What’s a Wedding Worth to You?

PBH_Whats_a_Wedding_Worth_to_YouIn my previous article we strategized that maximizing profits beats reducing costs.

But a lot of photographers have tunnel vision when it comes to how much their average wedding is worth to them.

One of the things that trips us up are the standard “rules” for determining how much of your sales should go to photography marketing. You’ve probably heard them. I know I’ve heard it said often to earmark 5%. That is, if you want to gross $100,000, for example, that 5% of that ($5000) should go to your marketing.

I think there’s a better way to figure this stuff out.

Grab a piece of paper right now and jot down what a wedding’s worth to you. Let’s not be concerned about hard goods cost for the moment, and let’s just work with gross revenue numbers, ok? What’s the value of your average wedding?

Under that number, write down what it costs you in advertising and marketing to get that one wedding.

Tuck those numbers aside for now. We’ll get back to them later.

If you’re like most wedding photographers, chances are you thought of your initial wedding booking average as the value of your wedding. That is, the average amount you write the contract for when someone books a wedding with you.

But your average wedding has more value to you than simply that.

For instance, you might do an engagement session. There may be a pre wedding bridal session. There may be those session fees plus whatever goods they purchase from the sessions on average.

There’s another buying opportunity for them after the wedding, when they add more purchases to what they’ve already contracted in the way of additional albums, prints, etc.

How about their referrals? The weddings you wouldn’t have gotten if you didn’t get this wedding first? What’s that worth to you on average from each client?

What about the weddings you get from having uploaded this wedding’s images on your blog? Bookings you get from random couples who’ve happened upon your blog post and contacted you because of these images from this one wedding? Or who’ve come upon this wedding’s images posted elsewhere?

What’s the value of developing a working relationship with the venue and the other wedding vendors you may not have had the chance to meet and work with if it weren’t for this wedding? And you now have the opportunity to provide them images because of this wedding?

Add all this value up.

If you could assign a monetary value to all this, it may look like the following (I’m making the numbers up just for illustration purposes, but please do yours):

Initial Booking: $3000
Engagement Session: $500
Sales from Engagement Session: $300
Bridal Session: $500
After Wedding Purchases: $2,000
2 Wedding Referrals on average: $6,000
More Weddings from Website Visitors: unlimited
Weddings from Networking with Vendors: unlimited

When you add it all up, you could be making up to around $7,000… with referrals even more, on average.

That’s the actual value of your one wedding.

Most photographers think about their client’s value today. That one booking. That first number.

That’s short term thinking, my friends.

You want to think of your client’s long term value. The actual value of your average wedding client is its long term value.

Now, what was that “client value” number of yours you jotted down earlier?

Chances are your average wedding’s value is actually far more than you originally thought?

So here’s the thing:

Like our example shows, if you originally earmarked 5% to market for weddings, you would’ve invested no more than $150 per wedding (5% of their $3,000 initial contract).

But if your client’s long term value is actually $7,000, then 5% of that is $350.

There’s really no rule saying it should be 5%. It could be more if you want or need it to be. But even at 5%, that’s more than twice the amount you were putting into marketing before. Just by realizing what your average wedding’s long term value actually is.

And with being able to invest over twice the amount into your marketing, what do you imagine your reach into your wedding market would be like?

ge_masana-headshotThis week’s article comes to us from G.E. Masana,  a NYC based wedding photographer and author of “Advertise and Sell Your Wedding Photography” published by Marathon Press. His roster of clients have spanned from the Beauty Editor of ELLE to actors, cinematographers, and even a NYC art gallery owner. He was previously was on “The List” of contributing photographers for Martha Stewart Weddings. NYC Wedding Photographer.


Do you want to build relationships with vendors that will turn into a steady source of client referrals and double your studio's income? Check out Get Connected: Build Relationships to Drive Your Photography Business below:

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