Top Three Tips to Create a Referral-Based Business

March 13, 2021


Cassandra Campbell

An important lesson from Terri Baskin , a DC area wedding photographer and educator, on how to build a thriving referral-based business. The more referrals you can get, the less time you can spend stressing out about marketing and spending time and money on getting new leads. Have the leads come to you with these amazing three tips!

ABC’s of creating a referral-based business

With starting anything new you need to know your WHY. 

Knowing your why can do 4 things for your business

  1. Creates word of mouth referrals
  2. Builds brand loyalty
  3. Generates more income
  4. Makes selling your product/service easier

Let’s focus on creating word of mouth referrals

Before we do that here are some awesome books for today’s topic: 

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Blue ocean strategy by W. Chan Kim

4 Types of Clients

Now that you know your why it is also important to know your clients why. There are 4 types of potential clients and when you figure out which category that they fit into you can better serve your clients. This may seem like a simple idea but a lot of times we miss what our client’s needs are and we miss addressing those needs.

  1. Forever memories: they are a need-based client (they need/want your photos)
  1. Significant investment (price shopper)
  1. So many options (overwhelmed)
  1. One chance to get it right (comparing competition)

So now that we have a better understanding of the client that we are working with, let's examine the ABC’ s of building a referral-based business!.

A – Ask questions early and often 

“Asking questions allows you to better understand the client’s “why”. 

It also helps you determine if a client is a good fit for you.” 

-Terri Baskin

If you miss what their needs are you miss the opportunity to address those needs. This is the opportunity for you to genuinely earn a client's trust so that maybe later on down the road there may be other income-generating opportunities.

B – Be Bold and Brave in your Communication

“Communicating your values and beliefs as a business owner 

gets you in alignment with the right clients.”

-Terri Baskin

So ask yourself, can I communicate what your business does to a potential client in one or two sentences? Are there any non negotiables in your life, such as family time? If so you will need to communicate this early on and often to your potential clients so that there are no misunderstandings.

C – Create consistent touchpoints

“The Key to creating consistent touchpoints is to 

enhance your client experience through automation.”

In order for you to be consistent it requires you being organized. Write out your workflow so that you can make sure each of your clients gets the same love and attention. Automation can be your friend! Don't be afraid to go in and change your workflow if it is no longer working for you or your business.

What consistent touch points can you automate? I am so glad you asked because Terri gave us some great examples.

Email communication

When and how often will you communicate with your clients? If that is standard and organized throughout your system then your communication can stay on point.

Examples of automated emails: Welcome email, pre engagement email, engagement gallery delivery, pre wedding consultation, post wedding sneak peeks, and wedding gallery delivery.

Just remember that you need to educate your clients about how your process works. With bold and brave communication your clients will know that they can still reach out to you when they need additional communication. They will also know when the time is that you will respond to them. 

Helpful Resources for your Clients

Along with the email, what other information can you add to help them?

  1. Engagement session guide 
  2. Wedding day guide that will prepare them for their wedding day
  3. Wedding day checklist to handover to someone to help them stay organized on their day

Did you think that is all we had for you. Think again!


“The right investment in the right client, can return rewards to your business.”

Terri always believes in over-delivering to build a truly strong referral-based business. And in that spirit, she has a bonus tip for us! Cause generosity is so pivotal in building up your customer base.

D – Develop a Wow Factor in your business

The easiest way to get a client to talk about you to their friends and family is to ‘WOW’ them. Figure out what that looks like for your business. Anytime someone is able to share your name when you are not in the room creates more opportunities for your business.

THREE ways to WOW your clients vendors

  1. Tangible or intangible gifting

Example: Extra hour of coverage on a wedding day or a discount code for the print lab

  1. Vendor team photos

Example: Take pictures of vendors in their element, this builds relationships and gets them talking about you for no charge.

  1. Venue marketing materials

Example: Helping a venue can help you get added to a preferred vendor list and have them talking about you before a client ever meets you.

E – Exceed Clients' Expectations

“Exceeding expectations does not have to be a mythical thing, 

it simply needs to be something that you do well and often”

When you start to receive client referrals consider that as a warm lead – because they have already been sold a little bit on your business by someone else. Make a great impression and exceed the expectations of any client that has been referred to you.

How exactly do you exceed client expectations?

Build a relationship with the client before selling through:

  1. In-person interactions
  2. Social Media
  3. Website
  4. Deliver what is promised then over-deliver

Make sure that you have an organized way to communicate with clients so they do not wonder if they have been ghosted between communications. Be clear!

With all of this information in front of you the best way to start is to get those referrals from your satisfied clients. Review those testimonials, pull out the keywords and make sure they align with your why and your messaging. Keep track of what price they paid because as your prices increase your level of service should increase, and their feedback to you should showcase that. Last but not least ask your clients for a referral.

“The world accommodates you for fitting in, 

but only rewards you for standing out.” 

-Matshona Dhliwayo

For some more education and free resources by Terri Baskin visit here. We are so glad that you are looking to further your education and that Showit is part of your journey.

Terri Baskin, creative entrepreneur and top-rated photographer in the DC area
How to build a thriving business with Terri Baskin on the Showit blog
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Casandra is a born and bred East Coaster who finds herself braving the heat of the Valley of the Sun with her husband and three cute kids all for the love of Showit.