The success of your wedding photography business depends on how well you market your business. In marketing a wedding photography business, the first thing that you need to understand is: “What is it that you are really selling?”
As a wedding photographer, you are not just selling photos. You are selling your service. You are selling yourself — your talent, your artistry, photography skills, and yes, your personality.The customers are paying for the eye of an artist. Anyone who can press a camera shutter can take photos — but as a professional wedding photographer, you capture the joy and experience of that momentous occasion in the most creative and imaginative way. You are selling your art, not just the CD or photo album. Your marketing efforts will have to focus on communicating that promise of delivering the service to your clientele.
Understand the Buying Behavior of Customers
Procuring the services of a wedding photographer is often a long process. It is not a snap decision where a friend of a friend recommended your business and they will immediately book your services. Prospective brides and groom understand that long after the wedding cake has been consumed, it is the photos that will remind them of their momentous occasion. There are no second chances in choosing a wedding photographer, so they need to make sure that they made an informed decision.
The bridal party may make a list of potential candidates for the wedding photographer based on recommendations and word of mouth and their own research. They may use the Web, telephone directory, or wedding magazines. They may read reviews from recent brides or browse through local listings of wedding photographers. Once they find you, they will check your website to see whether they like your style and your photos — and compare yours with your competitors. They may even check your social media profile — photos you share on Instagram and Pinterest, or the feedback on your Facebook page.
They will then call the photographers on their list and make an appointment for an interview. They will want to check your availability for their planned wedding dates, as well as the packages you offer and price range. During the interview, be prepared to answer these questions:
- How long have you been in business?
- How many weddings have you shot?
- How many weddings do you typically do in a year?
- What is your photography style: photojournalistic, traditional, mixed, etc.?
- How do you approach your work? What is your working style?
- Do you have a portfolio?
Your portfolio will be critical in the prospective client’s assessment of your work and the decision to hire your services. Typically, a portfolio will consist of the best photos from the various weddings you’ve done. However, be prepared when the client requests to see a full wedding album, and not just the choicest samples from that wedding.
Create a Favorable First Impression
First impression is extremely important in the wedding photography business. The wedding couple will be checking to see if your personality and work fits with the style, quality and budget that they are looking for. Customers will choose your services not just because of your skills and talent in photography, but in how well you “click” with each other in that first meeting. You may be the best wedding photographer in the area, but if the bride or groom does not feel comfortable working with you for whatever reason, they will go to someone else.
Be sure to create a good first impression when interacting and meeting with clients. Train everyone in your business who answers the telephone to sound courteous, be knowledgeable and speak with a positive tone in voice. The telephone is most likely your first touch point with the customer. A prospective customer will not even ask for an appointment if they are so turned off with how you or your staffer responded on the telephone (e.g. sounded bored, disinterested, or has no idea what is going on in the business).
Dress professionally and be courteous and polite when talking. Learn how to create a bond with your prospects and clients. You can increase sales and find more clients for your wedding photography business if you develop the ability to build trust and rapport quickly.
Subtle signals such as the look and ambiance of your studio and office can also spell a great deal in creating a good impression. Does your rate match the look of your studio? You’d be surprised to find that there are customers who will justify your rate by the look of your studio: if your studio looks top-rate, they are more likely to accept the premium rate that you are charging. However, if they feel that your studio grounds and interior don’t look like it’s worth the rate that you are quoting, they will walk away from you.
Focus on Getting Favorable Word of Mouth
The wedding photography business depends on a large part from referrals and word of mouth. Prospective brides and grooms are more likely to ask around for recommendations first from family and friends before actively searching for a wedding photographer. Previous customers who are satisfied with your service and the resulting photos are more likely to recommend your business to others.
However, it is important to understand that recommendations may come not only from the couple, but from the guests who attended the wedding and saw you in action. Guests may have seen your professionalism at work and be impressed with how you handled the bridal party that they can talk positively about your service to others.
Keep an Eye on Your Competitors
It is important to check on what your competitors are doing – not exactly to compete with them in terms of price (unless of course you are pricing yourself out of the market), but more to determine what competitive advantages you should be promoting.
You need to be able to answer the question: What makes you different from other photographers? This is an extremely important question, and one that you need to think long and hard. Why should the customer choose you, instead of your competitors? What are you doing differently from your competitors?
You may be different from your competitors because of your beliefs and your values, such as the prime importance you put on integrity and honesty. It may be your entire service model and how you conduct your business. It may be your turn-around time or the importance you place in understanding what the customer wants and giving it to them. Or it may be due to the fact that you accept a very limited number of weddings per year in order to focus on the details and work deeply with the clients. Another reason could be the above-standard way to display the photography such as museum-grade engagement and wedding albums handcrafted from the finest materials.
Write down your reasons — and if you have to, memorize the script so you can respond properly and convincingly when the customer asks you the question of what makes you different from your competitors.
Knowing what your competitors are doing can also help shape how you market and reach out to potential customers. What are the things that are working well for them but you are not doing? What are the marketing channels that they are using to get more clients for their businesses? Go to their websites and check what your competitors offer. Talk to customers who come to you: many will have done the canvassing before choosing you, and can give you insights why they did not choose your competitors.
Create a Website with a Strong Focus on Local Marketing
The Web is an important marketing tool for a wedding photographer. You need to have a website that will provide prospective customers with information about yourself, the services that you offer, and sample work. Your website should have the following features:
- Online wedding gallery portfolio
- Pricing and package list, including the services/products offered (If you choose not to reveal your packages, at least indicate the basic package that you offer with the minimum price)
- Information about yourself and your business, including any awards and recognition won, certifications and memberships in professional organizations
- Contact information
- Forms to collect information from potential clients, such as request for consult or interview
- Deals and discounts, if any
Your website can also choose to have a Frequently Asked Questions section where you discuss your policies, process, what the clients will get at the end of the service engagement, among others. By giving answers to the common questions asked by customers allow you to build trust with the customer more easily.
Some wedding photographers maintain a blog where they post photos and narratives of weddings they have handled. A blog is a good tool to showcase your style, the types of photos you create as well as your personality. Your website and your blog can also show the type of work that you specialize in — whether candid, traditional, photojournalistic or mixed.
It is important to optimize your website for your specific locality or area. You’d want your website to be in the first page of the search engine results when users and potential clients search for “wedding photographer [Name of Your City or State].” Also find online listings, wedding resource websites such as WeddingWire.com and directories of wedding photographers by area and make sure that your website and business is listed on those directories. Also, be sure to register your business in Google’s Places for Business so your location can appear in Google Maps.
You can also use social media to market your business. Create a Facebook page and invite your customers to post their testimonials on the page. You can also build a Pinterest profile and create boards of samples of the different types of weddings that you’ve been able to serve. Share your photos on Instagram as well. Build followers and encourage them to repost, repin or reblog your images.
For more information on marketing your wedding photography business, read the following articles:
- How to Market a Service Business
- Selling Services: Tips for Marketing Smarter to Earn More
- Managing your Wedding Photography Business
- Marketing and Pricing Your Photography Business
- Starting a Home-Based Photography Business
Recommended Books on How to Market Your Wedding Photography Business:
- Start a Successful Photography Business in 34 Days: Actionable steps to plan a portrait or wedding photography business, develop a brand, launch a website, write a marketing plan & more.
- Profitable Wedding Photography
- Photography Business Secrets: The Savvy Photographer’s Guide to Sales, Marketing, and More
- This Modern Romance: The Artistry, Technique, and Business of Engagement Photography
- Digital Wedding Photography: Art, Business & Style