Most people are super-excited about collecting precious photographic memories, but not everybody is ready to make the investment for a full session straight away.
Luckily, you can offer them photography mini sessions, which are more affordable and potentially just as satisfying for them. While your customers are happy with your offer, you get the chance of making yourself known, appreciated and, most importantly, trusted.
This is the low-cost entry point that should bring potential customers close to booking your full services in the near future.
Still, chances are you’re not nearly as happy as your clients about this option. You’ve noticed that despite your hard work and lower prices, not everyone returns to book a full session after that first mini session.
You were hoping at least to getting more referrals so you ask yourself what the point is in spending time on these projects instead of doing the sessions that you love, and that you want to be known for as a photographer.
Here’s your answer: with the right system in place and a bit of courage, you can get new referrals from these mini sessions quite easily. You just have to ask for it.
Yes, your gut was right, offering great services is one the best ways to get the right word of mouth.
When your well-thought plan for getting referrals starts working, all the stress of having to do this tedious work will go away. You will be more relaxed, your mini sessions will turn out great, your customers will be even happier with the results, and asking for their positive feedback will be a breeze.
That’s all you have to do.
How you do it?
The creative way of getting new referrals from mini sessions
Sometimes, people will be happy to answer your demand just because they were very pleased with your work. But you don’t want just that… You want to turn them into walking and breathing billboards for your photography service marketing, which is why you will have to offer them an extra incentive. And here are the 3 most productive ways to do so:
Get them into a contest
People love contests. The curiosity of testing their luck, the excitement of following the instructions, the suspense of waiting for the results – all these make contests so enticing. Obviously, you will have to organize it on a social network, just to make sure that you are gathering the maximum of audience possible. Even more obvious, the criteria for designating a winner would involve some kind of referral record.
For instance, you could award the person who refers the most people to your Facebook page. Prizes may consist of free mini sessions or freebies that come with your paid sessions, such as free prints of their photographs. Whatever the plan, make sure you grab everyone’s attention with a well-designed marketing board announcing the contest. Just to make it even easier for you, here are some ready-to-use marketing boards to launch your offer right away!
When you think you’re done, follow up
If you think your job is done the moment people leave the studio, you are missing a big opportunity. Give your happy customers a few days and then follow up! Ask them to sign up for your newsletter. Let them know you will provide valuable information, occasional discount offers, and practical tips on how to display the prints that you created for them. Naturally, you will have to keep your promise and send them the newsletters. While this will bring in some extra work for you, it will also keep the communication channel opened. Every now and then, use this valuable channel to ask them to spread the message with their friends and family. You might be amazed at their responsiveness.
Give them irresistible bonuses
As opposed to contests, where only those who score the best results will enjoy the reward, these bonuses should make them feel like they all have a chance at getting a discount. You can even set up a special page on your website, where you present the benefits of your referral program. Options may include:
Extra bonuses for the customers who refer a certain amount of people to book a session with you (like a free mini session for every 5 people referred or one free print for every single person referred and so on) – again, marketing boards are awesome for advertising such offers!
Private mini sessions for the customers who bring a larger group of persons at the shooting – in this way, you sell the same product to a larger group of people and while the workload is the same, the number of people who might refer you afterward is higher! Bonnie did the same on Bonnie Velazco Photography and it sure looks tempting.
Vouchers for both the referrer and the new customers – you are basically rewarding your loyal customers for sending you new clients and the new clients for accepting the invitation of your loyal customers. It’s a win-win that everybody will love, as Sachiko proved on Sachiko Studio referral program.
While these common but effective incentives work, some photographers go above and beyond to convince their customers spread the good word. Here are some other creative strategies that you can use for encouraging your customers to advertise your services:
Offer vouchers that translate into something different from photography, such as a gift card for a popular retailer, like Ute-Christin shares on Ute Christin Photography.
Allow them to split the costs of a session by bringing another family or friend at the shooting, like Kristin does on Kristin With An I Photography.
Give an actual cash prize, directly delivered into your referral’s PayPal account, just like Jessica does on Jessica L Brown Photography.
Create a personalized gift, related to photography, with a more practical utility, like Maddie does with her personalized iPhone cases on Maddie B Photography.
Whether they are busy or uninterested, people can find plenty of reasons to forget about referring you, even if they were extremely happy with your services. For this reason alone, it can never hurt to follow up. Just remind your customers that if they really enjoyed your photographs, you would appreciate their help with spreading the word and getting more clients. Don’t be afraid to promote the above bonus suggestions together with your “pretty please, refer me” message.
And make an awesome marketing board the cherry on top of your kind request – how many do you think will remain impassive, after all?