How to Generate More Word-of-Mouth Referrals for your Photography Business

By Pixellu

This article is brought to you by Pixellu who is an amazing photography software company.

Most photography businesses wouldn't survive without referrals. As photographers, our success depends upon it. 

You cannot receive a better lead than one sent to you by a past client. Referred clients come pre-qualified with an existing level of trust in your ability, plus an understanding of how you work and what you do. There is much less "selling" involved in converting referrals into clients than cold leads. They also haven't cost you anything — no paid advertising, no social media ads, and no fairs or trade shows. 

The question is: How do you get happy clients to recommend you to their friends and family? 

The answer is deceptively simple — ask! 

The real trick lies in asking at the right time and providing the right motivation for your client to want to recommend you. Not only that, you need to feel comfortable and confident when asking for a referral. If not, it will feel forced and awkward. 

Your clients may not immediately know anyone who needs a recommendation for a photographer — but sooner or later, they will. People tend to have clusters of friends at a similar age or stage in their lives. If you've just shot a fantastic wedding and your clients are thrilled, chances are they'll have friends getting married in the next couple of years too. By asking your clients to recommend you to their friends and family, your request is more likely to pop into their minds when the topic of conversation turns to photographers and wedding planning. If you don't ask, they might not think to bring you up when the opportunity arises. 

We've devised a simple set of rules to help you pick the right time to ask for that vital recommendation.

Referral Rules: 

  1. Exceed Expectations: Give your clients something to talk about. Blow them away by delivering more than promised or by delighting them with a personal touch so they'll want to talk about you. How you exceed their expectations is up to you. You could send them their preview images the next day in a stunning slideshow or wrap their album beautifully when you deliver it. You could even send them a few extra photos over and above the set amount you usually provide, letting them know that there were too many good ones and you "just couldn't choose." Whatever you decide on, pick something that fits with your brand and style — if you are proud of your work and proud of your delivery, you'll feel more confident asking for that referral.
  2. Maximize Happy Moments: Use the natural happy points in your relationship as a springboard to ask for a referral. These could be at the end of a great session, after you've emailed their preview images, or when you've delivered their final selection. Your clients will be more receptive to your request at these points, and you'll feel more comfortable asking, knowing that they're happy. 
  3. Make It Easy: Give your clients an actionable task — this could be as simple as tagging you on social media, leaving a review, or passing your contact details to a newly engaged friend. Provide them with all the links and information they need to do this quickly and easily. The simpler you make it, the more likely your clients are to refer you. 

We've put together a couple of ways to start this conversation naturally that tick all of the above boxes:

Feed the social media machine

People want to see their images as soon as possible after their shoot — even more so if it's a big occasion like a wedding. The emotions are fresh, and they'll want their nearest and dearest to share in that buzz with them. Pick their very best photos, compile these into a slideshow, and deliver this as soon as possible following their wedding or shoot —the following day if you can manage it. 

Pro tip: use Narrative Select to reduce your culling time significantly. Here's how)

Slideshows are a great opportunity to use music to help your clients connect to your photographs emotionally. Pixellu SmartSlides is the easiest way to create a stunning slideshow, complete with fully licensed music, one-click beatmatching and, 4k ultra-HD quality to make sure your images look their best. Pairing your photos with the perfect slideshow soundtrack can help heighten the emotion of the day by tapping into your clients' other senses, using sound as well as sight. 

  • You'll blow your clients away with the speed of your initial delivery, and they'll love the emotional telling of their story.
  • Image delivery is a high point of your relationship, and your clients will be thrilled to receive the first glimpse of their images.
  • A slideshow is a readily sharable format for social media — all you need to do is ask them to tag you in their post. 

Deliver with a Bang

When it comes time to deliver your print products, make the most of this opportunity to delight your clients. Help them savor the moment they receive their stunning images. Whether it's a beautifully wrapped photo album, a personal touch, or an extra surprise added to their parcel — this is your opportunity to deliver with a bang. Take this opportunity to pop some personalized "referral cards" into their package that they can pass on to their friends and family. They'll be far more likely to share a wallet-sized print of their family or special day that conveniently has your contact information printed on the back. You can even add a discount offer on there for their friends and family. They'll be happy to share your card because they'll feel like they're passing along something helpful. 

  • Your clients will love the extra thoughtful surprise or personal touch, as well as the additional wallet-sized prints they can give to their friends and family. 
  • They've been waiting eagerly for their album, and the day has finally arrived. Make the most of this happy moment. 
  • Personalized "referral cards" are the original "share" button — your clients can pass these along to friends and family in person. 

Capitalize on Nostalgia

If you're looking for a way to generate referrals from previous wedding clients, try reaching out to them on their anniversary. You could include a fresh slideshow with different images or music to help reconnect them with the emotions of that day. Not only will they be impressed that you took the effort to remember, but the slideshow also acts as a reminder of the beautiful moments you captured. They may not have been able to refer you immediately after their wedding, but in the space of a year, a lot can change. By being consistently present, you'll remain on their mind, so when the conversation turns to photographers, you'll be top-of-mind. 

  • Your clients will be thrilled that you remembered their anniversary. You'd be surprised how many of their friends and family won't remember without the obligatory social media post. 
  • By reconnecting them to the emotions of their special day through a slideshow, you're generating a happy moment of nostalgia. 
  • Your slideshow is easily shareable on social media, and it makes a great anniversary post for the happy couple. All you need to do is ask them to tag you.

Last but not least, if a client is kind enough to refer you to someone else, don't forget to thank them. Let them know what it means to your business, and they'll be more likely to refer you to others. When someone recommends you, they are saying that they trust you and your work. Take a minute to reach out and thank them for trusting you enough to pass your details on — this is just as important for clients who leave you a review or tag you on social media. Each time you appear on someone's feed, more people see your images, and more potential clients witness how happy your past clients are. It all adds up.