Importance of The Inquiry Reply
All right, so where do the inquiries come from? Good timing, so again we slash I went ahead and did a little bit of research on where those were coming from. So 48% of our inquiries for 2018 came from the internet.
I don't know why that has to be in quotations but I like it.
So, Instagram, Pinterest, Fearless, Google, Facebook, et cetera. That's where half of our inquiries came from.
Yeah, 13% of our inquiries came from planners and resulted in 50% of the weddings booked for 2018. And then 39% of inquiries came from referrals, so past brides or other vendors, and that resulted in the other 50% of weddings booked. So, how many weddings did we book from the internet or from general sources where SEO would be relevant? Zero, so all of our weddings booked for this year, it's planners and past referrals.
So, that was kinda mind blowing for me. And Daniel got these stats for this, for you guys so we could talk about it. And I was actually like, whoa, how have we first of al...
l never even done that? Shame on us as business people to not know these numbers. But also, where we put our resources, that means that our referrals and our planners, I mean our past clients and our planners we're working with, that's where we need to be paying attention. We need to be sending thank you's to these people, we need to be making sure that planners are getting the photos, you know. If they're representing 50% of our booked weddings, that says something. On the other hand, what is says to me that the internet, I have to use the quotes now, the internet is not actually bringing us weddings. It's bringing us tons of inquiries but not weddings, and what does that say? Maybe that people who find us from the internet are actually just shopping around and they're looking at tons of other photographers, and they've got a list of like, 50 people and they don't particularly connect with what we're doing. Maybe it means that they see one random photo on Pinterest and get excited about it, contact us, and then they're like, whoa, how much? No way, I wanna spend $500 or whatever. I don't know, it could mean a ton of things. But what that's important for us to note is just that these are the relationships we need to be really paying attention to.
Yeah, so that kind of answers your question about the SEO. We don't put that much effort into it because this is where 100% of our weddings for this year are really coming from. All right, so once the inquiry comes in, what does our first email look like? So, there's three different things that we really want to communicate to a potential couple who might be booking us. So we wanna write out in words what our style is about. So we'll explain to them that we have a very documentary approach but that we still take control in situations where we need to take control, make sure that the lighting is good, make sure that the poses are good. So, take control where needed and that we also fulfill our responsibilities as wedding photographers by covering all of their guests and photographing all the details and the formals. But ultimately we want them to end up with a body of work that is very unique and special and that is gonna tell the story of their wedding day. Same thing, basically our formula but just written out in words that are easy to understand for a bride and groom who doesn't really understand anything about photography. We want them to know exactly what they're getting themselves into.
So that kind of answers the question, these photos look candid, I'm gonna assume they're candid, that answers the question. Yes, these are real moments, okay? Then it answers what they don't see which is yes, we also do traditional photos, yes, we do cover your details, yes, we do classic portraits of the two of you, of your families, all that. So they have that answer in words with our reply.
Then we include a few different slide shows. So, depending on where the wedding is taking place, we'll adjust which two or three slide shows we send them. So if it's a beach wedding, we'll send other beach weddings. If it's in a synagogue and it's a Jewish wedding, we'll include more of those. We want them to look at images that they're gonna be able to relate to, so they have a better idea of what their final product in their setting in their environment is going to look like.
That's especially important with cultural weddings. So like Indian weddings, they want to see other Indian weddings and yeah, the setting is really important too. You don't want to send a ballroom wedding to an outdoor beach wedding or something. Yes, they can relate to the storytelling approach, and sometimes one of the slideshows we'll include might be a little bit further from the wedding that they're having. But the idea is that we want them to be able to relate to the photos as well.
And then we'll include the price list. So, we'll jump into that in a second. One thing we don't include in that initial inquiry is a link to a full gallery. We're not withholding this from inquiring minds but we don't wanna show everything right off the bat. I think if they start looking at slideshows and start looking at full galleries, it just gets a little bit overwhelming. The challenge with a full gallery, is when it's the client's full gallery, they know everybody who's in their photos, it's very personal so they enjoy looking at all thousand or two thousand photos. But, someone who's inquiring, who's about to get married is looking at stranger's photos and is looking at this many images, it gets very overwhelming very fast. So if we do share a full gallery, we want that to come with a disclaimer and it'll usually be after we exchange a few emails or we hop on a phone call and we'll explain to them, sure we can send you a full gallery so you know what our coverage looks like but keep in mind that this is not your wedding, it's gonna be a very different viewing experience. We encourage you to just scroll through the thumbnails and look at the overall coverage, rather than one image at a time.
But it is important for us to not be ashamed of our full galleries, to keep striving to have the quality of our images be at a certain level all throughout the day, even when we're doing formals, even when we're doing details because we want couples to know exactly what they can expect from us. And the slideshows are great, that's important, we want them to hire us for that. But we want the full gallery still to not scare them away. We want it to still be like, okay no, they know how to do this other stuff too, and I'll be in good hands, so it's important for both of us. And when they are looking at a lot of photographers, and they're trying to make a decision, it's actually something we often will be like, here take a look at our full galleries and we encourage you to ask that from the other photographers that you're considering. And it's because we want them to know exactly what they're gonna get. And honestly, it's not because I'm trying to be like, our full galleries are better, just ask them, you'll see, they suck. It's not that at all, it's really that I want them to know what to expect and I really do want them to make the best decision. The last thing I want is to be hired by someone who's not a good fit and by comparing the full galleries of other photographers, they could hopefully make a good decision.
And that mindset has motivated us over the years to make sure that our full gallery gets better and better and better. I think our slide shows got better way before our full galleries did and we would suck at details and we would suck at formals and we would suck at covering in between moments and over the years we'd just start taking more pride in that final full gallery. And we really wanna make sure that that's good, as much for our existing clients but also for other clients who might be inquiring, want them to feel safe with what the rest of their photos are gonna look like.
Sorry, we had talked a little bit about guests, that came up, about covering guests and how I've given myself the mission now, don't just cover the guests, actually get a good photo that they might want as their profile picture. So to me, that's kind of like elevating my own standards and giving myself these mini assignments to try to bring up the quality of the overall full galleries, sorry.
Do you separate your full galleries into certain parts of the day so it's easier for them to digest or is it just all the images at once?
We just started doing that.
Yeah, for that exact reason. Yeah, I think it's for a viewing experience, it's so much easier, it's also easier after if you send a wedding planner, you know, here you can check out the photos and they know where to find the details. If a guest comes to the page and only shows up at the reception, wants to find photos of themselves, they can scroll through that. So yeah, I think it's easier when it's separated into categories instead of like scrolling through 15 hundred photos.
Davina and Daniel, there was a question that had come, and similarly do you give the wedding planners access to full galleries and or usage of photos for their own promo? And maybe beyond just the wedding planners, who else on team good photos can use the photos?
Well, what we've learned from this is that we definitely should be sharing photos with the planner since they're sending us 50% of our weddings this year. We could probably be better about it or at least do it in a more timely way.
Mostly that, yeah, we just did it in December for all the weddings we photographed in 2017, which is not the timing that we would've liked. But at least we did follow through and do it. We do believe in this sort of like, free trade where we don't pay a commission when we get referrals from other vendors, but we also give them full usage of images of the flowers and of the decor and of lighting and of the DJ and for the planners and for everybody. We just kind of believe in the wedding industry being one happy family and we can all help each other and all we ask-
It's a little idealistic.
Yeah (laughs), all we ask for, when they do post the images is for it to come with a photo credit so it kinda brings the leads back to us for the photography itself. So, if it's posted on social media, that they mention us on Instagram or Facebook. And if they post it on their website, just that there's a photo credit that says photo by Davina plus Daniel.
What we also do, and to go along, because we don't want to be hired for our detail photos, right, so these photo credits are all fine and great but at the end of the day if someone sees a beautiful detail photo, they're not gonna be like, I have to hire those photographers 'cause that's not what we're about. So what we do is we send the slide shows to everybody who was involved in the wedding, so the planner, even the DJ, whoever's contact information we have, so they get to know what we're about. So yes, they see their own work showcased within the context of the detail we photographed, but they also hopefully can fall in love with the work itself and you never know who will become your best promoter. We've had mothers of brides who have talked to coworkers, we've had so many makeup artists who talk to us about everybody they meet. You really never know who's gonna become your greatest marketing person, so, sharing it with as many people as possible. And they see weddings all the time. So if you set yourself apart in what you do and you have a distinct style or something special that you do really well, that's even more of a reason for them to be like, you have to see this, I see lots of weddings and this is really special. So, their word is even more special in a way.