In these five ‘MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS’ posts I am sharing the 5 places where almost all of my wedding bookings come from, and tips for how you can make them can work for your business as well.

The last of these 5 is Word of mouth.

Your best source of new business is referrals from happy clients. You cannot have a more motivated prospect arrive on your website than someone sent there by a raving fan.

According to a recent Small Business market Research Sales and Marketing report, 72 percent of new business comes from referrals and word of mouth.

This has certainly been true for my business. While more initial enquires may come from other sources, like Google, referrals by a couple who have already worked with you are by far hottest leads, with the majority converting to bookings.

Some summers, almost all of my weddings are from referrals. I’ll be photographing the wedding of the best friend of a bride from the year before, another member of a family getting married, and so on.

By my 3rd year of photographing weddings I was able to completely stop promotion, marketing or advertising. I just kept my website updated with my latest work and relevant information, then used that time and money instead to improve the service I was offering.

How do you create a business worthy of referral? How do you provide a service that people want to tell others about?
Simple! Create a fantastic service with outstanding results. Haha.

While this is easier said than done, I have two guiding principles that help me in both areas:

1. Do exactly what you say. People never like feeling they’re not receiving the service they signed up for, so I am very clear about what I do and what is included. There’s a number of ways that help achieve this:

  • Standardise the wording in your emails. I don’t want to miss out any important information when replying to the initial enquiry, so I have a standard reply, and a pricing and details PDF that I attach. This includes precise numbers and accurate descriptions of exactly what the client will receive.
  • Really understand what it is you offer. You want to find yourself agreeing to produce something that you may not be able to, and creating an expectation that may not be fulfilled, leading to the client being disappointed.
  • Have the important information and examples of your work on your website. Allow potential clients to get a clear understanding of what you offer before they enquire, so they can decide that you are definitely what they are looking for.
  • Have terms and conditions document. This will clarify everything they can expect of you and avoid complications down the line. You can download mine here.
  • Under promise, over deliver. For example, I will arrive before the time I suggested I would, I will stay longer, hand over more photographs, and edit and send them before expected. I want my client to be impressed with my service, as well as loving their photographs.

2. Take the most amazing wedding photographs the client has ever seen. After more than 10 years photographing weddings, I have a vast portfolio I can choose from for the gallery on my website. Potential clients see this gallery, and this is the calibre of photography they will expect. So this has to be surpassed. So I am going all out at every wedding I take on, to create the most amazing wedding photographs they have ever seen. I say to myself when I start each wedding, but it doesn’t mean that this is easily achieved…

I don’t believe that great photography happens by accident. Well, not for me. I am not the sort of photographer who can just show up, shoot from the hip, and expect it to look world class. My images are created through careful planning. I want to guarantee the success of each and every wedding I photograph without leaving anything to chance. And it’s this technique that I want to demonstrate over the next few posts. I will attempt to deconstruct and explain my approach to photographing weddings, so you may be able to do the same, and become a better and more successful wedding photographer. Stay tuned!

I hope this is helpful!

Next week I will post the first of ‘Planning for Success’. If you would like to receive these articles direct to your inbox, please sign up to my blog on the left of this page.

I would love to get your comments on this article or topic in the comments below. If you have any questions, or feel there’s something I missed out, please do ask!

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