Matthieu & Regina's intimate civil ceremony at San Francisco City Hall

We frequently receive emails from fellow photographers with business related questions. We are more than happy to answer when we can and always try our best to help out. So here is a great question that popped up in our email the other day. We decided to turn this into a post on our blog since we feel that this is a question that can really benefit many other photographers.

Our answer might not be the correct one, but it’s a heartfelt and genuine answer. And if anyone else has something to contribute, please do not hesitate to post your comment. Meanwhile, if anyone else has any other questions, feel free to send them in! Who knows, we might turn this into a regular event on the blog!

I have written to you previously
I am a photographer in Australia and I need some advice and I was hoping you could help.
My husband and I aspire to be a successful boutique studio like yourself but we are really struggling with where to put our advertising dollar… we really feel that expo’s aren’t working for us. Should we advertise with a stylish magazine – similar to our style? Should we advertise online?
I was hoping that you could tell me what has worked for you – or any advice you have that could help us discover the path would be much appreciated
Would love to hear from you,

Dear A in Australia,

Unfortunately we cannot tell you exactly where to advertise, we actually do not know the answer. Our market is completely different than yours, and what we want is completely different from what you want. What might work for us might not work for you. Moreover, the market we are in is completely different from yours and we do not know what Australia is like. We cannot answer this question for you. You have the answers yourself! Confused? Don’t be! We can give you some steps to help you make the right decision. It’s actually a quite complex answer with several factors to consider, so we will present it in 3 parts. Of course, there are other factors to consider that we might not bring up, so readers, please join in on the conversation.

1. Consider your target audience.

I (Caroline) was actually trained in design and that encompasses branding. In design and branding, we always turn back to our target market research to develop goals and solutions. Always consider your target audience as the #1 factor in your advertising decision. Is your target couple a magazine reader, or do they read websites? What magazines do they read? What wedding websites do they visit? Why do they visit those websites? How old is target couple? Where do they live? Do they even go to bridal expo’s.

Ever wonder why Anthropologie is so consistent? Did you know that the creative team at Anthropologie gather together to invent their perfect dream woman for every season? They give her a name, personality, attributes, even hobbies. They then shape the whole season and products in their collection around this fantasy woman. That’s zoning in to their target audience to a T. No wonder their collection is so concise and well put together. It’s because it all makes sense.

The more defined your target market is, the easier the decisions will be. We know for a fact that most of our couples are avid wedding website readers and not magazine readers. And because of that, it was an easy decision to invest more efforts into online marketing! Do you know if your clients are magazine or website readers? Do you know what websites they visit? No? Then it’s time to do some research and get to know your clients! Which brings us to point #2?

2. Wait, wait, have you defined your target audience?

Did our questions from point 1 stump you? Are you sitting there going: “How do I know what my target audience is?” Or worse, “What’s a target audience?”

No successful product was ever marketed without a target audience in mind. Simply put, how would you know how to develop your product without knowing who to develop it for? Without knowing your target audience, how do you know how to develop your photography and where to take your company to? How would you know who you are appealing to and how to market to them? This is the number 1 part in developing your business. If you haven’t figured out your target market, then it’s time to sit down and define it. Educate yourself on the concept by visiting marketing websites online or reading books. Know how your target market behaves and you will have direction in what to do. Instead of casting out one big general net for random strangers up there, narrow in on reaching your target audience. Your success/sales ration will increase and you will see a return on your investment.

3. Look within yourself.

Do you know how your couples find you? Are they finding you online? If so, what websites? Are they finding you in a magazine? Or has it been word of mouth? No idea? Why not? We make it a point to ask every single inquiry where and how they found us and what they attracted them to our work. Otherwise, how would we know what works and what doesn’t? Make it a habit to ask every single inquiry where they heard about you and what they think about you. It’s even more important to ask your favorite couples where they found you. That’s how you know what has been a successful return of investment for you. And I would give them tons of hugs and kisses! Go through your client files and you’ll find your answer.

Ok, A in Australia, since it’s a holiday weekend here, I am afraid we must end here. The BBQ has been sizzling all day and it’s time to go out and enjoy the fireworks. Be sure to return for Part 2 though!


Violet - And this advice is really widely applicable, too! I was reading this thinking about my own target audience... Great post, Dan and Caroline.
Eric - Great post! We are getting rid of magazine ads because it hasn't done anything for us for the past two years. Why spend so much money and barely having enough weddings in return to make up for the cost? It would've been better if we had just stayed home and done nothing :D
Josh Davis - A piece of advice from a media must know what to expect out of each ad medium. Targeted magazines are the single best "branding" tool (see "Guerilla Marketing" by Jay Conrad Levinson), but won't make the phone ring off the hook. It will make all of your other marketing efforts work better. Bridal shows and web-generated leads are great for people with sales skills, but companies who have the "branding" have a leg up! I'd go for a mix and don't go "all in" with any one ad medium.
Where should a wedding photographer advertise? - [...] we are back! Hope you like our answers in Part 1 of our email question from A in Australia. Have we really made you think on that one? Now [...]
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