Saturday, June 16, 2007

How to kill your business - FAST

A photographer came up to me after my program in New Jersey and he was super bummed out. He had been trying to make things work for the last couple of years but was running out of money. I asked him what he meant because wedding photography is such a low overhead business so I thought maybe his lifestyle was sucking his cash but no - ADVERTISING was!

It really made me sick that somebody had lead him to believe that putting ads in magazines was a good way to get his business off the ground and now it was about to be the very thing that put his business six feet underground! Advertising does still have it's place in our industry BUT NOT DURING STARTUP!

I'm reading a book called Punk Marketing right now and checkout this quote...
"It used to be possible to reach potential consumers easily. According to an analysis by Willard Bishop Consulting back in 1995 it took the airing of a TV commercial just three times to reach 80% of woman ages 18-49...but five years leater, reaching the same demographic required airing that awful commercial ninety-seven times. The media market has fragmented beyond recognition."


If this is what happened to television think what happend with magazines over the past 10 years with the new world of blogs and online content!

Times have changed friends and if you're trying to do things the way the last generation of photographers did you're gonna get left behind.

27 comments:

Ricki Ford said...

trinitiThanks for this post dude. It opened my eyes. I use showit to get the word out but I was thinking about putting an add in a magazine. Think I'll hold off on that thought.

Adam R. Owens said...

At 1st I did the print ads also, but did not get any response, now all my money (very little bit) goes into internet advertising, way better return and way better results, all my bookings now come from word of mouth or the internet. I have recently booked four brides from one single wedding!

ron said...

DJ-Thanks so much for sharing this you are so right on... I have been tracking this for awhile now and nothing, nothing has worked liked word of mouth and show-it.

|| davidjay || said...

Right on guys! I'm stoked to see you guys doing your research and seeing what's effective today!

Nicholaus Haskins said...

I completely agree DJ. I'd rather spend the money on my existing clients. Take them out to dinner, (they are friends my now)...makin sure they continue the rave!

I started out the right way, thanks to you! So glad your awesome enough to share how you became successful. I cant tell you how much that helps!

Thank you!

Detra, Matt 19:26 said...

I think I found this website a little late. Anyone mind pointing me in the right direction? Thanks in advance!

Mike said...

Great post DJ! We are finding WOM to be the deal, you just have to keep at it. From meeting people to blog posts of pictures and slideshows to leaving business cards where potential clients can find them is starting to pay off! We have wedding pictures which will soon be displayed with business cards in a bridal shop and a potential featured wedding in a local lifestyles magazine! Go WOM!

J Sandifer said...

Right on DJ!

I have said for years that print advertising is just not the way to go, especially for people just starting out in the industry. Spend that money on taking care of existing clients and coming up with something that will set you apart from the competition. The first wedding I shot in LA I brought along a couple extra people to print small albums at the actual event. I gave those to the mom's and the bride before leaving the reception. That one gesture that they did not expect has spawned 6 referral wedding since. Surprise your clients and start the BUZZ!

Nick said...

SEO + SEO then when you start shooting weddings blog the hell out of em, show it fast em (i am collecting shots of people going WOW! and ohhhh at our weddings) and at each wedding you shoot deliver more than you were originally booked to shoot and also make sure your current price is higher now than when you were originally booked for the wedding your shooting .... thats our main startup pricipals in a nutshell anyway :)

GARYFONG.COM said...

I run full page ads in magazines and it is A COMPLETE WASTE OF MONEY. I do it just because I don't know we have an ad budget so we spend it there and to keep our name out - but - we get such little response that I've decided to do REALLY stupid silly ads showing my customers using my products with no sales pitch at all.

I'm getting an amazing response from that approach - which is hilarious because I went to the silly ad because I gave up on ads.

GARYFONG.COM said...

Running ads is like decorating with advertising. Funny I am!

Kevin Keith said...

Yes, I wish I would have known this earlier. I just maxed out my business card on print advertising and now I am fighting to book weddings with what I have left. You have been pointing me in the right direction DJ. Thanks.

Hey, if you get chosen to be published in a magazine is it necessary for you to advertise with that magazine? I am having my first wedding published next week in KC Weddings Magazine and I was thinking of pulling the ad earlier but left it cause they chose my wedding to be published.

Thanks for always sharing DJ!

Kevin Keith
www.kevinkeithweddings.com

Daniel J. Watkins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
|| davidjay || said...

Read the post Dan :) Is Mike Colon a startup? Does he advertise in there to try and book weddings?

Nowdays trying to do what Mike did with advertising 7 years ago won't have the same result. The world has changed.

Tim Halberg said...

Totally agree that expensive ads/magazine ads would largely be a mistake at the beginning.

At the same time, had I not done some well placed/inexpensive online ads my first year, I would have ended up shooting only 5 weddings my first year and having to find a full-time job "on the side" to live on.

I am VERY thankful for the advertising I did and the network I've now been able to grow out of the weddings I was able to gain from some careful advertising.

Multiple times I've looked into magazine ads ranging from 1-3k and each time have realized that would be a mistake for my business right now.

Mark said...

DJ,
What do you think about web adds. How do you pick the right sites to get on? I'm thinking about putting some money in to some web adds. Being in my first year how much money should I be putting in to online ads in my first year?

andreasphoto said...

I agree, yet I disagree. I've been doing this five years now, and I run half page ads in the magazines up in Toronto. Why? Because it keeps your name out there to other vendors. Yes, I also do promotion within a group of vendors that I work with, but I don't spend more than a certain % each year on print ads. I agree, and know that it's a "waste of money" - one ad I ran had it's own domain name on the ad, and in one year I only got..ready?...59 visits to that specific domain.
As a start up, meaning, your first season, I would say blast out a fantastic looking FULL PAGE AD. Hire a PRO to design it, and make it amazing. You have to start your business somehow, and if you have your name in print, online, and use word of mouth promotion as well..well, that's just marketing 101, they see or hear your name 3 times and they remember it.
Don't knock the print ads, just don't blow your budget on it. I set 5% on print advertising per year..that's it.

Daniel J. Watkins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
|| davidjay || said...

In wedding photography where I'd guess 80 and maybe even upwards of 90%+ of our jobs are gained through word of mouth referrals we need to focus on what's effective and not bother with the old ways that cost TONS and aren't worth the time, effort, and SIGNIFICANT costs involved.

p.s. I've never heard of your friend Jenny but I wish her the best with those brides who search out photographers on google. ;)

andreasphoto said...

Jenni is the founder of weddingchannel.com DJ.

so, rather than say
dont do print...what would you suggest? do you have 2 or 4 or 10 point plan for someone literally just starting up to do? how would you suggest someone wanting to go from $0 to $50,000 to $150,000 (random numbers here) without spending money on print ads...can you lay that out?

Nick said...

Search Engine Optimisation is the best money you can spend imo (if you cant do the SEO yourself) and adwords.

Considering theres lots of established photography businesses in the same area where I live I have found it very easy to get to the top for the search terms I have targeted by learning SEO myself, theres some pretty websites out there but if your not on the first page of google when your first starting out your missing out on a ton of business, it becomes less important when people are referring you but to start with you need some clients.

I agree with DJ's philosophy that 100% referal business should be the long term goal but SEO (and adwords whilst your climbing the rankings) is a great way to get started imo, that and an attractive price will get you a lot of enquiries and then its upto you to sell yourself to the people that enquire.

Thats certainly worked for us anyway from starting out the middle of last year we have 25 bookings for this year and about 13 so far for 2008.

The crazy thing is getting referals from brides before you have even shot their wedding! :-)

Then when you start shooting the weddings throwing a Showit Web Slideshow together on the day and getting stuff on the blog straight after really works .. weve already had more bookings from the 5 weddings we have shot so far this year.

|| davidjay || said...

Oh - so Dan is suggesting advertising in google and the wedding channel? I don't recommend it. :) I don't think any of my brides have ever mentioned anything about the wedding channel so they're not really on my radar nor have they ever been.

I do have a marketing plan that I talk about at my presentations and I'll also be providing it on the get-free.com site soon. :)

|| davidjay || said...

Nick - stoked to here your success with the slideshows! That's awesome! ...and think of the ROI on that compared to the adds.

I also agree optimizing your website and creating a site that is easily updatable and unique is gonna be a MUST HAVE in this next era. Our websites have really become "US" and so this is an area I think photographers should focus their time and energy on and create something that shows their creativity.

Daniel J. Watkins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
|| davidjay || said...

Business plans (especially in our industry) aren't even overrated anymore because most people, especially in this rapidly changing world, have realized that they are almost useless...planning on the other hand is very important. :)

I certainly don't mean any disrepect to anyone but I do think it's a new world and their are new rules now.

veronica said...

I agree. I think for start up, it would be a very bad move if you continually throw a huge budget into advertising (be it, magazine, google / sponsored link etc) when your online portfolio just doesn't stand out (i.e.: your brand image, your portfolio, what you wrote on your website, the web design itself etc..). Being able to differentiate is extremely important. Before going into the battlefield, you will have to make sure you are armed with good weapons.. that's how i see it. Otherwise, you will die in no time with advertising.
I still think zero-cost marketing is best for startup (i.e.: blog, newsletter, slideshows, referrals, networking, branding, forums)...go slow and self evaluate often. There are so much you could do nowadays without spending money. Aware who you are and what makes your works different, that is most important.

Magazine ads never work for me too. Referral and newsletter did.

Ginger Murray said...

This post comes in the nick of time...
I was thinking about putting an ad in...
But I was also thinking about ShowIt...hmm... :)

I was thinking about those things a lot, since I'm new to the business and started a year ago in August...
Thanks everyone!