Marketing is home work that needs to be constantly done wether you are busy or slow. Have a color on your Google calendar just for Marketing projects that need to be done every week.
Say Pink is marketing on your calendar. Have standing dates for Blogs on Mondays, Facebook on Wednesdays, Brainstorming Thursdays etc.
That third year where I booked like crazy for the following year was also helped along by a wonderful bride with a very large friend group.
She was a hairdresser. She loved her photos so much that she told everyone and anyone who would listen about me. Business boomed.
This is why customer service and making your client feel wonderful on their big day is important.
Your greatest marketing tool is word of mouth. Friends tend to get married in clumps.
You do a great job chances are you will be seeing your bride again at one of her bridesmaids weddings because her friend loved you.
You can always push the inner bargain hunter in your bride too and offer say a 16x20 print of her favorite image for ever friend that is referred to you that books. Or a $100 credit for a boudoir or anniversary session.
We have a few different local Wedding Magazines you can spend anywhere from 800 to thousands to have space in. I have talked to several different photographers in different price ranges have tried this. Not one of them got a client from it. You can always give it a shot though, it is also a way to get your name out there in more places.
You’ve seen the sale ads. A sale is a lure. Is there really a point to Black Friday? Posting a deal in a magazine, local blog, Facebook etc might just be the push your client needs. Free Engagement session with Wedding Booking. Wedding Album with Package purchase. What do your clients really want? Do an online survey, find out and give it to them! Give them a deadline only two days, give them a sense of urgency or this special goes away!
You meet new people, feel good for donating your time, can hand out cards, they often give you ad space in their newsletter, good PR, you look like a good person who cares about something other then yourself and it’s a tax deduction. For years I covered a local charity event for a national health organization. I had a blast it was one night every year, they fed me, there was no crazy relatives to deal with and I always got a wedding or two out of it. To be honest the only reason I stopped doing the event was because they changed managers. It is always easy to find a charity looking for a free photographer. Think of what you actually can relate to and care about and go for it, but when you do blog about it, post about and hand out business cards!
The local news often has little vignettes and interviews on morning shows. The trend of the TRex chasing bridal parties. Message them and say you will come on and talk about it and do a time lapse of how it’s done. Surprise proposals, see if they want to do a cover piece on how to go about it and offer to talk about your favorite ones! I will say the main local one in my town treats almost all interviews as ad revenue and wants you to pay $500 to be on the show. It is up to you if that is worth the marketing cost.
Business slow? Put together a shoot. You network with other wedding vendors which is good word of mouth, it is a controlled environment which means you get great new work to put up on your website and blog, participating vendors use your photos with your credit, Wedding Blogs and magazines LOVE to feature styled shoots. Your own brides will also follow you for ideas.
BillBoards Banners and Decals-
I love reading the ads on the back of cars. Why do I not have my business on the back of mine. There is a rash of thieves stealing gear out of photographers cars while they are shooting. Also I am a bad driver, I do not need to give my phone number to the people I cut off!
I rarely glance at Billboards and the photographers I know that do advertise that way are not use to designing pieces of such size and scale so the ad usually doesn’t look that great.
At least twice a month I get approached and asked to donate some kind of gift to silent auctions. Think about if you want your name associated with this kind of business. If you do there are some guidelines. Donate Time not Money. Donating picture frames or products is an actual out of pocket expense that will always cost you.
Set restrictions- deadline for use, how long, how many poeple, non refundable, not redeemable for cash, how many images and when they get them, the more specific the better.
Once again it is a tax deduction usually and it gets your name out there.
I donate a lot to silent actions and rarely see a return.
They are old school with the death of print papers but still a valid source of marketing.
Opening a new studio, running a charity event, win an award? Send a press release out by email to your contact list and to the local papers.
Half the people who follow my posts are clients, half are other photographers.
Post often. This is free advertising for you and helps people relate to you.
Post a variety- use the rule of thirds- work-fun-what you know
Yes post your photos, but also post about the fun new place you found or a new technique you tried with your camera.
People love to see themselves. They will share your blog posts about them. I usually say be careful though, this is an all or none kind of thing. I have had several people tell me that others photographers did not blog their sessions with them and they felt slighted. Like they weren’t as good as the other clients.
Post links in your blogs. Who designed the bouquet, where was this taken etc. It drives more traffic to you and is good for SEO.
You hate writing? Ask a fellow photog to write a guest post or a past client about their experiences with you.
Join a gang. The PPA, the WPPI, local shooting club, wedding forum for your state on Facebook. They will inspire you and you will also have some one to fall back on. You are booked on a persons day already? Post to your local forum, see whose open who you trust. Refer the person to them. The client will appreciate the help, the other photographer will appreciate the extra work and next time they are booked they will refer you!
They are usually on a weekend and wouldn’t you know that is usually when wedding photographers work. You have to pay for a space, design it to fit your brand, order samples, spend a whole day setting up, spend a whole day trying to be upbeat and enticing people to use you and then several hours tearing everything down. This can get expensive but there are always ways to make it cheaper.
These shows are usually oversaturated with photographers to warn you. Only some of them limit the number. You usually have to give something away in a raffle. The bride writes down her name and email and at the end of the day 5 brides names are drawn at the show and they when a free engagement session with 5 digital images given to them. Once again donate time not product. The trick is usually that everyone is a winner. Message their email and let them know. The clients that already had a wedding photographer would still do the session. They would love all the images and purchase more then their five and I have had them come back to me for family and boudoir later.
Your samples are important here. Yes I had my beautiful images blown up and plastered on the walls but when a bride would pick up one of my flush mount album samples that is when I would hear the oohs and ahhh and the “This is exactly what I want!”
Go easy, smile, don’t be all business. These brides start to feel like they are in a meat market. I was once stuck between a two cake vendors handing out samples and I was the only one who had a trash basket. A bride would finish her sample and be left holding a plate as she was walking. I would smile at her, say “Hey you need me to toss that out for you.” She would be grateful and thank me and I would strike up a conversation, did you try the lemon? This place is really better with chocolate and it would always turn into them looking at my work and talking to me and not feeling rushed.
Malfunctions happen, bring backup, extension cords, table covers etc.
It’s free use it! I know lots of people complaining because the new algorithms suck for business but once again IT'S FREE!
Use it to tell stories and post your favorite moments for clients to share.
ALWAYS ALWAYS check with clients first before posting!! Your bride might hate that image after you post it because she thinks she looks fat in it and wants you to talk it down immediately.
I have seen several newer photographers say in private forums, they signed a release in their contract I can post what ever I want. If some one did this to you you would be ticked! Do you really want a client who will then turn around and tell everyone she had issues with you to feel that way. Check first!
Stay Positive! Good karma!
Interact on Facebook. Like other peoples and photographers posts, don’t just hit like actually comment! This puts your name in their mind more!
Post images from a wedding you just did, link through to the image gallery as well it will drive more people to your website.
Todays Yellow pages are places like The Knot and Wedding Wire. The bridal sites have replaced the actually book of pages. I have had good and not so good experiences with this. It usually costs each month to have your name on these sites. I was paying about $150 a month. The first year I did not have one single bride book with me from the site I used. There were 60 other photographers on there as well. The second year they changed what you could upload to your “space”. Instead of just photos I was able to upload my fusion slideshows which is a mix of photos and video from the day and after that I was getting at least on inquiry a day! The next year they changed the way the layout looked and lots of brides did not know the photos were actually slideshows and it went down to one inquiry a month and I cancelled with them
On a different wedding website I tried that you could post for free I got a negative review and it to this day still bothers me. The Review- “We LOVED our photographer, she went above and beyond, we love our images, everything was great but the one draw back? We felt extremely rushed during formal photos.” I was livid, yes they were rushed, their officiant was 45 MINUTES LATE and they refused a first look which left me with 15 minutes of venue owner yelling at me to hurry up so they can serve dinner while I did family, bridal party and individuals of the them. As you can see I am still upset a decade later! I hold grudges. Negative reviews are tough to take down and unhappy clients try to hold the threat of a bad review over your head. Luckily with the exception of the review above I have not had issue with reviews.
I see them all the time on blogs and Facebook. Although Facebook does have some rules that are ever changing about what you can run for a contest so check those out!
As with Charity and Silent Auction work make sure the rules are clear, not redeemable for cash, must be used by this date etc etc etc.
These are usually not your target client and are people just looking for a deal. I see the altruistic spin sometimes with the nominate a deserving bride. You get a heart warming story and blog post and lots of people waiting to see who won driving traffic to your site to vote for them.
Wether book or blog form it is always a credit to your business to be published. I know several brides who actually design there wedding with dreams of getting it published.
There are companies like Two Bright Lights that help with publishing. You pay a monthly fee and can submit easier to different business. You must have a thick skin you are going to hear a lot of NOs before you get a yes, just keep submitting and try to make sure you are submitting to the right kind of place. Weddings with neon hair and the bridal party is in a band? Maybe more Rock N Roll Bride or OffBeat Weddings then Ruffled.
Once you do get that yes you can not usually blog, post or submit that wedding else where unless specified but once it is published flash that baby everywhere on Facebook, your blog, in an email newsletter etc!
Having your work critiqued helps you to grow as an artist, just like publishing it requires a thick skin but keep submitting. It is good networking, improves your eye, your credibility, goes on your resume and you should also shout it out on Facebook, blogs, emails when you do well! Most of the time these are print competitions and it requires money to enter and make the print.
Work slow? Great time for you to do a personal project. I had been dying to shoot a bride running through the fountain at out local art museum. I paid the 75 dollar fee to shoot there and 75 dollars to a hair/makeup artist. It cost me 150 in expenses and hour to shoot, two hours to edit but my client who got married out of state now had something to show her friends, loved it and told everyone. I also got more work to post of something different that I wanted to do and I got new clients and PR out of it.
Give a Workshop-
Teach a class on how to shoot a sparkler shot or in mid day sun. This means more networking for you, your clients see you as a professional teaching other photographers, creates more buzz and is usually fun hanging out with people for have the same interests as you.
Getting on a wedding planners list usually helps with a steady stream of clients. Sometimes that means their clients get you at a discounted rate. This is great for referrals but can also mean that you are working with someone trying to control the show including how much time you have to do your work.
Who What When Where Why and How
You can not please everyone.
Walmart/Hermes- Some people only want a photographer based on price or the fact that they use a matte filter on all of their photos. Some value your work and know this day is important to capture.
Love vintage weddings with tattooed brides? See if you can donate a canvas with your name on it to the retro store in town where those brides shop.
Good Artist Copy, Great Artist Steal
You positively love the marketing piece another photographer put out. There is no one says you can’t make one just like it. As long as you are not taking their ad and pasting your info over theirs go for it.
Back in my day they use to be called Mood Boards. Design a page for your business. Brides love to share Pins, it’s free and does not take long to make or do. That moment when a bride is telling you what photos she wants and pulls up your Pins instead of some other photographers work is an awesome one. I also make secret mood boards with my clients for their sessions. I warn them that I am still gonna shoot like me but I find it inspiring. I once had a client send me a mood board that was half filled with photos of the couples hands. I don’t normally shoot hands but I did take a few with this in mind and she loved it. We all have stories of the clients that sends you 300 Pins and wants them all done on her wedding day. Thank her for her ideas, let her know that you want to create something new and artistic just for her so that people will want to Pin her day.
*On a side note. I had a bride Pin everything for her wedding. She worked hard to create it. Two weeks before her wedding was her cousins wedding. Her cousin took her Pinboard and used everything on it for her wedding. Moral of the story: Tell your clients to keep their Pinboards secret!
Remember Anniversaries, Birthdays, Births etc. Post and email clients about them. One year I made inexpensive photos Xmas ornaments for my clients to celebrate their first christmas together. I still get tags, posts and thank you about them from clients and their friends see it! I love posting an extra beautiful photo of their day with a short but sweet sentence to my clients Facebook page, usually all of their friends then start commenting on the photo when they go to say happy birthday as well. Five minutes time and great word of mouth.
Jewelry, Floral, Dresses, Tuxes, Venues you can offer to design promo cards or an album of their products with your logo and referral on it. You should try to get with the places brides usually book first Venues and Dresses. There are many places you can partner with though! Does not even have to be a specific wedding vendor. A personal trainer, vintage shops, spas etc. This may require a little time and a little out of pocket but is worth it! Please it is great to also know other vendors you can recommend to your bride! They will ask you for recommendations on everything from nails to DJs.
Make a monthly newsletter or private Facebook group for your clients with photo tips and specials that might be running on other wedding vendors. “Worried about a double chin. Go out and down not up! And did you see the $99 dress sale at David’s Bridal!” Make a phone App for your studio that will sent out the newsletters.
There are companies that will supply you with a mailing list and you can design a postcard to go out such as Marathon Press. I honestly don’t know any wedding photographers that do this. I know lots of Senior Photographers that do.
With everything above to don't be afraid to dream up something new! You're the Artist!
****Comment with some of the crazy ways you have Marketed!!!!