8 Killer Marketing & Strategy Tips for Your Photography Business

8 Killer Marketing & Strategy TipsThis is a collection of some of our very best tips for wedding marketing, business strategy and adding more profit to your business.

  •  Several years ago we discontinued paper proofs with wedding packages. Since the packages do include digital files, clients don’t need both. This saves us 10-15k annually and at least a couple of trees.
  •  We pre-design wedding albums for clients, and this almost always results in additional sales. Plus clients are getting a gorgeous album. Over the course of the year, income from additional albums pages is SIGNIFICANT. It takes extra time, and some clients turn it down, but the investment pays off huge dividends over time once you get a process down.
  •  Business Retreat-Each year at the end of our season, we plan a weekend “retreat” to focus on our business. We review the accomplishments of the past year, and set goals for the coming year. It’s so easy to go in a million directions with marketing, new software, classes, new product, the latest gear etc. We look at how each project or undertaking will help us accomplish our goals. Later in the year, we can refer back to our listed goals to help us remember what projects we committed to focus on, and which projects we will hold off on for another year.
  • Develop a Client Referral Program-encourage past clients to refer you by offering them an incentive such as a print credit. It’s a win-win.
  •  Court relationships with other vendors, and make an effort to be kind to them. You never know where your referrals are going to come from. Vendor relationships are key to the foundation of our marketing.
  •  Develop a line of fun & exciting add-on products, and make sure your clients know about them. By speaking with your clients before their session about the products they are interested in, you can produce images specifically for that product, while ensuring a better sale.
  • Don’t kill opportunities for additional sales by giving away all the products for free. We learned this after being tired of doing engagement sessions and the typical sale was $0 because the session itself was included with all packages and we gave them the digital negatives. Now that the sessions are a la carte, our average sale is $1,000, and the clients are getting some great products to enjoy their images!
  •  Outsource. It’s been the single best way for us to grow our business, by freeing us up to focus on our sales & marketing. There are so many options available, there’s no excuse not to outsource some or all of your business. Outsourcing post production is the main one, but you can also outsource your book keeping, print fulfillment, album printing and so forth.

Do you have a great marketing or business tip that should be part of this list? Add your best tip in the comments below.

 

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Edgars Kalniņš September 23, 2015 at 10:50 am

Thank you! You boost my wedding photo business.

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Michelle Brooks September 17, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Thanks for sharing this, Lara. Even though it was written a few years back, most of the tips can still be applied today.

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Josh Jones March 26, 2012 at 6:23 am

Thanks for writing this lara! Very very true. I totally agree with your comments about all these “rockstar photographers” running out with their cheer leading speeches. The sad thing about a lot of these photographers is that they just begin to focus their business around teaching and quickly lose touch with what it actually means to be a wedding photographer who is shooting every other weekend out of the year. They feature more photos of them “teaching” at workshops rather than actual weddings they shoot. This is a fast changing industry and in order to be a teacher you need to devote a good amount of time to actually going out and shooting as well.

Totally agree with the extra album pages as well. It has definitely really helped my business in the past 6 months of adding them on. Thank you again for your awesome advice!

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Lara White March 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm

glad to hear you are doing well with selling extra wedding album pages. I’m working on a series right now with more details about that process soon.

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Michelle Walker December 14, 2011 at 8:48 am

Hi Lara. I’ve always been confused on how to present a pre-designed album to a client. My current process is that a client (who has pre-purchased an album with their package) chooses their favorites and then we design using those. Often showing them more pages than included in their package. Are ya’ll actually pre-designing with images YOU choose? If so, how are you presenting it to your client?

Thanks for all this amazing info!!!
Michelle

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Lara White December 14, 2011 at 10:10 am

Hi Michelle,

we always pre-design with images we choose (the rare exception is the super, duper type A bride that controlled her wedding day timeline to the minute…we let those ones choose their own images because that’s the only way it will work for them). So we let them know, numerous times that we are going to give them the “director’s cut” and it’s going to be the complete storyline. from there they can choose what they want to do, but this is how we would design their album if it were up to us. No pressure approach. We send them reminder emails about what to expect (automated via shootq) and so they are prepared. The preparation is key-we call it an album credit, and we talk about how most clients choose to upgrade their albums to more pages. We also have a sample layout (printed) of the same wedding, designed in a 20 page album and a complete storyline. We show them how in a 20 page album, we cant include the cocktail hour, all the details, all the portraits, etc. etc. and it is more of the highlights. And then the director’s cut version the story is told from start to finish, details, lots of portraits, etc. Big wow images. From there’s its pretty much up to them.

When we present it, we say pretty much, here’s the director’s cut of your wedding album. This is the complete storyline, and this is how we’d do it if it were up to us. (via face to face presentation or email). We don’t add up the pages or remind them of price, we just send out the slideshow of the design. After they’ve had a day or two to enjoy that, share it, etc. then we send the details on the price, the design process, etc. Again, those emails can be sent on schedule via shootq, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting.

Either they are moved, they can afford it and they WANT it, or they don’t. If they WANT it, we’ll split it up into 6 payments if that makes it work for them. We’ll offer them some free pages, like purchase 10 pages get 2 free, or purchase at least 8 pages get 10% off. Basically something to make it worthwhile.

Does everyone go for it? No. Do we waste time on designs that aren’t bought? Sure. But most couples do get extra pages, so it’s well worth the investment of time. If I know, without doubt that this client is way over spent, we will keep the design minimal, offering only 2-4 or so extra pages. Pages are $150 each, so just a couple pages makes it worth the design time. When we initially started doing this, clients would occasionally get upset that we had offered them something they couldn’t afford, and that will happen once in a while. The key is preparing them and letting them know in advance (multiple times) what to expect, so if they have any objection, they have a chance to respond. And keeping it no pressure, you are just presenting options.

Many clients will go for it, without a second thought. They see it, they love it, they want it, here’s the amex card, and when will it be ready? Simple as that.

I looked over our budget for the past couple of years, and it has consistently been 30-50k+ in extra album pages. So it’s well worth it.

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Helene Kobelnyk October 16, 2011 at 7:59 am

Thank you for the info. I’m curious about the “digital negatives” that you include in your package. Does this mean the bride owns the copyright and can therefore print the photos or create an album with those photos elsewhere?

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Lara White October 16, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Hi Helene,

We always retain the copyright, but we do give the bride permission to make her own prints for personal use. This is something we build into the cost of the package (for us, the value of the digital negatives is $900) and so by building it into the overall package, we are not relying upon print sales per client, however we do still get print sales. Some business models have a lower price to start, with an expectation of lots of add on sales such as print orders. We set out business up to make the profit on the front end, meaning higher up front costs with lower back end costs to the client.

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Johanna Lakin October 11, 2011 at 9:17 am

I have really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for writing it! Marketing is my weakest area for sure! Its hard to find the time but I know Ive got to make it happen!

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Lara White October 11, 2011 at 9:48 am

Marketing is absolutely essential. One year we got so busy we forgot to spend our marketing buget (or do any marketing activities) and the next year we spent playing catch up.

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Abbie October 2, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Good idea for the retreat at regroup and refocus. One of my issues is having too many projects on the go, and losing focus and none of the projects get done right. Maybe I`m going to try that around the Xmas holidays. Thanks for the tip.

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Lara White October 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm

i know what you mean. But it’s hard to really know what’s effective if you don’t stop every once in a while to take stock.

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Lara White October 2, 2011 at 9:18 am

I’ve found that client referrals work really well for some people, and not so much for others. You have to ask for them, and remind your clients how important it is to you, and ask them to specifically refer friends to you.

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mike October 2, 2011 at 8:06 am

Great tips Lara. I find that the client referrals work pretty well.

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Diane September 30, 2011 at 11:30 am

Love the suggestion about doing an end-of-season business retreat. Great idea. QUESTION: by pre-designing the albums do you mean you actually put one together and have it printed? Or do you mean just doing the design and showing it to them digitally to encourage them to order it?

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Lara White September 30, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Hi Diane,

The end of season retreat has been huge for us, we get a lot out of it, and take the time to really understand problem areas and come up with solutions. And if those solutions are product or service based, then we will wait until PPA or WPPI, knowing we’ll find that solution on the trade floor. In terms of the pre-design, the client might have a credit of a 30 page album, but we’ll design an album that
s 35 pages, 45 pages, etc. and then give them the option of purchasing additional pages. Because we have told them from the beginning we do it this way, and if they want to stick with their package, that is fine, but this shows them what is possible. If we have a really big wedding, like a pull out all the stops, money is no object type of wedding, then we will offer a multi-volume design, and a lot of times those clients will want that extra special presentation, so it has worked out great for both sides. We never push though, and sometimes they end up with no extra pages, but overall the time spent is well worth it.

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