Six seasons in, the shocked look on someone's face who has just learned what I do and the demographics of my clientele never gets old.
This happened most recently last week, while lunching with the other entreverge winners (there are five of us total and no, we didn't all bring our electric guitars), a now monthly appointment. In the typical getting-to-know-you early conversation, my fellow entrepreneurs spoke of their customers who are mostly local (or regional at best). Mine? Tho I love them and feel as tho I know them like neighbors, most are married in Maine but live elsewhere. And get this, I usually don't lay eyes on them until their actual wedding day.
Thankfully my virtual studio, aka my website, includes anything and everything an inquiring bride might want to learn about me including a video that showcases my Portland studio, happy clients and me! Seeing and hearing someone is bounds more effective than just reading the usual narrative text or client quote. Add phone calls, emails and regular Twitter and Facebook interactions, and far away couples all feel comfortable booking me and greet like we're old friends with excited hugs on their wedding day.
And while I've known this to be the case- most clients marrying local who are not local- since moving my business to Maine five (gulp! That went by fast!!) years ago, I've never really known how much most is exactly. I ran some numbers and put together some graphs and pie charts to show you. Because, really, who doesn't love pie (Two Fat Cats, for the record and for those of you out-of-towners seeking Portland's best, has my vote for best blueberry this time of year).
In 2009, emilie inc. booked 50 weddings. One was canceled and one was postponed, so that leaves us with 48. Of those couples:
- 83% live out of state, 17% live in Maine.
- 58% married in Maine, 21% in New Hampshire, 15% at destination locations (Mexico, St. John, Costa Rica, etc), 6% in Massachusetts. For those marrying in Maine who do not live here, most grew up vacationing here, perhaps went to college here or some have never been at all and picked it from browsing online!
June and September are typically our busiest months, but this year it was August by a mile!
Forget Goin' to the Chapel, emilie inc. brides are mostly married at one of the many inns that dot our pretty coastline or lakes.
Likewise, inns are our most popular reception venue as well. With so many guests traveling from out of town, having the reception (and/or ceremony) at the same location, with lodging, makes it easy for everyone.
The majority of our weddings have just 50-100 guests. I love the trend of smaller, more intimate celebrations.
Curious who couples booked? I'm very fortunate to have two solid associate photographers I adore and trust in the event I am already booked or to accommodate a range of budgets (we are each priced differently according to our experience).
- Emilie has 25, Whitney has 15 and J has 8. This is a big (and welcome) change for me, as in past years I have photographed as many as 32-38 weddings myself. I'm elated with Whitney's early popularity as 2009 is her first season working with emilie inc. And J, my sweet husband who also keeps a regular Monday- Friday job, took several solo weddings and accompanied me as my second photographer for nearly all of my weddings who hired two shooters. Whitney was often J's second photographer for his weddings. Confused yet? Bottom line, we are b-u-s-y!
- This year we met 49% of our couples for the first time on their wedding day, 26% before they booked with emilie inc., and 25% booked without meeting us but stopped by the studio to say hello while on a planning trip in town just before their big day.
Aside from one website, I do not pay to advertise. Instead, I believe in maintaining strong relationships with quality vendors, venues and viral marketing (including word of mouth, networking, this blog and social media). Below is the breakdown of how clients found emilie inc:
emilie inc.'s perfect pricing™ follows an à la carte model. Couples book their photographer's creative fee, and customize a package according to what they want. Our most popular additions are:
- 92% are purchasing a disc of digital negatives both for safekeeping and sharing their images.
- 56% are electing to hire a second photographer. I love this! One photographer can certainly cover a wedding solo, but with two there is so much more of the day that is captured. More thorough coverage of the groom's preparations and cocktail hour are the biggest perks, as are the different angles during the ceremony and reception. Seeing as I just added this as an option two years ago, I'm thrilled with its growing popularity and hope it is soon the norm.
Pretty interesting, no? I'll definitely be sure to do this again next year!