2011: A Season in Review

As the author wrote, "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Dickens, of course was being paid to be wordy, whereas I am not.

2011 marks our third season photographing weddings and it has been a fantastic ride, even if it wasn't as busy as we'd have liked. We'd like to thank all of our clients and friends who have helped to make it into a success. As the wedding season winds down, there are plenty of lessons we're drawing on to improve our business and our ability to serve our customers.

Marketing:

This has been one of our biggest shortcomings. The sad fact is that not enough brides know about Ryan Richardson Photography, so they're never going to book. Over the winter, we're going to be taking a closer look at what works and what doesn't in wedding photography marketing.

I believe the first problem is the copy. Most of our ads (like this blog) tend to ramble, rather than stick to the selling points so people can just move on to the pretty pictures. As should move swiftly from florid prose to a call to action, getting brides to the website and us to the altar (so to speak).

Contests. For two years we've run a wedding photography giveaway, and it's brought a lot of people out to kick the tires but not enough buyers. Our least hope was that the runners up would purchase packages, but this year they barely bothered to claim their prizes. Should we continue with them in the future, we'll make them into bigger marketing events. We'll also change the prizes, focusing on smaller packages with better downstream sales opportunities.

We've also experimented with several sales this year, including two daily deal sites (The Knot and one run through a local paper). Neither performed well. As we look to create new, unique products with a stronger brand message we might revisit the idea but daily deals are not for us (but you can still find great discounts on our Facebook fan page).

Two things we're looking to add to our marketing in the coming year, better vendor networking and a bridal fair booth. Neither will seal the deal with clients, but they'll increase brand awareness.

Our Clients:

In the future, I want to make sure that we're easier to talk to if our clients have any commments or concerns. Our goal is to create a lasting relationship with our wedding clients. Part of that is rolling out new products and services and letting our clients know that we're here for anniversaries, holiday portraits and new families.

What do you think we could be doing better for 2012?