Danelle Bohane is a wedding photographer from New Zealand and regarded by many as one of the best in the world. She has a unique approach to business, which is why I’m very excited to have her on the show to talk about the importance of building a trusted brand.
Big businesses spend tons of time, effort and money in working out how they can get their customer base to trust them; however, this is something that a lot of small businesses overlook. When you look at how much trust is imbued within Danelle’s brand, it’s clear to see why she has been so successful over the last 10 years.
Humans rely on trust in every aspect of life, even if it’s subconscious. We don’t want to be lied to and are repelled by danger and discomfort. As soon as we sense any danger, we won’t buy a product or sign up to a brand. This is clear just in day to day shopping and it’s especially true when customers choose their wedding photographer.
Danelle talks about how she puts a heavy focus on the consistency of her imagery and creating a comfortable experience for the client from Day 1.
We discuss how Danelle made her own break, from the humble beginnings of her first job out of university, how she survived the different ebbs and flows of starting a business from rock bottom, sacrificing a lot in her twenties in order to build her business and how scary it was to market her first workshop to how she was selling out new workshops in 20 minutes just a year later.
We talk about how luck and hard work played a part in her rise to the top and why both are important. Now that she’s had a child, it’s important for her to shoot locally, so we touch on why building relationships with favourite local venues is crucial to establishing a work/life balance.
One thing that we’ve both noticed is how the format of launching a small business has changed in the last decade. The traditional method of spending a lot of money to go to college or university seems to have been supplanted by new business owners attending workshops and learning directly from industry leaders. This fast-track option is not specific to wedding photography and is present across several industries.
Danelle and I talk about how we feel about this method of learning and why we think that having the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them is just as important as formal education.
Danelle is one of the most trusted wedding photographers around and the longevity of her business speaks for itself. She explains that her customers know what they’re getting when they book her and she taps into the natural human instinct of not liking surprises – especially on their wedding day.
If you give someone an amazing experience and pretty good photos, they’re probably going to recommend to you. If you give someone a terrible experience but incredible photos, chances are that they won’t – they might even warn others away from you.
This is why she puts such an emphasis on client care as well as streamlining the focus of her marketing and social presence. Work out who your clientele is and ask yourself what they want to see on your social media – no matter how cute your dog is, do you really think that potential clients want to see it popping up on your Insta?!
Danelle explains that while online reviews are really important, nothing carries more weight than someone praising your name directly to another potential customer. Word of mouth is the way she gets a lot of her clients, which is why excellent client experience is essential.
We agree that as our prices increase, so does the level of trust coming from our clients. We get micromanaged less, we get sent fewer mood boards and suggestions – basically, our clients leave us to do the thing that they hired us to do in the first place. Danelle explains that clientele that pays higher prices also don’t have any time for sloppiness, so slick communication is paramount.
How to get people to trust you enough to fly you around the world to shoot the biggest day of their life? It’s a key question and one that Danelle answers by saying, “Keep it personal.”
She tailors everything to the couple, including putting their names on the pricing guide (rather than a standard PDF), shows that she is in control by doing all the research for flights, accommodation, and car hire, and asks them specific questions about what it is that they want as opposed to just delivering the same boilerplate service to everyone
Danelle Bohane has created a trusted, client-centric brand that will keep going and going as long as she maintains that trust. She’s booking weddings well into 2021 and in her own words, “Life is great!”
Check out Danelle’s work on Instagram at @danellebohane and join us for a new episode of the podcast next week!
All images by Danelle Bohane