Design a referral program for photography business growth

Can referrals increase your photography business growth?

The math is simple: one referral from each client will double your photography business growth. Referrals are essential to any growing business. Here are the three things we know for sure about referrals:

1. Referrals are pre-qualified clients and are far more likely to meet your definition of “ideal”.

2. Using referrals has a lower aquistion cost and they are likely to be repeat clients.

3. As long as you know how to ask for them and at hte right time – referrals will come.

Clearly referral systems will benefit your business. But how does one design and implement a referral system that works?

referral, client, email, workflow, automate, business, photography

Find a System That Works For You

Creating a referral system is a great way to educate your clients that this is something that you truly value. It might take some experimenting to figure out what type of referral system works best for you and your cilents. Some examples of referral programs include: points based, percent or dollar off amount, offer a freebie, or print credit. Here are few tips and ideas when designing your referral system:

Win-Win Situation

Having a referral system in place that rewards both your loyal client for the referral and the new client is a win-win situation. It helps show your client that you appreciate their support and efforts to help put your name out there and gives a little incentive for the new client to commit to booking with you. With this approach, you’ll want to reward something to your client who made the referral and possibly make their incentive a little great than what the new person is getting. For example, you can give your client who made the referral a $50 discount toward a session or print credit and then gift the new client a free print if they book with you.

Incentives for Referrals

Everyone loves getting something free or a discount – especially if they’re putting in effort to refer more people to your business. What should you give in exchange for referrals? Well – that is totally up to you! You can play around to see what incentives work best. Here are some great incentive ideas:

– percent or dollar amount discount on session or future print orders
– free session or print after X number of referrals
– gift prints or exclusive product
– gift cards (either for your business or local businesses)

Simple is Best

Keep things simple so it is easy for you to track referrals and reward your clients. A points system might get tricky to keep track of if you have a lot of clients or get a lot of referrals. Clients are more likely to refer if you have a system in place that is easy for them to utilize and get rewarded easily.

As a senior photographer, one of the best forms of a referral program that I’ve implemented has been a senior rep program! While some photographers view this as a lot of work for nothing, it doesn’t have to be that way if it’s structured in the right way for YOU. Not only are these paying clients, but you are working to build relationships with these clients and their families prior to their actual senior photo session. You probably know that people are far more likely to buy something from people that they trust and if you are able to build those relationships over time and boost your know, like and trust factor by working with someone multiple times, they’re going to be far more likely to refer you to their friends and family.

Sean Brown

Sean Brown Productions

When to Ask for Reviews and Talk about Referrals

There’s not really any wrong time to ask for reviews and talk about your referral program with your clients. In fact, you should be bringing this up often with them. This is a huge way that many photographers miss out on referrals! Just by simply asking your clients for a referral. This can be at the end of a session, once the images are delivered, etc. You are putting yourself at the front of their mind and getting them to think about which of their friends need new photos. 

When requesting reviews, a critical time to do this is right after their gallery is delivered. Your clients are still on a high from getting all of their beautiful photos back and they’re enjoying them. Catch them while they’re still on this high to get a great review on your Google listing or to use as a testimonial on your website. A great way to make sure you are requesting this timely is to incorporate it into your workflow and send an automated email to request a review and also talk about your referral program. You can schedule this for about 3-4 weeks after their session, since most of the time you will have had their gallery delivered by 2-3 weeks after their session.

Talk about your referral program often! If your clients don’t know about it, then they aren’t going to use it. You can write a blog about it, make a dedicated page or section about it on your website, incorporate it into your newsletters, and post about it on social media or in your VIP group. The more you talk about it, your clients will get excited about it and the referrals will start coming in.

Keep your clients thinking about you – send thank you cards, holiday cards, or simply email them on their birthday or anniversary. These simple actions will keep you fresh in your client’s mind and they’ll think of you when someone they know is need of photos. Plus – it adds to the client experience and shows you treat your clients well. 

Implenting Your Referral Program

Okay, so you have designed your referral program. How are you going to implement it? As we discussed above, the first thing is to get the word out there. Make sure you are talking about it with your clients before and after their sessions.

How to track referrals

With Iris, you can utilize your lead page to help keep track of where your leads are coming from. Make sure you are asking your leads how they heard about you. The lead page form can be linked on your website or embedded on your website to replace your contact form. When your lead fill this out, their information will be stored in Iris in your clients and leads automatically. You can easily ask them who referred them and keep track of that information in their client profile.

referrals for business growth - lead page

As you collect this information, after the new client has paid for their session you can then reward your client for the referral. TIP: Don’t reward the client until after the referral has paid for their session.

Set yourself a to-do task in the client’s profile to remind yourself to reward them – you can set the due date for a day or few days after the new client’s session.

What have you found to work best for your referral program? 

Speaking of referral programs… Did you know we have a referral program for Iris?

You can refer all your friends to Iris and receive a credit! Anyone you send to Iris to sign up just needs to enter your name when signing up. There’s a question when setting up their account that asks how they heard about us, and they can select referral and put your name in.

As soon as they’ve had their account for one month, you’ll get an account credit of $25.

Ready to streamline your photography business?

Sign up for your free 14-day trial with Iris today!

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