Here at ShootDotEdit, we love to provide wedding photography editing services to pro photographers. We also love to share valuable tips and tricks to help you grow your business, including how to use marketing to book more clients. Marketing for your wedding photography business allows you to place your images and content in front of ideal clients who are looking for a photographer. To help you learn more about your ideal clients to build your marketing plan for your business, we reached out to Heidi Thompson of Evolve Your Wedding Business to gain her insights into the topic.
Heidi Thompson is the author of Clone Your Best Clients and the founder of Evolve Your Wedding Business, where she specializes in business and marketing strategy for wedding professionals. She helps wedding professionals grow their businesses and reach their goals without going crazy in the process. Her business and marketing expertise has been featured on several wedding and business outlets, including The Huffington Post, Social Media Examiner, Wedding Business Magazine, Sprouting Photographer, Photo Biz Xposed, Honeybook, WeddingWire World, and she’s an advisory board member for the UK Academy Of Wedding & Event Planning.
A lot of photographers have a fluid idea of a nonexistent, amorphous client, they sort of know who they maybe want to work with. But it’s vital to have an exact target, not only because it helps them find you, but because it helps you find them.
If you’re shooting a bow and arrow, and you don’t know where the target is, chances are you’re not going to hit the target. But if you know where the target is, it suddenly becomes so much easier to hit it. That’s what happens when you hone in on who your ideal client is, exactly.
Many wedding photographers say: “I know who my ideal client is; they’re a fun couple between 20 and 35 who do not have time to plan their wedding and can afford to pay my prices.”
At face value, it appears this photographer has defined and identified their ideal target market and client. It covers the basic attributes—they’re fun, they fit within a desired age range, they don’t have time so that’s the problem they’re looking to solve, and they’re willing to pay your prices because they value what you do.
There’s an enormous problem with that, though. People aren’t demographics, and there are a lot of different types of people who fall into that “between 20 and 35 years old, doesn’t have time, can afford to pay my prices” group.
So, is your 30-year-old a Walmart shopper or would she never be caught dead there?
Is your 30-year-old covered in tattoos and loves artistic, creative things, or is she the total opposite?
As you can see, there are a lot of different types of people in any given demographic. Every person wants, values, and cares about different things, but when you go into investigator mode and look for marketing intel, you can find the patterns that connect your best clients. From there, you can use what you learn in your marketing and attract more and more of these people to you. Here are 3 ways to get valuable marketing intel on your ideal clients.
Look at Your Reviews
Marie Burns Holzer is a wedding officiant who went through my process of getting laser-focused on your ideal client. When she was honing in on her ideal client, it occurred to her that she should look to see what the couples she loved working with most said about her in their reviews.
Why? Because one of the qualities she knew she wanted in a client was that they would rave about the service she offered.
Marie started going through all of her reviews on Yelp, Facebook, WeddingWire, and The Knot to see what they had in common. A vision became clear. Her couples often don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to planning their perfect wedding ceremony, but they want a wedding that is personal and fun. They are often spiritual but not religious or are an interfaith couple. Before she knew it, she had three ideal client types that she could use to categorize her favorite couples! Since gaining clarity on who these people are, over 80% of her clients fit into one of these three ideal couple types and, as a result, she is a lot happier in her work.
Identifying her ideal clients was a big change for Marie because, like many wedding professionals, she started with basically anyone who would book her. She now looks back and reflects,
“I remember when you first started talking about your ideal client, and a light bulb just went off! I couldn’t believe that I had just been throwing my net hoping to catch anything without realizing how ineffective that was.
It also resonated with me because I was listening to you teach this while I was driving home from a wedding that was the opposite of my ideal client. I didn’t feel connected to the couple, and while they seemed happy enough with the ceremony, I felt empty when I left their celebration, which is NOT how I normally leave a wedding.
I was upset and listening to you tell me that I needed to target my ideal client specifically was revelatory!”
When you look back at your reviews, think about who the people were that wrote them. What are they like as people? What did you talk about aside from the service you provided? What do they have in common?
Analyze Brands Ideal Clients Love
Study the sites that your ideal client loves to see what’s popular, what they’re writing about, and how they’re marketing. If you know that your ideal bride buys 90% of her clothing from Nordstrom, although that’s not directly related to weddings, we’re looking at her as a whole person, so it most certainly matters. Visit the Nordstrom site and observe how are they talking about the products that they’re selling. What makes them so appealing? What language are they using? Suddenly, by playing investigator, you can pull from these other areas of their lives to use in your marketing.
I recently gave a presentation on this topic to a group of wedding professionals, and one of them perked up and said: “I’m so happy you said that because I know that every single bride I work with is a huge Kate Spade fanatic.” If you’re not familiar, Kate Spade makes high-end handbags and accessories, so suddenly she knew exactly where to look for inspiration on the tone and messaging for her brides.
If you don’t know what brands your clients love, ask them. You can also refer to your Audience Insights in the Facebook Ads Manager to see what other pages your fans like.
Interview Your Best Clients
It may sound scary, but by asking your best clients questions and listening, you can uncover marketing gold that will help you attract more clients just like them.
I’m going to give you some questions to ask during the interview, but your job is to be an investigator. Think about the way T.V. investigators, inspectors, and detectives handle things when they’re doing an investigation. They ask a lot of questions and based on the information they receive, they ask follow-up questions.
Interviewing is about listening and digging for more information. For this interview, you’re going to do a lot more listening than you are talking. You’re going to ask a question, and then you’re going to shut up and listen intently.
There are a lot of different questions you can ask for a lot of different reasons and I go into those in my book, Clone Your Best Clients, but these will get you started:
- We all geek out on something, what do you geek out about?
- How would your best friend or your partner describe you? (This is an especially good one because it requires people to step outside their normal frame of reference for themselves.)
- How did you find me?
- Where did you look for your wedding vendors?
- What made you choose to work with me instead of another X?
- Why did you decide to go with <whatever product or service they purchased>?
Marketing is based on psychology and these questions will give you insight into how this person makes decisions and why they do what they do. Understanding that is going to show you what you need to do in order to attract more people just like them. Your future clients will feel like you’re a mind reader, except you don’t have to read minds to do it.
I know that getting inside the head of your ideal client can be hard work. That’s why I wrote Clone Your Best Clients. It’s a book that shows you how to better understand your very best clients and attract more clients just like them. If you want to work with more of your ideal clients and take the guesswork out of your marketing, this book is for you. You can get the Kindle version for just $.99 from May 9th-12th and if you purchase the book before May 23rd and forward your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org, you’ll get access to a readers-only Q&A with me where you can ask any questions you have. Pick up your copy of Clone Your Best Clients here!
When you know who your ideal client is, and build a marketing plan that is geared toward your ideal clients, you set yourself up to book more clients who can help you grow your wedding photography business. What else can you do to book more weddings this year (and even next year)? Our free Guide, Secrets to Getting Booked in 2017, shares insights from 22 wedding pros on what worked for their business. Grab your copy today!