Are you overlooking a crucial network for generating referrals? It’s easy to do so without even realizing it. Consider this, photographers: at every event you capture, from weddings to birthday parties, numerous vendors are also part of the equation. Often, these vendors are intensely focused on their specific tasks for the event. Yet, they’re also observant of the overall event dynamics. They take note of the aesthetics like table settings and floral arrangements, form opinions about the venue and color schemes, and they’re keen on tracking social media for any mentions or visuals of their work. Within this group of vendors lies untapped potential for advocates who could be promoting your work. In this article, we’ll give you tips on how to become a preferred vendor.
Why Become a Preferred Vendor
Studies have conclusively proven time and again that word of mouth advertising is the most effective. By successfully establishing strong relationships with vendors, your ideal clients will likely choose, you increase your opportunity for referrals. Achieving this status with multiple venues and vendors can transform your business, but it requires more than just talent. Here’s how to elevate your service and become the photographer everyone wants to work with for their event.
Deliver High-Quality Results
In a photographic landscape overrun with countless people running around with “prosumer” gear, quality is going to be a major factor in your success. You have to exhibit quality in everything you do, otherwise, you will be numbered with the masses where it is far too easy to fade into oblivion.
You have to set yourself apart. All of the other vendors are paying attention to how things are going, how things look, and the level of service the other vendors are providing. You can rest assured that they are paying attention to you, too. How are you handling stressful situations? How are you treating the members of the bridal party? How obtrusive/unobtrusive are you? After the fact, once you and the couple start sharing pictures from the big day, how do they look?
Ensure that every step of your process, from start to finish, screams quality and attention to detail. Vendors only want to refer people to other vendors that they are comfortable with and that will reflect positively on them.
Be Easy to Work With and Have a Great Attitude
Your demeanor and professionalism can set you apart. The first step to becoming a preferred vendor is ensuring that you are collaborative, flexible, and positive, making a potentially stressful event easier for everyone involved. A can-do attitude and the ability to work well under pressure are qualities that make vendors eager to recommend you.
In contrast, if you cause additional stress on the vendors involved, either with your procedures or your attitude, you can develop a bad reputation and see your referrals dry up.
Capture Images that Other Vendors Can Use for Their Marketing
Being intentional about capturing images that can serve vendors’ marketing needs can significantly bolster your status as a preferred photographer. Pay attention to the details of each vendor’s contribution, whether it’s the intricate floral arrangements, the elegant table settings, the exquisite catering, or the unique venue setup. By providing vendors with high-quality, usable images of their work, you not only supply them with valuable marketing material but also demonstrate your understanding and support of their business goals. This thoughtful approach not only enhances the appeal of your services but also encourages vendors to actively promote your work and establish a symbiotic relationship that benefits all parties involved. For more information, see this article on How Wedding Detail Photos Are Your Secret to Marketing Your Studio.
Deliver Images in a Timely Manner
If you would like for a vendor to passionately promote your brand, you need to make it worth their while. As photographers, how to do this seems to be a no-brainer to me. Everyone needs high-quality photos. You simply need to determine how the vendor might want to receive these photos. Should you print off some large photos for them to display? Would they prefer images for social media or a blog post? Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation to determine which is most applicable to their vision & marketing goals.
Timeliness is crucial. Establish a reliable workflow that allows you to deliver stunning photos within an agreed timeframe. Consider using a good set of Lightroom Presets, AI Photo Editing, and a online photo gallery to speed up your workflow. Quick delivery times can impress not just the newlyweds but also the vendors who are eager to see and use your photos to promote their services.
Tag the Vendors on Social Media
Leverage social media to build a network and become a preferred vendor. When you post your beautiful photos, tag the vendors involved. It’s a powerful way to acknowledge their work, enhance visibility, and foster mutual promotion. When using Instagram, be sure to add others as a collaborator.
Recommend Other Vendors on Your Own Website
Create a preferred vendors list on your website. This not only provides value to your clients but also strengthens your relationships with those vendors, making it more likely they’ll return the favor. These pages are not only good for referrals, they are also great for traffic from Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Set up Styled Shoots that Benefit Everyone
Initiating styled shoots is a brilliant strategy to showcase your creativity and collaborative spirit. By organizing shoots that bring together various vendors—from florists and event designers to bridal boutiques and makeup artists—you create a platform for collective creativity and cross-promotion.
This not only enriches your portfolio with diverse, eye-catching content but also strengthens your relationships with these vendors, increasing the likelihood of becoming a preferred vendor. When each participant gets stunning imagery that highlights their products or services, it’s a win-win situation. Moreover, these shoots can spark new ideas and trends in the wedding industry, positioning you and your vendor partners as forward-thinking leaders.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Once you have established a benchmark of extreme quality in your photography, your customer service, and your professionalism at the event, don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and ask for what you need. Sometimes, taking the initiative is all it takes to secure a spot on their list.
Becoming a preferred vendor is about much more than just taking great photos; it’s about how you conduct your business and interact with other professionals in the wedding industry. By focusing on delivering exceptional quality, fostering positive relationships, and promoting mutual success, you can become the go-to photographer that vendors are excited to recommend. This strategic approach not only enhances your reputation but also significantly expands your referral network, setting the stage for sustained success and growth in the wedding photography market.