Ways to market brides for photography?

Started Mar 23, 2013 | Discussions
golf4food Regular Member • Posts: 267
Ways to market brides for photography?

How do you find brides?  Suggestions please.  What message are they looking for in Advertising?

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Biggs23 Veteran Member • Posts: 4,075
Re: Ways to market brides for photography?

golf4food wrote:

How do you find brides? Suggestions please. What message are they looking for in Advertising?

What age of bride? What type of market (small and rural, medium and suburban, huge and urban, etc.)? What socioeconomic group? What ethnicity? What part of the country? There are LOT of variables when it comes to marketing to 'brides'. Narrow down your target demographic and it will be a LOT easier to figure out what they are looking for.

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PenguinPhotoCo Veteran Member • Posts: 6,284
Re: Ways to market brides for photography?

Yeah, you need to define 'brides'.
I shot a wedding with a friend in the city last night - the reception, hall and food, cost $40,000. (asked the manager). Photog bill was $3900 (shoot, edit, disk, picatge -no hard product) They have spent 6 years marketing and their cost per wedding in marketing costs is nearly $500. Pricey- VERY pricey IMO - and they agree. They rented and remodeled a space in a very trendy (with young singles, artsy area too) for an office. Adds $10k to their costs, at least. And all they use it for is to meet brides. But they found it increased sales of higher priced weddings.
If you're after the $1000 bride you can meet at starbucks and probably be OK.
Bridal shows are often good placed to find brides - and you get a list of brides that attended.
Making relationships with venues that fit your style/market segment helps too. Get on their referral list if you can.
Unfortunately today there are WAY WAY WAY too many photographers for the size of the market. My local pizza shop has FIVE photographers' ads on their little entrance table. This is a town of 4500 people TOTAL.

The marraige rate in the US works out to 3.75 weddings per 1000 population. That's an average - where I live it's more older, married people (as opposed to being in an urban, college / new job type area).
So even if you take that figure, there are 17 weddings a year in my town...and 5 photogs actively seeking htem. I know of 4 more than are not on said table.  So evenly spread out we each can expect 2 weddings jobs a year.

My city friend has found 423 wedding photographers listed in his county of 1.2 million people. That works out to 4500 weddings...or about 10 per photographer. Still not enough to make a living with, even at $7k a wedding! And since the natl avg spent on a wedding photog is around $2k...
Sorry, hate to burst your bubble, but finding brides is getting to be a losing game. Also remember, that ONE BRIDE can ruin your business by making a comment online.
Go be a DJ instead. Tons of them too, but you can also work bars, dances, proms, etc. and getting setup won't cost more than decent wedding gear. Per hour you make more money too.

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Vegasluvr Senior Member • Posts: 2,102
Re: Ways to market brides for photography?
1

When I first dived into wedding photography, I hit all the Catholic, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran and non-denomination churches in the town I was based in.

Today I am the official photographer to major five-star hotels in prime markets (S. California, Hawaii, Las Vegas, Colorado, Oregon, Arizona as well as overseas Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom). I do not attend bridal shows. Most of my bookings comes from friends who are overbooked. But I do get a lot of referrals from the hotels mentioned above. I had to add on some photographers to cover these events.

When hotel wedding coordinators recommends us and a contract is signed, we always give the person who referred us a small gift of appreciation. It could be a $500 gift certificate to a 4 day/3 night stay in Las Vegas plus complementary tickets to a major headliner show in one of the major hotels on the Strip. This steers a lot of clients our way and the benefits is mutual.

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Craig Veteran Member • Posts: 5,911
Re: Ways to market brides for photography?

PenguinPhotoCo wrote:

Yeah, you need to define 'brides'.
I shot a wedding with a friend in the city last night - the reception, hall and food, cost $40,000. (asked the manager). Photog bill was $3900 (shoot, edit, disk, picatge -no hard product) They have spent 6 years marketing and their cost per wedding in marketing costs is nearly $500. Pricey- VERY pricey IMO - and they agree. They rented and remodeled a space in a very trendy (with young singles, artsy area too) for an office. Adds $10k to their costs, at least. And all they use it for is to meet brides. But they found it increased sales of higher priced weddings.
If you're after the $1000 bride you can meet at starbucks and probably be OK.
Bridal shows are often good placed to find brides - and you get a list of brides that attended.
Making relationships with venues that fit your style/market segment helps too. Get on their referral list if you can.
Unfortunately today there are WAY WAY WAY too many photographers for the size of the market. My local pizza shop has FIVE photographers' ads on their little entrance table. This is a town of 4500 people TOTAL.

The marraige rate in the US works out to 3.75 weddings per 1000 population. That's an average - where I live it's more older, married people (as opposed to being in an urban, college / new job type area).
So even if you take that figure, there are 17 weddings a year in my town...and 5 photogs actively seeking htem. I know of 4 more than are not on said table. So evenly spread out we each can expect 2 weddings jobs a year.

My city friend has found 423 wedding photographers listed in his county of 1.2 million people. That works out to 4500 weddings...or about 10 per photographer. Still not enough to make a living with, even at $7k a wedding! And since the natl avg spent on a wedding photog is around $2k...
Sorry, hate to burst your bubble, but finding brides is getting to be a losing game. Also remember, that ONE BRIDE can ruin your business by making a comment online.
Go be a DJ instead. Tons of them too, but you can also work bars, dances, proms, etc. and getting setup won't cost more than decent wedding gear. Per hour you make more money too.

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Penquin:

I thought you more positive than what you write here? You said your business is picking up?

I think only those who really are good and know how to market to those with money still are going to make it.. The rest of us that dont measure up can't live off the crumbs in this business anymore.

PenguinPhotoCo Veteran Member • Posts: 6,284
business is well, business!

Someone asked what's the difference between an amateur and a professional (photographer, but I think it applies to all things).
One thing most of us agree on is a professional get paid and an amateur does not. Or one could say the pro does it for the money. How much money makes one a pro is of course open to debate.
As a professional with a business the focus is now on the money. Yes, the image still counts, but if you don't keep the clients coming, keep the money coming, you're back to being an amateur in no time at all.
Just as if GM or Microsoft or Exxon didn't bring in the money to pay the bills, pay the employees, they'd be out of business too.
I view myself as a business owner. The business happens to be photography. It could just as easily be psychotherapy (my wife opened a private practice late last year) or a coin laundry or car repair or taco truck. The same rules apply - bring in enough money or you become a failed business.
You can have pride in what you do, your product, etc and STILL make money and be proud to do so. That I think is what some don't get. When I (or others) say "make money" we're not being any different than any other business owner.
********************

This year wedding bookings in my area are DOWN- way way down, for me a couple of other photogs.
I did 2 bridal shows that normally get me about 5 bookings. i've done my normal followup and have not had even 1 inquiry. Not one! Really? Seems impossible. And it's not just me.
Up or down attitude has nothing to do with it. The phone she not ring. the email she not come.
Sports leagues are up. First quarter sales are up. Everything is or seems to be or is looking up- except weddings.
OK here's the math -
I shoot a wedding with a 5D2, 5D3, 3 580-ex2, 70-200 2.8 IS, 16-35, 143 fisheye, 24-70, 135 F2 and a couple of pocket wizards, a batt powered monolight for formals - what, $14,000 in gear...8 to 9 hours on the wedding day and 5-6 hours of culling/proofing, then some calls, album order and prints usually so another 6 hours maybe all told.  I get, after expenses (album, prints) $2k give or take. For 20 hours. $100/hour.
I can get a DJ setup - bose speakers, subwoofers, couple of wireless mikes, notebook computers (actually have laptops nos), music membership to get the tunes, some cases, lighting - $5k should about do it. Less if I can do used gear (know a retiring dj selling out for $2k - two complete setups, all teh CDs, etc. Not led lighting so it's gonna be heavy, didn't do the PC thing and I would).
Ok, a typical wedding DJ here works 5 hours, allow 3 hours for setup/teardown, so 9 hours with an hour meet/consult.  And to get $1000 is easy, $1200 not too hard. the busiest local guy I know gets $1800 a wedding but he's been around a long time and has top of hte line gear, lighting, etc.
So pay an helper $100 and I get to keep $1000 easily, for 9 hours work. Hmm...seems to be MORE than I get paid for a wedding.
And come monday I'm DONE - no followup, no day spent at the computer editing (which I don't like to do). I can actually spend my time being a photographer perhaps!
It's very very tempting...my son will be 13 this year and is into music...I see a helper right there, good for 5 years or more...perhaps wiht some training I send him a buddy off to do weddings and I get $500+ for staying home!

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PenguinPhotoCo Veteran Member • Posts: 6,284
a couple of tidbits more

A buddy, a long time restaraunt manager, opened a pizza and ribs place just about a year ago. He's slowly built the biz to the point it pays the bills - rent, utilities, food, marketing. However, it's not paying him much of anything.
He's got great food, unique offerings, competitive pricing. He figures unless things pick up he's gonna have close up by mid summer - he can't keep working for free much longer even though he loves what he's doing, the complete control and the 'freedom' of being in charge of one's own destiny.
But there are lots of pizza shops and other restaurants competing for the same buck. Coupons will bring in some customers, but they are 'coupon' customers and just follow this weeks 'best deal'.
My wife opened a private psychotherapy practice, on the side at this point, in december and bt the time the ads hit and such it was mid january till the clients started coming. Her TOTAL marketing is ONE website, $29/month. She's able to pay march's bills/rent and put some in savings and take a tiny part as income. She's not yet paid off the investment (first/last months rent, furniture, signage, biz cards, insurance) but in 3 months she's on the positve side of the cash flow with growth rates that are amazing to me  She has already started to turn away clients...she still has a full time job. Her marketing is one listing on one website. Nothing more.
I'm sorry - I've been and am on 10 or 15 websites and don't get 10-15 customers a month from it. Do you?
We be in the wrong biz perhaps...anyone can be a photographer or make pizzas (his total investment to open up was under $10k). But to be a licensed psychotherapist takes 6 years of college and 3+ years on the job before you can even take the licensing test and then there is continuing education.  High barrier to entry so low supply means easy to get customers.
She's also had several therapists approach her to 'do a little work on the side' as essentially sub contractors. You don't see that with photographers - everyone wants to be the boss and run the show. Go try and get a photog to shoot a wedding for you - they want $900 as if they'd done all the work to book the job.
Yeah, considering alternatives is something I'm doing, and will continue to do. Says nothing about me as a photographer.

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My opinions are my own and not those of DPR or its administration. They carry no 'special' value

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Craig Veteran Member • Posts: 5,911
Re: a couple of tidbits more

I think I have mentioned that what is going on with the economy is getting worse.. We are heading to Serfdom..

Give this a listen.

http://www.kingworldnews.com/kingworldnews/Broadcast/Entries/2013/3/24_Dr._Paul_Craig_Roberts.html

PenguinPhotoCo Veteran Member • Posts: 6,284
Re: a couple of tidbits more

I'm trying to keep a positive outlook but here the economy never really tanked like it did other places- the past 2 years we've increased in population, the first time in over 40 years we're on the plus side.
Shell and another company are BOTH considering building gasification plants for the fracking gas around here  - each refinery is said to cost in excess of $1 Billion (with a B). Even if one goes in we'll be booming.
But yeah, a lot of small businesses seem to be scratching along... our largest regional grocery store chain tried to fight walmart by adding gas stations and discounts on gas, remodeling the stores to be more upscale, carry more products - but they're still losing. The're more expensive - 20% more on many things. The stores are nicer, better meat/veggies, more selection - but if cereal is $3 at walmart ad $4 or 4.50 there I have little choice but to frequent walmart.

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Vegasluvr Senior Member • Posts: 2,102
More insight

I am finding a lot of brides and grooms wants no frills photography and they want it for less than $1,000. However, we remind them they are paying premium for the reception/meals so they scrimp on the non-necessities.

Go into your local 3-5 star hotels and pass out your advertisements. Get to know the wedding coordinators. Go to bridal shops and leave your advertisements there too.

If you live near brand new master-planned communities, go and ask if you can place your ad in their community Intranet. My advertising is in several dozen brand new communities. It helped that my business photographed all of their brochures, grand openings and site images too.

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