to help with the wedding and also for fun), surprise prints and reveals… I could go on! The most important thing to do in all of it is to love them well. People don’t necessarily remember everything you said or did, but they remember how you made them feel. They’ll associate all of their emotions that day with the photos you give them and the experience you helped provide - and everyone at their wedding will notice!
2. Same day slideshow
This is probably the most important thing I’ve done for my business. Now that my business partner Christianne Taylor and I shoot all of our weddings together, we do a same day slideshow for all of our weddings. We usually download all of our cards to our computer right when we get to the reception and we get previews built in Lightroom. Once the previews are built, we go through and select 40-60 of our favorites from the day while everyone is eating. If a toast or dance starts, one of us stays editing while the other shoots it. We setup our screen (some people use a projector) and hit play before everyone gets on the dance floor! Within the hour we have at least 15-20 people around the screen checking it out. We talk to the guests, hand out business cards, and occasionally there are a few tears from the bride and groom.
3. Post to Facebook and Instagram the night of the wedding
Nowadays, people take a ton of photos on their phone and post almost immediately after the wedding (or even sometimes during it!). When someone changes their relationship status on Facebook to "Married", the last photo of them posted gets highlighted. If you post that night and tag them, chances are they’ll see that and repost it - and it’ll also be used as that preview. Thats huge! On Instagram, it’s good to post a few shots from the day that night. Clients love the sneak peak and since they already saw a number of them on the slideshow, it’s another way to reassure them that you were the right hire.
4. Tag the entire bridal party and family
Later that week, post a few photos on Facebook of the whole bridal party and of both families. If you make sure you’re friends with everyone before, it’s easy to do and tagging really helps with word of mouth for your photos. A lot of the time, photographers will post a ton of the bride and groom and of the details — unfortunately, gorgeous photos of the wedding's details won’t share much information about your company with others!
5. Cultivate vendor relationships
I’m sure you’ve all seen it at weddings - every vendor is trying to capture their art and use their iPhone to share on social media. While their art is creating, photography might not be what they’re best at! Something that both Christianne and I try to do is make sure we photograph every one of the vendor's work at a wedding. We make sure to highlight them and let them know they can use the photos when we edit them. With CloudSpot, it’s really easy to create a separate gallery just for them with their own link! If all the vendors post your photos and talk about you, they can turn into a huge referral source for your company! It also goes a long way in getting a good name and brand in with those vendors as well. Pictures (and maybe even a little video) go a long way to helping other businesses on a wedding day.