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A Referral Program That Actually Brings Referrals!

Are you wanting ideas for a referral program that actually will bring Referrals?

Why is it that some photographers are constantly talking about referrals being their best form of advertising? What are they doing that you’re not? What makes a great referral program?  Let me first start off by telling you what doesn’t… Free 8×10. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a nice incentive but that’s not (in any way shape or form) going to give you a solid base of referred clients. Why? Because there is no connection to an 8×10.  It’s a distant thing that they may or may not remember to even ask for. If handing a stack of referral cards is your referral program, it may be time to re-strategize!

Here are 3 ideas for a solid Referral Program:

1. Emotions! The absolute best referral program is simply connecting with your clients. When I put in that little extra effort to make them feel that I’ve gone just a little further for them, I help them know they are important to me. Add to that a personal touch and voila, a genuine connection is made! When I accomplish that, I’m no longer a photographer, I’m their photographer. That distinction makes all the difference in the world because now they are rooting for me and they want to help me grow! It’s worth it to go the extra mile and offer some extra TLC!

  • For one client upon delivering a large order of canvas, she was beaming with excitement to hang them so I stayed and we hung all of the canvases as a surprise for when her hubby got home. For another client who was unsure about what to wear I created special ‘what to wear’ idea board just for her family.

2. Give them something to talk about! This is such a crucial step that I think too many photographers aren’t thinking about. Your clients probably are not so overly eager for that 8×10 you offered that they’re going to take that stack of referral cards and hand them out like smut cards on Las Vegas Blvd but if you give them something personal to show off… they will share it. And I don’t mean a personalized referral card only, I mean a fun little product that easy to showoff and have with them.

  • In my own business the two best opportunities I’ve found for sharing is with the 3×3 accordion mini books: FREE Accordian Book Download. Think of the mini-books as you’re businesses own mini-billboard that your client will take around to playgroups, work, church and pre-school to show off to all her friends, they are unique and fairly new so most likely she’ll be the first to have one making these little babies completely brag worthy!

Go4Pro Free Mini Album Template 600x258 A Referral Program That Actually Brings Referrals!

  • My other favorite product for giving clients something to talk about is the iPhone cases! I have made sure that every client who owns an iPhone has one of my custom cases and let me tell you, it has made it so easy for my clients to talk about me. The iPhone cases have been my best form of advertisement ever! And that’s exactly how I look at them too! I don’t mark them up at all, first because I want to get them in the hand of every client that owns an iPhone and second because if they go to the uncommon website and see the price I don’t want them to have any negative feeling toward the one they have in their hand.

Go4ProPhotos Custom iPhone Case Giveaway 600x450 A Referral Program That Actually Brings Referrals!

3. Referral Cards. Last of all are the referral cards. Absolutely I use referrals cards, did you think I wouldn’t? There just not the only thing I think about when I’m working out my referral program. Once I’ve made the connections and given the tools to talk about me then I think about the referral cards. I give each client only 8 cards. I don’t want them to take a stack of 50 and set them aside somewhere with the stack of mail they need to get through where they will undoubtedly be forgotten. Instead, I want them to feel like these are special, even precious, like there is a dollar value credit on each of these little babies, because really — there is!

Creating a strong referral program is really about giving your clients a reason to refer. If you have not done anything different from your competition, if you haven’t made a meaningful impact than what have you given them to say? In contrast, if you make every connecting-point meaningful, if you look for or create opportunities to over deliver and last you give them the tools to talk about you… That’s when you become their photographer. And when you’re their photographer they’ll share! It’s not enough to be and do a good job, that’s exactly when they expect from you, that’s the reason they’ve contacted and hired you, but if you are exceptional – that’s when you’ve make a reason for them to share more about you not just your pictures.

This article was written by Leah Remillet of Go 4 Pro Photos. Check out her blog filled with inspiration, amazing interviews, and business and marketing strategies.

 A Referral Program That Actually Brings Referrals!

Jodi Friedman, MCP Actions

Jodi Friedman is the founder of MCP Actions. She designs popular Photoshop actions and Lightroom presets that make editing faster, easier and more fun.

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10 Comments

  1. 1
    Lynda says:

    While I’m not interested in going pro anytime soon, these are great tips! What WONDERFUL customer service by staying to help your client hang up the canvases!

  2. 2

    Leah – Where can you order just 8 referral cards? I’ve been doing that “stack of 50″.

    Love the iphone covers!

  3. 3
    Rachel Durik says:

    WHCC has a minimum order of 3 accordian albums. What do you do with the additional albums? or have you found a place to order just one?

  4. 4
    Kipi says:

    Wonderful ideas that I can’t wait to try! Am I the only one who is having trouble with the mini book link?

  5. 5

    Thanks for sharing your referral program ideas. This gives me some great ideas on how to improve my own program. Love the thoughts on the accordian mini!

  6. 6
    rebecca says:

    fantastic ideas…thanks so much for sharing. i really need to step up my referral program and these are great ideas. on the accordian minis, with miller’s you have to order three but you can do three original designs…mpixpro just started offering printing of 1 accordian mini!

  7. 7
    Jana says:

    Thanks for the tips!
    I’d love to know where you order the iphone covers if you’d care to share :)

  8. 8
    Melissa says:

    is there a good place to find referral card templates?

  9. 9
    David says:

    Here is a also a great site for getting referral program idea absolutely free http://referralprogramideas.com/

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