5 Ways to Earn the Gushiest, Most Awesome WOM for Your Business

I am the WOMan.  Seriously, I am the WOMan over at SUZANNE MELLOTT PHOTOGRAPHY.

Okay, maybe that came off a bit {unintentionally} conceited but I’m a one-WOMan show over here.  My husband may disagree as he helps to keep me sane by throwing in some frozen pizzas and the 20 loads of laundry piling up each week.  But, business-wise, I run it solo.  Other local, small business owners have commented on my marketing “strategies” and how I manage to get my name out there so well among the high school senior market.

Simply, it’s great word-of-mouth (WOM).  This type of marketing pendulum swings both ways, good and bad, and it’s very easy to earn.  So what magical concoction have I been feeding my clients to convert them into my evangelists and help to spread some gushy awesomeness about me?

These tips are simple to implement and if you ask me, extremely obvious.  But a little bit of each of these go a long way into building loyalty in your brand and in your business!

Gushy WOM Tip #1 :  Be seen.

  • It should be obvious that one of the easiest ways to be seen is to be active on social media outlets.  Check out fellow SSG blogger’s, Jodee of JP BALL PHOTOGRAPHY, thorough post all about free and cost-effective marketing strategies HERE.  Personal interactions with you will build loyalty.  I have FACEBOOK fans I’ve never photographed who spread my name like wildfire!
  • Offer to speak at Career Days and to Yearbook Classes.  Easy and fun way to get in front of your target demographic while becoming a local go-to resource!  Yearbook advisors always have topic suggestions.
  • Attend school events (sports, theatre, fundraisers, etc.).  Gift the school with images that they can use for publicity as well as their yearbook.  You will also be a familiar face to local teens!

Gushy WOM Tip #2:  Be a do-gooder.

  • Host or help at a charity event.  You can choose what type of charity you would like to help with, it doesn’t really have to target high school seniors.  Just by being out there and doing your do-good thing, you will generate warm fuzzies and build relationships…EVERYONE knows a high school senior.

Gushy WOM Tip #3:  Be nice.

  • To clients and their parents.  First and foremost, treat your clients nicely, not as just another appointment on your calendar.  High school seniors only reach this milestone once.  Even though we may shoot 25 seniors in a month, we only shoot THIS senior once.  Make it memorable FIRST by being nice.
  • To businesses.  Help out with co-marketing when you can and give them credit where it’s due.  For instance, tag them in a post when you use their location or their goods.  You’ll be at the top of their list when someone they know needs a photographer.
  • To other professionals.  This isn’t limited to other photographers (although that is a huge pet-peeve of mine…BE nice to each other!) but to makeup artists, hair stylists, session stylists, etc. who help us to make a session amazing.  Allowing other professionals to also shine is what makes for a win-win relationship (and more referrals).

Gushy WOM Tip #4:  Be helpful and fix your mistakes.

  • Ok, we’re not perfect, I’m not perfect.  Hard drives crash.  Orders get messed up.  Timelines aren’t always met.  FIX THEM.  QUICKLY.  Easy as that and fix them with a smile.
  • Make life easier for parents by helping them navigate the senior portrait process.  Explain every detail, be available, and give them that unexpected courtesy.  For example, I email a high-resolution image (of senior’s choice) for the yearbook for free to their yearbook advisor.  Yes, I could easily charge for this service but it takes mere minutes and the senior has already ordered their images by the time they request one for the yearbook.  It makes life easier for the senior, their parents, and their yearbook staff.

Gushy WOM Tip #5:  Be unique.

  • Whether it’s the props you use or the locations you scout, be unique.  For instance, shoot the same location differently each time.
  • Surprise your clients with unexpected thank-you gifts.  I delivered delicious, homemade cupcakes (not baked by me, that was my gift to them too ;)) to my seniors’ schools this week. Those cupcakes were all over instagram and twitter.  Oh how I heart seniors!
  • Be you.  How many times must we be told this?!  No one else can do that as perfectly as you.  Stop idolizing other photographers and embrace your you-ness.  How in the world are we supposed to get that message across to our seniors if we cannot do it ourselves?  Word.