So, you want more wedding photography clients?
It’s the final countdown! Doo-doo-doo…!
Yup, it’s nearly time. The Christmas trees are out, the engagement rings are hidden under there and a whole lot of people are about to pop the question. In January they’ll be off venue shopping and looking for their photographer. Wedding booking season approaches…!
So, how do you make sure you set yourself up for a killer 2020 by locking down the bookings in January and February?
I am totally guilty of this one, I know that January is a big deal in the wedding planning timeline, but, in the past I have been distracted and thought, “oh, I’ll do it in the new year.” If you’re waiting until those enquiries do (or don’t!) start coming in, it’s kind of too late.
Get yourself ready now. Use December to get yourself in an amazing position to capitalise on the spike in traffic.
And create a plan with intention, that’s realistic (no point telling yourself you’re going to write a blog a day unless you’re willing to plonk yourself in front of your laptop for the rest of the month), and has a set timeframe.
Figure out your message
What do you stand for? Why would people hire you over everyone else? What makes you special?
The wedding industry is full of people talking in “big day” cliches…and that’s fine…but it must be a bland and confusing place for prospective clients. Give them something that stands out by making a bold statement about what you do.
Don’t be afraid to tell them who you’re for (and who you’re not for), what makes you different and inject some personality.
Pick a channel
Do you know what’s unrealistic? That you’re going to have 100k instagram followers, 500 comments a day on Facebook, front page ranking on Google for “wedding photographer” globally, thousands of re-pins and hit a million wedding fairs in the first month of the year.
Let’s get real – all the marketing channels work, so just pick one. Think about who your clients are, where they’re likely to spend their time online and how they make buying decisions.
If your clients are all men, chances are Pinterest with its 70% female users might not be the place to go…if your clients don’t know how to use a smartphone, Instagram probably isn’t the answer.
I know, these are extremes, but, really think about it – you know your clients, you’re probably a lot like them, so, how do you use the Internet? How would/did you plan a wedding?
Pick one channel and double down. It’s hard to be consistent when you’re spreading yourself thin and with a month left to go, why not nail one platform instead of being mediocre at 5?
Remember, with all these scary algorithms, chances are your people don’t see every post you make, maybe not even every third or fourth post. If you’re struggling to postonce a week because you’re rotating through each platform, your followers might only see you pop up once a month.
Oh and as an aside, if you can’t decide, go with the one you feel most comfortable using. It will make it a whole lot easier to actually post if you’re not in your head about it.
One of the big challenges my clients have is trying to create content everyday that feels fresh and different…that’s something they haven’t said before.
Who told you that you needed to say something different everyday?!
The reality is, if you have a clear message, you’ll have a couple of talking points that you want to keep hitting. And sure, you’ll do it with a different picture and a slightly different angle.
There should be clear patterns in what you post. Clients should be able to see that you keep banging on about the same thing because it’s important to you. And if it’s important to them too, every time you say it they’ll be nodding their heads, a little more convinced you’re the wedding photographer for them.
Don’t be afraid to be a real person. It’s kind of exhausting trying to imagine what a fancy-pants wedding photographer might say, right?
You are a fancy-pants wedding photographer, so say what you want.
Write the way you talk, get sweary if that’s who you are, talk about your new dog chewing every shoe you own, your photo editing RSI, the fact that every cheats at giant Jenga and it’s not OK…!
Carry that through everything you do…you’re a human who takes photos for a living. Be yourself in your marketing, in your emails, in your sales meetings.
You’ll soon realise that people book you for the strangest reasons…that one little thing about your real life you dropped into a post will be the reason someone reaches out to you over everyone else.
Also…weddings are intimidating enough, most clients just want to be comfortable with the person who will be jabbing a photo in their face all day.
Call in favours
You know all those suppliers who you shared images with and have been dutifully tagging? You know all those other photographers you’ve met at workshops or in Facebook groups?
It’s time to start nurturing and capitalising on those relationships.
Give them a nudge and remind them who you are – send them a Christmas card, or a little gift to anyone who has referred a client to you this year, ask them if they need any help getting ready for 2020 booking season themselves. Grab a Christmassy drink with them and chat self-employment.
I get a lot of referrals from other photographers because I’m a decent enough person (I think) and I keep some friendly communication open. Oh and I refer a lot of work to them too… Find a couple of photographers with a similar style (and pricing) to you and ask them if they’re open to accepting recommendations from you if you’re booked and if they’d like to grab a drink.
Oh…and this stands for friends and family too! Remind the people you know in real life about what you do. Post it on your personal social media, mention it at Christmas gatherings, make a clear statement, “hey, if any of your friends get engaged over Christmas I’d love you to recommend me as their photographer.” Often people just don’t think about it, so a clear statement is all it takes.
While you’re out there promoting yourself, remember not to make it all about you.
I always think that marketing and sales are a gift we give our clients. We have something they really want, that can help to solve a problem for them and we’re just letting them know we can help. As soon as it strays into us asking them for their business, it’s a very different game.
So…what can you do to help them ahead of time?
I know we can’t go out and take a load of free photos, that’s not what I’m suggesting…but, what can you do to help them…allow them to see your value as an expert…before they buy?
It might be a supplier recommendation, some tips on looking good in photos, wedding planning advice. Whatever it is…the ideal scenario is that your clients get something of value from you before they buy. That they’re able to act on the recommendation/advice and see that it helped. That way, they see that you know your stuff and want to buy from you and no one else.
Do the maths
I’m a big fan of working out the numbers in business. And right now is the perfect time. It’s easy to panic and think, “I don’t have enough enquiries,” “I need thousands of followers,” “I’ll never make enough money.” But, have you actually quantified that?
Sit down and work out a couple of things ahead of booking season:
- How much money do I actually need?
- What are my costs?
- How much revenue do I need to make my profit goal?
- How many wedding bookings does that relate to?
- How many enquiries do I need to make one booking (what’s your conversion rate)?
Chances are this will all be lower than you think. For example, if you need 30 weddings a year to make your profit goal and you usually book 1 in 3 enquiries, you need 90 enquiries for the whole year to make your money.
If you need 90 enquiries for the year, why are you worrying about having 100k followers on instagram or a million daily website hits? You only need 90 people to hit that contact form/DM.
Look for your weak spots
Dust off Google Analytics and look at where people drop off your website. Does everyone reach your contact page, but then see a beast of a contact form and click away? Is it your pricing page?
Or, do you get a ton of clients in your inbox, but then they never reply? If so, check out my blog post on how to stop getting ghosted by leads. Do you have meetings with a lot of couples but they never seem to buy?
Look for the weak spots in your process and finesse them. If you could get more of your website visitors to enquire, or more of your leads to reply, or more of your meetings to book…then you wouldn’t need as many people finding you to have the same amount of bookings.
And marketing and sales problems are easy to fix once you know what they are!
Don’t be creepy
Don’t panic and act like a weirdo. You know what I’m talking about!
I know that when someone doesn’t reply to an email and you thought they sounded amazing, it might be tempting to chase them up…but, before you do, ask yourself why? Is it because you’re going to give that date to someone else? Or because it’s been three weeks and you’re going to remove them from your leads? Or has it been a day and you’re freaking the f out about not making any money?
And I know that it might be tempting to say, “let me know your budget!” or “I can do something that works for you!” That seems like the nice thing to do, right? But, on the receiving end does it actually feel like you’ll do it for any money because you’re desperate?
Oh and…that goes for offering discounts for people who book quickly, posting incessantly about how you have “limited spots available,” or just outright begging people to book (I have legit seen this before). Yikes.
Do a quick check before you post/message/email – where is this coming from? Am I giving value? Acting like the badass photo boss who is already fully booked? Or…is it coming from a frantic, desperate, scared place? If so, step away from it for half an hour and re-read.
Get a plan
So, what if you had a plan? You knew what to say, when to say it, where to say it and why you were saying it? You found the weak spots in your process and fixed them? 2020 would be looking like the best year yet, right?
I’m offering Nail 2020 Strategy Sessions for December and January. It’s a full day, one-to-one with me (online or in person), to plan the rest of December and all of 2020. We’ll get a solid marketing strategy in place so there’s no more guess work.
We’ll cover: ⚡ goal setting ⚡ your ideal client profile ⚡ messaging (so good it’ll feel like you’re reading your clients minds) ⚡ irresistible offers & pricing ⚡ ick-free sales ⚡ marketing strategy
You’ll walk away with a 13 month marketing plan and a brand/marketing message that will elevate your business way beyond 2020.
Send me a message to find out more and get this thing booked in mega soon. The Christmas shopping can wait.