Intro by Skip Cohen Four years ago Michele Celentano published…
by Mary Fisk-Taylor, M. Photog., Cr., CPP, ABI, API
In part one, Mary Fisk-Taylor explained why she decided that creating a vibrant vendor-referral strategy was the best way to market her upscale wedding photography business in the Richmond, Virginia, area.
After the wedding, I categorize the vendor images I have photographed at the wedding, and I create a folder for each vendor for whom I did photography. I then create an image DVD for each vendor, including my copyright stamp on all photographs. I size the images small enough to place on their website, email or create an Animoto slideshow. I take a few of the best images to create a designer 4.5×5 press-printed card for each vendor. The cards have my name, website and phone number on them, along with the vendor’s information on the back. Vendors love them because they can hand them out during consultations and bridal shows.
After a few weddings have come through production and I have enough variety for the various vendors, I create a marketing piece that is specific to that vendor, such as business cards, cake tasting worksheets, appointment cards, etc. These are always a HUGE hit! My vendors are not photographers, and when I can create cool and different marketing pieces for them they are both relieved and grateful to me for doing the work and giving them beautiful marketing cards and pieces. Once or twice a year I will also design and deliver a finished wedding book that is a great representation of their product or venue.
My next plan of action is to arrange a lunch meeting or coffee break with the owner of the business and/or the marketing director. I will usually schedule this around the same time that I am delivering new marketing pieces, DVDs of images, albums, etc. That way I can walk in with cool gifts for them, and it starts the meeting off on a really positive note.
I am always scouting out their location looking for opportunities to display our portraits and albums, and many times I will mention that we would be happy to donate artwork for the walls. For example at a local high-end bridal dress boutique, I talked to the owners about our coming in and photographing details and highlights of their designer gowns, headpieces, and shows. They were thrilled because it saved them money and each piece was very specific to their store. It was a great success!
Another suggestion I always make is to let us come in one morning and create fun headshots of each sales associate and employee. This way we can create different marketing pieces and thank you notes that include their headshots and store images. The owners and marketing directors love this because it sets them apart from any other shop in town. I also give them the headshots and images for use on their websites; all of them include my logo, so it is free advertising for my studios.
With all of these ideas in play—images being taken, marketing pieces being designed, products being delivered, etc.—the result is that I’m setting myself apart in the marketplace as the “vendor’s choice” for photography. This is the kind of “testimonial referral” that I cannot buy; it has to happen organically. It does take a little extra work and organization, but it is well worth it. It pays off by helping us reach the kind of clients who really appreciate what we do. I have learned that by focusing my energy on these wedding vendors and their needs and their marketing pieces, I am able to sustain and grow my wedding business through goodwill and great referrals.