In this article I talk about a technique used in all types of business, but of course will relate it to photography. To make it easy to understand, I am going to discuss the technique specifically for wedding photographers. But it is important to know that the technique you will learn in this article can work for any type of photography niche or genre.
Utilizing a business partner vendor list to grow your business
How so? By creating something of value to offer website visitors, which will in turn get them to give you their name and email address. When someone offers you contact information in exchange for something of value, they are now considered a lead. From there you have the potential to convert that lead into a paying customer.
Let’s break it down piece by piece. I’ll start with a list and then talk about each individually:
- Create a PDF document that is attractive to your potential customers. This PDF is intended to act as a conversion tool – a free offer.
- The offer utilizes a business partner vendor list by recommending preferred and partner vendors. This helps add more value to the download and also improves the relationship between you and the vendor.
- Create a way for site visitors to enter their contact information on a landing page, a magnetic spot like blog sidebars, or a pop-up box.
- Capture emails of website visitors, which then turn into quality leads (because they downloaded something specifically for their intention of hiring a photographer).
- The vendors included in the document are also likely to further promote the document.
- You now have huge potential of converting those leads into customers, via phone calls and email marketing.
Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of each of those points. As mentioned earlier, this is geared to wedding photography. So if you are not a wedding photographer, take all I am saying and relate it to the type of photography you do.
Step one – create a PDF
The first step is to come up with a PDF document which you can offer for free on your website. Ideally it will contain everything that your potential customer would need to know about planning a wedding. It’s important that the document is branded to your business, and has an attractive design overall. You can use your letterhead (with logo of course), or a pre-made design for the task at hand (which I have made available) or templates from Keynote or PowerPoint. The important part is that your branding is in the design and that it won’t turn people away by looking unprofessional.
Step two – utilize your list
Inside the PDF categorize it for different types of vendors. You may have a page of florists, and another for wedding venues that you recommend. Ideally make each a two-page spread if possible. One page would provide the information on the vendors, and the other page would contain your photography examples related to the vendor. Think of it like a portfolio of your best work combined with your recommended vendor list.
The beauty of this is that you are getting your photographs in front of couples planning their wedding. Your brand is there as well vendors, which the couple might also hire.
Step three – create the opt-in
Next up is creating a way convert website visitors into leads. This is a bigger section due to the complexity. By this point you will have already created the PDF, which leads will download. But the process of gathering the email addresses confuses many people.
Both services offer a feature, which can automatically send emails based on certain actions. In Mailchimp it is called Automation, in Aweber it’s called Follow Up Series. There you will set up an automated email, which will be sent to anyone who signs up for the “Free PDF” list that you will have created. Definitely name the list something you will recognize immediately when logging into your account.
These services allow you to attach a PDF to an email, which is what I recommend. But if you are using a service that does not allow attachments then create a Dropbox or Google Drive link and include that in the email.
This is where the fun part starts. There are many places where you can place what’s called an opt-in form. That means, a form which asks a website visitors for a name and email address, or any other information you want to request like a phone number.
Note that the less information you request the higher your conversion rate will be – meaning, the more people will fill it out. So I typically ask for email addresses only (you will see why later).
The first place you want to place the opt-in form is on a landing page specific to the free PDF. The benefit of having a unique page for the document is connected to SEO (search engine optimization). A dedicated page can be filled with additional text and image content optimized to rank well on search engines. It can also increase the conversion rate (percentage of people who sign up compared to number of page visits) for the opt-in because there are no distractions from blog articles or other content available only your website. Services like Mailchimp and Aweber offer embed codes for your opt-in forms. You use it like you were copying and pasting HTML from YouTube, Vimeo or 500px.
The second place you can have the opt-in form is on your blog’s sidebar, or in a pop-up form. These are called magnetic areas because they draw the attention of a visitor’s eye directly to them. There are a few ways you can do the magnetic opt-ins. For sidebars you can use the standard embed code. Some services offer pop-up codes as well. For WordPress sites I recommend services like OptinMonster or Pippity, which come with many design options as well as timing and split testing so you can see what converts the best. I have helped a many photographers with this method.
Step four – leads versus quality leads
Now that you have the PDF done, and everything set up for visitors to convert into leads – it is important to note the difference between a lead and a quality lead.
A lead is anyone who contacts you about anything. An example of a standard lead is a couple who contacts you for a price list. They might be interested in your services, but there is no way of knowing how interested they really are, how far along they are in their wedding planning, or how serious they are about you.
A quality lead is someone who has taken specific actions to do research and wants valuable information. For example, a quality lead would be a couple downloading your free PDF because it contains information specific to their needs. They understand that it will contain every vendor they need to know about to plan their wedding.
Quality leads have a much higher chance of converting into paying customers over standard leads. That’s because a quality lead is already more interested in your services than a standard lead.
Step five – inform your vendors
If the couple books a venue listed on your PDF, then it is highly possible they will mention you as a referral. Your vendor partners will appreciate that. So, be sure to send a copy to your partners so they know what you are offering potential customers. Then they are also more likely to promote it, and promote you.
Your best sales people are your brand advocates. Those are your customers and your business partners.
Step six – converting to customers
You have your free PDF and are converting site visitors into leads. You are utilizing an email marketing service as recommended. Next is where it really comes into play.
I mentioned earlier that I typically only ask for email addresses. That is because with email marketing you can learn more about your leads, so names and phone numbers are NOT essential. In fact, you may find that through nurturing those leads via email marketing that you will have more people contacting you than you contacting them.
After doing some testing, I came to the conclusion that sending one email a week to my list is most effective. You may find yourself in a different situation. But having an email marketing service that tracks statistics will help you identify the optimal sending scenario – days and times.
One effective trick I find for converting leads into paying customers is to ask a question, which warrants a reply. Whatever the question might be, you will find people replying. That is where the conversation really takes off. Something like this perhaps:
As a wedding photographer I am always so curious what types of gowns brides pick. Please reply with the type of dress you will be wearing at your wedding. Or if you already picked it out, I’d love to see a photo!
What have you learned
To wrap-up this article, I want to restate what you learned here and what your first step should be.
Your business partner vendors are more important than ever to your business. You can foster those relationships online, and offline, by creating a free PDF as described here. That PDF will be used as leverage for converting website visitors into quality leads. Using email-marketing you can nurture those leads and convert them into paying customers. All with a little help from a simple PDF that includes super valuable information.
Once again, I used wedding photography as an example, so if you are not a wedding photographer then be sure to think hard about your vendor list and what your clients would need. Then start creating that document.
Hop to it!
Disclaimer: dPS does not agree or disagree with any recommendations made by the author. The author receives no extra compensation for these referrals and benefits in no way. He only recommends them because these are the services he uses – do your own due diligence when selecting any service for your business.