In last month's column
I addressed the marketing of "personal vision" for the commercial
photographer. I made the point that the marketing must be broadcast
to the great number of commercial clients who buy this type of photography.
Then, they can call you when they want your particular style. Though
selling wedding photography is a completely different marketplace, sold
directly to consumers instead of commercial clients, it also uses the
traditional broadcasting method of marketing. This column will look
at traditional and new methods of marketing to the wedding photo buyer.
As reported last year in Target Marketing magazine, an estimated $35
billion (yes, billion) is spent on 2.4 million weddings each year in
the US. At an average of $15,000 per wedding, you are looking at a very
lucrative consumer market. With the average age of brides increasing
and second and third marriages accounting for 60 percent of all weddings,
selling your photo services needs to be more adult and sophisticated
to reach your buyer and get a profitable competitive edge.
New technology makes this possible using the finely tuned tool of database
marketing. This technique of direct mail marketing uses compiled databases
of information on potential wedding photo buyers. Traditionally, wedding
photographers have always promoted and advertised to get the photo buyer
to call them at the point they are looking for a photographer. Database
marketing allows you to reach out to this consumer before they start
looking for their wedding photographer. This outreach to potential wedding
photo buyers is best used together with the traditional marketing that
promotes your work. You want to still advertise and get the bridal buyer
to call you at the same time you are using database marketing. First,
let's review the traditional methods. Then we will look at this
recently developing tool for marketing wedding photography.
Check List For Traditional Marketing:
·Start with a mission statement. What do you have to offer? All
successful businesses use their mission statement as the steering wheel
for their marketing efforts. A mission statement is critical to marketing
because the wedding consumer must make a choice of photographers based
on what they "imagine" the photos will look like after the
wedding. The words used in your mission statement must make an immediate
visual for prospective clients so they can make the decision to hire
you instead of your competition.
·Decide on your geographic coverage. Will you reach out to local
wedding prospects? Will you try for a broader, regional area? The big
prize is the national (or international) marketplace. Make sure your
style matches your goal. If your style is basic wedding coverage, you
will be most successful with local clients. With a strong and unique
style, you can cover a broader market.
·Your choice of prospective clients will direct your traditional
marketing. A high-end income group of clientele does not respond as
well to direct mail or advertising. Their decisions are more influenced
by personal endorsements and referrals.
·No matter what level of wedding client you market to, publicity
is a very important element in your marketing mix. They need to hear
about you and read about you from a third party. You can say how great
you are, but interviews and features in publications have a lot more
·Be sure to have all of your retail connections in place and ready
to refer work to you. Retail connections are other businesses that complement
yours and sell to the same buyers. Traditionally, these include florists,
limo services, wedding cake bakeries, wedding coordinators (both free
lance and staff), and wedding stationers.
·Don't forget the traditional venues for advertising wedding
photography including bridal shows and other opportunities to buy display
Database Marketing. Basically, a database is complied information. It
can be demographic information such as age, gender, job title, and address
or it can be behavioral such as subscriptions to publications, membership
in associations, catalog requests, or purchases. Buyers of wedding photography
are perfect for database marketing because their behavior and all of
their purchases revolve on or around a major lifestyle change and a
wedding date. It is a fixed point in time that identifies a potential
When renting these bridal lists (see resources below) you have two selection
criteria to use for getting the names. One, sign up for a monthly or
quarterly service to get new names. Two, target a window of time most
popular for wedding dates and buy the list of names three to eight months
ahead of the big day. Either way you will be promoting to prospects
that you know are ready to buy. This does not mean you give up traditional
marketing. Databases allow you to reach out to buyers as well as using
your ads and publicity for them to call on you. Besides the wedding
date, some services allow you to select additional criteria such as
level of income or lifestyle purchases.
Since consumers are buying more products and services using the Internet,
consider marketing online. According to Target Marketing magazine, the
Wedding Channel (www.weddingchannel.com)
is now working with R. R. Donnelley's Select Source. This is a
service to integrate merchandising into web sites and will combine wedding
editorial material with related products and services. Here are some
other database marketing resources for reaching the wedding photo buyer.
Thanks to Target Marketing magazine (www.targetonline.com)
for permission to reprint this list of resources.
Modern Bride magazine subscribers; American List Counsel, (800) 252-5478
Bride's magazine subscribers; Millard Group, (603) 924-9262
American Wedding Album Ride-Along, catalog requesters of wedding
products and services; L.H. Management (914) 723-3176
Weddingpages, requesters who have asked for a free wedding planner;
Rubin Response Management Services, (847) 619-9800
Brides-To-Be, requesters of wedding invitation and accessories catalogs;
Rubin Response Management Services, (847) 619-9800.