Working in the wedding industry is rewarding in fun. Wedding photographer is often on the top ten lists of happy jobs. The marketing piece is the part many photographers and videographers like me despise. The big downside to working in the wedding industry is your typical client will only get one chance to pay you. Of course, photographers offer newborn and family portraits for future interaction, and referrals are your bread and butter, but you get the idea. Being good is mandatory but often not enough in a competitive market.
Many service-based businesses struggle with generating ongoing revenue because their clients only need to hire them once. As a wedding videographer, each couple you work with won’t come back as a repeat customer. The same challenge applies to wedding photographers, event planners, caterers, and more. Outside of good reviews and referrals, how can you transform your business to build recurring client relationships rather than relying solely on new sales?
The answer lies in shifting your perspective to view venues and event spaces as your secondary clients. Venue referrals are as good as cash. Converting a referral to a sale versus someone who came via Google saves time. By developing strong partnerships with popular venues in your region, you can tap into a steady flow of new leads and sales opportunities. Here are some tips on building fruitful venue relationships that drive repeat business.
Court Venues with Strategic Promotions
Offer venues free samples of your work—like highlight reels for videographers—to display on their website and showcase in their spaces. Providing promotional materials that help venues attract clients allows you to position yourself as a trusted partner. Every new venue you work be sure you gather enough footage to put together a 30-second sizzle reel. You can even negotiate referral perks like being recommended exclusively to engaged couples.
Cater to Venue Staff Year-Round
Send venues holiday cards, small gifts, and regular check-ins to show appreciation. Offer venue staff and planners discounts on your services for personal events to build goodwill. By becoming their go-to provider for any venue-related needs, you ensure ongoing referrals.
Offer Venues Free Marketing Exposure
Tag and thank venues when sharing content on social media. Provide reviews, and testimonials, that venues can use in their own marketing materials. Jointly hosting contests, giveaways, or bridal events also helps cement your partnership. If a venue you like is holding a bridal show, make sure you get yourself a table. I’ve been given free nights at hotels for drone footage just by sharing online.
Provide Venue-Branded Offerings
Develop special packages, discounts, and added perks exclusively for couples booking at certain venues. This incentives venues to recommend you over competitors. Becoming the “official” provider of your service for a venue—like an official restaurant for catering—also leads to repeat business. There is a high turnover rate with venue coordinators I’ve found, so you’ll need to do things to make their job easier.
Beyond the Wedding Industry
Beyond the wedding industry, this venue partnership strategy applies to many other businesses. Hotels, restaurants, equipment rental companies, ticket brokers, tour operators, and more can leverage venue relationships to gain recurring revenue streams. The key is integrating your brand into a venue’s operations through exclusive partnerships. This builds brand visibility and leads to repeat sales when new events are booked.
No matter your industry, take time to nurture venue relationships. Add value to their marketing and operations, and they will reward you with endorsements and ongoing business. In this way, you can transform venues into long-term clients who provide your bread-and-butter revenue.
Chris Rodgers is a 15-year veteran of the wedding industry, specializing in cinematic wedding videography through his company Forever Lucky Films. He is also a marketing consultant with Ready Steady Vermont, providing strategic guidance to wedding industry businesses on growing through innovative partnerships. With over a decade of experience navigating the wedding vendor landscape and building relationships, Chris offers insider tips for transforming one-time gigs into recurring revenue streams.