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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Weddings & Other Family Events Talk 
Thread started 16 Dec 2013 (Monday) 13:56
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Online advertising successes and failures (and a big thank you)

 
Gel
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Dec 16, 2013 13:56 |  #1

Hey guys.

This is a personal post which might save you making the mistakes I did with regards online advertising. I've written several chapters covering the various types people use, wedding blog advertising, magazines, google and facebook, pretty much everything.

You can see that here: http://chrisgilesphoto​graphy.com …y/tips-for-photographers/ (external link)

Now for the thank you.

Because of all the dumb newbie questions I asked when I started out, you helped me into being the photographer I am today. This is in a way me paying it back. Sharing everything I've found out about advertising, the good the bad so that you go into it with your eyes open and so you don't lose your shirt.

I hope it helps some of you out. ;)


Chris Giles Photography

  
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jcolman
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Dec 16, 2013 21:24 |  #2

Some great advice there! Good on you!!


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banquetbear
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Dec 16, 2013 21:57 |  #3

jcolman wrote in post #16533161 (external link)
Some great advice there! Good on you!!

...indeed. I was prepared to glance at it then click out: but you've written some good stuff there, good, solid practical advice, and very well put together. Well done!


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Naturalist
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Dec 16, 2013 22:29 |  #4

Very good write up Chris. Thanks for sharing the information and, most importantly, life experience.


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jmikolich
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Jan 09, 2014 12:10 |  #5

Chris,

Thanks for the write up, I decided to embark upon a little research of wedding forums and to no real surprise it was flooded with people who suggested one photographer only to have another person jump in with "That photog sucks you should check out this one" which of course started a back and forth war of whose photog is better/cheaper/more creative

How do you remain profitable while reducing prices? I only made it through Ch 6.

I fear that by raising or rather starting to charge full price now that a portfolio is established I will begin to lose business, but I can't sustain at the "portfolio building" prices I previously was at.


-Jim
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Jan 09, 2014 13:49 |  #6

Great write-up! I too have dealt with the advertising conundrum: how much is enough, and is it costing me more money than it's making me? When I placed my first print ad, a half-page affair, in a local bridal magazine I got so many hits to my website that my server crashed. So I naturally upped the ante the following year and went for a full page ad. I made sure to include a blurb giving clients a 10% album discount if they mentioned the ad. Didn't get one booking from the full page ad. The last two years I've kept the ad to a half-page but am probably going to pull out altogether after this year if it yields no results ($990 for the half-page ad). I also keep a running inventory of how my clients hear of me, and the ad has not paid for itself since that first time.
This is the busiest time of year for me, booking-wise (all those Xmas engagement rings!), so thanks for the reminder to stay ahead of the advertising game.


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solepatch
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Jan 09, 2014 13:51 |  #7

Must remember to read this when I get home.


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PhotoMatte
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Jan 09, 2014 13:51 |  #8

One more thing: this would be a great post on the Business of Photography section.


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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 09, 2014 17:15 |  #9

PhotoMatte wrote in post #16591562 (external link)
Great write-up! I too have dealt with the advertising conundrum: how much is enough, and is it costing me more money than it's making me? When I placed my first print ad, a half-page affair, in a local bridal magazine I got so many hits to my website that my server crashed. So I naturally upped the ante the following year and went for a full page ad. I made sure to include a blurb giving clients a 10% album discount if they mentioned the ad. Didn't get one booking from the full page ad. The last two years I've kept the ad to a half-page but am probably going to pull out altogether after this year if it yields no results ($990 for the half-page ad). I also keep a running inventory of how my clients hear of me, and the ad has not paid for itself since that first time.
This is the busiest time of year for me, booking-wise (all those Xmas engagement rings!), so thanks for the reminder to stay ahead of the advertising game.

Organic WOM is hands down the best form of advertising... and it is free. What you spent on a half page ad is well over half of my annual marketing budget this year.


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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 09, 2014 17:21 |  #10

jmikolich wrote in post #16591336 (external link)
Chris,

Thanks for the write up, I decided to embark upon a little research of wedding forums and to no real surprise it was flooded with people who suggested one photographer only to have another person jump in with "That photog sucks you should check out this one" which of course started a back and forth war of whose photog is better/cheaper/more creative

How do you remain profitable while reducing prices? I only made it through Ch 6.

You offer a product, service and experience which is distinguishable enough from your competitors that then makes them cease being real competition. Whilst ever what you offer is directly comparable to them you'll exist in the price war realm.

jmikolich wrote in post #16591336 (external link)
I fear that by raising or rather starting to charge full price now that a portfolio is established I will begin to lose business, but I can't sustain at the "portfolio building" prices I previously was at.

Bottom line is that you are 2-5 years late to the game. What worked a few years back doesn't now. You'll only avoid burning those referral bases if your product, service and experience warrants the extra spend... i.e. do the public perceive the value or not.


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umphotography
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Jan 09, 2014 17:51 as a reply to  @ memoriesoftomorrow's post |  #11

Chris thanks for sharing this. I shared it on our FB page that is shared by 1500 professional photographers.


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umphotography
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Jan 09, 2014 17:52 |  #12

memoriesoftomorrow wrote in post #16592120 (external link)
Organic WOM is hands down the best form of advertising... and it is free. What you spent on a half page ad is well over half of my annual marketing budget this year.

Pete

what is organic WOM and can you give out some more information ??


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memoriesoftomorrow
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Jan 09, 2014 18:11 |  #13

umphotography wrote in post #16592220 (external link)
Pete

what is organic WOM and can you give out some more information ??

Organic Word of Mouth. Not just referrals but raves. Past, present and future clients (and their families and friends) who just won't stop promoting/talking about you to everyone they meet. They do it because they want to not because they have been asked nor because they have a financial incentive / rewards for doing so.

It is entirely possible to generate WOM from a client before they have even booked and before you've taken a single photograph. If you can get people that excited about what you do they'll rave from the day they find out about you.

Read up on the psychology of how people think, how they make decisions, what major brands have done to leverage WOM and create buzz, how networks (people) fit together... All of those things and more go hand in hand with gaining an understanding that WOM can be maximised. WOM can be moulded and encouraged without people even knowing you are doing it.

The problem with advertising in our industry is the complete lack of creativity in how people go about doing it. Just look at any online wedding directory and you could copy and paste text from one add to another. Everyone claims to be unique yet offers the same as everyone else. They're often all "affordable", "award winning" etc.

Take pricing and packages... everyone does the same for fear of stepping out of line. All the workshops teach the same techniques.

Why is it so many wedding photographers (and photographers) in general are struggling? Because they are unremarkable... easily forgettable... if you advertise yourself as one of the crowd then you can expect to be perceived as just on of the crowd.


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jmikolich
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Jan 11, 2014 19:17 |  #14

memoriesoftomorrow wrote in post #16592143 (external link)
You offer a product, service and experience which is distinguishable enough from your competitors that then makes them cease being real competition. Whilst ever what you offer is directly comparable to them you'll exist in the price war realm.

Bottom line is that you are 2-5 years late to the game. What worked a few years back doesn't now. You'll only avoid burning those referral bases if your product, service and experience warrants the extra spend... i.e. do the public perceive the value or not.

Peter,

Thanks for your reply. I can't remove myself from my product enough to say whether or not I offer something unique, and distinguishable. I can say with certainty that I spent time with a seasoned veteran and adopted some of his best practices. All the people I've worked with have raved about our service, products and way of doing business.

I'm trying to figure out still if the public perceives the value. I need some direction as to whether people are more likely to go spend the money up front or cheap out and fork over the cash on the backend.

ie: will people be more likely to book a vendor who offers exceptional all day coverage, albums, engagement etc @ 5,000 -OR- book a vendor who sells 8hrs for 2,000 and nothing more, then adds 1,000 for album, 1,000 for engagement and 1,000 for the remainder of the day thus creating an "upsell" type style.

I've yet to see decisive answer as to which is better. I've browsed some of the heavy hitters from this site including yourself and it seems split as to package style


-Jim
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PhotoMatte
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Jan 12, 2014 10:40 |  #15

memoriesoftomorrow wrote in post #16592120 (external link)
Organic WOM is hands down the best form of advertising... and it is free. What you spent on a half page ad is well over half of my annual marketing budget this year.

Indeed, I get many referrals from former clients that lead to bookings with new clients. Word of Mouth is merely one tool in the toolbox, however. It is dependent on former clients referring me to their friends and family (most of whom were at the clients' weddings to begin with, and will have already known of me from those events). The thing is, not all former clients have a pool of soon-to-be-married friends that just happen to be looking for a wedding photographer. I have to compete with photographers up and down the west coast of the United States, a far larger region than, say, Perth. While it is true that WOM is important, I will never rely on it to be the largest factor in attracting future clients. One thing I have done, however, is to offer previous clients discounts on albums and other services for every successful referral they send my way. I also offer incentives to my favorite wedding venues, asking them to recommend me (since the venue is almost always the first vendor to be booked in any wedding), and I keep a close watch on how my products and business cards are displayed at those venues.
As I said in my original post, my first print-ad was incredibly successful while subsequent ads, in the same publication, have not been as successful. While I am considering dropping my ad from that publication, it's a hard decision to make: the initial success of the ad has still outweighed (in terms of cost/benefit) the subsequent failures.


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Online advertising successes and failures (and a big thank you)
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