What’s Your Marketing Secret Weapon?

Marketing Secret WeaponWhen it comes to marketing, what is your secret weapon that gets you dozens of new weddings each year? Ponder this concept for a moment. What's really working for your business? Hmm. Not sure huh? OK, well I tell you what. I'm going to introduce you to one of the secret weapons in our vault of high performing photography marketing tactics. And it's not advertising in the traditional sense.

Photography Marketing = Sample Albums

 

Sample albums are a VERY effective part of our strategy. We create these for many of our best weddings and all the vendors we would like to get more referrals from. I'm going to explain our process in detail.

Over the years we have developed and refined our system for vendor albums. This is the process we have found to be the most effective in terms of time and money. Please note that this is our current process, to a T. It may not fit your needs.

Not all weddings get selected for a vendor album. It really depends upon the vendors involved and the ability for that particular wedding to help sell the vendor team.

Big, glamorous wedding with tons of unique details? Absolutely. Small, intimate, second-marriage wedding, minimal details? Probably not—unless that venue specifically needs a tool to reach that segment of the market.

Perhaps they would like to book more of those types of weddings, but struggle when all they can show is images of young couples with big weddings. We do have one partner who frequently books weddings for affluent, eccentric types. To connect more with that type of client, they constantly need images to highlight the many different types of weddings at their venue—older couples, different cultural backgrounds, unusual elements. Work with your wedding professional as a partner to create sales tools that work for them.

We have found that we get the most referrals and bookings from venues, so that is our focus. We design one album for the vendor team, and we work in all the details that highlight the vendors we have identified in that wedding, typically the venue, planner, floral designer, and sometimes the caterer, depending on the situation. There are no family portraits, and the few portraits of the couple selected will highlight the venue in the backdrop.

One thing you need to understand is that some albums you create will pay off. Others will get stuck at the bottom of the pile, never to see the light of day. It's a risk you take, and it's a numbers game. Some will pay off; others won't. Don't take it personally.

I know this is common sense advice, but I often see photographers act very unprofessionally when a venue is not providing them with the leads they were hoping for. Do I witness it firsthand? No. I hear about it in the form of gossip from other vendors. You must avoid this at all costs. Word gets around that you are a prima donna to work with, and you can kiss your referrals good-bye.

Act like a professional at all times, and if something is not working for you, ask yourself why. Try to figure out how you could have done better.

Would a different size have been more effective? Did your design and layout not sell the venue, making it of little use to the salesperson? Does the cover look like all the others? As you refine and improve your process, you will increase the value of each sample album you create. Learn to create more effective albums and understand how to personalize the project according to your partner's needs.

Over time, you will find that certain relationships are blossoming and result in many leads that book. Track your results so you can evaluate which partnerships are most beneficial to your business. Once you have the data, you can determine where to allocate further resources. For our most financially beneficial relationships, we do not hesitate to supply them with as many additional resources and tools as we can in order to further that relationship and book more brides.

And that's how we do it people. What's YOUR marketing secret weapon? Or if you don’t want to share, tell us what your marketing bombs have been?


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Get Pro Photo March 12, 2013 at 2:42 am

Great information – a totally underused strategy nicely explained. The great David Ziser always says you should be prepared to do whatever your vendors need and bend over backwards to help them at no charge. Don’t just think of vendors though. I get my photos exhibited in restaurants, hair salons and florists etc because I build relationships with them too. Once you have exhibits in all the places your target market goes you become famous in your niche. I tell the restaurants and other partners that I will call all my clients in the photos I exhibit with them so they will come down to look and spend money while they are there. Everyone wins.

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Rayleigh Leavitt February 7, 2012 at 7:39 pm

I love this idea! However, last summer I only shot 4 weddings and they were all the tiny 2nd marriage, few details kind of weddings. And also all out of town. So I don’t have any recent weddings to create vendor books for, right now. Is there any way to use this idea without having any starter weddings to go from? To clarify, I’ve been doing wedding photography for 9 years but only 3-5 weddings a year and the past two years have been small weddings.

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Lara White February 8, 2012 at 8:42 am

Sure. You can reach out and start to build relationships by attending lots of industry networking events. Try looking on meetup for photographers, weddings, event professionals. By getting out there to networking events, you are starting to build a personal relationship and familiarity with people. You can also work with past events if the details are good, even if it is five years old. The out of town venues may be in need of material-those smaller out of town venues tend to attract smaller weddings anyways, so having wedding images that match their typical clientele makes sense. We have one venue that is always looking for samples of older couples, mixed race couples, smaller weddings so that they can appeal to every type of bride that visits.

if you think there is real potential, I wouldn’t hesitate to do a couple of photo shoots, maybe just of the property for a venue that needs updated images. That is a great way to build something quickly, but I would make sure there is potential there before investing the time.

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