Quick: Can you name three local businesses that you've partnered with in the past year? How about the past 6 months? Did you know that word of mouth referrals come not just from your clients, but also from other local businesses that are familiar with what you offer and that would be willing to help promote your work?!
If we could meet in person, you would hear the immense passion I have for meeting other local business owners and networking with them to build both of our businesses. We're all headed towards the same basic goals: build profitable businesses and make life better in our local community. Because of these two things, we have a vested interest in helping one another. It really is true that when one business succeeds, we all do. And there are so many ways this can be accomplished. You are only really limited by your creativity and drive to succeed.
Allow me to illustrate.
This past December, I partnered with a local maternity, newborn, and children's boutique to host a Santa open house. The owner provided space and refreshments, and I provided the backdrop for pictures with Santa and, of course, took the pictures. We even invited a few other children's -related businesses to come and be a part. Judging by the steady stream of customers who came through the door for 3 hours, I'd say the event was a success! We promoted the event through social media, email, and printed materials, and each business that was involved grew its fan base, leading to potential clients.
That same boutique owner allows me to put up sample canvases of my work on her walls and showcases my business cards at the front check out. I have definitely gotten referrals from her and send my clients her way, too. Win-win!
I also partner with a local florist who has ties to the closest hospital. She gets a lot of grandmothers through her doors who want to buy flowers for new mommies. Perfect! She sets out my promotional materials and mentions me as she has the opportunity, and I'm able to help promote her through social media and my welcome packet. It's a win-win! Plus, all these new mommies just made a connection with two great local businesses. So maybe it's a win-win-win!!
(Below is a sample marketing piece that I used to partner with other local businesses).
Here's the bottom line.
People feel most comfortable booking a portrait session or wedding with someone they know or someone a trusted friend or business owner knows. They don't want to take a risk; they want to know they'll be taken care of and their hard-earned money will be well-spent. As you build your network, you're working to build your profile in the community as someone who can best meet their needs. Every effort you make toward this goal, whether big or small, will reap benefits. The only thing that can keep you from moving forward is to make no move at all.
(Below is an i-phone pic of my images featured on the walls of a local boutique)
So are you ready for an assignment?
1) Get out your planner, a post-it note, piece of paper, or whatever you have available.
2) Write down the name of one local company that is directly related to yours. If you're a wedding photographer, maybe it's a florist or caterer. If you're a family photographer, maybe it's a local children's boutique. If you're a newborn photographer, maybe it's 4D imaging center or birthing center.
3) Make it your goal this week to go *in person* to meet the owner (Don't be nervous!! You've got this!).
4) Take some of your business cards or welcome packets or maybe even a plate of chocolate chip cookies and see if there might be a way you can partner with him or her to help both of your businesses! It's worth the effort.
Shannon Morton is a maternity and newborn photographer living in Bryan/College Station, Texas. Having three children of her own, she knows all too well how quickly the newborn season passes. It is her passion to preserve in print all of the details and tenderness of the early days of life. To help her do so, she loves her Canon 5d Mark II, 35 mm lens, and a large Coke with light ice! When not in her studio, you can find Shannon reading a Jane Austen novel, watching sporting events, or playing Candyland with her children.