Cultivating More Reviews and Referrals
No matter how you break it down, referrals are one of the most important elements in running a successful wedding business. Based on a Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, 90% of people surveyed said they trust the recommendations of people they know, and 70% trust opinions posted online. That’s a pretty staggering stat, and it really proves that word of mouth marketing can be the most impactful marketing tool in your toolkit, hands down.
At the end of the day, people will remember (and want to talk about) both really bad and exceptionally good experiences, so I’ve developed a list of best practices to help you cultivate more consistent referrals by delivering an exceptional experience for your clients from the first moment they reach out.
1. COMMUNICATE OFTEN
The referral process starts at the moment someone books you. Yes, beautiful photos are important if you’re the photographer. Yes, a well-executed day is important if you’re the planner. Delivering a stellar end result is great, but your couples will also remember how helpful and responsive you were throughout the process. Answer their emails quickly. Be a resource. Treat them like human being, not just paychecks. When you do, your couples will remember, and they will tell their friends and family.
Make sure you immediately set expectations, and provide next steps, as soon as the contract is signed. It’s important to set clear expectations and lay out a timeline of next steps in the planning process now that they have you by their side. This includes how often your bride will hear from you, what deliverables you’ll be working on and when (like a wedding day timeline), what they should be thinking about each month of the process, etc. These emails will keep connection and cohesion during your time planning with your couple. And when the wedding is over, they’ll wonder how they ever did it without you.
Check in with automated touch points throughout the planning process. Schedule an email to be sent 6 months pre-wedding with helpful tips or things the couple should consider as they plan. Schedule another email 3 months pre-wedding with your tips for getting through wedding crunch time. Keep in touch with them even if there isn’t any heavy-duty planning happening. This simple gesture goes a long way and will really help you stand out from other vendors who ghost them during non-planning months.
When people book you, they’re not just buying into your work, they’re choosing to work with you as a person, they’re choosing to trust YOU with their special day. There are a TON of other people in this industry that offer the same service as you do. YOU are what makes your service unique, you are the differentiator. It’s not just about your work, it’s also about your personality, so make sure you’re exemplifying an out-of-this-world experience from the first day a couple contacts you.
2. PLAN A WEDDING DAY SURPRISE
Wedding days are already hectic, I know. But what if you could leave a lasting impression on your couple by providing something (a surprise!) on their wedding day. Something with a wow factor, something tactile that will be passed around, something that guests will see and remember when it comes time to plan their own weddings.
Here are some ideas...
A photographer could take a handful of polaroids throughout the day and give them to the couple. Your couple won’t be expecting to receive any wedding photos so soon (before they’ve even cut the cake!), so this is a really fun way to add a surprise into their day that they will surely pass around and show off to their friends and family.
A calligrapher could script a pretty sign with the new couple’s last name and wedding date and give it to the planner or venue contact to give to the couple on the day-of as a surprise. This extra touch provides an unexpected surprise that your couple will carry with them when they think of you and that they’ll brag about to friends and family afterward as it hangs in their home.
3. SEND A POST-WEDDING EMAIL ASKING FOR REVIEWS
This step is so often skipped, but it is so important! Sometimes all it takes to generate a stellar review is to ASK for a review.
Automate an email to send as part of your workflow, trigger it for 2-3 weeks after the wedding (or after you deliver the gallery if you’re a photographer). Give them time to get home and settled after the honeymoon, then send a simple email. This will not only continue the conversation with your couple, it’ll also keep your name on their radar when their friends are getting married.
Make it easy, give links to the spots that you would love to be reviewed. In other words, do all the work for your couples by directing them to the review pages. The least amount of clicks they need to make, the more likely they’ll do it. Facebook, Google, Wedding Directory sites like The Knot are all high-visibility sites to have your work reviewed. Need some help with this? In my shop, grab 11 email templates for wedding pros, including a review request email that you can copy/paste into your CRM.
Which of these tactics will you implement to cultivate more reviews and referrals? Have a success story you want to share? Get in touch! I’d love to hear your story!