19 Tips for 300 Client Inquiries:

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19 Tips To Get 300 Client Inquiries: Special guest post by Matt McGraw.

1.
Vendors, vendors, vendors. Their important. From reception caterers to cake makers. I do a pre-questionnaire for my brides and grooms. In that questionnaire I find out who I am working with, from DJs ,to Florist, to cake people, to ministers to, reception places etc. I obtain all the contact information for these vendors. After the wedding I compile a list of photos that each vendor would find interest in. I splash my logo and email them the images, then say if they would like any of the photos in high res and without my logo to let me know.

For reception sites: If it’s somewhere I have never worked I’ll send them a 20X30 print with my logo splashed all over it and 4X6s of the same photo with my contact info to pass out to potential brides. I’ll also send them a disc with images they might be interested in and tell them they can use whatever photos they would like to.

Become buddies with the vendors too. For example, I’m on a “hug basis” with the sales directors of 5 major hotels in town. Their cell numbers are in my phone. I photograph their kids. I’ll sometimes meet them for a beer or two. I never promote my photography. It’s always buddy talk. Sure we talk shop sometimes, but it’s not my goal. They feel comfortable around me.

2.
Newsletter/blog: Start one… I use constant contact set up a page and send mine out once a month. My email list is 6300 strong. Most photographers have a webpage set up. We do not.. I’m not opposed to that but I just prefer the email newsletter.

Next question for you is how we get 6300 people on there. Anyone that emails me gets on the list.
The only people who do not get on my list are emails that are inquiring where I am not available. Also I advertise in two magazines where they provide a lead sheet. I’ll copy and paste emails of brides and grooms where I am not booked. I do this once a month right before I send out the newsletter.

3.
Advertising: In the beginning of your career, spend most of your advertising money online as opposed to print. Print is just name recognition. They’ll see or hear your name and see an ad and say I’ve heard of this photographer.

4.
Online advertising: There are a lot of free resources to advertise. Go online and be a consumer find out what wedding sites come up first. Type in your city + photographers these are common search words for brides and grooms. You can also add the word weddings.

5.
Search engine placement: There are companies that specialize in this or you can do it yourself. This is something that you have to research. It’s not investing in a tangible product and kind of hard to see results immediately but worth the effort. Look around for SEO and Search Optimization tips to get you started.

6.
Every person you meet represents 10 people: Sounds cliché, but when I introduce myself I always say “Matt McGraw”. I hear all the time that they’ve seen me, or heard my name somewhere. My wife gets asked when she says her last name if her husband is a photographer. It gets on her nerves.

7.
Local publications: Not just wedding magazines. Local magazines are always looking for material. In my case there is a local magazine that has a wedding section. So once a month I submit photos from weddings that I’ve shot. I ran into the editor one day and she said I was the only photographer that sends in photos and she was very appreciative. If they don’t have a wedding section send some anyway. And suggest they start one.

8.
Bridal shows: I do one every year. The same one… I’m the only veteran at these shows, and when asked why I continue doing them… I say that it’s because it’s an opportunity to keep my name out there. I don’t want to become a photo snob. I don’t need to do a bridal show… but I do anyway. Bridal shows also give me an opportunity to meet vendors or new vendors in the area.

9.
Website: make sure you have your best stuff on there. It’s a first impression. All too often I’ll look at a website and see sub-par material. I know these guys too and know they have much better material. It boggles my mind.

10.
The drip rule: There is not one in particular marketing rule/campaign that will work above all others. Meaning, you will not get immediate results… but do not think that they have failed. I read on my “how did you get my name” question things like “from a few places, friends, etc”.

11.
Business cards: throw away your 2X3 cards. Everyone uses them. Do you know where the business cards are that people have given you? I use a 4X6 photo with my info all over it. When I photograph a wedding I’ll use a photo of my clients engagement session for my business cards. Again a 4×6 photo with my contact info. I’ll put them out on a table somewhere and it does not get thrown away.

12.
Email management: I use Microsoft outlook. Do not have a @hotmail or a @gmail acct for business. Your email should be @yourphotocompany.com. Be professional and treat it like a business. I have very detailed and organized contact cards. I have a vendor folder, client folder.  If I need to get a hold of someone it takes me just a second to find the contact. This is a must in marketing. It keeps you organized.

13.
Be accessible. Nothing bugs me more than leaving a message. I use my cell number. If I don’t answer the phone one of my guys answers it. Someone sends me an email they’ll get a response fairly quick. On my contract it gives my cell number and below it says put this in your cell number and feel free to call me anytime.

14.
Be creative in your marketing. For example: mywedding.com, they called and asked me to advertise… I did a little research and what I found was there were 45 photographers advertising in this particular city. That’s crazy and a waste of money. I asked if it would be Ok if I advertised on the reception site. It was a good idea. I was the only photographer on the reception page and got a number of calls.

15.
Always always have a good attitude at weddings. Have fun. You’ll be known as a fun photographer. If something doesn’t go your way, who cares, it’s part of life. I hear stories of photographers blowing lids for stupid things. You’ll get a ton of referrals because of your fun attitude.

16.
Slideshows for reception sites and vendors. If you’re like us we shoot at the same places quit a bit. If you do compile a portfolio for these particular places and make an online slideshow for them. When I emailed the slideshow to them they were ecstatic. They immediately put on their website and in turn we immediately started getting calls. Below is that slideshow. I did this for all the reception sites in town

17.
Charity work. No not the soup kitchen variety. I mean doing sessions for free or greatly reduced price because of the marketability. For example, a friend of mine who is an excellent videographer wife is having a baby. He asked me to come and photograph the baby in the hospital. He offered to pay, but I refused and here’s why. A he’s a good friend and B he sends out a newsletter to 2600 people with all kinds of personal things in his life. He’ll be putting these photos on this newsletter with my name splashed all over the place.

Another example: our church has about 5000 people who attend. The head of the children’s education committee asked me to photograph a program that my kid was in. He wanted to pay but I refused to let him pay.. here’s why these photos are going in a program and being handed out to 5000 people. with my name all over the photos. and of course my kid is in the program and I was going to be photographing it anyway. Only do charity work once. If he asks again then I’ll charge him. It can turn on you where they’ll expect it every time. so be careful.

18.
There is a rule called the 8 months rule. Meaning it takes 8 months from the start of a marketing campaign or “drip” campaign to officially start seeing results. If you set goals for yourself the results will come in about 8 months. So be patient. Higher Google placement, more bookings, more inquiries, vendor relations, etc. Any of these and more could be your goal. The reality is that it takes. 8 months. Take Google placements for example. What one needs to do is study how to get a higher placement and start implementing those rules. In 6 to 8 months you’ll start seeing the results.For example, vendors; start building those relationships. 8 months of talking and cultivating you’ll see results.

Are more inquiries your goal? Read and do and 8 months later they will come. Once your goals have been met, your income will increase substantially. Also don’t think once your goals have been met you’re the inquiries start pouring in. I spend at least an hour a day doing something with marketing or networking, whether it be supplying photos emailing a vendor to say hi. I have a laundry list of things I do to stay on top of the inquiry chain.

19.
Never think for a second that you don’t need to market yourself. And never never never think your better than the competition. I was talking to a veteran photographer the other day and he asked me how many weddings we had booked next year as he was way down. He had only booked one. He never does a bridal show, never puts his name out there and never goes the extra mile. He thinks his name will get him through. Never have this attitude. There are plenty of good photographers out there right this minute.

That’s all for now…

Content by Matt McGraw. Images and copy editing by Gavin Seim (updated 02/10). Thanks to Matt for this special guest post. Check out Matts workshops.