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Old March 17th, 2011, 11:13 AM   #1
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Marketing Strategy for new-comer with pro experience/gear

Hello,

I have been a regular troll on these forums and never really ended up posting. most of my time has been spent just being the silent observer.You all are extremely knowledgable and I cant thank you enough for starting such a community.keep on keepin on!

I have recently moved out of the LA/ SF area where I primarily did documentary work. I just finished one feature on my own that will hopefully be hitting the festival circuit and have been invited to participate in a couple of biennial museum of modern art exhibitions around the world. But the work is too sporadic and I decided I really needed a constant cash-flow as I am getting older and have a serious girlfriend who I intend on marrying and supporting.

I moved to Houston (as my girl lives here) with the intent of primarily doing wedding videography and picking up other gigs in between. I own a Red one mx, 2x 5D's, an infrared swapped sensor b+w GH2 and the panasonic 3d-a1. So we have a relatively sophisticated rig. My question though is what do you guys suggest for someone who doesn't have a wedding video portfolio to break into the industry? what sort of marketing strategy would you recommend to someone who has pro video experience and gear? what avenues would you explore? reduced rates? free love stories? where would i even look to reach my potential clientele ? online forums? crags list? event planners? bridal shows? and what sort of strategy would you use when communicating with potential clients/vendors?

I cant thank you enough for taking the time to read this. My life/career depends on how I handle the next couple of months of my life. Any advice or feedback you can offer is VERY much appreciated.

Respect,

Alex Douglas
Sculpting with Time
(you can see a trailer of the feature doc I made on this website, if your interested)
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Old March 17th, 2011, 12:08 PM   #2
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Re: Marketing Strategy for new-comer with pro experience/gear

Hey Alex,

First, welcome and thanks for your post. I feel I could classify myself in a similar situation as yours. I have all the knowledge, expertise, and gear, for the most part, but it has been figuring out how to prove yourself so to speak. So, let me explain to you some of the things I have done that have proven to be a huge success for me recently.

Networking - I can't stress this enough! Spend some serious time getting to know your fellow vendors. You probably want to especially get to know photographers, planners, DJs, and of course other videographers. Find out what local establishments you have for wedding professionals and make it a point to attend these.

Now as far as discounts, freebies, and such, you have to be very careful. You do not want to become trapped in a price range that is unsuitable for your needs. Be sure if you do offer a discount, freebie, or whatever, that the client knows what the actual value is. I have done a few at discounts for friends, but I made sure they knew what the actual value was and that it was ONLY for them. This helps prevent them from telling friends that you are a lower price or worse, that you will give out discounts freely.

Beyond doing those few discounted weddings, I have really shyed away from being a bargainer. I have set my price at a level and stand by it. Sure people will still try to haggle with you, but in the end you want clients who see your value.

I would also stay away from craigslist, lead sites, and expensive advertising. I find that these generally bring in unqualified clients. I haven't tried my hand at a bridal show, but I hear they can prove to be quite successful, depending on the show and area. I always try to communicate with photographer friends I have made to find out their thoughts on bridal shows and other events. After all, they have more experience and proven success, so they are a great source of wisdom.

As far as sales strategy, that would depend on how you want to approach it, but I will throw in a plug for Matt Davis, because his sales script has been a really great starting tool for me. I did tweak it to my needs and liking, but overall its a great script with proven success. Here is a link to the script for purchase on his site:

Purchase Resources

The last thing I would mention is to make sure you have a great web presence in addition to great presence among vendors and clients. If you can dish it out, get some professional SEO help to make your page rank higher for keywords specific to your market. It's great to hear from brides who just simply found me on Google and then fell in love with my work.

I hope this lengthy post provides some guidance and help. I feel this strategy has been working for me lately as I have been able to begin feeling established and reputable among brides.
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Old March 17th, 2011, 01:33 PM   #3
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Re: Marketing Strategy for new-comer with pro experience/gear

I would begin with a thorough investigation of your local market and competition. You can get a pretty good handle on this by searching sites out and building a spreadsheet to list attributes, prices and packages others are already doing. Your competition and market could easily be as far as 50 miles away, so don't just concentrate on Houston metro. As you are building your spreadsheet with all this data, spend time viewing samples on the sites, paying attention to, and noting on your spreadsheet, those you feel are similar to you and your style, better and also worse. Don't even THINK about comparing gear, the bride could care less.

When you are done with this, and it will probably take a whole day to do, you will have a handle on what is already selling and how brisk competition will be. This will also show you exactly what the bride sees, as she is doing basically the same thing. When you see a neat idea incorporated into a site, make note so you might consider making that concept part of your site too.

When I did this for my market I found the low of around $500 and the "max'd out all options included" top of low $4000s. Where I see the price range of $2500-$3000 bounced around a lot on this and other boards, the cluster here was in the $1500 range. As I looked up the price point range the competition got thinner and thinner pretty quick. This told me the probable customers also thinned out fast in those upper ranges too.

Good luck on your new adventure !!!
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Old March 17th, 2011, 06:38 PM   #4
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Re: Marketing Strategy for new-comer with pro experience/gear

Are you looking to gain experience? Are you comfortable with the pace of a wedding? If I was starting from scratch I would look for brides that didn't have any interest in video (even if its through craigslist) and offer your services for free to develop your portfolio. For networking, I think photography might be more established. Smugmug also has local events, good place to network, and a lot of photographers are looking into vdlrs. For looking for second shooting gigs, I guess it could go both ways. But I would love to shoot with someone with a red. Maybe keep an eye out on the classified section here on dvinfo. The point is to get out and work, the more you are out the more the referrals pile up. An established member once told me, do it for free or do it market rate, don't ruin it for everyone.
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Old March 18th, 2011, 12:31 PM   #5
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Re: Marketing Strategy for new-comer with pro experience/gear

Here is an interesting article about marketing to Brides:

5 Surefire Ways to Attract More Brides | Wedding Marketing Blog
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Old March 18th, 2011, 05:07 PM   #6
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Re: Marketing Strategy for new-comer with pro experience/gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Brewer View Post

Networking - I can't stress this enough! Spend some serious time getting to know your fellow vendors. You probably want to especially get to know photographers, planners, DJs, and of course other videographers. Find out what local establishments you have for wedding professionals and make it a point to attend these.



I would also stay away from craigslist, lead sites, and expensive advertising.

As far as sales strategy, that would depend on how you want to approach it, but I will throw in a plug for Matt Davis,

Purchase Resources

The last thing I would mention is to make sure you have a great web presence in addition to great presence among vendors and clients. If you can dish it out, get some professional SEO help to make your page rank higher for keywords specific to your market.
Jeff,

thx for taking the time to go over so many tangents related to the field. I was very impressed. I think you made all very rational claims and gave very usable feedback. I think the best thing for me to do at this point is to get the experience. Once I have the portfolio, things will fall into place. How many pieces do you think I should do in order to have the appropriate body of work to solicit to vendors and or clientele?
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Old March 18th, 2011, 05:10 PM   #7
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Re: Marketing Strategy for new-comer with pro experience/gear

Chip,

your comments about studying competition all make a lot of sense. I have spent most of my time doing this, so its good to know I have been on the right path!
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Old March 18th, 2011, 06:13 PM   #8
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Re: Marketing Strategy for new-comer with pro experience/gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Fiske View Post
Are you looking to gain experience? Are you comfortable with the pace of a wedding? If I was starting from scratch I would look for brides that didn't have any interest in video (even if its through craigslist) and offer your services for free to develop your portfolio. For networking, I think photography might be more established. Smugmug also has local events, good place to network, and a lot of photographers are looking into vdlrs. For looking for second shooting gigs, I guess it could go both ways. But I would love to shoot with someone with a red. Maybe keep an eye out on the classified section here on dvinfo. The point is to get out and work, the more you are out the more the referrals pile up. An established member once told me, do it for free or do it market rate, don't ruin it for everyone.
Greg,

I do need to gain the experience. though I am comfortable shooting verte style and have done quite a bit of documentary work. But as with anything to perfect something it requires dedication. so I am not going to come in here and say this stuff is easy as i know the pace is fast in regards to all the pre ceremony stuff. And if I want to get the raw bits of emotion that make my work stand out I have to be very intuitive, find those fleeting moments of poetry that others might miss, be spot on and have the gear be an extension of my body. A lot of this I think has to do with studying the make up-psychology and routine of a wedding and I imagine patterns would emerge. That being said I feel pretty capable of capturing things unscripted out in the field and would hope that would translate.

I know the experience would both inform myself and potential future clientele as I think having a portfolio is key. But at the same time if we are marketing ourselves as LA insiders moving from hollywood with pro gear then perhaps its better not to have the portfolio in this specific field?

at any rate where do you suppose I go to get the word out if I want to do freebies? or If I want to test the waters for paid work and market ourselves as "pros" (forgive me, im just trying to figure out our angle) doing weddings.

what sort of networks would I tap into for both arenas?

thx in advance
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Old March 18th, 2011, 06:30 PM   #9
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Re: Marketing Strategy for new-comer with pro experience/gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Noel Lising View Post
Here is an interesting article about marketing to Brides:

5 Surefire Ways to Attract More Brides | Wedding Marketing Blog
Noel, great article! anything substantial to sink my teeth into really helps at this point. I think defining your market and catering to that market is critical. I think we are solely going for the high end market. We know one wedding planner who does a lot of work in this market and have social connections in these avenues as well. But I guess the danger in honing in on a market is that you isolate other potential clientele... for instance in target the high end local wedding community here in houston, that sort of places out of certain markets which can be a bit concerning. I guess you can offer various packages tho that include more of a broader range in regards to price points?
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Old March 18th, 2011, 08:40 PM   #10
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Re: Marketing Strategy for new-comer with pro experience/gear

Here's my advice. Find out what is the most popular wedding website in your area and pay to place an ad in it. Here, it cost $300 a year to place a small ad with a direct link to your own website. So far, I've been getting nonstop emails wanting to book as opposed to last year, where I practically had to knock door to door to find clients.
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Old March 19th, 2011, 09:36 AM   #11
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Re: Marketing Strategy for new-comer with pro experience/gear

Contact all the wedding videographers in your area and offer your services. Or do weddings for free to start.
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Old March 19th, 2011, 09:04 PM   #12
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Re: Marketing Strategy for new-comer with pro experience/gear

You will probably need to do a freebie or discount for your first wedding or two. I personally did a really deep discount for a friend at church and made sure I hit theirs spot on. From there I promoted the heck out of it. Consider making a highlight film about 3-5 minutes in length and give to the bride. They almost always will post it on their facebook or other social media and it just starts to spread.

If that first wedding or two go well, then you are set on promo material. You really just need a wedding or two of promo material to get started. Of course you will want to constantly update your promo material as you get bigger and better weddings, but that's just long term thinking.

Another way that I have been able to get some good promo material is to market videos to photographers, DJs, and other vendors. Tell them you can make them a highlight video to post to their website. Photographers love the idea of a promo video to demonstrate how they make the bride feel comfortable, their style, etc. Since it is just a 5 minute highlight film you don't have to gouge the vendors and they get something great out of it. This is going to result in you putting in a lot of shooting time, but just make sure you get permission to utilize the video clips for your own promo and sneak in some beauty shots just for your keeping.

Hope this helps, sounds like you are on the right track and this community will definitely help you get going.
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Old March 21st, 2011, 10:42 AM   #13
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Re: Marketing Strategy for new-comer with pro experience/gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Huffaker View Post
Here's my advice. Find out what is the most popular wedding website in your area and pay to place an ad in it. Here, it cost $300 a year to place a small ad with a direct link to your own website. So far, I've been getting nonstop emails wanting to book as opposed to last year, where I practically had to knock door to door to find clients.
Is there a simple way to figure out "the most popular wedding website in your area"?

Thanks,
Geoff
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