Building an Exclusive Referral List
Getting clients is difficult. That's just the fact of the matter. To break this, you need to market yourself. (A book I would recommend for this is Jay Levinson's "Guerilla Marketing.") The most reliable way to market yourself is through word-of-mouth, and to do this, you need to build relationships. Once you start building relationships, you start building an exclusive referral list, which should be made up of 3 things: vendors, photographers, and clients.
Did you know most photographers do not give their images to vendors that worked on the same wedding? That means they have nothing to show for their work, and it also means you miss out on an amazing relationship with a vendor. For instance, if you are at a venue, and notice it does not have any images hanging, your first thought should be to make sure you give them images. This helps their potential clients visualize what their wedding may look like at this particular venue, and if they book here, the venue coordinator may thank you by referring you.
Now, let's assume another photographer friend is doing this already. You have similar styles, and are around the same price point. Assume you and said photographers are friends because you met at a networking event, met over coffee, and had the elaborate idea to only refer each other so that you help each others business grow. You shake hands on this, and keep in touch, often going out for coffee to establish more than a business relationship. Now let's go back to the start of this. Your friend is already booked for a date a bride is getting married at for this particular venue, so s/he recommends you. You are free, and suddenly, you book another wedding! Suddenly, there is this chain reaction that happens, and whereas you wouldn't have had work, you do now because you know a friend, who has a friend, who knows someone in need of services you just so happen to offer.
If you haven't heard of it, there is a such thing as the 80/20 rule. 80% of your business comes from 20% of your past clients. This is only true, however, if you offer an experience like never before! Once you do that, you have them talking, and they cannot help but talk of you. Why? Because you invested in the relationship, not the business. You sent gifts to show how much you appreciated their business. You sent marriage books to show you care about their relationship with each other. You took them out to dinner. Little things that showed you truly cared.
Fast forward to their wedding, and you deliver. You go above and beyond what they ask for, and then some. You deliver the images so fast, they don't know what to do! They are ecstatic! This is what gets them talking about you. (Quick word on this. According the Jay Levinson, "Marketing does not stop after the sale."
How it All Works Together
So how does this all work together? This forms a triangle. Let's say your photographer friend(s) aren't getting enough work to pass along the clients. You still have vendors and clients referring you. It works the same way no matter how you cut it up. You will always have someone covering for you, once it is a strong enough referral base.
*Final Tip: Another great way to be of great service is to provide resources that help with planning! Subscribe to my Newsletter to download a PDF excerpt of my Bride Guide that I give to my clients!