3 Killer Strategies For Booking More Clients In 2021...
"How did I get here?"
That's the question I kept asking myself as I filled out an application to be a waiter at SamB's restaurant in Bowling Green, OH.
After graduating from BGSU I went into ministry full time, however I failed to raise enough support to continue down that path and my bank account was hovering uncomfortably close to $0.
I was dead broke and to be completely candid with you, I was also a little embarrassed of how my life was playing out.
Now, there's nothing wrong with being a server (been there, done that)...
...but I wanted more
I wanted more for myself, and I wanted more for my wife.
My wife comes from an upper middle class background and as silly as this sounds, I wanted her dad to know that I could take care of her, that she made the right choice in picking me to spend her life with.
I wanted his respect, and I wasn't going to get it by being a waiter making minimum wage.
I had started shooting a few of my friends weddings to earn some extra cash, but things weren't going very well.
My work was improving, but I couldn't figure out how to start getting clients that weren't my friends...
That's when I started trying EVERYTHING (a.k.a thrashing) to try and get more clients and make this into a legitimate business.
Some of it worked.
Most of it didn't.
Here's the deal...
Learning how to get clients consistently is the most important skill you can develop as a photographer...
It's step 1 on the path to creating a six figure photography business.
After years of experimenting, I've finally developed systems that not only generate enough leads to completely book out myself, but also the two other head photographers that I employ full time.
Now I want to share with you some of the most important lessons I learned from my (many) years of trial and error.
This week I'm going to be sending you 3 killer strategies you can use to start getting more clients in 2021.
Let's start things off with...
Strategy #1 - Assemble Your Dream Team
Before starting to think of ways to market directly to your potential customers, let's think about who ALREADY has a steady flow of incoming leads that are your ideal clients.
Who are the people and brands that have come before you and are killing it in your local market?
Wedding days are made up of a collective of vendors coming together to create the best experience and memories for a couple on their day.
Most photographers tend to approach networking with vendors the same way they approach finding clients...
They cast their net far and wide trying to catch whatever they can.
When they can‘t take a session they send the lead out to everyone they know.
When a bride asks where to get flowers they give her 3 florist options.
Networking with vendors is no different than marketing to your target client.
Just like you filter clients, you need to filter vendors.
The vendors that you are connected with reflect back on you and your brand.
Look at the other brands that surround Tiffany‘s store front.
They all elevate each other.
If you‘re referring brides to budget wedding planners and you are a high-end brand, it will backfire.
Rather than casting your net wide, find the vendors that are in line with your ideal client.
Create the hypothetical "Dream Team."
If you are in the wedding industry, start with a wedding planner, and build from there.
Chances are, they already have their list of the best (it is kind of their job to know this stuff).
Here's the exact steps you should use to connect with your dream team of vendors...
Step 1. Get Their Attention
Rather than just calling them up, or worse, emailing them out of the blue...
Send them a nice little package.
Box up some treats or a small gift uniquely chosen just for them.
Write a letter and let them know:
"I set out to find the best of the best wedding planner in Columbus, and everything led me to you. I can't wait to work together and learn how I can give you and your brides the best possible results. Talk soon!"
Step 2. Call Them Up
Now when you give them a ring to schedule a lunch or coffee meetup, you are not a stranger.
Not only that, but reciprocation is on your side and they will WANT to give back to you in some way.
Step 3. Meet Up!
Make the priority about them.
How can you help them?
NO TALK of them hooking you up or sending clients your way.
This is all about them.
When you invest into vendors (just like you when you invest into your clients), they will have something to rave about.Until then, you are just another person trying to get something from them.
At the lunch discuss your desire to create your Dream Team of Vendors.
A list of the best vendors in each field that you will give out to every single person you meet with, even if they don't book you.
Your dream team should have this list in common:
- Love what they do
- Are extremely talented
- Fun to be around
- Value what it is that they offer
Step 4. Align Brands
Once you create this group, set up a styled shoot for everyone to work together on and LEAD it.
Don't place unnecessary burden on your vendors to plan things they may not have time or interest in planning.
However, unlike most styled shoots the main goal of this shoot is NOT to get published.
Preface that the goal of this shoot is more than anything, to gather the best of the best and elevate one another‘s brands through collaboration.
Make sure that they understand that everyone who comes to you is going to hear their name mentioned.
Step 5. Show Up With 51% Of The Value
Now, any project that you have, go to them first.
Tag them often, comment on their stuff all the time.
Tell all of your clients and leads about this group of vendors.
Most importantly, give to them often.
Does someone need new headshots? That's your treat.
Your planner needs a new promo video? You got her covered at no cost.
The venue you love has a new Holiday display up? Call and ask if you can come by and shoot it for them so they can use it in their marketing materials or on social media.
On top of it, we create a page on our website that links back to each of our dream team vendors and let them know they are on it!
We then take it one step further.
We want them to know that not only do we believe in them and want to work with them as much as possible, but that we are loyal to them.
We create vendor packs on our dollar to hand out to every bride who comes through our door. Whether they book us or not.
These packs contain a bottle of wine, a hand written note, and a packet that contains a single 4X6 postcard of each of our dream team vendors.
I open up this packet with each of our clients and explain why each vendor is in our pack.
- Note: This is not a discount pack and vendors can not pay to be a part of it.
Here's the thing...
You must be loyal.
Your dream team will work with a bunch of other vendors (and so you will you).
Do not assume they don’t like you. That is high school.
Stay loyal and keep representing them.
One last note, YOU have to be at their level, otherwise they will filter you out.