The math is simple: one referral from each client will double your business.
Referrals are essential to any growing business, and there are three things we know for sure:
- Referrals are pre-qualified clients and are far more likely to meet your definition of “ideal”
- Referrals have a lower acquisition cost and are likely to be repeat clients
- Referrals will come as long as you know how to ask for them at the right time
Get good at the basics. In order to get more great business, you have to do great work for your existing clients. You have to be awesome, do what you say you’re going to do, over deliver with the customer service, and show them lots of love. Then, you have to ASK for referrals.
Get creative with the ask. You’ll figure out what works for you and your workflow, but you have to ask. Ask them out loud. Ask them in an automated email (more on that later). Ask them in a hand-written thank you note. But ask.
Find a system that works. Creating a referral-based points program is a great way to educate your clients that this is something that you really value. You can try a few things out and figure out where the wiggle room lies in your margins, but just remember that referrals are generally great leads that turn into long-time clients.
Indianapolis-based Katy Davis Photography has an absolutely killer referral program. Her referral program is 100% point-based and she’s set up a tiered-system for clients to earn free sessions. “When you book your own wedding, we’ll give you three points to get you started. For every wedding that you send us, you’ll earn three more points. Family sessions will earn you one point. In no time at all—just ten points—you’ll have a free 90-minute session just for sharing the love!”
Wedding photographers can focus on growing your relationships with other wedding vendors. In most markets, this is an easy group to find your way to. As a bride, you can’t get a better referrer than someone that you’ve already trusted with your big day.
It’s easy for portrait photographers to get creative with a local boutique that caters to your ideal client. See you if you can display some of your work on their site or in their store. It will make perfect sense for them to send referrals your way. (Pro-tip: make sure you know the terms and be certain that it’s a win-win on both sides of the agreement.)
Corporate photographers should consider creating a VIP program for your studio and offer perks such as last-minute booking, next day turnaround, concierge service and more. It’s a great way to build loyalty and have your clients singing your praises to their colleagues.
“Something we’ve done to grow our referrals is leverage a Strategic Partner program,” says Atlas Studios Bay Area owner, Marcus Araiza. “Clients love that they can become part of an elite group… and they share this information with their partners. As the owner, I make a personal call to them and offer these services, as long as they agree to come to us first for their business.”
Organize and grow your business. Understanding how to get your clients to be your advocates is a quick and easy way to grow your business. A studio management system like Iris Works will not only help you nail the customer service aspect from start to finish, but can also automate the entire referral-asking process. In our system, you’ll determine when to ask and what to say and we’ll automate the process for you.
Need help with exactly what to say? Our new FREE DOWNLOADABLE EMAIL TEMPLATE GUIDE will help you decide where you get started. And, when you’re ready to take your game to the next level with a 14-day trial, we will help you get started HERE.
DID YOU KNOW? If you’re already using another studio management system, Iris Works now offers FREE MIGRATION. We’ll be happy to get you set up and organizing your business in no time at all!