You know that saying Out With The Old, In with The New? Well in January while wedding season is quiet, I love to get a chance to step back and have a long hard look at my myself, my business and my place in the market. I try to be really honest and decide what I can improve or what I can do without, then look for new things to try or be inspired by and set myself some goals to work towards. I shall be kicking off 2013 with Farm Week at Photography Farm which I’m pretty sure I put together so I could attend all the workshops I would want to do. I think it’s going to be hugely inspirational and start my year with a bang.

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One of the biggest areas that needs attention at this time of year is marketing. Not only will you be kick-starting the New Year but so will your potential clients. It’s not too late to put into place a Marketing Plan as a large number of potential clients are looking for their wedding suppliers in January and February. As well as festive engagements, already engaged couples often use the downtime over Christmas to research all things wedding. So what should you be doing right now to ensure that you are easy to find? Well I will ‘hold back’ some submissions to wedding blogs and magazines from the previous summer to ensure I have something published in the holidays or January. I run my ad on Rock n Roll Bride all year as I can afford to and it gives me constant results but if you don’t have the budget, I suggest at the very least looking at advertising on wedding blogs from now through to the end of February. With some of the blogs you can run an ad for 30 day blocks from a date of your choice, so maximise your investment to include this bumper time for bookings.

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I recommend getting your offline marketing in order as well. Wedding magazines put out their biggest issues at this time of year and that means they need more content than ever. Some brides only ever buy a magazine at this time, so submit your best weddings from 2012 or get in touch with the editorial team to see if you can contribute to any articles coming up. I often get asked for images to illustrate a piece and always get credited. Find out who is writing for the top magazines and follow them on twitter as they will often put out image requests.
Look around for any wedding fairs that you feel would appeal to your ideal client and think about investing in a stand. Some people think that they are not worth doing but I recently did the Eclectic Wedding Fair and it reminded me that fairs often have hidden benefits. Although very few couples will book there and then, it gets you in front of people and gives you a chance to see their reactions to how you present your business. It is also a fantastic networking opportunity with your industry peers, so make sure you find time to introduce yourself to the other exhibitors ~ even the ones in the same field as you as these companies are potential referrers. If a fair is venue based then make sure you connect with the wedding planner or person who books the couples in as they too may potentially refer you.

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Now I’m not saying that it’s a simple case of taking out an ad or swapping a few business cards and you have a marketing campaign but think of it as running your own PR campaign. There are techniques used by PR companies that you can employ to progress your business. Think about this… Would you buy an album you had never heard of because you saw a magazine ad for it? It’s unlikely. Would you buy it because you saw an ad and were handed a flyer for it? Probably not, but might you buy it if you saw an ad, a flyer and then a friend told you it was a great album? The key to this and all successful PR is that the product gets out there and then people talk about it. You want people to be talking about you and you want people to be talking about you for all the right reasons. This doesn’t happen because you shout out ‘Hey World, I’m Fabulous!’ You may well be fabulous but getting other people to see it requires a tad more subtlety.

So how can you get people talking? Well the PR pros will put ads and promotional material out there but the really good PR people are paid to come up with ways to get us talking about their products. They are the ones that sold us chocolate with a drumming gorilla, bottled water with roller skating babies or persuaded us that beer tastes better with a wedge of lime in the neck of the bottle. You too can think outside of the box…. maybe offer up a competition but think of an original way to do it, maximise any money you spend on ads by making them eye catching, do an amazing styled shoot that shakes up the industry, host an event that gets people talking.
It takes a little bit of planning at this stage but you can make 2013 a great year for your business.

Written by Lisa Devlin who when not running Photography Farm, has an award winning wedding photography business. She has spoken for Hasselblad, B&H Photo in New York and at Canterbury Christchurch University where her work is studied as part of the New Wave of British Wedding Photography. Lisa is hosting a class on Friday the 25th on Kick Ass Marketing Techniques For Wedding Photographers. For details and to book, see here.