The Business Coach: Creating Fans
Posted Nov 5, 2011

In my last column, I talked about how to "Become Your Own Rainmaker." The column included simple but important steps to bringing in more sales for your video business and establishing better connections with your potential. Welcome to Part 2 of the series that I hope will turn
you all into rainmakers.

In this article, my plan is to dispel the myth that we don't have repeat customers in our line of work. It ain't true! Although none of us should ever hope to film a bride or groom's second wedding, we need to be on point to always be at the top of their minds, especially in an economy like this.

How do we do that? By creating fans of our businesses. These families that you serve want to be your next raving salesperson—a walking billboard, a megaphone, for you! These brides, grooms, and parents aren't going to be purchasing another wedding film, but what about the sister, youngest daughter, co-worker, college roommate, or church friend of theirs who's next in line? If you aren't at the top of their minds or haven't made a huge impact on them, those referrals are pretty hard to come by. I'd like to share with you some practical things we do at Life Stage Films that get clients raving about our art and their experiences with us.

Handwritten Notes
I know it sounds so simple that I am insulting your intelligence, but it's a sad truth that most people don't get or even expect handwritten letters in the mail anymore. It's much easier to send a text or a quick email, which is exactly why sending handwritten notes to your past, current, and future clients is an easy path to someone's heart. We have custom notecards with our logo on them that we send at least three times a year: once when they book us, once after the wedding thanking them for having us, and once at Christmastime. I'll admit, sending and writing out personalized Christmas cards for the past 2 years worth of clients is not something we look forward to. However, the return we get from allowing our clients to personally connect with our family is worth it.

Life Stage Films

Take Advantage of Social Media
I know that I will have folks that disagree with me on this practice, but we actually add our new brides and grooms to our Facebook friends. We even friend them after the sale is done and tell them why we do it. Why do we do it? By allowing our client families to see posts from us for as much as a full year before their booked event, they not only get more excited when they see other weddings we post but, by the time we show up for the wedding, they feel like they know us already. They comment on posts, pictures, and videos. They say "Happy Birthday," and so do we. Even if you're wary about opening up your personal lives too much to your clients, it's now easier than ever to customize your privacy settings in Facebook so you can hide certain things. Hide what you need to, but as much as you can, go beyond business and start doing "life" with your clients!

Referrals ... to Them!
Not only is Facebook a great tool for your clients to connect to you, but it also helps you connect with them. After every booking, we find out what our brides, grooms, and their parents do for a living. If we didn't have a chance to ask during the sales consultation (which tells us a lot about their "budget"), we can get on Facebook to see their occupations. And what's the best way for someone to immediately appreciate you? Refer them and their businesses! Our typical couples are very affluent, and if they don't run their own businesses, it's a safe bet their parents do. Even 2 years later, I'll still refer a past bride to anyone I can-especially when she happens to be one of the best dentists in town. Take an active role in learning how your clients make a living so that you can do your best to send them business anytime you can. The more you do, the more they are going to remember not only your kindness but your video product and its impact on their lives as well.

Blog—Seriously
We all know that blogging is important marketing for our businesses. But if you're anything like me, blogging is usually the last thing on your priority list as an artist and business owner. At least it was until I tried something out-and it worked. I realized that by posting to the blog only once a month (if that), I wasn't creating a need for "fans" to follow us on the blog. They were trained to have no urgent reason to check the blog, because they knew it never got updated. I noticed that when we started updating the blog at least eight to 10 times a month or two to three times a week, our traffic exploded!

And why wouldn't it? We found simple things to publish that didn't necessarily have to be a couple's polished highlights film or trailer. We found small clips from the previous week's wedding that we thought others might find funny or inspiring. We started writing articles; things that gave value to potential brides who were stumbling on our site. Make your blog a resource, not just a portfolio, and you'll see the crowd of raving fans and your business will grow.

Be BOLD
You'd probably agree with me that most of our "About Us" pages sound exactly the same. Not a great vehicle to create fans, huh?

We decided that a great way to create a buzz for Life Stage Films and set us apart from our competitors was to do something that's never been done before: a rap video about us. As of this writing, the jury is still out on the effectiveness of the video, but I can promise you this: In an economy like this, I have a huge obligation to my family and my future clients to raise the bar. Do you think that even if a bride doesn't book us, she will still forward this video about these "silly" videographers she found to her friends and bridesmaids? I'm betting she will. Find your equivalent of a rap video. Do something outside the box that gets people talking about your company.

It's More Fun Playing to a Sold-Out Crowd
Why do all this? Why do you need fans? Because marketing has changed. It's not just about a product anymore. It's about a relationship. And people love being a part of a "tribe" of like-minded and similar people. You just have to lead them to it. (That's the message of one of my favorite business books that I've mentioned before in my columns, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin.)

And don't forget, the biggest reason you need to create fans for your business is to maintain and grow your business while spending less on advertising, which means not only more quality leads and referrals for you but more money stays in your pocket instead of spending it on an outdated bridal magazine ad.
So get out there and create some fans. Cheers to your sold-out crowd!

Matt Davis (coaching at lifestagefilms.com) of Life Stage Films has been described as the “Head Coach of Wedding Videography,” providing one-on-one business coaching as well as group coaching webinars. A featured speaker at both WEVA 2009 and IN[FOCUS] 2010, as well as a multiple CEA award winner and 2009 EventDV 25 All-Star, he is based in Wilmington, N.C.