Marketing: Local Networking and Business Referrals
I’m the guy who gets to collaborate with awesome professionals and great clients along the Grand Strand. I strive to create the best work possible, deliver my products and then encourage my clients to talk about me. What do you need to have a successful referral based marketing system? In my experience, the theory stayed simple:
- Have passion and be passionate about the services you are offering.
- Deliver products with value in a consistent manner that exceeds your clients expectation.
- Know who your clients are, and specifically who your clients are not.
- Socialize and network. You need the balance in your life of work, home, and play.
- Just because you can finish the job, doesn’t mean the relationship has to be over.
- Be thankful. Practice, prep up, and meaningfully say “Thank you.”
Passion & Product
I believe that passion is a huge part of having a successful referral based marketing strategy. Simply put, you just aren’t going to be able to deliver the highest quality product if you don’t care about it or the people you’re delivering to in the first place. In the process of working with and for my passions, I want my work to speak for itself by consistently exceeding my clients expectations with the final products I deliver. This could mean simple things like buying gift baskets for couples, paying attention to presentation materials, and researching what will actually make a difference to the clients I am interacting with.
I choose to really like the people I work for and it’s a priority for me to tailor the experience to each individual client. How my clients feel when they first meet me sets the standard, it’s my job to keep and go beyond that level of expectation every single time. Sometimes it is as simple as delivering images one day ahead of schedule or surprising them with a “gift product” in addition to what they ordered. Another way is to include them in my business functions and updates with regular social media posts and newsletters. With the upcoming launch of my new art series premiering in November, I want and encourage my clients to come join me in a night of celebration, enjoy some wine and one of my favorite past times ‘dancing’. For me it boils down to this – it is my clients who mean the most to me, and they are who grow my business.
Here’s a prime example of how referral based marketing has worked for me. It’s a brief case study of my contract with our local Coastal Carolina National Bank. My initial contact with CCNB wasn’t through making a deposit. For the past 8 years I have photographed Dancing With The Horry County Stars. It is a fund raising opportunity for our local Early College Education Program. I love getting to know the dancers and coordinators at “Star Events” and in 2014 a member of CCNB was one of our dancing stars so when the bank needed new professional business and lifestyle portraits, the organizer of DWHCS suggested me to the Board. After seeing my work ethic and style from DWHCS, CCNB’s dancing star vouched for my quality and character and hey presto another job landed from a business connection.
Continuing the Relationship
My intention has never been to finish a job then say, “Well yep, thanks, hope you have a nice day too,” and show them out the door…It often takes time to establish great connections and relationships with businesses and keeping the channels of communication open after a photo shoot will often lead to additional future projects. In the case of CCNB the marketing director was great to work with, she introduced me to the work-family of the banking institutions as well as their affiliates. So far this has lead to photographing portraits for Purses for Purpose and a partnership with Tideland Health to host a yoga event. I remember the marketing director coming in for a photo shoot with the Pelican’s infamous Splash and saying, “Today, we’re doing yoga!”. This same philosophy applies to wedding and portrait clients and has created sustainable and consistent for my company.
At the end of the day,
I remember and I am so thankful to be surrounded by such an amazing circle of inspirational business professionals. I am thankful for the local networking and referrals that I consider priceless gems. Please note that I’m not bashing direct marketing or companies the specialize in the world of social media. Their merits are obvious because companies wouldn’t have marketing teams if that approach weren’t effective. This article is my testimonial on the benefits of using referral based marketing. It is my strategy in the sample area of Myrtle Beach and as the years have progressed, I preferred to keep this my main marketing system.
I would love for you to answer this one question. How has your business model shaped itself? Leave your comment below with one key example, thanks!
Carl Kerridge is a location and destination photographer based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He specializes in wedding,event and commercial photography. He is passionate about the fine art and photojournalistic aspects of photography. Traveling in and out of the United States, Carl has dedicated the past 15 years to studying/experimenting with his craft, teaching educational workshops, and advocating a global awareness through art. To learn more, visit his Website, follow him on Instagram or connect with him on Facebook.