Every year, I sit down and think about how we can better connect with our vendors. These include both the coordinators and creatives that we already work with consistently each season, but also the dream list of people that we strive to work with. For the Photogen Inc. brand, and frankly with all of our brands, our best clients come to us from the true relationships that we have built. You know that saying that 'word of mouth is your best advertising' ? I am a total believer of that. Whether a client hears about us thru reading the blog, being a loyal Instagram follower or was recommended to us thru their wedding planner or event designer - all of the connections that we build with each and every one of you are what matters. So this year, our team sat down to strategize a bit on how to spend our dollars towards advertising. We decided that we wanted to make it personal this year and think outside of the box to connect with you. You will see that we've stepped up our game a bit and have been more active on Instagram for both our Rivets and Roses team and myself. We're trying to show you more of our everyday adventures, along with behind-the-scenes and finished photos. We're also trying to connect on a more personal level with some key vendors, which will include a few more coffee dates and lunches, in efforts to actually see more of our favorite people - face to face.
When I thought about how relationships form over social media, I also asked myself: Who do I want to start a relationship with? and Who from a far do I admire? Illustrator, Cait Courneya came straight to my mind and at the top of my list. You see, I had been following Cait's drawings via Instagram, as a fan girl myself, for a while and I thought: She's a perfect fit. So, Cait and I got together for coffee and I pitched to her the idea of creating personalized sketches of a select group of vendors that I wanted to also send my gorgeous look books to. I can send out promotional materials all day long, but I wanted to go beyond that actually give these vendors an actual gift. Cait's work was a huuuuuuge success. Not only did all of the vendors enjoy their sketches, but many of them also posted their gifts and our look books on their social media outlets. Now, there's a key point that feel is really important: We didn't ask or push anyone to promote this. We simply created a piece that was meant to inspire, so the posts that came out were genuine and organic. Their praises and words were authentic and real, not contrived to names drop or self promote.
A lot of what we are seeing on our social feeds is curated content that shows 1) how fancy people are 2) how fancy the people they hang out with are and 3) how fancy the places they hang out at are. I've been guilty of all of the above, but it is my goal to create as many authentic actions as possible. And above all, I want to create work that inspires and that people will genuinely want to share. It is too early to know if I will book any wedding work from this year's marketing, but already, we have received many comments, emails and hand-written-thank-you-notes (which I oh-so-love), from our efforts. The look books were also created to be portfolio pieces that the vendors can actually use. So, was this project cheap? No, not at all. In fact, it was a pretty good investment, but already, it is way better than any listing on a website has ever returned for our companies. And above all, I feel GOOD - like really excited - to know that every single person we reached out to has loved this work and we have successfully grown our relationships with them.
Here are some tips to think about for your next round of marketing your wedding photography business (or any business, really):
Know Your Goal // Each year, your business probably has new goals to achieve. These might be the same from year-to-year, but I bet each season, there is a bit of a shift in the way you want to fine-tune your business. If your goal for this year is to do a bigger volume of clients, then research what the best resource for advertising is - perhaps this is investing in front-page listings. If your goal is to expand your network, budget enough dollars and mark dates on your calendar to attend events and plan more coffee dates. Or happy hours, because everyone loves a good happy hour.
Know Your Brand // Whether you are putting together marketing materials to get printed or creating an online listing, be intentional about who you want to reach. Who is your current client? Who do you want your future client to be? You have absolutely nothing to lose but to try and reach out of your comfort zone.
Invest in the Future, Not the Quick Dollar // We currently live in a world of instant gratification and sometimes it seems to be the 'norm' that people become 'Instagram Famous' overnight. First of all, the internet is an amazing tool, but it's also not reality. I guarantee you that those people you think just got a 'lucky break' have been hustling for years. We hear many times about the success, but not the hard work. A solid business means putting in the hours, creating amazing work, delivering your product on time and simply being kind to people. Decide how your investments, both monetarily and socially, will be best for you in the long run. If you are lucky enough to gain worldly success overnight, then good for you. Just don't expect that or hold this as the definition of your success.
Be Remarkable // Honestly, there's no room for anything less these days. If you put mediocrity into the world, that's not enough. You must create work and pieces that inspire you and those around you. I'm a perfectionist and my standard is always: Does this inspire me? Would I care about this? If the answer is yes, then I move forward. If the answer is no, I just let it go. We all have too much going on to care about fluffy bullshit. Whatever you create, make it amazing.
Have Fun // Marketing is FUN! I mean, this is a fantastic opportunity to allow people to get to know you and create something special. Collaborate. Think outside of the traditional route. Be excited. Be proud.