Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wedding Photography: Developing Packages

The last couple of years I have struggled with my marketing plan for Weddings. I have spent a lot of time and effort on my Seniors plan and it has worked out very well. I routinely exceed my goals for sessions and revenue for that area, and I seem to have the right range of product offerings for my customers' needs.

My original wedding offering was simple: A fixed price for the shoot, which included credits for the purchase of products. But I found two problems: Indecision, and lack of a data disc offering.

I found that when I did offer a fixed price for the wedding, the bride and groom would struggle to decide what they wanted. Without guidelines or a framework, it was hard for them to determine what they wanted.

And I was getting a lot of calls asking for the image files as part or all of the package. A couple of years ago, I told them that I did not sell my images. I lost a lot of inquiries for that reason. The sad thing is, I believe that they booked someone less capable than me.

I thought about it and decided that I was in the business of providing wedding memories, not prints. If my customers wanted a disc, I can deliver that to them in the same fashion as prints. As long as I cover my time and make my sales and profitability goals, I couldn't rationalize why I shouldn't offer the data files.

So I took a clue from my Senior offerings and created several packages. The original is still there - they pay me for the day and have a design credit to spend a la carte. I also have a "digital only" package, which lands them a disc and a small print credit. But I also have a few larger packages that combine many of my offerings into a greater value.

And I continue to consult with my customers that my recommendation is that they use me for their prints - mainly because I can produce a print quality that they cannot approach from drug store print kiosks, and I feature my slideshow and book designs during the review. But I offer them various options for getting the data disc alone or in concert with a prints and products package.

The reception has been good. Even though I have only had the new prices up for a few weeks, I have had more productive discussions with current and prospective wedding couples. It gives them something to get their heads around in terms of a whole offering.

I keep all my pricing on my website. I know it encourages window shopping, but I still get a lot of inquiries. And most of those who call me or email me have done their homework. They like my work, are comfortable with my pricing, and are often ready to book. It keeps everyone's time efficient and shows my customers that I'm not afraid to disclose my pricing to my competitors.

One other thing I discovered is that you really need to price a year ahead with weddings. Many of my customers are booking me for 2010, and I freeze their pricing on the day they sign a contract with me. Given that I have sold more than half of my 2010 wedding capacity, I don't have that many opportunities for new customers to work with my new pricing next year.

That means that I am learning to create the long view for weddings - it's a very different business cycle from Seniors and other types of sales.

So, if you are struggling with wedding pricing, consider structuring several packages to give your clients some choices and reference points. You may just win more bookings and keep your customers happier!

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