CHEAP AND EFFECTIVE WAYS TO MARKET YOUR WEDDING VIDEO BUSINESS
You are in the wedding video market either
full or part time. You
have acquired the best equipment you can afford. Your edited tapes are
getting rave reviews from your clients...but ...
You just aren't as busy as you would like to be. Since you are a
small business person, you can't afford to spend kilobucks to increase your
wedding video sales.
What can you do? Adopt the sales adage that says work smarter ...
not harder. Let's paraphrase that to: advertise smarter ... avoid
spending any funds if you can. Here are some inexpensive marketing ideas
that will put a jingle in your business phone while still leaving something
to jingle in your pocket. But first a moment of truth amidst the hype.
Marketing is work. Free ads don't fall out of the trees into your lap.
You have to shake the trees. The trick is knowing where to shake.
Equip yourself -
Before we dive into marketing, let's make sure you are seriously in
business and not just paddling around the shore. Presumedly you are
shooting and editing in Super VHS, Hi8, DV, Digital8, or an equivalent format, rather
than regular VHS. Regular VHS just won't cut it in today's market. A
serious videographer would also have a character generator, some good
wireless microphones, tripods, and enough batteries. We also presume you
shoot your weddings with at least two, possibly three, camerapersons.
Further, those camera people (if men) wear tuxedos.
Yes, tuxedos. Let me say it again, because you are probably
tittering. Tuxedos! How many weddings have you been to where the
cameraperson looked like a bum? The guests are dressed to the tens while
your company is represented by a creep in ragged jeans who sticks out like
a dandelion on a putting green. Is that the way you want to be remembered?
Dressing neatly, however, is not the whole answer. You don't really want
to blend in, you want to be remembered leaving a good impression. Tuxedos
will raise the guests' eyebrows, make them smile, make them nod their heads
in affirmation, and then make them ask for your business card. You and
your crew become a walking advertisement.
Back to equipment, you probably have some kind of special effects
devices, perhaps a Panasonic WJ-MX10, MX12, or AVE5 and may even use
computer generated graphics. If you don't make the graphics yourself, you
can buy prepackaged effects and titles, subcontract your graphics out to
someone with the proper equipment, or rent time on someone else's graphics
generator. One way or another, people expect to see a few (not necessarily
many) special effects, especially at the beginning and end of your show.
Now to the marketing.
The demo tape -
Make a wedding demo tape to show your stuff. It should be that
"perfect wedding" with all the cutest shots, the nicest music, the most
touching looks. Use just the best parts, making the tape about ten minutes
long, including examples of all the things you do. Some demos are so good
they bring tears to your eyes, even though you don't know the people
involved. How can clients say no to a videographer who touches their
hearts with his/her camera?
Meet the bridal consultants -
Every bridal consultant in your area should know you exist! Make it
a point to (in person ... no direct mail campaign) meet these people. Take
them to lunch (or breakfast ... it's cheaper and a better use of time).
Give them your very best wedding demo tape. Let them know that you shoot
and edit in DV, Super VHS or HI8 rather than regular VHS. Tell them you edit
your own work and that it includes computer generated graphics and special
effects (presuming that is true). Make sure they know you shoot all
weddings with two to three cameras, and that your camerapersons wear
tuxedos! Let them know you use lights (where appropriate), tripods,
wireless microphones, and all of the latest technology. When the bridal
consultants know all this about you, the weddings will pour in.
Bridal fairs, an expensive route to take -
You can always enter and pay very high costs for a booth in a bridal
fair. However, if you take the time to calculate the amount of hours you
spend getting properly prepared for the event and then the amount of time
you spend during and after it, you might as well work at MacDonald's. A
better idea is to travel around your area and find the best florist, the
best limo company, the best bridal salon or tux rental store, and propose
some joint marketing. For example, find the best and oldest florist shop
in your area. Arrange with the florist to give your brides a discount on
your services if they book with the florist and you.
The best florist will attend every bridal fair in your area and can
carry your wedding video brochures and special coupons with them. They
also can display your brochures and coupons in all of their shops (the best
probably has several shops in the area).
The best florist probably bills hundreds of accounts per month. They
can have your coupon going out in their mail (at no extra cost to them) to
those hundreds of customers. What does it cost you? Simply brochure and
coupon printing charges ... nominal compared to direct mail ads and other
If you are wondering why a florist would want to joint market with
you, remember that you are also the best. Your product will uphold their
reputation. Further, those discount coupons make it look like they are
giving away something of value ... good for their business. And remember,
joint marketing works both ways: you can disseminate their brochures and
their discount coupons in your mailings, promoting more business for them.
Free limos, free DJs, cakes -
Offer a free limo if the bride books with you. How? Simply approach
the best limo service in your area and tell them you want to provide a limo
pickup for your brides from their homes to the church if they use you. Ask
what they would charge (expect to get a "preferred" rate for volume). Then
mark up your prices by that amount and deliver on your promise for free
limos. Note that if the client wants the limo for the entire day or for
additional trips, they pay the extra charges. Those extra charges
translate into more business for the limo company, a good reason for them
to pack your coupons into their mailings, etc.
If you are snickering at this outlandish idea, prepare to snicker all
the way to the bank. This technique is tried and true and has resulted in
so much business for some videographers that they are fully booked and have
had to turn down business.
The above strategy works with more than limos. You can do this with
all wedding vendors whether they be cake makers, DJs, or invitation
printers. All you need to do is cultivate relationships.
Charity begins at the office -
Another inexpensive marketing idea is to donate a free wedding
ceremony to a charity. They, in turn, will auction this off to the highest
bidder, raise some funds for themselves, and you deduct the donation on
your taxes. When the bid winner calls you to firm things up, suggest that
you also could shoot their reception, or maybe do the entire day with them
(at an extra charge). Be very careful here because a hard sell could
backfire. Remember that a delighted recipient of a wedding ceremony
recording will be reward enough as your good reputation spreads. If you
get lucky and land the reception and other taping opportunities. That's
just the icing on the wedding cake.
Direct sales with your demo tape -
Some wedding videographers comb the newspapers for wedding
annoucements and send their brochures to the brides in hopes of making a
sale. This is ho-hum marketing. What do you suppose it would cost if you
did the same, but also sent a copy of your wedding demo tape? Mass
duplicated tapes cost only $5 or $6 apiece (depending on quantity) and if
you add packaging and postage, your marketing foray may cost you about $10.
But what if it's a dynamite demo (the kind that makes grown men sniffle at
a stranger's wedding)? You can be almost sure your tape will be watched
(probably out of curiosity) and if it is good, you've got 'em.
Now add the clincher: include a notice with the tape that says if
they return your demo tape you will give them $25 off their wedding
recording. The prospects (who don't want to keep your tape anyway) feel
like they are getting something for nothing, a nice incentive for booking
with you. Meanwhile, you get to recycle your tape to the next potential
customer, saving you $10.
Take the above ideas and make them work for you. No matter what the
economy is like, people will get married. The wedding market will always
be strong. If you are the best, affiliated with the best, and become
widely known through the above techniques, your phone will be ringing
nonstop. Furthermore, be enthusiastic when selling your services; it will
spread to your prospect and make the sale.
And speaking of the sale, now lets focus on some
strategies for closing that sale, including things to say on the phone and
in person, plus hints on how to price your service.
CLOSING THE WEDDING VIDEO SALE
You are a wedding videographer either full
or part time. You use
excellent equipment (SVHS or HI8 VCRs and good wireless mikes) and employ
two to three cameras so that you miss nothing. You've marketed your
business well , as described above, and you're phone is exploding off the
hook. Your clients seem interested ... but ...
You just can't seem to close the deal as often as you would like to.
The clients are receptive but you can't get enough of them to bite. What
could be the problem?
Telephone etiquette and charisma -
First the phone rings. How do you answer it, with a "Yeah" or a
cheerful "Good morning, Wedding Video Services"? Your voice conveys your
personality. Do you sound like a joy to work with?
Can you answer the phone pleasantly even when you're on a deadline
and your last edit crashed? Better learn to. The prospect doesn't know
you're super busy and shouldn't be hearing your problems, not even in the
inflection of your voice. If you definitely can't talk (for example,
you're with a client, and in-person visitors should take precedence over
telephone conversations), ask to call them back. Sound apologetic for the
inconvenience and very appreciative for the opportunity to call back
shortly. And make it shortly; each minute brings the prospect an inch
closer to calling your competition.
If you use an answering machine, does the message sound like you
recorded it at a stock car race during a New Year's party? Your audio
capabilities will be judged by the sound of your message. Record it with
care in a quiet anechoic room, using a real microphone. Make it sound
professional. You should sound professional, and cheerful, and polite, and
excited about calling the client back right away.
Now that you've answered the call, invite all your prospects to visit
your studio (or editing suite or whatever shop you operate from). Assuming
you are seriously devoted to this business, you are likely to be very proud
of your shop and will want your prospects to see it and be impressed with
how professional you are.
Keep a fastidious facility -
First of all, make sure that your shop is always neat and clean. You
never get a second chance to make a first impression, so don't spoil things
at the start with the look of a coastal city after the hurricane has hit.
It is true that many talented videographers thrive on clutter. But we are
not talking about your personality here, nor are we talking about your
talents. We are talking about making a sale, and that depends on leaving a
Although it is better to have a place of business away from your home
(it looks more professional), most wedding videographers cannot afford
this. Having a business in your home, however, does not automatically
handicap you. Just keep the place neat, attractive, and business-like. If
you have children, make sure there are no toys lying around.
The exterior of your house counts towards the sale too: make your
house look like a million bucks if you hope to eventually earn a million
bucks. Allow no uncut grass with weeds six feet tall, no dirty cars in the
The interview -
Let's examine the wedding video sales interview. This is the most
critical part of the sales process.
When the client arrives, make it a point to have everything in the
studio turned on ... lights, monitors, decks, TBCs, computers, and of
course, cameras. You spent good money for your tools; let them help you
make the sale. For a few pennies in electricity, visitors will walk into
an active, professional-looking facility.
Carrying this idea a bit further, have a camera turned on and focused
on the chairs where your prospective bride and groom will be sitting so
they see themselves "on TV" when they sit down. Also, have their names
stored in your character generator and keyed over the image to demonstrate
your graphics capability. They will love it and will be very impressed
that you are so organized.
Start the interview by telling the clients about yourself and how you
document a wedding. It is here that you sell yourself and your style (you
shoot with three cameras, wear tuxedos, use wireless mikes, and use
sensitive cameras that make obtrusive lights unnecessary). Then show some
scenes from other weddings (perhaps footage from the church where your
clients will marry, showing how lovely the setting will appear).
As you progress through your sales pitch, remember to smile.
Psychological studies have shown that smiling actually makes you happy. If
you smile, you will enjoy your work more, making your life more pleasant,
and your sales pitch more pleasant. Further, smiles are contagious. When
your clients smile, they are becoming happier, and a happy customer is more
likely to sign on your dotted line.
The dynamite demo tape -
Smiles are important. A neat and professional shop is important.
But the real sales clincher will be your demo tape. This is a tape showing
the best of what you do. It should show all the significant rituals of the
wedding day, portrayed at your best. Try to have each scene come from a
different wedding; this proves to the client that you have done many
weddings in many different situations and implies that all your footage is
Some videographers end their wedding tapes with a two minute montage
showing the highlights of the wedding. This could be stylized with stills,
strobe motion, and punctuated with meaningful music. Don't forget the face
shots, the eyes, the hands, the little tugs and squeezes that communicate
silently. Weddings aren't interesting; people are. If you can capture
the people, you'll capture the feelings, and create a moving tribute to the
occasion. The montage is the climax, the part that brings tears to
mothers' eyes. Save these montages, and include your best one on your demo
tape. You want your customer to have an emotional experience. You are
selling them a feeling, a feeling they want for themselves, and would be
proud to share with their friends.
Your demo should be the best it can be, featuring emotion, happiness,
unique shots, crazy shots, and lots of special effects samples. Customers
who have been shopping around have probably seen other videographers' demo
tapes. If yours is superior (and it will be, if you are the best) you'll
get the job. If the bride and groom were planning to check out other
videographers, they will forget those plans when they see your tape, and
again, you get the job. With stunning demo tapes, some videographers have
achieved a 96% closing ratio in their studios!
By bringing the clients to your studio, you've exercised control over
the interview, making sure that everything was in your favor (clean,
good-looking studio, a demo that knocked the prospect's socks off, and your
style and equipment was super professional). With all these pluses, you
can save the price for last. It works almost every time. You won't have
to be concerned about competition. If you get the clients into your
studio, you'll make the sale.
The magic folder -
After showing your demo tape, give the client a 10" x 12" pocketed
folder with your contract, information sheet for titling purposes, and
music selection sheets. It should contain your business card, a thank you
note, and your brochure. The object is to give the client something. The
folder, with your logo on the front costs less than $.60, but here's what
1. It makes you look professional.
2. It advertises your services to others. This handy folder becomes the
briefcase that travels from business to business, relative to relative, and
sits on the client's desk while they discuss wedding plans.
3. It's large enough for the bride to keep all of her wedding planning
information/contracts in. Weddings comprise a million details, and dozens
of pieces of paper. The organized wedding planner would love to keep all
this paper in one place. The folder is a useful, thoughtful gift.
How much should you charge? -
The last thing you tell the prospect is your price. Your sale was
made much earlier in the interview, during the demo period. At this point,
price is hardly an issue because you have proven that you are worth it.
Some midwest videographers are charging $500 for a wedding and
reception, edited and copied. A leading videographer, Bob Muller, in the Washington,
D.C. area has been charging $1800. Naturally, you should do some research
to find what your competition is charging. If you do a better job or
invest more time and money in your productions, you deserve to be paid more
than your counterparts. You shouldn't be ashamed of that.
When you set your price, make sure you are not giving away your
services. As a beginner in the business, you will probably be guilty of
underselling yourself while you try to get things rolling. When you become
the best, you do not have to charge the highest price, but be sure that you
are very far from being the lowest in your area. If your quality is the
best, people will pay you for it.
If you are the best and the client cannot pay your price, then you
shouldn't feel bad about refusing the business. You're not selling
concrete blocks where they're all alike and price alone determines a good
deal. You're selling something very different from your competitors. You
are not being arrogant, but understand that excellent videographers are
sensitive to the type of wedding video tape the deliver to the client. A
three camera shoot is what it takes to be the best. Therefore, you charge
accordingly; not everyone can afford you. You are not going to get every
wedding. There may be 10,000 weddings every year in your area. You surely
cannot do all of them!
Never quote prices over the phone. If all your customer cares about
is cost, they are not the kind of customer you are looking for. There is
an old saying, "Some of your best deals are the ones that are never made."
When pricing your product, keep things simple. It is best to
have one package, one price. Perhaps you would charge one fee for just the
wedding ceremony in the church, and another for the whole enchilada (the
wedding preparations, the reception, the mini biographies of the bride and
groom done as a photo montage). Avoid numerous extras and alternative
plans and prices. You will confuse your potential client and lose the
Practice the sales pitch -
Practice makes prosperous.
Practice your sales interview on family or friends until you can
conduct it naturally and fill it with excitement and emotion. Make it
second nature. Constantly refine and improve until you see success on a
regular basis. If you aren't closing the sale, seek out the help of a good
salesperson. Run through your interview with them. See what improvements
they might suggest.
Don't forget to listen to the client. There was a reason why God
gave us mouths that closed and ears that stayed open. Don't forget, during
your long-winded sales pitch, to let the client speak too. Listen to them.
What do they want? Of course you're the "expert," and of course you know
what makes a great wedding video, but remember this is their wedding tape,
not your ego tape. The client doesn't care how much you know; the client
wants to know how much you care. Advise and suggest, but listen and adjust
to the desires of the client. It's their show.
You have to make the most out of each opportunity
you "get up to
bat". Remember that when you are selling, these are hours worked too.
Every lost sale is lost time and that eats into your profitability. If you
want a high rate of return, you need to perfect your salesmanship so that
every minute spent selling reaps results.
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