Today we are talking about how to get on preferred vendor lists. Stayed tuned for our tips and tricks, and to get more info about our brand new course – The Business Lab! We are wedding photographers in Minneapolis, Minnesota that have a built a full-time, 6 figure business that allows both of us to be supported. Our entire household income relies on wedding photography and it allows us the free to choose our own schedule and travel! So today, we are going to break down how you get on those preferred vendor lists.
What are they?
For example, let’s look at a planner. There’s this awesome planner in Minneapolis. When their couples book with them, they send them a preferred vendor list. This lis has maybe 3-4 vendors in each category that they love to work with, so it’s who they’re recommending. A planner has a ton of influence because they’re really early on in the planning stage. Typically, couples are also coming straight to them. Some planners, like full service planners, actually book vendors for you. So that’s even more sway, they are literally going to go right to those four photographer recommendations first.
Other preferred vendor lists that are great to be on are venue preferred lists. Obviously that is the first person in the stage of booking everything and couples often have no idea who to go with. They want guidance! But really, any vendor can have a preferred vendor list. We have one that then we pass on to our clients and it includes things like planners, that they might have already booked before us or they might not have. They might not have considered it and then really everything else. Hair, makeup, rentals, DJs, all of the things.
Preferred vendor lists can be a huge inquiry source, especially if it’s a great fit for your brand. We have a couple of venues that we love to shoot at. They’re an amazing fit for our brand and our couples love to get married there. They’re typically the joyful and carefree couples. It’s also a great price point match for the couples budget. How much they spend on booking a venue and how much they’re willing to spend on a photographer is really complimentary to our price point.
So here’s the easiest thing to do to get on preferred vendor lists.
Tip Number 1
Send images to these people! To venues, to planners, to hair and makeup artists. You would be shocked at how many few photographers send images to these people. The problem with this is that it’s a team effort. A lot of photographers think, “Well, this is my product. This is what the clients paid me for.” But if the florist didn’t put together this amazing display, you would not have had something to photograph.
We always say that we would much rather share community over competition. If you don’t share photos, the florist or the hair and makeup artist has really limited end result products to post and to put on their portfolio on their website. They might have taken photos before they brought the florals to the venue, or they might have had limited time to shoot a couple iPhone photos. They don’t have the capabilities that you do of having the couple right in front of the ceremony backdrop with the full vision. The bride is holder her bouquet that compliments the ceremony backdrop.
They don’t have the capabilities to even facilitate something like that, let alone have professional grade photos. So that’s a great way to stand out.
Common Question about Sending Photos
One question we commonly get is, “Do you put together a vendor gallery?” So do we go through our galleries and specifically put together a gallery that has all of the applicable hair and makeup photos so that they can only select from those and they only get sent those to be able to post. And no, we do not.
I think a lot of people are scared. They think oh my goodness, the hair and makeup team is going to have access to literally the 800 photos and they’re going to select this janky cocktail hour photo that we literally just took because we knew it was important to the brides mom. They’re going to post that on social media and it’s going to reflect poorly on us. I think that’s really rare.
We have had a couple instances of things like that happen, but is someone going to not book you because they see this hair and makeup photo? No. What’s more important is our time.
We do not want to spend the time combing through our gallery and sifting through what we think they might like, what we think is helpful to them, and what we think applies to them. Because there’s going to be other things that apply to them. The hair and makeup team, every photo that has the bride in it applies to them. So that’s everything! They might want to share something that’s really on brand for them.
We don’t want to spend the hours that would be sifting through a vendor gallery or putting together specific galleries for the planner or florist. Because our time is worth more than that.
Tip Number 2
Another way you can build amazing vendor relationships is thinking about what you can do for them. As a photographer, you have this great ability to make photos for them.
So before the wedding day, that can be sending them a message. “Hey, can I stop by your studio today and bring you your favorite Starbucks? Let us know what you like!” And you just surprise them with it. Or asking them to meet to chat OR then using your photo taking ability to barter with them and say, “Hey, can we take your guys’ family photos this year totally for free? We’ve just loved working with you and we would love to bless your family in any way possible.” You could offer to take headshots for their business, or taking new product shots for their business. Anything like that is a great way to get your foot in the door and get to know them on a personal level.
On the day of, we always make sure to capture a couple extra photos of each of the vendors setting up. Whether that’s them presenting the bride with their bouquet for the first time and getting the brides reaction. Or we love to get behind the scenes photos of videographers, we love to get photos of the planners lighting the candles during reception set up time. Anything extra that’s going to be great behind the scenes content for them to post on their social media channels.
Tip Number 3
The last tip we have is regarding social media. Go interact with these vendors! We know how valuable it is when your friends, your family, other vendors, your couples interact with your post. When they respond to DMs, when they drop questions in your question boxes. You can bless other peoples’ businesses in this way. Also, you can give them this boost in the algorithm, but more so, you can give them a boost as people. You can give them that instant feedback of, we’re interested in you. We want to chat in your DMS, we want to respond to your stories. We want to comment on your posts and save them and share them! All of the things.
Not only are you going to get on their radar, but you are going to build some true friendships and that’s freaking amazing. It can also be a way, obviously, to get on preferred vendor lists.
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