If you are like I used to be, you might be hesitant about using reviews for your business. We all hear horror stories of vengeful clients ripping a photographer to shreds and “ruining their reputation” publicly. It’s terrifying for those of us who put our heart and soul into our photography businesses. So in 2010 when I was deciding if I wanted to create a business profile on a popular review site, I was hesitant.
Ultimately I decided that my genuine commitment to customer service was a strength that might make me stand out in a competitive market. Over time my growing list of 5-star reviews started to pay off and I was booking clients regularly because of it. Now, I have about 70 reviews and average 5+ inquiries daily.
In 2015, the people at Yelp took notice that my business was thriving on their site and selected me as one of 100 business owners for a two day educational and networking event. Then in 2016, I returned as a member of their Yelp Advisors Alliance and had the opportunity to present about customer service to fellow business owners.
Here are a 7 insider tips that I’ve learned through experts and from running an active business listing on a popular review site:
- No.01IF great customer service is your thing, build your brand around reviews
Are you ultra conscientious with your clients? Are the compliments rolling in regularly about both the images AND the way you treated the clients? For me being recognized for both was equally important.
If you are mildly good at replying to emails and phone calls but you’d rather just be impersonal, don’t bother seeking more reviews. If you are like me and fairly obsessed with keeping your clients happy, embrace the review process and delight in the positive reinforcement!
- No.02Sprinkle reviews around like fairy dust
Have you ever noticed that about 1/4 of your reviews don’t show up? They appear to be hidden and are shuffled into a mystery area and declared not recommended. Well that doesn’t stop me from getting credit for them!
I share those reviews in other places. When I get a new review, I copy and paste to share it on my Facebook page. I include my favorite photo from the session. This has three benefits.
One, the clients who write the reviews seem to like getting a shout-out on my social media. Two, it’s a clever way to remind my other clients that people write reviews about me and this might be the nudge it takes for them to go write me a review, too. Three, search engines may find it.
My favorite page of my website is my testimonials page. I paste in my 5-star reviews and include one image from the session that they are referring to. Having this on my website helps reinforce that I’m someone that can be trusted.
Potential clients can go ahead and book me with confidence that I’ve been booked by at least 70 real people who appreciated me enough to take the time to write a review.
- No.03Google Likes Reviews
I make updating my review business page a regular part of my weekly workflow—uploading new high-resolution photos, responding quickly to messages and responding publicly to reviews.
My strong online presence has spilled over into higher rankings on Google and other channels. In a saturated photography market, this is major!
- No.04Make your presence professional and memorable
Your next review may start the second someone views your page, so get that page dialed in! Your page’s completeness, the photos you upload, how quickly you respond, and your “voice” all help set expectations.
I make sure that my photo captions and business description convey that I’m a friendly, approachable, and an experienced business owner. What does your voice on your website sound like? Use the same one for your review listing.
- No.05Respond Quickly for the Win
Have you ever noticed the section on your business page called Request a Quote? Right under the title it lists how quickly you tend to respond to private messages and what percentage of messages you respond to.
Imagine if you were shopping for a photographer and you had two choices; one photographer who responds within an average of 2 hours to their inquiries and the other photographer who responds within an average of 3 days. Who would you choose?
Be the smart business owner who responds reasonably quick to every inquiry.
- No.06Know YOUR clients and be selective
You know how enjoyable it feels to really hit it off with a particular client? Somehow the entire process feels easier and more rewarding. Because I’m getting a lot of inquiries, I am able to prioritize booking the clients that I’ll really enjoy working with.
In order to keep the 5-star reviews coming in, I had to decide that I cared more about quality over quantity. When having that initial phone call with a potential client I listen very carefully to their tone of voice, questions, and (secretly) evaluate if we feel compatible.
That first phone call shouldn’t feel like a tug-of-war, if we aren’t relating easily early on it’s not likely to result in 5-star review down the road. In these cases, I’m happy to refer them out, they just aren’t a match for me and they may be someone else’s dream client.
- No.07Get More Reviews by Dropping Clues
When things are really going well with a particular client, I mention the value of reviews to me. I just work it into a conversation. Something like, “Hey, where did you find me again?”
By doing this, I’m increasing the potential that they’ll write an unsolicited review-the unsolicited reviews are the best ones! There is something about the way that they are written that feel more genuine to the reader. Even better is when a client offers to write me a positive review.
If they do, I always respond with a huge thank you and send them a link to my listing to encourage them to follow through with it. Positive reviews are way better than receiving a thank you card in the mail, it’s my clients helping my business grow.