what makes it work

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by mysteryscribe, Aug 14, 2006.

  1. mysteryscribe

    mysteryscribe TPF Noob!

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    I have broken another promise I made to myself. I swore I would never use this thread because I am no longer in business and any advice I would give is truly out of date and useless but nonetheless here I am.

    My son in law took over my business when I retired. When ever we get together we discuss the business and we had dinner together last night. It has gotten past who does what better with what medium now. Lately it has been about how to promote the business. He has hopes of quiting his suplimental job and doing the studio full time.

    Since he and my daughter have a much much higher household overhead than I had, he is stuck. It doesn't help that his equipment costs so much and he is constantly updating it. All that is just to explain why he can't do it on the same amount of business I turned over to him.

    So now we are discussing how to make the business grow. He actually is well past competant. He is a darn good photographer in his own right. He lacks the thrity years of experience, but his work is equal to ANY I have seen here, posted by anyone. So why isn't he swamped.

    They can't hire you, if they don't know about you. You can be the best photographer in the world and it wont help if nobody knows it.

    Advertise of course but where. Internet advertising is really not all that good since people still don't know to look there for photographers and there is way too many. A website is essential today but you have to get people to it. Customers are not likely to find you in google.

    Just throwing dollars at advertising seems to be a waste. Getting your advertisement in front of the people who need your service seems to me to be the best use of your dollars.

    So he set up in a local wedding show. From it he got three leads not three jobs. The problem seems to be that at those shows people are just browsing. They take the handouts and may or may not follow up when they are ready to buy. Also I think a lot of brides have deeper desires than pocketbooks. If half the people cant buy from you, then it is would seem to be less than maximum use of your money. It's that target audiance again I think.

    I don't think I would advertise a high end photo business in the thrifty nickle. Getting your advertisement to the target customer would seem most important. Then there is the question of geography, where to advertise. If he did his rightful share of all the work in our area, it still wouldn't be enough to crack his overhead nut.

    If we lived in houston or dallas or even philly it might work out, but we live in an immediate area of about half a million people and probably fifty million part time photographers. So to make the money he needs, he is going to have to go in search of more and more weddings ect. You can reasonably do a wedding 150 miles away maybe, but not really a family portrait unless you have a huge sitting fee.

    And that's just half the problem there are plenty more in the sales pitch and closing of the sale. It would seem that a photographer should look the part. I can't see, me for instance, handing a large check to a goth looking person. I know it is hip and all, but I just couldn't do it. I buy from people I like and respect. It has been a sales axiom for years that buyers buy from their equals or betters. At least in big ticket items. It's why they have dress codes in department stores ect.

    I always said that Olan Mills could sell steak knives. Their success is based on their marketing not their photography. Alas you can't mount a big time marketing campaign as well as a major company can. At least I don't think so.

    So if there is a formula answer somebody enlighten me please.
     
  2. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Google "bw portrait photographer". :)

    Make sure that his website comes up when people put in "photographer" plus his location, city, state, etc... It's a fluke that I got the #1 place for "bw portrait photographer" on google. If you type in other likely keywords I'm not even in the top 100 places. But add "Lawrence" and "Kansas" to the search, and I'm usually on the first page.

    Also get linked where ever you can. I'm not sure how search engines work, but increased traffic seems to have something to do with it. Also it makes for more opportunities to be found. I search using keyword strings that I think my potential clients would use, and often I'll find sites with lists of photography links thta would be happy to link your son in law for a reciprocal link.
     
  3. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    There are many many 'wedding' web sites that have a 'links' page for photographers. If he can find some that are based in he area or have a section for your area...that might help. You need to get the web site seen...and then it has to be a good looking, fast loading site.

    When I picture a bride starting to look for a wedding photographer...I see her searching the web and browsing sites. Probably 10 sites in half an hour...the site has to be good for her to stop a read it. Depending on the market level she's in...she is probably comparing prices on the web sites as well. I know that it was rare for a photographer to have their prices out in the open like that but people like to compare prices...if you don't have a price, you may not make their short list.

    Hiring a good web designer might help with getting hits on the web site. There are probably tips & tricks that most of us don't know about.

    A yellow pages add is pretty standard, he probably has one...maybe a bigger & better one?
     
  4. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

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    Certainly web exposure is mandatory. Personally I do not have a clue about it except that I should probably get one. Could be that you are barking up the wrong tree so to speak. For instance; here in Jackson the wedding market is saturated with photographers. I do advertising/editorial and have been busy for years. Maybe have him look into shooting for galleries, interior designers and art directors.
     
  5. jemmy

    jemmy TPF Noob!

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    Providing the correct words are used, you can get a lot of looks on a website. My aunty is currently helping me build one and she seems to know a few tricks so will post them once i get my head around it. I will be putting my website on my business card and am also posting out an info sheet, business card, price list and discount sitting voucher to about 160 family and friends. Your son-in-law is obviously way more experienced and has probably been there done that, but i think it will be a good way for me to get out there.
    So far i have only done 3 paid jobs but through word of mouth i have received 6 bookings already. My 2nd and 3rd clients have not yet picked up their portraits (they have been away - paid though!) but have told other friends already and they in turn have rang me. I'm really excited that things have started so well for me.

    I can't see, me for instance, handing a large check to a goth looking person. I know it is hip and all, but I just couldn't do it. I buy from people I like and respect...
    As far as one's looks go, I've learnt never to 'judge a book by it's cover'. If someone showed me an impressive portfolio, I would happily book them whether they had a mowhawk and facial piercings or a disability! Talent is talent.
    I have been invited to put some business cards at 2 hair salons and a florist, though this would probably suit a wedding photographer more than a portrait photographer. Never the less, i will give it a shot. I will do a letter box drop around my area over the next couple of months and am going to ask my son's kindy if I could put a display in the foyer.
    I'm only in the early stages of my 'small' business and to me 'word of mouth' referrals are certainly a confidence builder.
    Definitely agree with big mike re. having prices on websites. I know friends who will skip the site if there are no prices - they automatically put them in the 'too expensive' pile.
    Jemma
     
  6. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I started dressing more casually when meeting clients (still nice, but casual), and I noticed that my hire percentage went down. I went back to dress pants and button up, long sleeved shirts, and my hire percentage went back up. It may have just been coincidence, but I've decided it's actually pretty easy to look professional for the client, and if it helps business at all I'm going for it.

    I agree that I hope people would hire me based on my portfolio and references, but people do make other judgements, and first impressions can be a doozy. Making a hipster fashion statement may be prefectly okay with some clients (it wouldn't bother me), but looking like a professional is okay with almost everyone. Of course, I'm old now, and I haven't had a safety pin in my ear or cut my hair into a mohawk in at least a decade, so I'm happy to play the game. :)
     
  7. danalec99

    danalec99 TPF Noob!

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    1. Respond.com - You should get many leads. US$3 per lead to get the contact info (email and tel).
    2. OneWed.com - The basic listing is free. You've got to pay a nominal fee for more 'visibility'.

    Just printed a bunch of 'Satin' cards from 4by6.com, for the editorial market.
    I'm going to try out the newly launched Kodak Creative Network for the wedding crowd. Order free samples before placing the order.

    As for the initial impression, I think it would depend on how we would would want to project ourselves/being true to ourselves/the target market. But that's not the topic here. Just wanted to throw in my comment, that's all. :)
     
  8. bigfatbadger

    bigfatbadger TPF Noob!

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    Google 'Search Engine Optimization' and have a look around.
     
  9. magicmonkey

    magicmonkey TPF Noob!

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    how about approaching other companies in the wedding business like dress hire companies or wedding cake makers etc. These people will be in contact with people who are serious about organising a wedding and I'm sure they'd be happy to reffer your son if he did good work and was willing to reffer them in return, also allows you to target the type of punter you want a lot more by being selective in who advertises you and vice versa. the only cost here is getting some decent brochres printed and maintaining a relationship with a few people.
     
  10. Luminosity

    Luminosity No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    From a perspective of a bride-to-be....

    First place I looked was Mr Google. Now, every bride is looking for their own style of photography so I can't speak for everyone but I typed in 'wedding photojournalists Hawaii' (obviously each person will type in the location of their wedding). The websites I stayed on and looked around were the ones with the amazing picture on the front page. Which drew me into looking further in their gallery.
    So, first impressions count on a website, in that respect. He needs a professional looking one with all his best photos.

    Is it important that you list prices? I would say yes. The photographers who didn't list their prices, lost my interest. This is because, for every photography company I thought looked great, there were ten others who I thought were just as great who did list prices. Hence, these photographers made it on my short list. I didnt feel like calling people left, right and centre to get prices.Not only that, I presumed (perhaps mistakenly, or not, who knows) that if they didnt wanna list their rates, then it was a level of " are they trying to hide high prices...?"

    Any wedding planners/co-ordinators in your area? Network with them, build working relationships with them. Stay in constant touch with them.

    Join wedding sites, such as The Knot and others like it. Not sure if you have to pay a fee to be listed with them but can't hurt to enquire, maybe it's an fairly inexpensive way to advertise.

    Any funky, great cafes with noticeboards around? Print out some cards/brochures and pin them up! Offer a 'special discount to the first x-amount of such-and-such cafe customers' maybe.

    Back on the networking thing. He should talk to everyone about the business, you never know who knows someone getting married in the near future. Or who will hear of someone getting married. Go to anywhere photography related (gallery exhibitions and the like) and talk to people there.

    A lot of professional photographers I know tell me word of mouth is an amazing marketing tool, perhaps the best ( other then the proof-in-the-pudding, which is the calibre of his work).

    Submit photos into competitions. If he places anywhere, that is always good exposure.

    Most of all, good luck!
     
  11. PNA

    PNA TPF Noob!

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    Mysteryscribe….May I preface my thoughts by credentials. Except for corporate piloting for a few years, I’ve never received a paycheck from anyone other than myself. Self-employed for over 40 years.

    The suggestions above concerning the internet, I’m positive, are valid and need to be explored. Luminosity hit most of it on the head with price listing, word of mouth referrals and brochures.

    There’s a huge market out there that cater to weddings…..Caterers, tux rentals, churches, bridal shops, department store registration, restaurants, marriage license bureau, etc. just to mention a few. Offer photo deals at a reduced rate…… family shoots and their kids birthday parties…… with the people catering to weddings in turn for their recommendations. Then they have a physical portfolio of your work and can claim bragging rights knowing the "best wedding photographer in town". Talk to owners and managers of these businesses. This gets back to “word of mouth”, the best form of advertising. Whose getting married and when??; make you contact early with a reduced price pre-wedding photo shoot.

    Find a good color copy shop, cut a photo deal with them also and have them print up flyers from a color copier, they’re less expensive to make then brochures. Commercial advertising, newspapers and magazines, can be quite expensive and don’t always draw enough to warrant the cost. Then spread the news in person. And, dress for the situation….no jeans! Grid the city, put on your most comfortable walking SHOES and canvas your business and talents. DO NOT WAIT FOR BUSINESS TO COME TO YOU, it will pass you by every time!!!

    Now you sir, as a businessman, knew all this……. LOL ;)

    P.S. Don't know why it's bolded??????


     

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