“How do I get potential new clients to find me?
“Well now they can find me, but how do I get potential new clients to actually contact me?”
“Now they’ve contacted me, but I can’t seem to get the potential new client to actually book me.”
Marketing is one of the biggest struggles that we have as wedding photographers. We are creatives, and the vast majority of us don’t have a business degree and have no clue what we’re doing when it comes to marketing. We just keep throwing things at the problem, hoping something will stick and make us one of those success stories. We ask for others who have come before us to magically reveal the answer, and we don’t hesitate to come up with all of these reasons why this is the path you should or shouldn’t take. But what I’ve noticed over the past four years in this industry is that the vast majority of wedding photographers look inward when they’re developing their marketing plan.
Who am I?
What makes me special?
What do I offer that is different from my competitors?
Where should I spend my marketing dollars?
What should I charge for my services?
I’ve also noticed that the successful photographers have started looking outwards and have adapted to how their target client makes decisions. They, of course, know the answers to the questions above, but they’ve taken it a step further. They know precisely who their target client is and they cater everything in their marketing plan to that audience. If you’re reading this and you’re a wedding photographer, I would venture to say that your target market is full of Millennials.
The Census Bureau classifies Millennials as those born between 1980 and 2004. But there’s a pretty big difference between me, who was born in 1985, and someone who was born five years later in 1990. And there’s a bigger difference between me and someone who was born in 2000. What makes those people different? Their relationship with technology.
I remember having an old school IBM computer around 3rd grade…mostly used for Oregon Trail. Junior High and High School, it was all about AOL, AIM, and MySpace. And then in College came Facebook. But I remember what life was like before the internet. I remember actually having to find people in the phone book and call them or send letters or visit them in person to catch up or get information. I remember playing outside until dark. And I remember waiting for my favorite song on the radio to come on so that I could record it on a tape.
Someone five or ten years my junior…they’ve had access to early forms of social media since they were in elementary school. The tail end of the Millennials…Facebook has existed since they were born. Yep…I bet that makes you feel REALLY old.
So let’s do a little comparison: we (I’m grouping you all in with me – prior to 1985) are comfortable talking with people to get the information we want because that was normal for us and for our parents. Millennials have grown up with access to the internet their entire lives AND their parents are tech savvy, too…so their normal is instantaneous access to all information.
The Council of Economic Advisors also has some other interesting facts about Millennials that might be useful to us:
- They value community and family
- They are educated
- They started their careers in an economic downturn but remain optimistic
- They tend to get married later and want careers and families
I’ve also recently asked some post-1990 friends some questions to see if they can give us some insight on their purchasing decisions.
- Most of them couldn’t remember when they got the internet and almost all of them have said they’ve always had computers. They’ve been on social media for as long as they could remember.
- They do a LOT of online shopping. They said it’s easier and more convenient.
- On the same note, they prefer texting and email to phone calls and in person discussions and cited convenience.
- They use search engines and social media to start their purchasing decisions, but they also value personal referrals and the power of the written review.
- They’re interesting when it comes to their finances – they have budgets and are more fiscally aware than most of us were at their age, but they have no problem spending large amounts if they see the value.
- And lastly, almost every one of them said that when they’re searching for something that they might not know is within their budget, if there is nothing listed (e.g., contact me for more prices), they immediately move on because they assume that they cannot afford it, and they think that it will be “awkward” if they have to tell the provider that they can’t afford their services/product. They all wanted at least a starting price but also said that instantaneous access to pricing and other information (e.g., information to answer any questions they might have) was preferable.
So here are my top five tips for Marketing to Millennials:
- Be present online. You need a website/blog and you need to be present on social media. Engage with them.
- Reviews are important to them. They’re smart, and they want to know that they’re going to have a good experience.
- They want the information at their fingertips. Put your pricing online (at least a starting price). Their time is valuable and they’re often multitasking, so don’t give them a reason to put you in the no pile right off the bat.
- They want FAST responses. As in minutes. Be open to communicating in ways that aren’t your comfortable space – texting and emailing seems to be preferable to the in person meeting/phone call (at least at first they said).
- Focus on their experience. And then provide an amazing experience and quality product.
A few months ago, I discovered this amazing company, Chasing Lockets, founded by Lukas and Suzy Van Dyke. When I saw these gorgeous lockets, an image flashed in my brain of myself as a little girl with my locket. It had a photo of my mom and a photo of my dad in it. Most of you know by now that my dad passed away from a car accident when I was four back in 1989, and then my mom passed away 20 years later in 2009 from cancer.
My mantra in my photography business is, “To me, an image isn’t just a picture. It’s your life. It’s the proof that you lived and were loved.”
So when I saw these lockets, I immediately knew that my clients needed them…or at least I needed to give them to my clients. A locket keeps the images of your loved ones close to your heart, and precisely echoes why I do what I do. So I’m in the process of ordering all of my 2014 clients a gorgeous custom locket, and next winter, my 2015 brides will receive a locket, too. I’m so excited to incorporate this amazing company that means so much to me personally and share that with my clients.
Anyway, so a few months ago, Lukas contacted me to be a part of the Chasing Lockets Love Circle. I ordered three lockets as part of the project.
The first was for my super sweet client, Kristen. She married the love of her life, Matt, (side note: happy birthday, Matt!) on a snowy day last February. My amazing friends, Luke & Cat, sent Kristen my way, and I’m so thankful for that referral, because Kristen, Matt, their families, and their friends were so welcoming to me and have kept in touch, and I’m just grateful for those relationships. I knew that this was something that Kristen would appreciate as much as I did, so I ordered her this locket. I chose the outside photo because (1) they actually trusted me to go outside in the snow in like 5 degree weather to get an epic shot, and (2) they were SO giddy that night, and I know that happiness has permeated their marriage in this first year. I chose the inside photo because it was one of Kristen’s favorites from their engagement session, and it was the cover of their engagement guestbook. I also thought that it’s a photo that would mean something to her and their children years from now because you can see the intimacy and love Matt has for her while he’s holding her. She hasn’t actually gotten it yet because they’re part of a larger gift that the 2014 brides will be receiving soon, but I did send her photos of it! And she LOVED it! Even her mom commented on it. I can’t wait for her to actually have it around her neck!
The second one I ordered was for one of my best friends, Katy. I met Katy years ago while she was advising my sorority at SLU, but when I became an advisor after law school, we became really close and have gotten even closer now that we’re both mommies. I’ve been photographing her daughter Stella since a week after she was born, and I did their annual family session right before this project launched, so I knew these photos would be great for a locket for Katy. I chose the one on the outside because it shows Stella’s curious nature. She’s the sweetest little girl, and she LOVES being outside. Mostly running, but she also is an observer. I wanted to capture this beautiful stage when she’s carefree for her and her family. I chose the inside photo because it’s (1) a gorgeous photo of their family, but (2) it’s for Stella. They’re so happy, and she deserves that memory in the event that something ever happens to her parents. I would have died for a photo like that of my family. I totally expect this locket to get passed down to Stella, and I know she will love it as much as I loved mine as a little girl. I gave Katy her locket during a ladies lunch while our other friend Pam was in town from KC. Had we been alone (and had I not spilled the beans via text), she probably would have cried.
And the last one was for me. I think it was time for a new locket, especially knowing how full of heartache my life has been with losing both of my parents so young. This year completely changed every ounce of my being. We welcomed our little guy into our life in May, and I’ve never felt this joy. I’ve always been so guarded, even with John, although he’s definitely gotten me to open up more than any other person on the planet. But when Jackson was born, I knew what unconditional love was, and it broke every barrier that I’ve ever put up to guard myself from more heartbreak. The love I feel for my son and my husband is indescribable, and I’ve always wanted this. I wanted to capture this life changing event and put it into a locket that I could always keep close to my heart. The outside image is one of Jackson’s newborn photos that Anne Meintrup took back in May. That day was really hard on me because only one of his grandparents is still living, but I know that he is surrounded by SO much love from our families and friends. The inside of the locket is our first family portrait. I anticipate many more of these to come, but this locket is super special to me and is one of the few things I would save in a fire.
Thank you, Lukas and Suzy, for creating a product that means everything to me. I can’t wait to share this with all of my brides and create this heirloom for their children and grandchildren.
Ahhh…the start of a new year. A blank slate. Time to recharge. Time to review everything that went well in 2014 and what didn’t go so well and make a plan to make 2015 the best year yet. Time to preview the amazing weddings that we have on the books for the next twelve months. Time to look forward with joy and anticipation because I get to do what I love every. single. day.
So first. A review. A look back on my favorite images of 2014.
^that last image might be one of the most important photos I’ve ever taken. I’m so lucky that I was able to capture that photo for Alex & Steve before his mom passed away.
And now a preview of what’s to come in 2015! We have over 20 amazing couples already on the books for 2015, and we can’t wait to welcome even more couples to the AFP experience!
First up, I’ve got Trish & Dave’s family filled wedding at the Piper Palm House. Then we’re photographing the third super fun Heck wedding with Heather & Adam’s wedding at St. Agatha & The Franklin Room. That’s followed by Hilary & Shepard’s gorgeous wedding at the Jewel Box & Hilton Ballpark (so excited to travel to Charleston, SC for their engagement session, too!). We’re wrapping April up with Kathleen & Alan’s beautiful outdoor spring wedding at the World’s Fair Pavilion.
I’m taking the first two weekends off to celebrate our little guy’s first birthday, but then we come back with Emily & Jordan’s springtime Sunday wedding at the Jewel Box & Schlafly Tap Room. And we finish May up with Stevee & Josh’s laid back wedding at the gorgeous Scape restaurant in the CWE!
We kick June off with Ashley & Ricky’s four day Indian wedding extravaganza at The Caramel Room. That’s followed by Samantha & Tracy’s wedding at the beautiful Studio Inn St. Albans. Then we head to Jefferson City for Megan & Andrew’s wedding at Immaculate Conception Church & La Masion. And we end June with Betsy & Steven’s wedding (who just can’t wait to be married!) at Sacred Heart & the gorgeous Rigali Center.
In early July, we’re heading to Vegas for a quick vacay, and then we’ll be back for a double header with two awesome couples. First up is Kelly & Blake’s chic wedding at the Third Degree Glass Factory, followed by Emily & Nick’s glam wedding at The Caramel Room!
In August, we have Erica & Sean’s classic wedding at The Old Cathedral & NEO and then Candice & Steve’s downtown wedding at Windows on Washington. At the end of August, I’ll be flying up to Washington State to shoot an insanely gorgeous winery wedding with my sweet friend, Nicole Conner!
September kicks off the crazy busy fall. We start out in wine country with Rebecca & Jonathan’s beautiful wedding at Chaumette Winery. And then I’m headed to Florida for two back-to-back weddings. The first is in Miami, FL, to capture Carlos and Giselle’s big day, and then I’m heading to Destin for Melissa & Dave’s beach wedding. Once I get back, we finish up September with Brogan & Peter’s vintage wedding in Carlinville, IL.
We start October with Katrina & Steve’s stunning wedding at St. Anthony’s of Padua and The Sheraton Clayton. Then we head up to Northern Missouri for the wedding of fellow photographer, Kacey D & her fiancé, Ethan’s, wedding. Then we’re back in STL for Jessica & Matt’s classic and romantic wedding at The Missouri History Museum. We wrap October up with Paige and Eric’s downtown STL wedding at Windows on Washington.
We wrap up our last month of weddings (as of right now) with Kat & Stu’s elegant wedding at the Peabody Opera House and then Payton & Laryssa’s modern wedding at the Renaissance Grand downtown.
Whew! So much to look forward to. We’re so blessed to have so many fabulous couples entrust us with capturing the first day of their marriages. We love you guys and can’t wait for every single wedding!!
Mentoring is so invaluable to a photography business. This isn’t an easy career path, and it definitely takes a ton of work. There is no easy way to success, but we can help to guide you so that you avoid mistakes we’ve made and common pitfalls that we see with business owners in the industry! All mentoring clients must fill out an application to ensure that we’re the right fit for you! We definitely value our mentoring relationships, and we absolutely want you to get real, practical knowledge for your investment in your business when you mentor with us. We only accept mentoring clients who we truly believe we can help! If this isn’t the best time for you or if we feel like someone else will be a better fit for you, we will not waste your time or your money, and we will help you find the right fit!
We offer both online mentoring and in person mentoring, and we offer 1-on-1 options, as well as group options. All mentoring options include a follow up session 30 days later and the ability to email us with questions anytime after you complete your mentoring session. Beginning mid-March, all half day/full day in person mentoring clients will receive our comprehensive downloadable PDF workbook with everything there is to know about our business (both shooting + business)! Online mentoring clients may purchase the comprehensive downloadable PDF workbook.
A 50% non-refundable deposit and contract are required to book your mentoring spot. The final balance is due 48 hours prior to your mentoring session. For more information, please email me at email@example.com. Custom mentoring packages are available upon request. Once you’re accepted into our mentoring program and you book your spot, we’ll send a mentoring session questionnaire that will help us to determine a customized plan for your session so that no time is wasted! Mentoring sessions can cover any topic under the following four umbrellas: (1) technical/shooting/lighting, (2) post-processing/workflow, (3) business/marketing, (4) client education/experience. We will spend an average of 2-3 hours of work for every hour we spend mentoring on our end, and you should expect to spend 5-10 hours on your business perfecting the skills that we work on during your mentoring session. Like we said, there is no quick route to success, and even with the perfect business plan laid out for you and tips from the masters on your technical skills, you’ll only get out of mentoring what you put into it. If you’re ready to take that next step in your business, email us and we’ll send you the initial application!
*All mentoring sessions must take place within 90 days of reserving your date. At the time we book your mentoring session, we are unable to book any other client for that time slot. For this reason, and due to the nature of mentoring, we are unable to issue refunds. Clients who need to reschedule a mentoring session may be invoiced a $150 rescheduling fee.
INVESTMENT (SEE SPECIALS LISTED ABOVE!):
1-on-1 Online Mentoring
30 Minute Mini Mentoring Session (no follow up) – $150
1 Hour 1-on-1 Mentoring Session + 15 minute follow up 30 days later – $250
3 Hour 1-on-1 Mentoring Session + 15 minute follow up 30 days later – $500
Group Online Mentoring (2-5 participants)
1 Hour Group Mentoring Session + 15 minute individual follow ups 30 days later – $350
3 Hour Group Mentoring Session + 15 minute individual follow ups 30 days later – $600
1-on-1 In Person Mentoring
1 Hour 1-on-1 Mentoring Session + 15 minute follow up 30 days later – $250
1-on-1 Half Day + 30 minute follow up 30 days later – $500
1-on-1 Full Day + 30 minute follow up 30 days later – $900
Group In Person Mentoring
1 Hour Group Mentoring Session + 15 minute individual follow ups 30 days later – $350
Group Half Day + 30 minute individual follow ups 30 days later – $600
Group Full Day + 30 minute individual follow ups 30 days later – $1000
*Group options are the full price, which may be split among anywhere from 2-5 people.
If you want to take advantage of our mentoring specials, click the contact button on the toolbar above, and email us today!
We are giving away a FREE 3 hour 1-on-1 mentorship! The contest ends on 12/10. Enter today, and I’ll love you forever if you share this post on social media!
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Can you believe 2015 is just around the corner? With the new year ahead some exciting things are in store for both our fantastic clients and fellow photographers alike! Over the past year, both myself and my wonderful friend and fellow wedding photographer, Catherine Rhodes, have noticed a growing interest in opportunities to learn from fellow photographers like ourselves. With years of photography knowledge between the two of us, we put our heads together to create something pretty amazing.
We introduce to you…
This two day, jammed packed wedding workshop will be held from Friday, March 13-Sunday, March 15 at a lake house just outside of St. Louis, MO.
Accommodations AND meals are included in the ticket price!
Here’s what we have in store for this weekend retreat :
- Friday: Welcome Dinner & Q&A Session
- Saturday: Walk through of a wedding on Saturday, including a styled shoot with key tips from Catherine on creating emotive portraits with your couples on such a busy day. Also, after Saturday’s dinner & Q&A session, Ashley will be teaching a lesson on OCF including reception lighting, sparklers, night shots, and cigar shots for the guys!
- Sunday: A day chock full of our best business tips to get clients, treat them like gold, and have a life while running a successful wedding photography business. Sunday evening will be our big Q&A session.
- Monday: Breakfast before departure!
Attendees will also receive two PDF workbooks (one from Ashley & one from Catherine) that will detail everything we talk about at The Wedding Retreat and more!
We are offering Early Bird Registration to 5 wonderful photographers. Not only could this be the very thing that helps refresh you for the new wedding season ahead, The Wedding Retreat could be an amazing opportunity to meet new faces in the industry while growing and learning together! Early Bird Registration ends December 31st 2014, so be sure to reserve your spot today HERE!
**Early bird registrations will receive a special gift from Ashley & Catherine!**
Neither Catherine nor myself do anything halfway, so you can be assured that you’ll have an AMAZING time at The Wedding Retreat & learn practical techniques, tips, and tricks to implement and boost your wedding photography business in 2015. So if you are interested in reserving your own seat at The Wedding Retreat (10 spaces available) please visit THE WEDDING RETREAT!
We can’t wait to meet each and every one of you!