So you have identified what your market is and who your ideal client would be, now set your budget for marketing. Yes, there are lots of free ways to get your name out there but there are also some that are worth investing in such as wedding fairs, magazines or wherever you think your ideal client might be sourcing wedding necessities.
For me, it was obvious that my ideal client was using wedding blogs for inspiration and for finding suppliers.[private] In particular mine identify with Rock n Roll Bride so pretty quickly after discovering it, I set about having a presence on there. Now features are fantastic for raising your profile and sending direct hits through to your site. I always receive a nice little flurry of enquiries when I have had a wedding on a blog. However after a while, I realised that this was a little sporadic and maybe having a more permanent connection would work better.
I have to be honest and say that when I first found out the rates for having an ad on blogs, I was a little taken aback by how high they were. However, as you have fairly low commitment, I decided to trial it for a month. I got a booking straight away. My strategy now is to run an ad all year. I just do this on Rock n Roll Bride.. I have tried others including Style Me Pretty but on there my ad rotated amongst a few others and I didn't get one single enquiry. So choose carefully which one is right for you.
The top three blogs in the UK are Rock n Roll Bride, Rock My Wedding and Love My Dress. If you click on those links, they will take you straight through to their advertising sections where you can request the media packs. There are plenty of other national and regional blogs now so do your research. Bearing in mind your potential market, you could be better off with a London blog, a regional one, a county blog or one that is very specific to a certain genre. I would also say, make sure that the aesthetic appeals to you. Then look at the current ads. Do they grab your attention? Are they a nicely curated group of companies that you would like to be associated with? Imagine it is a certain part of your town where a cluster of similar businesses operate, are these ones that you are happy to be standing beside? Then look at how many ads there are. If a blog takes on too many sponsors, chances are that you will get lost and viewers will not bother to seek you out.
Set your budget, like I said it is not cheap but I pulled back on some other paid marketing that was no longer working for me. As I get a return on my ad month after month, I keep it up all year. I think it helps my brand to be associated with a bigger more successful one and wedding blogs usually come into play pretty quickly after couples get engaged these days. If your budget won't stretch that far then think of having an ad at a particular time of year. I find enquiries peak after Christmas, in the height of summer and again in September/October. You can pre-book ads with bloggers so being clever with when you place it can make the most of your investment. It is worth bearing in mind that ads don't show up on mobile sites but I think that although couples do casual browsing on their handheld devices, they tend to get down to the serious business of booking things at a computer.
So now you have decided which one to try, how can you ensure that your ad works for you? I'm sure that you have realised by now that we are in a super competitive market and it's not really making the best out of your investment to simply put up a graphic with a link to your site. Before doing anything I suggest that you click on all the photographers' ads already on the blog. Imagine you are looking to book a photographer, which ones are more engaging? So that is who you are competing with in this particular market. Let's think of ways to make you stand out.
First up the design of your ad. If you have the budget for a big ad, then you will have plenty of space to play with and will be able to include a fair amount of text. However if you are more like me and have a smaller ad, then making it a success will depend on you being very clever with your available pixels. For instance my ad's allowed pixels are 140x120.. that's a pretty small space to make your mark. I design the ad in photoshop at 14x12 cm first. I know from ongoing research that I do for our workshops is that the most successful ads either show your ideal client (for me that will be a relatively alternative couple) or it shows clearly what service you offer.. ie includes a camera. So here have been some of my ads...
And these all worked well for me, my tips when it comes to design are...
- Shoot what you want to shoot or what it is that you do, ie: your ideal client or a camera in some way.
- Make sure that the word photography is on there if that is not in your company name.
- Design your ad bigger and at 300 dpi then see what it looks like at the required dimensions.
- If it doesn't read well then you might have to lose your logo in favour of a clearer graphic.
- Take a screenshot of the blog that it will appear on and drag your design into the space it will be in. How does it look in situ?
- Make sure it isn't too similar to others on there. If they are all colour, do B&W maybe.
- Be clever with your pixels. Although it makes sense to fill it all up, my current ad is round and so it draws the eye by having more clear space around it.
- Have a seasonal graphic, I change mine with the seasons. First of all people get used to seeing the same thing all the time and lose any interest in it. But also it looks a bit daft if your ad shows blossom when it's snowing outside.
Once you have nailed the design, then maximise the experience for the person likely to be clicking through. A nice trick is to create a specific landing page directed at that niche audience. I've seen people offer a discount for readers of the blog or some other incentive but you could just write a nice personal welcome. It can be a good plan to direct them to a particular set of images that you want to show off or blog category. I realised that a lot of the other sponsors had cottoned on to this trick though, so I went one further by adding a fun Call to Action. Remember my particular market is very niche and I shoot a limited amount of weddings. So I put in filters that might actually put some people off. I'm pretty sure some folk won't be bothered with my CTA but that is fine because I know that my ideal client would think it was fun and will help them remember me.
And that brings me back to my fishing analogy. A couple of years ago, I was getting around 50 enquiries a week. It took up a lot of my time to respond to them all and I realised that I was trawler fishing. I don't want to even shoot one wedding per week so it was a big waste of my time. I've made a few changes that mean I do get less enquiries but they tend to be from the perfect client for me. The market is ever shifting and I'm doing my best to move with it. So next up let's look at running our own PR[/private]