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Wedding / Event Videography Techniques
Shooting non-repeatable events: weddings, recitals, plays, performances...

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Old October 22nd, 2006, 08:40 AM   #1
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First time to meet with client. Help

I've done 4 weddings and all have been acuaintances but this time I'm actually meeting with a possible client to show some of my work and convince her to hire me. Do you have any tips or suggestions as to what questions to ask? It's tomorrow so any help would be appreciated.
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Old October 22nd, 2006, 10:05 AM   #2
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I find it is best not to give to much information when meeting with a client. Be genuinely interested in their wedding and learn as much as you can about what is important to them.

Since you have a meeting scheduled you can assume they do have an interest in a professional videographer. Try to determine why they are considering you and then let them know what you can offer to them.

After I have talked with the bride about her wedding which she is of course eager to discuss (it is something she has planned and dreamt about since childhood)
I may ask what qualities she is looking for in a videographer. Many times the bride will then tell me how they found us and what other videographers she has spoken with.

Answer her questions favorably. For instance she may ask a question with an expected answer such as You don't bother the guest during dinner for interviews do you? Here she has said dinner is important and the guests should not be interrupted when dining. Be prepared to honestly answer her questions and at the same time present yourself as the ideal videographer for her wedding. By first asking details abut her wedding you will have a general idea of her expectations. Many times to she may mention other videographers and what she did or did not like about them.

Don't get to caught up in explaining the technical side of the gear you use. Most of the times brides have made hundreds of decisions from dress colors, table arrangements, flowers etc. The bride wants to know that her dvd will have great picture and sound, what is used to create the picture and sound is less significant. Have you ever ordered dinner at the restaurant based on what equipment the chef will use to prepare your dinner? Most often we look at the menu and order what looks appealing, the pots, pans, and oven the kitchen staff will use is not considered. The bride is similar she knows what she wants on a dvd and how you cook it is less important. It is expected that you have the proper video and audio equipment but the bride does not need to know all of the technical qualities of the gear, just how it will benefit her and provide a great dvd.

Listen Listen Listen. Again, I try and let the bride do most of the talking, of course this varies because not all brides are the same. Try and ask questions that lead to descriptive answers. Instead of asking who is your photographer ask what is it you like best about your photographer.

If you offer something other videogrpahers may not be sure to mention it and the benefit to the bride. For instance we always attend the rehearsal.

Don't try to close the sale at the first meeting. This is my preference others may disagree. I don't like to pressure anyone in to making a decision, let them talk about it and then decide. I will however follow up and most times the bride calls us first.

Do not lower your prices, again others may disagree. If you went to a brain surgeon for an operation you would want the best money can buy, if your surgeon offers to perform the surgery for half price would you still think he is the best? The bride knows her wedding is important and only happens once, and she wants the best money can buy within her budget. Offer incentives such as extra dvds, maybe a short photo montage or similar but do not lower the price. This is especially important when starting your business for two reasons. First is you don't want the reputation as the video guy who lowers his price and second is the lower end prices usually attract the more difficult brides. You don't want the difficult brides you want the ones that value and appreciate you.

Also when you book the client be sure you have a descriptive contract so both you and the client know what has been agreed upon.

Hope this helps and good luck with the client.
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Old October 22nd, 2006, 11:34 AM   #3
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Thanks George for the advice. She called me because one of my previous customers recommended me. I would have gone about it all wrong, because I was going to show her my price list and let her decide only because she told me that they weren't going to hire a videographer because of their budget but she thinks they have enough now to hire one. Hopefully her friend that recommended me didn't tell her what I charged her since it was my first wedding.
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Old October 22nd, 2006, 01:22 PM   #4
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Hi Lalo,

I tend never to lead with the price list because then you lock yourself into discussing the price instead of discussing the wedding. This is especially true if the groom is present.

Unfortunately weddings are expensive. Everyone is asking the bride and groom for money.

The bride and groom have a predetermined amount in their budget for the video. If your price is close to their predetermined price further discussion is minimal. The decision has been made.

However if you can get the bride and groom to imagine this wonderful dvd that will show them exactly what happened the day of the wedding then there is potential for them to increase the predetermined amount they have set aside. Impress upon the bride that she has planned her wedding in great detail and she will miss most of it.

After all when her groom enters the church for the ceremony she will not see it, she is at the back of the church awaiting her entrance. She will also miss seeing her mom light the candle and each of the bridesmaids in the processional. She also does not see all of her decorations at the reception. While her guests have made their way to the reception the couple is still at the church posing for photos.

As a videographer the product you offer will be the best way for them to remember how their money was spent. Long after the bridal gown is packed away, the tuxedos returned and the cake is served the two tangible memories are the photos and the video.
There are a lot of topics regarding photographers but if you can work with them they are a wonderful resource.

Before discussing price I always try to educate the couple on what a professional video will mean to them.

One advantage you have is that they received your name from a previous client. This might be a good staring point for conversation. Most brides compare notes. Even if she does know what the previous bride paid it should not be an issue. Each bride needs to know you have their best interest in mind. Let her know that you now offer a better product and your price is a bit higher. You can still offer her a photo montage of the honeymoon photos at no cost and perhaps include a few extra dvds at no cost.

Again each couple you meet with will be different and there are some that will book with you and some that will not. It is the same for all vendors. Be sure that you make the client feel comfortable when you first meet, because they know if they book with you they will be seeing you the entire wedding day.

It is true that the bride has a budget. Be careful. Years ago we met with a bride who told us how much she liked our work and she really wanted to hire us but there was not enough money in their budget to do so. I of course lowered our price. Imagine my surprise when I got to the reception where they displayed two carved ice sculptures that cost more than the video!

We offer affordable video to everyone and are prices are very reasonable. We work with couples so that if they really want our services we find a way to make it happen. Try to work with the bride and let her know the value of the video. This is why I don't try to close the sale at the first meeting.

Your client might show up tomorrow and know exactly what you charged the previous bride from whom she receive your info. She might have the predetermined idea of getting the exact same service at the exact same price(or less). You talk with here and learn about her wedding and how much planning and time and heart and soul she has put into making the day perfect. Tell her how the dvd will be the best way to remember everything about the ceremony and reception. She already knows how much the previous bride values here dvd.

Let her know what you can do to make her special day more enjoyable and the cost becomes less significant. Hopefully the bride who intended to book your lowest price will leave the initial meeting trying to find ways to change the budget in order to select one of the more expensive video packages. If you try and close at the initial meeting this won't happen.

After speaking with you she may decide that one ice sculpture and a professional dvd is better than two sculptures and no dvd.
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Old October 22nd, 2006, 06:21 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Lalo Alvidrez
I've done 4 weddings and all have been acuaintances but this time I'm actually meeting with a possible client to show some of my work and convince her to hire me. Do you have any tips or suggestions as to what questions to ask? It's tomorrow so any help would be appreciated.
Based upon my experience, because you are actually meeting with a possible client you already have made most of the sale.

How you close the sale will probably depend more upon what you know (or learn) is your competitive element.

I try to reduce most of the "shopping element" from my consultations because I don't want to be in a "I have to make this sale" position. I much prefer to have consultations be in a position of knowing I will have my contract signed so I can focus upon identifying logistical issues. I find describing logistical problems in a succinct and conversational way significantly enhances my upsell opportunities. Here is a simple example:

A single camera shoot in a Catholic Church involving a full Mass and the restriction to shoot only from the choir loft.

1st question to the Bride: "When your processional music starts and you enter the sanctuary I will not only be both in front of you and above you, but there is a floor between us. How do I capture your entrance on videotape? 2nd question: When the actual ceremony starts and the Deacon begins to speak I am 80 feet from you. I have measured the length of the sanctuary from my position to yours on the altar. The Deacon refuses to wear a wireless microphone. So does your fiance'. How do I record your vows? 3d question: This ceremony includes a full Mass. That means you facing the altar for a significant amount of time and I am going to have a rather unappealing view of your backsides during a very important part of the ceremony. What do you want to see when you see this video five or ten years from now?

From ceremony to ceremony the questions change, but the effect is much the same. My client suddenly recognizes my impossible situations and immediately begins to modify the ceremony plan to include my particular challenges.

The end result is usually an animated conversation involving quite a bit of give and take which ends up as a good compromise of my technical issues with my client's emotional presentation issues. Most importantly, there is a sometimes new appreciation of the depth of my commitment. Either way, the contract is usually signed...sometimes way earlier than expected.

Does this approach always work? No. Sometimes I know my commentary is being taken to another videographer. Such is life. I do not dwell on the loss. I have better things to do with my thoughts.
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Old October 24th, 2006, 08:14 PM   #6
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Update...I met with the bride yesterday and it went very well. Turns out she's a teacher at the school my son goes to and is actually his gym teacher. That was a good ice breaker plus I had my wife sit in with me since she is my assistant and she helped in keeping the conversation rolling. We talked for a bit then I showed her some samples of my work, which she really liked. Gave her my price list afterwards to take with her. She called me back today and confired her reservation. She will be sending the deposit this week. Thanks for the tips guys.
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Old October 25th, 2006, 09:15 AM   #7
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[QUOTE=Sometimes I know my commentary is being taken to another videographer. Such is life. I do not dwell on the loss. I have better things to do with my thoughts.[/QUOTE]

Excellent advice.

A month or two ago I was approached by one of my neighbors regarding her daughters "Sweet Sixteen" event. The fact that I had just opened my business a month prior did not derail her. The top question she had for me was, "What will you do for my daughters DVD?" I spent about an hour or two discussing the capturing of the event. From the Preps, Limo pickup/arrival, her grand entrance, and capturing all the items that make up the visual representation of the event i.e. cake, candles, facility etc. Not once did we talk price, I would present this at our next mtg.

I was so excited discussing my visual expectations of the capture, that she left dreaming of the event and was looking forward to our next consultation.

Low and behold she called a few weeks later saying she went with another Videographer after discussing everything I would do technically with them.

They gave her a great deal, "We'll do all that the other guy said for $450, throw in a montage at the rehearsal dinner and have a turn-around time in a week". A great deal so she thought, but I knew better.

This would have been my first paid gig. Although my price would have been triple that amount, I told her to enjoy her day, and if there arise a technical question, I would be happy to discuss a solution.

That following weekend after the event we crossed paths in the neighborhood. I showed her my new license plate "VDEO-4U" and she let out a sigh. She said the video stank, and they never delivered the montage at the rehearsal dinner. She closed by saying, "I should have had you, I know you would have done the job right".

I asked her if I could look at the video. It was as I anticipated, a strait dump from tape with the poorest audio, and Jump cuts that would make you scream. I can go on, and on, but the moral of the story goes, because I continued being a professional through out, she said she would refer me to her next Ladies-Nite mtg (around 70 women) and use me to tape her College graduation in May. :-)
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Old October 25th, 2006, 11:54 AM   #8
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Great story Vince! That's an excellent example of "you get what you pay for".
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