March 12, 2018
Today, I have invited Alex Peterson from Idalia Photography to join me on the blog with a guest post about growing your wedding business. I am so lucky to be able to count Alex among both my personal and professional friends. She has been an invaluable part of growing my wedding planning business. And together, we have worked on some really amazing projects. Everything from blogging workshops, mentoring sessions, and most recently, our Mastermind. She even photographed Richie and I getting married! Today, she is sharing some of the most amazing advice for wedding creative professionals!
Alex is one half of the husband and wife team behind the cameras at Idalia Photography. Together with her husband Jay, they specialize in romantic, timeless, and classic weddings in NJ, NY, PA, and beyond. Alex is a former high school teacher turned full-time photographer and business coach for photographers and creative entrepreneurs. She enjoys using her experience in the wedding industry to teach others how to grow their businesses. During her free time, she loves to run, travel, and spend time with her soon-to-be five year old niece.
“I’m not getting enough inquiries.”
“I need to book more.”
“How do I get more clients?”
Sound familiar? The more wedding pros I meet, the more I hear the same struggles. I get it – it’s a saturated market and everyone is trying to shout over each other in order to be heard and get noticed. It’s not easy to get clients to find you and have them book you, too.
Or perhaps you’ve been fortunate enough to figure out a good system for driving inquiries. Well, I hate to rain on your parade but you still have to be mindful because the wedding industry is constantly changing and the marketing strategies that are working well for you now may not work as well, or at all, in a few months. Take the Facebook algorithm, for example. Years ago we could rely on Facebook to get our work in front of potential clients but nowadays, how many people are actually seeing our posts? I doubt anyone can say that using the organic traffic on Facebook is a reliable source of inquiries and bookings.
So what can we, as wedding professionals, do to continue to grow our businesses in this market? Well, we could spend money on advertising. We could pay exorbitant monthly fees to be listed in national and local wedding directories. We could beg venues to accept us for their preferred vendors list. This might bring you more clients, sure, but what will happen when you stop spending the money on advertising and preferred vendor lists? Yup, the inquiries from those avenues will stop.
This is why we don’t rely on traditional forms of advertising to bring in bookings. Sure, we pay a yearly fee to be listed on Style Me Pretty, because, let’s face it, it gives us credibility. But we certainly don’t rely on our listing as a method to help us book clients. One method we do rely on, however, is networking.
Now, if you’re anything like the Alex from five years ago, you’re probably rolling your eyes right now. Back then, I was still teaching full-time and working on our business on nights and weekends, which meant I didn’t have any time to dedicate to networking. Well, I didn’t MAKE any time for networking. I wish I could go back in time and tell that Alex how important networking is because I’m certain that our business would have grown much faster than it has.
When you network with other wedding professionals, they will get to know you you’ll be able to build trust. You’ll gain credibility just by deepening your relationship with other industry professionals and when clients mention your name to them, they’ll have only wonderful things to say about you. This is why it’s important to not only network with the vendors who typically get booked before you but also with the vendors who typically get booked after you. For us, as photographers we generally get booked before vendors like hair and make-up artists, stationers, and florists. However, when they ask a bride who their photographer is and those vendors not only know us but they also reassure the bride that she’s in good hands, that can only have a positive impact on our business.
Networking with other wedding professionals will naturally increase the number of referrals you receive. Once you’re in that circle of trust, there’s no limit to how much your business will grow thanks to a solid referral system. This year alone we booked six weddings thanks to the generous and thoughtful referrals of our vendor friends. That’s over $32k in revenue in one year just from vendor referrals! Something important to remember is that if you’re selective with the people you network with, you’ll also likely get higher quality referrals that are pre-qualified, too.
Being a creative entrepreneur can get lonely sometimes so having a network of trustworthy professionals to bounce ideas off of and ask for advice will only help your business grow. When you have a support system in place, you’ll be better equipped to make wise business choices and fewer mistakes.
Imagine a room full of like-minded wedding professionals who are open to sharing their knowledge and experiences in order to set and reach business goals. This type of networking can only lead to growth, especially when the people in your network share similar values and are targeting similar ideal clients in their marketing.
By networking with other wedding professionals, you’ll undoubtedly send referrals each other’s way, which means you’ll get to work with each other more often, which means you’ll be able to produce better work. I know that whenever one of our brides hires Jeanne for her wedding planning, the day will go more smoothly so I can be more focused on the work I’m producing rather than trying to keep the wedding schedule in place. I also know that my detail photos will be more varied because Jeanne will be there with all the items I need and more. And, lastly, I know that the wedding will be stunning because Jeanne has such an eye for details and she’ll make sure the design of the wedding will be well thought-out. This will be a huge benefit to me on the wedding day, but also in the future when we submit the wedding for publication.
Brides follow lots of vendors on social media, so when they see you appearing in other vendors’ social media feeds, you’ll raise your own brand awareness and ability to book more clients. Brides love when they discover that the creative team they are putting together is made up of people who have worked together before.
This is especially true if you don’t limit yourself to networking with people in your industry. The more people know about you and what you do, the more likely you are to attract new clients.
Convinced that networking is worth the time and effort? Keep reading!
It’s nice when networking happens organically so it’s important to be at places that will allow networking to happen naturally. Here are some ideas:
Networking with other wedding professionals has done wonders for our business and I know it will do the same for you, too! If you’re looking for a place to network with other wedding professionals, Jeanne and I are hosting a networking event next month, you should come!
Thank you to the photographers who allow us to use their images on our site: Ashley Mac Photographs, Heather Palecek Photography, Idalia Photography, Jessica Erb Phtography & Susan Elizabeth Photography.
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