In a past post, I had mentioned the importance of helping other wedding vendors by providing them with images that you captured during events. We talked about how getting your photos credited was small pittance compared to the big prize. The fact is that although it’s nice to receive credit it very rarely leads to new sales.
What do you value more: credit or partnerships?
Common wisdom says we need to have all of our photos credited to us because it’s us who created the work and we want more people to know who we are. Maybe a few potential clients might see our name and come to our website, email us, come in for a meeting and book us for their wedding. Maybe. I doubt it though.
As a photographer I don’t even notice the credit at the bottom of a photo anymore. I don’t. I just browse around the internet and let my brain filter out anything that I don’t give a shit about. So unless the photo is truly outstanding I’m unlikely to care about who took it and we can’t expect brides to either.
The bigger asset here isn’t having your website linked to a wedding planner’s or to get your name in tiny white text at the bottom of a picture of a table setting. The bigger asset is the relationship that you’re forming with your industry partners.
What you want is to become the go-to photographer that wedding planners, venues and other wedding community professionals refer to their clients. You want to be known as a local expert on photography and most of all you need them to ‘know you, like you and trust you.’
The photographers that you know that are filling up the odd dates in the middle of the winter and during the week, they’re doing it because they’re either getting a tonne of referrals or their rocking another part of their marketing. They’re at the top of Google or they’re a whiz at Facebook pages or they’re a king (or queen) of Instagram.
My point is that their name is in lots of places and in front of a lot of brides. They’re going way beyond word of mouth. But the problem is with that type of marketing is that it can cost you a fortune to hold your spot.
Now more than ever small business owners are fighting for social media attention and search engine rankings. If someone else comes around who’s pockets are just a bit deeper than yours, you’ll lose. If someone is more engaging or interactive on social media, you’ll lose. If someone is working their ass off on getting their business off the ground while you’re serving your brides and too busy to notice, you’ll lose.
But relationships are different.
Relationships (real life ones) are vital to us as human beings. We look out for our friends because we want them to succeed. We protect them. Best of all, Mark Zuckerberg can’t take them away from us.
The number of clients that are referred to you is multiplied by the number of friendships you’ve built in the community.
I built CPC almost entirely on the power of referrals. We had 89 attendees at our first conference and the next year it exploded to 230. Now we’re on our way to selling out two conferences each year. But before I started all this, people thought that I was batshit crazy. Truth be told, I was. I still am.
With the population we have in Canada there’s NO way CPC should be growing this fast. But I’m not actually depending on our population. I’m working a different game. My recipe consists of earning referrals, building trust, leveraging relationships and dash of excitement. Other conference organizers could replicate this if they wanted to but they’d have to be just as crazy as I am.
People often tell me I’m very personable and I really do appreciate the flattery. It motivates me so much to hear things like that. Just recently I received two Facebook messages. One was from Liam Hennessey (who’s never come to CPC before) and he wrote:
“Jasser, man, I have to tell you, every time I get email or an actual letter from you, I have to applaud the work and sincerity that goes into it. I’m more impressed with what you’re doing than any other organization…Fearless, ISPWP etc. Keep up the great work. You sir, are the true Alpha Wolf!”
I got another one from Rose Dykstra who wrote:
“Jasser! Got your letter in the mail today! I just wanted to let you know how appreciative I am of you – how hard you work for our community to try to make it a better place for us. You make such an effort to connect with us and that is very impressive given how much is on your plate. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for your commitment to our community to making it a better place. ”
Both of them are people who have already told their friends that they too should come to the conference. I wouldn’t receive their compliments nor their referrals if I didn’t work to build my relationships with both of them. What would it mean to you to have even just one wedding planner feel that way about you? Do you think you could get two or three more wedding bookings this year? What if there were 6 or 7 wedding planners that each sent you two or three clients? You could potentially add 21 more weddings to your calendar right now. At $3500 each that’s $73,500! The numbers add up quick.
Let me ask you again, what do you value more – credit or partnerships?