5 C's To Booking More Clients
In the old days (when you could buy film in a supermarket, and brides had magazines instead of pinterest boards) the marketing approach for wedding photography was to market to newly engaged couples. So off we’d trot to to the next wedding expo, pop up our stand featuring brides carrying gerbras (not kidding) and in would file a sea of newly engaged couples, ready to book our services.
Today, if you start marketing to brides once they’re engaged - I’m sorry but you’re too late. She’s already picked her dream photographer. Yes, maybe she cant afford him, so your relegated to competing on price with all the low end guys trying to under cut with the best price.
If you want to charge a premium price and be paid what your worth, you need to be seen as premium brand - and you need to make your brides fall in love with you.
So the strategy to win over today’s sophisticated bride? Make her lust for you, then make her fall in love with you, with my 5 C’s.
With other suppliers, both on and off line. Hair dressers, make up artists, stylists, dress designers. Make sure these collaborations are win/win for all parties and head towards a long term relationship. The aim with collaborations is to pool your skills, assets and expenses so that you can create something that is virally sensational!
One single expo where you can physically meet with a couple of hundred brides (on a good day) can cost in the range of 1,000’s of dollars. With a team of suppliers working together you can all put some money towards a professional model or unique location. Plus you are not constrained by a client brief, so you can really hit crazy levels of creativity.
Potential clients love the authentic passion of collaborations In 2017, we took a team of photographers, videographers, models and stylists on a shoot for the Opening Night of Vivid. Yes we got incredibly colourful shots, but what surprised me was that our conversion rate for wedding interviews went up to 100%! Our clients loved hearing that we’re so passionate about shooting, that we just went and created our own shoot for fun. Who wouldn’t want to book a photographer who is that passionate.
Everyone is searching for content. While collaborations are time heavy, they’re relatively inexpensive. You MUST spend money on getting a Behind the Scenes video, it’s almost more important than the shots themselves. (Thanks Soda Films for the awesome video of our Vivid Shoot)
2. Content Creation
This next point changed my life. Rather than marketing what you do “at” your future brides, try to think of ways you can serve them, and help them, when you’re creating content.
Blog Articles about Top Venues, Ring Styles and our Favourite Designers rate super high for us, because these topics are of interest to couples and future brides. It’s useful, and of course while they’re doing their research they’re seeing our photos and starting to lust after our style.
In Real Life Wedding Articles, show photos that brides an you as inspiration for planning their own day, rather than only your favourite landscapes. Again providing them with content that serves them in planning a wedding, rather than just showing them what you want them to see.
3. Client Referrals
The easy way is through referrals on sites such as Google, Easy Weddings and ABIA. Oue studio is managed using a Management System called Tave (My love for Tave is reaching levels of obsession!) which allows an automatic email to be generated once a client has been into the studio to view their wedding photos. This email asks the couple to please give us a review, and provides the links and access points they need to complete this task. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for them to leave us a positive review.
We then personally ask every client to please remember to pass on our details to any friends or family they may know who are getting married. It’s amazing how many times we hear the response “Oh yes, I do know a girl at work getting married, I’ll pass on your brochure”. Many couples wont naturally think to do it, but will definitely try to if you directly ask. If they love their photos they’re going to want to help you!
And of course, there’s good old Facebook. While the organic reach of Facebook is pretty small these days, it’s still effective for communicating milestones to people you havent seen in ages. Many times I’ve been told a client heard about us through a friend, then when asked how they are, the response is “Oh, I havent seen them since high school, I just saw their wedding photos and loved them.” For this reason we still watermark our facebook photos, but not instagram.
Client Referrals are super strong when they come from a trusted and respected source. So also dont forget a fantastic source of referrals is other wedding industry suppliers. We work closely with a number of the venues around the Sydney, because brides respect the opinion of their Venue Manager and are often keen to book a photographer who knows the venue. We actively invest money in building the relationships with key venues, as we can directly see how strong the leads are when they come from a venue.
4. Call To Action
So this is where the Lust needs to turn to Love. We need to give them a reason to switch from being just a double tapper, to someone who actually picks up the phone and books an appointment.
Hopefully by the time they’re booking their venue or deciding upon a dress, they have already heard of us, or seen on of our pictures. Possibly we’re one of about 5 or 6 wedding photographers they’ve seen over the last few years, so now our aim is to springboard to the top of the pack!
Our main way of doing this is by being a preferred supplier for venues that match the type of client we want to serve. If they’ve heard of us, then recognise our name on their Venues recommended list, chances are we’ll get a call.
We distribute discount vouchers to key players in the wedding industry that they can pass onto their clients, as well as offer a discount voucher on the wedding enquiry form.
5. Customer Service
All of the previous points mean nothing, if you dont follow up with phone calls and reply to emails, in a timely manner.
Have you ever been researching a product online, maybe a furniture item or a car, and given up because you couldn’t find what you needed. Or did find a price but then decided not to pursue it further, because you felt it was too expensive. To address both of these issues, we dont have any pricing listed directly on line. Instead we ask out couples to fill in an equiry form, and then an automatic package is instantly sent to them, containing all the pricing. What this then allows us to do is also
Our Studio Policy is to return every single client enquiry within a personal phone call within 24 hours - and people are shocked when we call! I mean shocked in a good way! They cant believe we’ve actually called them to see if there is a way we can serve them better. Dont just give prices. In fact, try to avoid giving prices straight away. Show that you’re actually interested in their day, ask about the time of their ceremony, which venue they have chosen and
TIP: DONT make the Phone Number line mandatory.
When we forced people to give us their phone number, our enquiry rate dropped dramatically. However once we made it optional, people were more comfortable giving us their details, and most people still gave us their number anyway.
Before I finish..
There’s one new area that I’m trialling, and so far it’s been super successful. It’s about putting a face to your brand. Put yourself in your clients shoes and trying scrolling through other photographers instagram accounts. They’re probably fairly similar, feature pretty images and are lacking in character. My challenge for myself at the moment is to show up more in our feed, and give our brand the character and emotion that our couples feels when they walk through the door and meet us.
So I’ll keep working on this challenge and let you know how it’s coming along in a future post.
Hmmm… Maybe that should be another sixth C - Challenge yourself and adapt as times change in the future. Yeah, I like that!