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AgentM
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Locating to a different state


I used to be a photographer in Florida and I relocated myself to the mid-west to be closer to my children after a divorce. Now I sit with the enormous task of starting all over to network and market myself in an area where I know no-one.

I made myself a list of venues and vendors in the area to network and potentially get on their vendor's list. So far I have sent out a couple of emails to introduce myself to local photographers. Guess what? NO response at all.

As for the venues: Should I call to speak to the coordinator or simply cold turkey walk in and introduce myself with some business cards?

Any advice or other marketing ideas would be appreciated.

Thanks
Henk



May 15, 2017 at 03:40 PM
hardlyboring
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Locating to a different state


I wouldn't bother contacting photographers or venues for that matter.
Try to network with the planners, florists, DJs, etc.

When it gets really pushy (basically you cut right to the chase and try to solicit business) people are immediately turned off. Especially in the midwest.
I had a few photographer friends back in Ohio but most of them were friends first away from photography. Any other photographers I tried to network with were complete a holes.

When we moved to Colorado we spent a long time getting to know people in the industry. We were not so much trying to put our names out or brag about ourselves but more about just getting to know people who were in the same line of work on a personal level.
I wanted to be seen as a human...Doug the guy first then Doug the photographer.

Some of our good friends out here are now other photographers, planners, videographers, etc.
We just do normal stuff. Go skiing, go out to eat, get together with our families for cookouts, go hiking, take our kids for play dates etc.
Now that we have worked with so many people they know us on a personal level first and then by our "work". When they know you personally away from the camera it will be way easier for them (say a planner) to have a potential bride and go "yep you need to hire Henk he's a fantastic guy and will take great care of you".

Then it's like you are basically doing weddings along side your friends and you can all watch each others back.



May 15, 2017 at 10:14 PM
TheyCallMeJ
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Locating to a different state


Sorry to hear about your divorce Henk.

Starting from over is a tough pill to swallow but the core concept remains the same. What worked in the old place will work in the new place, people are people after all.

No surprise you aren't hearing from the venues. You are probably the 50th photographer who tries to get into the preferred vendor list. Flip it around and think from their perspective, why would they want to recommend a new guy in town? Besides, you have nothing to offer at this point. I assume that you have yet the chance to shoot there, you are not even in a position to share sample decor or detail shots. Nothing is worse than a planner or coordinator referring a bad photographer for their bride, it is their reputation on the line so understand that the reluctance is normal.

Walking in randomly is a bad idea. It feels like unsolicited spam. Instead of landing into my inbox, you are showing up at the door. What's going to happen? I will shut the door. As soon as you leave your business cards, I will throw them into the garbage bin, yup.

It will be an uphill battle and it can be done as long as you make the effort and understand that it will take some time. The short answer is that you need to:

1) Establish credibility and authority in your new market;

2) Earn trust and prove that you can do what you say you do first;

3) Start and nurture the relationship with the venue;

The point being that you must unconditionally offer benefits and help others, demonstrate that you are legitimate and by the time you think you have given everything you got, offer some more. You don't ask for anything in return before establishing trust (focus on starting a relationship and not getting referrals, although that is your end goal).

Think of it as a job interview. You know what candidates get escorted to the door first? Those who keep bragging about their past experience and qualifications, you know why? Because this ain't about you! In fact, no one gives a shit about you. It is about what you can do for my business, how you help attract more clients into my door and boost my revenue (not yours). Once you clarify your intention loud and clear, you will have their attention.

The venues you researched must be your "ideal" venues, perhaps those who attract a clientele you wish to work for. Expand your reach, don't forget that all venues in town need some love, even the small ones. Go where other photographers don't go. Found a place that just opened its doors? Guess what, they are in desperate need of marketing material. Go there. Chances are you will be shooting in various places this year or the next, offer them your images at no cost and network there even if they aren't part of your ideal venues.

Depending on how aggressive you are and your financial situation, I would even recommend working for "free". The venue has a corporate function next Friday? Tell them you will come in one hour before starting time and shoot all decor images at no cost. In a hotel? Even better, learn how to shoot real estate and offer that. See a family photo on the manager's desk? Shoot his family portraits next weekend, free.

Doing things for free doesn't mean you get to slack off. Contracts and licensing are still in play. They will have to properly credit and link to your website (instant local SEO boost, hooray!) should they wish to use your images. Go further, use your own money and make sample prints and albums then drop them off in person. Tell the manager that the bride can't decide on the venue if she can't visualize how beautiful it will be but with your sample images in her hands, that will entice her to book right away.

See the difference in how you approach a venue? You don't ask, you help.

The bride will see your name and watermark on the print. Then she will ask for your contact information. Now, how can the venue manager possibly say anything negative about you? You just helped them book a wedding right there. That will be your referral. Of course you will drop even more prints and albums once the wedding is over, right?

So... what about that preferred vendor list? The manager will point to his family photo and say "Yeah, we love all the photographers we work with but we trust Henk for our family portraits". Enough said.

I see some eyebrows raised in the forum at this point but that's alright. You don't have to agree to my suggestions. What's gonna cost you? A few hours and a few bucks for gas and prints. Some will play you for a fool and that's ok, you will see it right away. A venue manager that truly appreciates your time and effort in getting them more clients will react the same way as the bride who values your skills and experience for her wedding images. Those are the relationships worth nurturing.







May 15, 2017 at 10:21 PM
AgentM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Locating to a different state


Thank you man - good advice here




hardlyboring wrote:
I wouldn't bother contacting photographers or venues for that matter.
Try to network with the planners, florists, DJs, etc.

When it gets really pushy (basically you cut right to the chase and try to solicit business) people are immediately turned off. Especially in the midwest.
I had a few photographer friends back in Ohio but most of them were friends first away from photography. Any other photographers I tried to network with were complete a holes.

When we moved to Colorado we spent a long time getting to know people in the industry. We were not so much trying to
...Show more




May 15, 2017 at 11:37 PM
AgentM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Locating to a different state


J,

Thank you for such a thorough answer. I totally agree with you. I guess I just need to realize that this is
going to take time and winning the trust and friendship of people is the key. That is something that worked for me in Florida.





TheyCallMeJ wrote:
Sorry to hear about your divorce Henk.

Starting from over is a tough pill to swallow but the core concept remains the same. What worked in the old place will work in the new place, people are people after all.

No surprise you aren't hearing from the venues. You are probably the 50th photographer who tries to get into the preferred vendor list. Flip it around and think from their perspective, why would they want to recommend a new guy in town? Besides, you have nothing to offer at this point. I assume that you have yet the chance to shoot
...Show more




May 15, 2017 at 11:38 PM
glort
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Locating to a different state


TheyCallMeJ wrote:
You don't have to agree to my suggestions.


Anyone knowledgeable in marketing and business promo would.
Others might say something to the effect of you have to become the greatest photographer in the world and then they will come to you. But they would be wrong. although probably never realise it.

I know that in the US it seems to be all about planners and Venues but I have always done well with referal from other businesses like Florists, Cake decorators, suit Hire and especially Bridal shops.

Along the lines of what J is saying, look at building rapport with a number of places all at once.
A couple of times now I have Approached a bridal store or designer and said I'd like to shoot some promo shots, do you have any gowns I can use? They ALWAYS have them and are happy to loan them out. All you have to do ( sometimes) is have them cleaned afterwards.

You then find out what Venues they have an association with and approach them to do a shoot Mid week or maybe a Friday if they are set up for the weekends wedding. Tell them you'd like to do a promo shoot as you have just moved into the area, have a model ( easy to get TFP from a modeling site) and would be happy to provide them some shots of their Venue in return for allowing you to use their place. Then start asking them, what do they need shots of, what would help them best and you will build good rapport that way. Invest the money and say what about I do a nice framed 30x40" wall print of your room for you to put right here in the Foyer?
Everyone that comes into teh joint will see it and it will get you a lot of attention. I have come back the day of a wedding to shoot the rooms all set up and decorated.

Next you find an MUA to do the models Styling, find out what florists the venue has associations with, car Guys etc. Get someone from every business area on board and create your own network of people who will now refer you. Make it a condition of them being part of it... " I'd kindly ask that in return for the promo shots I give you you put a link to my site on yours so people interested in my work can find me. No one is going to say no to that and if they do, find another person in their area.

Yeah, It will be a full on day and you will be investing some coin but instantly you have all these people passing out your cards, showing pics with your name on them and links on their sites etc.
Pretty much you are going to be seen everywhere a bride that does the rounds of that network goes which will establish Credibility in itself.

In a recent discussion here it was argued because brides book the Venue then the shooter that Venues and planners are the only people worth associating with. I Disagree based on 30 years practical experience. It's true they do BOOK in that order but it sure as hell isn't the way they SEE people. Most of my brides at least have an inkling of whats coming before he pops the question or they organise it together. Brides are looking for a good while before they book anyone so there is every chance you can actually get a lead from a Florist before the bride has booked anyone at all. They don't Only start looking after they are engaged or booked the venue.

One of these collaborations I did we also went in together in a double, double page spread ad which the mag ran as an advertorial. That worked very well and we all found people just did the rounds. They didn't go look at 10 Shooters or 12 wedding dress places, they just went from one person to the next in the group for the most part and we got a lot of comments about how time saving that was because they felt everyone in the group could be trusted and got re assurance from the fact everyone knew each other and were used to working together.

Doing one of these combined shoots isn't easy to organise but it's not that hard either.
I suggest getting in as many people as you can and work with the people already established in their networks. You could Include a Jeweler, Lingerie, hairdresser is a good one to have on board and whoever. The more people that are referring you the better even from an SEO POV.

I had great success with it both times although many years apart. The last one I did a couple of people had Celeb friends or relatives so our Models were a TV personality and Sports star. Maybe these days with Contracts and BS they couldn't do it but they did back then and it sure as heck didn't hurt our promo to have them.

Rather than just go after one associate business, I say go after a bunch of them all at the same time. It will give you such a shot in the arm and have clients coming in straight away.
From there you just keep regular contact and you will have ongoing and new referal sources as well.



May 16, 2017 at 01:12 AM
 

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ohsnaphappy
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Locating to a different state


If ANYONE here knows a way to relocate effectively PLEASE SHARE. We want to move so bad, anywhere really haha!!! We tried Florida. Wow that entire state is saturated with photographers.

I think the only way to break into a market is to offer a superior product at a lower price and then gradually raise your prices. That's all I got.



May 18, 2017 at 06:20 AM
glort
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Locating to a different state


ohsnaphappy wrote:
I think the only way to break into a market is to offer a superior product at a lower price and then gradually raise your prices. That's all I got.


Without trying to offend, which I probably will do anyway, I think you REALLY need to educate yourself in some business basics because that is a woefuly poor and misguided outlook. .

If you think that is the only way to break into a market , I despair greatly for you.
That's about THE most piss poor way of doing it can think of frankly. I can't even think why you would believe that you need to start low and raise your prices? That's something that you would do with a mass market, repeat purchase Product like a new dish soap or a soft drink or similar sort of product. Get people to try because of lower price and then hook them when they see it works and once you have your client base start raising prices.
I call it the drug dealer method because that is exactly how they established their industry.

Weddings are basically a one off even if people get married 5 times. The referal / reputation thing that most shooters crap on about is exactly that, crap. Doing a good job won't these days establish you by referals alone nor does WOM put the dodgy ripoff merchants out of business or a bad review end a career as so many see to mistakenly think.
If you are doing a superior product, why would you undercut the price of your offering which in many peoples eyes, would undermine it's superiority in the first place?

I know 3 people that pretty much buy on price for most things, especially products or services they don't know about or understand. They will always gravitate towards the HIGHEST price in the belief that it is the best. My father is probably the most predominant at this. He has a thing for Buying crap and tries to avoid it like the plauge. Show him a range of appliances, tools, or services and 9 times out of 10, unless you can demonstrate why a cheaper product is superior, he'll buy the most expensive every time.
Now while he and my other 2 close mates may not be wedding photography purchasers, they are the gold nugget clients and telling them something is the best out there or even what they need and being even middle of the road pricing, You WILL burn them every time on that.
Not everyone is the same of course, these people are I would say a minority BUT, exactly what do you hope to achieve by starting low?

99% of people here freak about putting their prices up will destroy their business. There is always the excuses about people in the area are all poor, don't have any money, won't pay.... Blah blah.... so why would you want to set yourself up for that in the first place?
I'd go high just for the notoriety if nothing else.

I used to have a competitor that used to bag me out viciously. The great thing was he was well established in the area and had a good throughput of clients through referals from reception places and a heavy advertising investment. I remember very clearly literally booking 3 weddings in the one week through that guy. People came in and saw me then confided they had seen the other guy and he bagged me out so bad they had to come see just how bad and dodgy I was.
I reckon I must have got 20 bookings all up from that fella over about 18 months he went on his little tirade. I debated with my secratary for a long time if we should send him a botle of champers with a think you note and if that would tip him off and kill a good thing or if it would upset him more and he'd send even more people our way?

The thing is, don't be afraid to be seen as expensive because it has all sorts of benifits not the least in being people coming to you to see what you do and how much you charge. When they get there and see you do great work and are not that much more expensive( or even if you are) you at least got people in the door and from there, You have a shot at the target.

The thing of the best work out there or even being " superior" to be successful and get work is again another laughable and flawed misnomer although a very popular one amoungst shooters.
What you need to be is offering something the clients wants ( which is not the best out there, it's what they like the most) you need to have / Build a rapport with them and then lastly and of much less significance, you have to be affordable to them. That does not necessarily mean cheap, just means within their desire to pay.

There is no " Budget" people have for Photography. There is no comittee or directors telling somone what they can spend. It's purlely a number pulled out of peoples backsides of what they think is a reasonable thing based on what they have seen and heard previously. They put a number of $5K they pulled out of thin air and you show them something they Love and really want to have, they will find the money within reason to own it. Cutbacks will be made here, money borrowed there.... it's all about presenting them with something they will make sacrifices to get and the technical quality is NOT what makes that happen. It's all about getting in their head.

THE biggest thing is NOT the quality of your work or the price thereof, It's getting in front of people and letting them know you exist and what you offer. People don't give a shit if you just moved to the area and they certainly don't expect you should have a lower price because of it. Having a lower price than the other guy is NOT a big influence at all and certainly not what people make out.

I have been ringing around and visiting places looking for a Mini Tractor. I know the thing I want is going to cost upwards of 15K, I know what I want and when I talk to someone and what they have is or does not do what I want, I don't give a damn about how cheap the thing is. Yes, I can get a Petrol unit for $5K. I don't care. I want the diesel with the backhoe and the 4 way bucket and am not interested in anything else that does not do this regardless of price. I flat out said to a guy yesterday in a machinery place that was going on and on, Mate, what is the ONE question I haven't asked you? He didn't know so I told him, Price.
I said if I haven't even mentioned price, Why the fk do you keep going on and on about it with machines I am not interested in and have told you that several times?
Dunno how long the guy has been there but I'll bet he is a real low producer because he simply does not listen to his clients even when they are telling them they want to spend 3 times what he is going on about.

You REALLY need to hit the business and marketing sites or books. The very fact you have the belief you do proves that. I will guarantee you invest some reasonable time in learning about advertising, marketing and sales and you will have a very different outlook to what you do now and you will see opportunities where now you only see problems.

What is holding you back from moving and doing what you want to do is not other shooters, it's not your work or the pricing model you work to, it's your ignorance of business.
Thats OK because it's a very easy thing to fix and overcome... if you are prepared to open your eyes and be smart enough to recognize the problem and put in the relatively easy work to over come it. Business skills are a piece of cake compared to photography. the same base rules apply since the beginning and even if something is outdated, you'll be better off using it than operating with the complete lack of knowledge you have now.

It's not how many shooters are in the area, it's how many COMPETITORS you have. Craigslisters and those charging twice plus what you do aren't any concern to you. they are different markets. Those that are left you need to look at and see how many of those are the same people the target market you are going after wold also look to hire.
Put it in the Clients perspective and you'll lower the seeming amount of competition ( as against other shooters) significantly.
Once you know who the competitors are you can look at what they do and then create your own niche.... Unless you are one of those that has to do what they do for their own ego trip over a profitable business model.

I'm about to move to a very different area I have spent my entire life in and I'll tell you this much, worrying about being the best shooter around in the also saturated area and starting off undervaluing my work and trying to come up from there is the LAST thing on my mind.
Finding the promotional avenues in the area where I can reach my target market, looking for established businesses whom also serve my target clientele and establishing networking relationships with them and looking for the niche that no other vulture in the area does ARE the priorities.

The only pricing question is what is the sweet spot going to be? I'll definitely be putting my prices UP, question is how much? My thoughts are rather than go low and then up from there, I'll go high and come down if need be to get the numbers through the door I want.

I'm looking at the demographic of the area as far as age, marital status, what their average income is, average mortgage cost, Disposable income and likely credit card limits and debts.
The area is clearly a lifestyle rather than an existence mentality. People are there to enjoy themselves rather than just to have a roof over their heads. I went to the main street a few weeks ago and managed to get a seat in one of the many pumping cafes. I sat out on the footpath and watched the endless stream of people in their weekend cars Cruising up and down the main road. I Noted the number of day trippers having a wander round making impulse purchases in the area's many novelty/ specialty stores. The difficulty in getting a seat at the many eateries and coffee shops was a sign in itself. The fact this pretty small town has 3 Significant night clubs and a bunch more pubs and watering holes is also of significance as it the fact the next town over is going Nuts with a development of the largest shopping centre in the state.

The fact the price of new homes is lower there than closer to the city but offer much better value for money, they are planning on building 33,000 ( yes 33 THOUSAND) homes in the area in the next 5 years and a new international airport in the region with planes touching down inside of 8 years told me this was a good place to be.
I have bought a place just on the edge of all this, 5 min from the local town, 10 min from what is to be the major regional centre taking over from the current one.

Price and competition was pretty far down the list of my concerns let me tell you.



May 19, 2017 at 12:51 AM
ZachOly
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Locating to a different state


Facebook advertising

....someone had to say it



May 19, 2017 at 11:14 AM
glort
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Locating to a different state


ZachOly wrote:
Facebook advertising

....someone had to say it



And we all know my opinion of that....

However, how are people CURRENTLY finding it?
Is it actually bringing in worthwhile amounts of BOOKINGS for the time invested or do even the proponents think it's past it's prime now?




May 19, 2017 at 12:17 PM
ZachOly
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Locating to a different state


glort wrote:
And we all know my opinion of that....

However, how are people CURRENTLY finding it?
Is it actually bringing in worthwhile amounts of BOOKINGS for the time invested or do even the proponents think it's past it's prime now?



There are several full-timers in my market that would go out of business if Facebook didn't exist.



May 19, 2017 at 12:38 PM







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