This post was written by Christopher Lin. Chris is the co-founder of Lin and Jirsa, an award-winning Los Angeles wedding photography and cinematography studio founded in 2006. Chris has used his marketing, SEO and business expertise to help build Lin and Jirsa into a company that shoots over 300 weddings annually serviced by over 30 talented creatives. Along the way, Chris and his two business partners also created SLR Lounge, where an international team of writers and photographers share their education with the community.
Having consistent referrals from wedding planners, florists, DJs, videographers, makeup artists, and other wedding vendors can make a huge impact on your photography business. In fact, it’s not uncommon to encounter photographers that rely solely on the referrals from two to three wedding planners for most of their bookings.
How do these photographers establish such a strong, beneficial relationship? It starts by making all the professionals involved in the wedding happy; and here are 6 ways that wedding photographers can do just that:
1. Provide Images Immediately. Preempt the other professionals asking for images by sending them out to them as soon as they are ready. At Lin and Jirsa, we have our blogger personally call each one to let them know that the images are on the way. The feedback from this method has been overwhelmingly positive, since the other pros can better plan their blog posts, real wedding submissions, and more.
2. Give Social Media and Blog Credit. When we first started out 8 years ago, we didn’t think much of giving credit to the vendors involved when posting to social media or our blog. It takes a lot of work hunting down every vendor, and we were very understaffed at the time. However, since we’ve started taking the time to find each vendor and mention them on our blog and social media, our shares have increased as well as our referrals. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of each vendor’s Facebook URL, Instagram handle, Twitter handle, and email address – it will come in handy! As a photographer, you may have done an excellent job capturing the details of the wedding, but these other vendors made that possible with their artistry and hard work. A shout out goes a very long way, and a failure to mention someone can even be seen as a sign of disrespect.
3. Refer Your Favorite Vendors. This may seem like a “no brainer,” but it’s something that can easily be overlooked. Here’s an example: As a male photographer, I don’t honestly know much about the “best makeup artists” in my area. When a client asks, I can either say “I’m not sure” and leave it at that, or I can say, “To be honest, I’m not an expert on makeup, but here are a few that I’ve enjoyed working with.” Having a preferred vendors list on your website will help, and the vendors listed are likely to reciprocate the recommendations.
4. Reward and Acknowledge Referrals. If someone refers a client to you, be sure to reach out and thank them. A simple email or phone call can have an impact, but if it’s within your budget, small gifts like Starbucks gift cards, movie tickets, or massage gift cards will be even more memorable. For your strongest relationships, consider offering other services you provide for free or at discounted rates.
5. Keep the Schedule Running on Time. The number one complaint I’ve heard from wedding planners about photographers is that we can sometimes make the schedule fall behind at the actual wedding. Sometimes, the extra 15 minutes of sunset photos is worth the shot; other times, your shots can wait. Try your best to get your photos in the allotted time, and if you fall behind, communicate with the planner so that they are aware of the delay.
6. Network and Establish a Personal Relationship. The best way to get referrals for your business is to establish a personal relationship with your vendors. In any business, people will refer their friends over almost anyone else. That may mean going to grand openings, baby showers, and networking events. It may mean joining local bridal associations or holding your own events. The more you get to know another wedding professional, the more likely they are to remember you when a client asks for a recommendation.
When it comes to networking and making vendors happy, some photographers are naturals, while others may be more introverted and require more guidance. Hopefully these six tips are simple and easy enough to make an impact on your photography business. For more web marketing tips, please explore my Photography SEO and Web Marketing Ebook.