A wedding is successful because of the collaboration of multiple vendors, working together for their client. When each vendor works together the event goes on beautifully. That is why we refer to each company that was a part of a wedding day not as vendors but as partners. A partner is “a friend who shares a common interest or participates in achieving a common goal.”
Face it, we could all use more business. Developing meaningful partnerships, is one way to get more business. With that in mind, here are a few ways you can provide a wonderful experience with wedding partners and build those relationship to help grow your business.
These easy tips will guarantee your business to grow with new referrals from new partners. It’s as simple as these four steps – Greeting, Writing, Giving and Meeting.
Greeting: First Contact
Since we only allow for a limited number of commissioned weddings a year, it’s important that we make the best of every opportunity and every relationship we come across. At weddings we make it a point to reach out to each partner that is present to help them place a face to our name. We go from being just another photographer to somebody that wants to see them succeed.
I recently shot a wedding at a venue I wanted to create a relationship with, I made a point to meet the catering sales manager and the venue coordinator. I went the extra mile and asked them what photographs they would like me to capture. This told them two things about me. One, that their success is important and two, that they individually are somebody to me. I also made it a point—as I do at every wedding—to tell each of them good-bye at the end of the night. Before I packed up and headed to my car, I shook their hand or gave them a hug. I let them know it was an honor to work along side of them. It’s important to end the night on a high note and let them see my positive attitude toward a successful evening.
Writing: Following Up
“I believe the handwritten note has become a status symbol” -Julie Weiss
This is perhaps one of the most crucial steps, because if this doesn’t happen it’s highly probable that the other steps may not happen. This is easy! After the wedding, simply send the venue, florist, coordinator, and designer a note letting them know how much you value working with them.
Email, handwritten note, or Facebook message- the specific method is up to you. I prefer a handwritten note because it communicates that you have taken time to sit down and write something personal. Don’t over think it! This is a simple message letting them know how much you enjoyed working with them. You will be surprised at how much this will mean to someone.
***Free word of advice on handwritten notes: keep it short, keep it sweet, keep it 3-5 sentences. Also take your time writing it as neatly as possible. You want the receiver to be able to actually read and enjoy it!***
Giving: Free Goes a Long Way
A major mistake we see photographers make is holding onto wedding images or selling them, instead of giving them to their partners for free. This is a great way not to get any referrals from wedding partners! After all, you will be surprised at how far simply being generous with your images goes! This may be a sensitive subject for some but our studio’s policy is this: since all of the partners have had a hand in creating the wonderful event for the bride and groom, they should be entitled to the images.
Giving images to them can be a fun experience too! Just think about how much of an impact your generosity can make on your partners!
Recently I was at one of our favorite venues meeting and catching up with them. While talking with them they received a package from a photographer that recently shot an event there. It was a proof book of images that the photographer provided so that they could choose the images they wanted to purchase. Needless to say, they were not impressed by this experience and because of that they don’t bother referring this photographer to brides.
We like to give venues a box of matted prints that they can keep on hand and show every bride. We update the box with each wedding we do with them. It’s plain, simple and easy for them. Keep in mind, they are busy doing their jobs and don’t have time to decide what pictures they want from us, let alone time to purchase them. We provide them pictures, and just wait to hear them sing our praises.
Meeting: Time is Money
Part of building any friendship or relationship is investing time. When you show others that they are valued by sharing your time with them, they will show you the same in return. You can invest time building partnerships by following up after a wedding or meeting with a potential partner that you’d like to work with. Ask for a meeting with them and be respectful of their time. When requesting a meeting it’s important to be flexible within their schedule and to be clear and upfront about your intentions. If it’s someone that you have worked with before, bring the images on a disc that you are giving them or items that you have created for them to use. This is a wonderful conversation piece that can make an easy transition into conversations of working together.
Successful partnerships begin are based on positive experiences, from the first time you meet to the continued time invested in the relationship. Remember that relationships take time. Plan on investing time into your key partners- Greeting, Writing, Meeting and Giving. We have found that our most valuable relationships are those that the most time has been given to.
Written by Chris Torres
Chris and Katie Torres, of 6 of Four are documentary photographers based in Atlanta, Georgia with their little girl Rosemary. They believe that life is filled with integral stories of a family’s lifetime. Taking a refreshing and organic approach is what sets them apart. They love capturing the very essence of the family’s legacy and creating their heirlooms. They recently embarked on a new journey, Farmwood Press – Personalized Letterpress Legacies, as another creative extension of their every growing fine art.