One of the best and least expensive ways to grow your business is through referrals. But for a variety of reasons, most people are reluctant to ask for them. Maybe it’s fear of hearing “no”. Maybe they think happy clients will just spread the word about “their favorite photographer” without any prompting from you. But we’ve all heard that time-tested axiom that states an unhappy customer will tell ten people about lousy service, and a happy one will share with perhaps one other person about the great service they’ve received.
After every shoot, once the images are delivered and the client is happy, I’ll always ask the question, “Hey Brian, I appreciate the opportunity to work with you on this project, the shots look great, and I was wondering if their was anyone else you knew that might use this type of photography?” This is the best time to ask, everyone has a good feeling about the recently completed project. The names Brian gives you are incredibly valuable leads. In a sense, John has “vouched” for you and your product. Referrals carry immediate credibility.
The next thing I do is call those people John referred and say something like, “Hi Cheryl, I’m a photographer here in Detroit and I just finished a project with your friend Brian Jones. It turned out great and he suggested I introduce myself and my photography to you.” If you repeatedly get Cheryl’s voice-mail, don’t worry, you can leave that message and follow with an email with some samples of your work and a repeat of that introduction, being sure to mention the referrer, her friend Brian.
Then, be sure to update the people that give you referrals. It’s one more legitimate reason to make contact with an existing client, and people like to know you appreciated their help. Something like, “Hi Brian, I just wanted to thank you again for referring Cheryl to me and give you an update about how that worked out.” This sort of “reaching out” to your existing clients will help to keep you “front of mind” and they might even send you more business just because you’re keeping in touch.
This post first appeared on the American Society of Media Photographers’ (ASMP) “Strictly Business” blog.