Marketing and Advertising for Wedding Photographers
Help With Ways To Advertise Your Business
Marketing and advertising in wedding photography - Local papers - Leaflets/Flyers - Radio - Internet - Suppliers - Referrals - Word-of-mouth
The world of advertising is such a large area and can cost quite a bit of money as I have found out in the past. I have tried all sorts of ways to advertise. Some work whilst others fall flat on their face.
At the end of the day, as a photographer, you can advertise all you like. If you have nothing to show when clients come looking, you will get nowhere fast! This is where your portfolio and website come in to their own.
The advice I give here is based on my life in Spain as a British ex-pat and back here in the UK. Take it with a grain of salt and try to think of how it may help your own particular case.
What is good to remember here is, what may be an excellent way to advertise for a Doctor, may not be so good for a wedding photographer. You need to be a bit diligent when forking out good money on advertising.
Marketing and Advertising in Local Papers
For example: Place 10,000 flyers, selling cheap, quality furniture, inside 10,000 British ex-pat, local newspapers in Spain and they may well go down a treat. Many Brits here love to furnish their apartments as well as get a good deal.
But for a wedding or portrait photographer? Not a chance. Not in Spain anyway.
I tried the same thing and spent €1,800 Euros on 10,000 glossy flyers. They were beautifully designed by some marketing friends with my best work all over them. It was early November and I was offering a special Christmas discount on any photography work as well as plugging weddings for the following year.
I waited for the Friday issue with great anticipation. The Sur-in-English is the most popular weekly paper for ex-pats living on the south coast of Spain.
By lunchtime, not one call, so I went for a coffee in a local café. As I sat there, I watched a guy reading the Sur-in-English and as he turned the pages, there it was! My lovely shiny flyer in glorious, glossy Technicolor!
He didn’t even look at it. His eyes stayed firmly on the pages and he just turned the flyer over as he read the next page. I was gutted!
Of all the 10,000 flyers that went out that Friday, I received ONE phone call. It was from a magazine asking if I wanted to buy advertising space in their next issue.
Sorry about the language, but it was an expensive lesson that I learned that day.
For me, in this smallish Spanish geographic location, the best form of advertising is literally getting myself out there. Talking to people, getting a good reputation and plenty of referrals.
After that, I built a solid foundation of people. Suppliers and service providers that gave me work in exchange for a finder’s fee in many cases. A sort of business network that works pretty well but can only be built up over time.
Back to the local paper advertising. I had a lot more success from a small lineage ad that cost just €10 per week and was nestled in amongst the other photographers. That is where your website, if good, can win the deal.
My advice is to start small (and cheap) with newspaper ads and test the water before jumping in.
I have never tried this with photography but I strongly suggest that you think about it.
It didn’t work in the above scenario, when placed inside a newspaper. However, there is a way of getting good business from flyers at a low financial cost but would need valuable input with regards to your time.
I realised that the flyers placed in a newspaper received no personal or physical contact. No referral or recommendation and as I have said before, these attributes are very important with any sort of photography.
I remember years ago, my brother and I got roped into a part-time, side-income business. Multi Level Marketing. Yes, you’ve heard of it and many people say "scam".
It wasn’t, we had both been to business school and saw huge potential. Although it was selling skin care! Two big lads selling pots of cream? What a challenge! At the very least we wanted to see what all the fuss was about. We never realised for one minute how that would change our lives so dramatically.
Nothing to lose
So, during quiet times from the "early days" of our wedding photography business, we gave it a try. A big try. For months we did nothing but hand out flyers and leaflets.
We would get up at 6am, put on a smart suit, get a train into London and wait for the rush hour. We had a very well worded and professional looking flyer that we gave out by the thousands every morning with a huge smile and "good morning!"
Well, we worked out that on average, for every 100 flyers we gave out, 5-10 would leave details on our answer phone. From that we would get 2 or 3 meetings and one would sign up.
Before long we had a huge business and a good "chain of command" below us and we were earning money. We had also made a lot of good friends. We learned so much about marketing during this time that we ended up literally motivating ourselves right out of that particular business!
It sounds strange but we both knew that this wasn’t the business for us. However, the learning curve and knowledge we attained was amazing and it helped us follow our passion for photography.
Get out of dodge
A year or two later my brother had left the UK for Swaziland in South Africa taking photos for the World Wildlife Fund. I had upped sticks and moved to the Canary Islands (Spain) just off the coast of Africa.
I eventually moved to mainland Spain and started my wedding photography business there.
I guess the moral of that little story is that "you get out what you put in" and the hard work may well take you into "unchartered and exciting" waters.
If Jo Public is handed a stunning flyer by a well presented, smart and polite photographer, I am pretty sure that he will remember you. That is your first point of personal contact.
Out of every 100 that is given out, I am sure that a good few will know of someone getting married. Either at work or at home and they can, with conviction, say that you seemed like a nice person.
Now please understand that this is just an idea. Something to try if nothing else really works and if your demographic or location allows it. The worst that can happen is that you try it a couple of times, spend a little money and personal time just to see what happens.
You never know, the contacts you make from one session of "leaflet dropping" could lead to all sorts of work! I was even head-hunted by the Sales Director of Allied Dunbar in the City due to my persistence! (I didn’t take the job)!
Radio advertising again, depends on where you are. It may work in a small town or location but I personally think your ad would be swamped and forgotten amongst all the others in big cities. It can be expensive too.
If you did decide to "air" your wares, you would need a very catchy ad that grabs people’s attention. One that lets them know why they should call you or visit your short but catchy website domain. In general I would say not to bother with this media outlet to start with unless you have good reason.
Marketing and Advertising on the Internet
Now you’re talking! This is probably the one area that has served my business the most clients. Done well, it can reap serious rewards but how does it work?
First of all, you have a great looking website with beautiful images and expensive design. How do people find it?
So many people get duped into thinking just because your site looks good, it will get found. Not all web builders and designers know about or bother with web optimization and getting your site seen. That takes knowledge and understanding of the internet.
As I said in previous chapters, I started building the site you are now reading in 2005 as a gap-filler. I knew nothing about the internet or building websites, but I learned so much in the first couple of months it really took off.
After a year or so, when I wanted to attract new wedding photography business, I built a single, simple sales page. I put it on the (now removed) directory at All Things Photography titled "Wedding Photographer Costa Del Sol". It gave a little information about me and what I do. It also included a few images...simple.
A full diary
Within the first 6 months I had pretty much filled my diary for the rest of that year with 12 weddings in June alone. The majority of it coming from that single page or from wedding planners/organisers that had seen it.
Two years after starting it, and as I have mentioned previously, this website gets some great traffic from all over the world. I now get requests and work from all over the place so how can this help you?
Firstly, you can do exactly what I did and read up about how to build your own site that actually works. The company I use today are EXCEPTIONAL!
Even if you have a photography website already that looks stunning, by building another site alongside it that actually brings traffic to your main site, you will get a lot more enquiries believe me.
As well as building your own site, there are other aspects to the internet that help enormously like Facebook ads, Google AdWords, forums and directories. However, you will learn all of that by using the above links. Just do it!
Marketing and Advertising Through Suppliers
If you can get in with the local wedding suppliers in your area, you are in for a treat! Be nice, polite and courteous and above all, grateful! Show your portfolio to;
Maybe offer a deal of say 5-10% finders fee depending on how much competition there is. Maybe simply arrange to exchange links on your website. An exclusive deal works wonders.
If you can, leave a sample of your work with them along with a bunch of business cards so they can promote you with honesty and integrity.
Referrals/Word of Mouth
A simple to understand concept is this. Treat everyone you meet with a respectful and professional attitude and you will be remembered.
I have this year received a number of wedding photography bookings without ever speaking to the couple, they have been generated entirely by past wedding couples touting and promoting my work.
Every time you do a job, not just weddings, be smart, polite, on time, efficient, try to "over deliver" and always leave a few calling cards.