Building a photography business through referrals

Photographers tend to be good with people.  This is a trait which positions you perfectly for business referrals.  We are all humans – at work and at play; and humans love to connect and share ideas.  Making a useful referral or connection makes us feel good.

Referral programmes can be exceptionally useful for building your client base: working with warm leads is far more effective than cold calling, and can fast-track the growth of your photography business exponentially.  Your existing clients likely move within the same circles as other potential clients, and word of mouth is an excellent way for your own customers to instil confidence in others about the trustworthiness of your business.

Why do people make referrals?

Craving connections with others, humans just can’t resist the urge to share.  We want to be perceived as a source of good information. This dates back to sharing and collaboration in tribal hunting and fishing “tips”.  Another key idea in referrals is the “gift”: giving a gift sets off a chain of reciprocity.  It’s a fundamental concept across all human societies, and “giver’s gain” is a powerful concept.

Why is referral business so good?

  • It’s “pre-sold” – the referrer has done the hard work!
  • It deepens your existing client relationships, creating a community around your business
  • It costs you nothing!

So, how can you build your photography business through referrals?

It’s important to invest time in your key contacts; to understand what they value about your work. By cultivating the relationships over time and constantly surpassing expectations, you build trust so that they feel confident in referring their contacts to you.  Mention referrals at every stage in your client journey, so it’s always “front of mind” – start with your email signature, and always ask for a referral when you get good feedback.

Creating a culture of referral

  1. Establish what’s different about your work, in a way that is easy to share
  2. Build content: advice, tips, testimonials
  3. Be visible online: website, social media, blog
  4. Expect referrals: talk about referrals, ask for them, reward them, celebrate them openly on social media, ask clients why they refer (and why not)
  5. Embed referrals into your communications: your email signature, marketing materials, social media
  6. Engage with clients: make it easy to refer, incentivise and reward referrals, consider a referral “programme”
  7. Engage with groups to access wider networks of referrals – the gift that keeps on giving
  1. “Net promoter” scores: ask clients to complete an evaluation form, including a question on how likely they are to recommend you. If you record the score on your database, you know who are your warm leads for referrals.
  2. After a referral, thank the referrer and send a gift if appropriate, keeping them informed on developments/outcome
  3. Use each referral to ask for another! (over a thank-you lunch/coffee?)

Concentrate on quality as well as quantity

It’s easy to aspire to a vast number of referrals, but quality of referrals can be as important as quantity. Focus on people who are more likely to take up the referral offer, and encourage the referrer to make an email introduction rather than simply passing on a phone number.

As your business grows, make sure your insurance flexes and grows too.  With a wider client base, the opportunities for liability increase, so make you have the right public liability insurance to protect you financially if anything goes wrong.

Aaduki One – we’ve built our business on referrals too!

At Aaduki, we’re proud to say a huge part of our business is built on referrals from happy clients!  As an Aaduki client, you can take part in our Aaduki One programme to refer friends and colleagues. Tell someone about us and we’ll give you £10 off your next insurance renewal premium for every new policy taken out on your recommendation – up to the value of your next renewal premium. Do this often enough and you could receive a free insurance policy when it comes up for renewal!  Visit Aaduki One on our website for details.

Paul Newberry Cert CII

Lead Client Adviser