According to Nielsen Soundscan and Hubspot, over 70% of purchasing decisions are made BASED on either a review or a word of mouth referral. For photography, this is no different. Today, I want to share how it’s skyrocketed my business and 4 strategies to increase your word of mouth.
Whenever I get an inquiry, I log it in a comprehensive Excel document that includes the name, inquiry date, venue, wedding date, and where they found me. On another page, I include conversion data. In other words, how many of those inquiries from a specific channel turned into a client?
This information is all crucial, but particularly the conversions. Why? Because it tells me where my most quality leads are coming from. This way, I could concentrate my best marketing efforts on so I can get even more of those potential clients.
In all my data, I found that word of mouth converted WAY more than any other marketing strategy. This included marketing strategies like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, wedding blogs and The Knot.
So, why is word of mouth so powerful for photographers?
Well, when potential clients search for a photographer, they’re not sure what to look for. They might have a general idea for budget and maybe even style. But, for the most part, it’s a mystery. And for a lot of them, this is the first time they’re looking for professional photography.
So, when a referral is given to them by a friend or vendor, they’re more likely to book. This is because it gives them more confidence about something they know little about.
Think about something that you recently researched that you had little information about. Maybe a specialty doctor? Or a new restaurant to check out? Or a new gym? If you’re starting out with little information, you’re likely to turn to a friend or reviews to help with your decision making.
For me, my word of mouth conversion was 37%, whereas inquiries from the Knot had a 13% conversion. And when I didn’t book a client through word of mouth, it was usually because I was already booked.
As I mentioned earlier, over 70% of people make purchasing decisions based on a review or a word of mouth referral. On the other hand, about 30% of people say they purchased something based on something they saw on Instagram.
This feels really high. But when you think about your own following list, only 30% of the folks on your following list will actually see your work. That means an even smaller fraction of those folks will even make a purchasing decision. And…. that’s assuming that remaining fraction of followers isn’t just your mom and friends. 😉
This just shows that Instagram and social only play a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to raking in paying clients. On the other hand, word of mouth and reviews still play the strongest role in raking in new, paying clients.
So, how do you build word of mouth as a photographer? And how do you build it when you’re just starting out? Below are 4 simple ways you can start.
Not only does this help you build your portfolio, but this allows you to network and spend time with photographers within your industry. Working with other photographers is your opportunity to build trust, learn from them and maybe be added to their referral list.
In fact, for some of photographers I photographed with, I was able to invite them into a master Google calendar. In the calendar, we shared our booked dates. This way, when we needed to refer a client, we can refer to the calendar and know exactly who to refer based on availability. It was a great way to not only build portfolios, but also support each others’ businesses.
You don’t have to just network with photographers! You can network with related vendors within your industry. Keep building your pool of possibilities. You may even want to do a collaborative project where you bring all your different talents together and build a shoot. Not only can you build your portfolio, but your gifting images to vendors for their own portfolio. All of this brings opportunity for more word of mouth.
Think of how you can enhance your client experience. As a wedding photographer, you can offer guides for your couples. You could share how to prepare for their engagement session or how to plan out a timeline. Some photographers will take the client out for coffee before the engagement session to get to know the couple. This also helps the couple feel more at ease with you and their session. Maybe at the end of the wedding is over, you might give a surprise gift to thank them for booking you. The better the experience the more they’re inclined to share your work others.
Plus, positive experiences will lead to positive reviews and reviews are a powerful way to generate word of mouth! Think about when you’re looking to watch a movie or go to a restaurant. You might google upcoming movies or new restaurants. For movies, you might refer to Rotten Tomatoes and for restaurants, you might go on Yelp. From both platforms, even without reading in full detail, the first thing people glance to see are the positive ratings. So, create excellent client experiences to generate reviews to truly stand out from the crowd.
Create a contest on social where you invite followers to tag their friends and family as a way to participate in the contest. So what’s a taste, but juicy enough to share? Well – what you offer! So, one example is a mini session with prints. For some photographers, they’ll give away items like git cards to expand their reach. Just make sure whatever you give away is relevant to your target market. Then, encourage people to participate by tagging friends and family to the contest. This way your followers are drawing more traffic to you by tagging their connections.
Want more ideas? Check out my free online workshop! You can sign up below.