Benefits / Resources / Articles
October 02, 2019

Word of Mouth: The Oldest (And Best) Way to Grow Your Photography Business

As a photographer and business owner, your primary goal is to grow your photography business and increase sales. Sometimes, the old way of getting new business is the best way—via word of mouth.

Consider the following scenario: Sally was dreading the upcoming wedding. She was six months pregnant, it was hot, and she hadn’t seen the bride—Rebecca, an old college friend—for months. On the day of the wedding, Sally made excuses and skipped the event. 

But over the next few days, she started seeing the beautiful pictures on her friend's social media feed, and heard her friends raving about the photographer. When it was time to choose a photographer for her baby shower, she called up Rebecca and asked for the details. Her friend raved about the photographer, her prices, and the way she worked, which was all that Sally needed to hear.

This type of referral is taking place every day around the world. Word of mouth recommendations have been around since the very first people offered the very first goods and services. And in an age when we are swamped with marketing and advertising, sometimes the only thing you can depend on is a recommendation from someone you trust.

“Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) retains its influential power on the purchase behavior of customers because it is based on trust,” according to marketing blog BizCommunity

We tell each other about hotels, movies, restaurants, artists to check out, or apps to buy. Word of mouth marketing is the engine that drives most of social media, and it’s directly responsible for the rise of influencers—people who we believe have access to the best of everything and can tell us all about it. 

As a photographer, you need good word of mouth from your customers to grow your photography business. That means delivering great products and services every single time you take on a job. 

The Magic 5-Letter Word

What’s the one thing that word of mouth has that no other marketing program can match? Trust. 

People have been living with sophisticated marketing campaigns for so long that they are often jaded... But they still trust their friends to tell them what they like, what they don’t like, and how it could change their lives. According to research firm Nielson, 82% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising. That’s gold for someone who is selling a service. 

Trust is the secret ingredient that makes every referral worth its weight in gold. 

Word of Mouth in The Age of the Internet 

Traditionally, word of mouth is spread from person to person, but brands can use the tools of social media and tracking technology to help spread the word about what they do. Endorsements from satisfied clients on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have a stamp of authenticity that you simply can’t buy. 

You can also take it one step further by creating a formal Referral Program, so your clients can help spread the word and bring in  potential clients for your business. 

●       A discount off your next order.
●       A dollar value gift card for referring a certain number of people. 
●      Cash payment for referring people who order.
●      Bonus gifts, like a framed print or extra copies of a special image, for your next order.

 Any of these can work if they are affordable and linked to real, viable referrals.

 Four Advantages of a Formal Referral Marketing Program 

  1. A successful referral program is authentic and doesn’t require a budget to achieve results.
  2. Referrers generally know both parties and can recommend a good fit that is likely to lead to a successful relationship.
  3. Referrals often lead to long-term relationships, which, in turn, lead to more referrals.
  4. A referral reward program is a good way to retain current customers. 

Word of mouth marketing helps you build a dedicated community rather than sell your work to people who don’t value you. When your program starts to work, it allows you to do less formal marketing and instead begin to nurture committed brand ambassadors who can market for you in ways that are believable to your potential audience. 

That can set up a virtuous cycle of customers which will lead to even more customers for your business. This will give you time to make sure that you’re delivering great work, that you are visible on social media, and that people want to share what you’re doing with others. It’s an all-round win-win situation.   

Joining a photography association like PPA is one of the best ways to generate excellent word of mouth and referrals. It allows you to meet like-minded professionals and make friends who understand your work and can suggest you to potential clients that are a good match. 


The power of word-of-mouth marketing

Consumer trust in forms of advertisement

Word-of-Mouth Marketing: How to Get Happy Customers to Advocate for Your Business