After constantly being harangued by telesales for internet marketing my experience over the last few years had left me rather cold to the whole thing. Basically I'd found the results never worth the expenditure and I had pretty much given up on this form of advertising. But then a UK bridal directory tweaked my interest.......
The site is very organised and has a 'Photographer Quote' service available to registered Brides. And with 100's of 1000's of Brides impressively registered to date, this I thought had potential! The cost to me would be £100's, but if it works...?
But hold on! Past experience.. surely that counts for something? But there again I didn't want to miss a trick here....
So, it was obvious. Why not ask those who are using the site, those paying photographers. After drafting up a brief questionnaire I e-mailed 12 paying photographers using this UK bridal directory. They all worked a different area to me, so no conflict of interest there. 8 replied. And here's what they said:
Many of the photographers were new to the site. (Where were all the renewing photographers?). Several responders noticed that their competitors had not renewed.
The "quote" service does appear to drive traffic to websites but very rarely materialises in a booking. Most photographers are doing 4 or 5 quotes a day without having achieved any bookings!
Approaching potential clients from 'Lists of Brides' provided by the site gave no positive results when it came to bookings.
One responder received a booking just by being listed (lucky sod!).
One responder recorded only 4 website clicks via the directory website in one year.
General consensus was that internet advertising (i.e. paying) is largely a waste of time and money. Several had tried everything out there and with no reward whatsoever! It appeared that this sites professional look, organised sales pitch and constant telesales (and claims of Bride numbers) hooked photographers.
There was also a theme that ran through most replies to do with cost. Interest from the Brides seemed to be concentrated at the lower end of the wedding photography market, with most Brides looking for all day attendance at +/- £500. Remembering of course that the site encourages the photographer to offer a free engagement shoot too! My conclusion is that a majority of the Brides registered are not of the (spending) quality required by a professional photographer. Let's face it, a photographer charging £500 for a wedding and all it involves (before, during, after, insurance, equipment, marketing etc) does not have a sustainable business.
I concluded that this site is excellent......... for the part time photographer, although question whether they would actually want to pay the annual subscriptions required. Infact, the site is positively helping the non professional and encouraging the Brides to believe a cheap alternative service is out there. Of course, in life, there is always a reason why cheap is cheap and it's always up to the purchaser to decide what is best for them. However, what worries me as much as anything is that the site must know that they are really ripping off a lot of genuine hard working full time photographers.
So my suspicions have been confirmed! If/when you get that marketing call please don't do it. Or at the very least, BEWARE!