COMMON QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


COMMON  QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


WE DON’T WANT TO SPEND MORE THAN XXX DOLLARS FOR THE WEDDING!" 
There will always be clients who can't justify paying 300 dollars for their Wedding.  To them the occasion is more important than the recording of the occasion. It’s more like record keeping.  Sometimes it is more for the friends and relatives and then on with their lives. Imagery is just not a priority with them. It’s not money sometimes, I was told they just wanted the essentials for the parents. They were both wearing Rolexes.

Little you can do other than consider two things you learn in sales. The first is there are two kinds of objections; Real objections such as we only have 63 dollars in the bank. And the excuses such as we must check with Mom or we’ll call you we have another appointment to go to.  The second is: If it is close and you have no other booking that day, a loaf of bread is better than starving on a day that nothing is happening.  Might be a good shoot to see how that new helper can work out or a good time to try a new technique.

 


WHAT IS THE INSIGHT TOWARD PRICING MY BUSINESS, OR THE RULES?
There is an expression in the wedding business "If you start doing cheap weddings you will probably always do cheap weddings”. “For those who lowball, they cannot lowball forever. Sooner or later they must raise their prices to put food on their table.

For those who charge ridiculously high prices, they cannot charge high prices forever.   Sooner or later, they have to lower their prices because the public will realize that there are plenty of other people doing the same kind of work for much lower.”

“Weddings aren't a full-time job for many, and there's a market for budget weddings.”  The question is can you afford to shoot a budget Wedding and take a day away from a chance to do a real top-notch function. There are plans for this called “the bump scale”.  You need a helper or assistant on call.  This is what some will do. 

You book and then bump them to your assistant if you get a better job to do. Not very ethical but I have seen the attitude of the low-end photographers not really caring what people think.  It seems to be an attitude thing.  Seems to be prevalent or a sidecar to the low-priced arena.  

  

MARKETING
It appears. that "going after the business" takes a back seat to waiting for it to come to you.  If business has to find you, you are in the HOPE part of the business, you hope the phone rings or you get an E-mail.  Let's look at the way business finds you.

  1. Hoping your Website does the job.
  2. Your ads placed in the local paper.
  3. Showing your current and past work at a Wedding Show, better if you talk yourself up.
  4. Networking through co-workers, friends and relatives who know you.
  5. Just being asked to shoot a Wedding because it's a friend or relative is more of a favor than a career.   
  6. Promoting yourself with Wedding Gown sellers, Hairdressers, Wedding Stylists and Consultants, Flower Sellers, Catering Halls, Church Planners and other people of position that might help you.



WHAT ARE YOU DOING
So, what are you doing to promote yourself?  It appears that you are having to go after the business.  So here are some ideas I gathered.  

  1. First, contact all the local vendors in your immediate area and invite them to look at your work on your website.
  2. Offer to come and meet them at their business to find out more about what they do.  Networking face to face.
  3. For those you like and who’s style of business products fit your own ideas offer a reciprocal website linking.
  4. You can also establish in your area, an ‘Approved Vendors pack’ which contains cards and brochures from all the vendors in your area that you have no hesitation in recommending, so also offer to include their information in this pack.
  5. When attending wedding fairs make a conscious effort to meet and introduce ourselves to the other exhibitors...even competing photographers/studios.
  6. I think it's important to appear friendly and professional. It helps networking and build invaluable contacts, and you might meet nice competing wedding photographers and studios who you can recommend to future clients for days when you are already booked. 
  7. What goes around will come around, so hope that this is something that will benefit all in the long run.

 

ETHNICITY SIDEBAR
GREAT IDEA:
As a side effort, one of my Black Box users, started aggressively targeting the ethnic South Asian community; as he and his spouse are both of South Asian descent.  He is involved in all aspects of that community and has an enormous following. He attends function and sends photos to the participants and they in turn go to him for photography.  Never give a customer a business card if you have a pleasant picture of them printed on a business card size photo with your info on the back.  they won’t throw that away.  Simple to set up on Photoshop and you can print thirty different shot son one page.

To my Indian friends it makes sense to target their contacts as their Weddings are long, complex, and require an understanding of the sequencing and rituals.  They are tough sometimes to deal with and a local with the same ethic experience is an asset.

Some, not all Jewish Weddings, are spontaneous fun gigs.  Except for one, in particular, I actually subbed one to my partners for good reasons, frankly, but very loyal customers, I just didn’t care for them.  It was my call, very arrogant demanding people.

I used the conflict of time excuse #43,  but my associate would work with them.  He is 6’4 and 235, no one tries to push him around.  It was my call and I never regretted it.   Remember, “My Call" is the eleventh Commandment.

Leave photo business cards at various ethnic shops, formed informal referral rings with LA based videographers and DJ’s, and designed posters to be hung in shops and ads to be printed in countywide publications that reach various ethnic sub-communities. 

Referrals are a great way to get business, so you must strive most importantly to aggressively secure weddings through people you know, and to then work at a level that exceeds client expectations. In so doing, you will generate a lot of buzz in the community.

FLORISTS:
What I have done for florist is to shoot their entire stock of flowers and create a slide show for them to give away to their potential client, hoping that if they get a potential client, that they will recommend me.  It’s a digital trade-off plus a few flowers for my gal.

Working a niche or specific ethnicity or group. Large extended families are  great referrals and usually those large groups "literally take you in” as part of and that can build a very successful following.
 

HAIRSTYLISTS:
Hairstylists are a really good source of referrals if you give away a couple head shots. My partner has two stylists who send him a good amount of business. Women talk a lot at these places. They know who is and who is not getting married and many women listen to their personal hair dresser more than their personal psychiatrist.

BRIDAL SHOWS
Bridal shows are a Love or hate relationship, the bridal shows will bring you a few clients if you stay out of the cat fights. Some will steal your ideas or badmouth you.  Bridal shows are also designed for the wholesale bride, looking for a bargain, ideas and unique features.

You maintain your confidence, politeness and stance. Let your persona and offer pricing stressing quality not quantity, but you do have budget arrangements.   Only 60% of a cow is usable meat, the rest they call hamburger or dog food.

NOTHING PERSONAL, JUST GOOD BUSINESS
Once I get a bride as a client, I keep her contacted and excited. I get her to talk about me. Once she gets her stuff, I find as many ways possible to keep her excited about the pics to show them off and ask for referrals. If I do get one and it pans out I do a family portrait for them 

Don’t limit yourself, I shoot all sorts of things. Kids soccer, the local newspaper, charity dinners. It is the NUMBER ONE way I get clients outside of my website. The occasional 8x10 or 4x6 given out to a mom, works into "Hey my niece is getting married, do you have a card?”

PROMOTE
Finally, the best marketing device you have, is you. This is your mantra. Believe in it and it will come true.  Some people just have that certain "it" quality that makes people want to hire them. Promote as much as you can. Make sure your name is in the top local magazine, at local bridal shows and charity events. As a full-time photographer, you must have shoots. It is your business and I treat it like a business.

A Gift Certificate for a referral that pays off is always welcome. I usually give a $35 dinner at a casual place like Outback, Applebee's, T.G. Fridays, with a cute thank you card.  Listen 35 dollars won't get the filet mignon and champagne but it will get you at least two burgers with all the trimmings. Nothing too fancy, just a thank you they'll remember every time they are hungry.