Make styled shoots work for your business
Styled shoots, or “mock weddings” are an amazing way to diversify your portfolio and market your company. As a florist in the wedding scene, styled shoots have been an excellent way to get my name out there and network with other professionals. However, I spent the first nine months of my business avoiding them like the plague. I felt insecure spending money on something that may not be profitable, and I wasn’t sure how to best represent my brand. I’ve since come around, though, and now I love participating in styled shoots!
Logistically, styled shoots are harder on florists than any other wedding service provider. The costs can add up quickly, and you don’t get to reuse your product at the end! I’ve heard horror stories of florists spending thousands of dollars on a shoot, only to get very little marketing and business from it. On the flip side, I've heard of florists who built their brand, network, and clientele from a single excellent shoot.
So how do you make styled shoots a worthwhile venture? You need to hone in on several elements to make it work for you:
Make Money Work For You
Have you heard the phrase, “you have to spend money to make money?" Well, unfortunately, it’s true. However, I believe that some good old fashioned budgeting can go a long way in stretching your dollar. As the owner of a small business, I want to make each dollar count. The money in my bank account has been earned, dollar by dollar, from my hard work! I bet you feel the same way.
There are two ways to handle the money side of styled shoots. One option is to charge for the cost of florals (or a flat rate) for any planner who wants to use your services. The other choice is to create a marketing budget for the year, which includes any money spent on styled shoots. I’ve decided on a mix of both.
For example, I decided that I have about $500 to spend on my marketing endeavors for the year. So when a planner approaches me and asks if I want to be involved in a shoot, I make sure to get a feel for what they’re wanting. If one shoot is going to use up my entire $500 budget at the beginning of the year, it’s probably not for me. However, I know that I can do several small shoots and stretch my dollars further. Once I've used up the $500 for the year, I will either stop doing shoots or just charge the planner for the cost of florals. Budgets can easily get blown out of proportion by garlands, large installations or elaborate details — so make sure you are in control of your money when you spend it on these events.
Make Networking Work For You
Vendor friends are one of the best things you can do in the wedding industry! Networking and referrals can grow your business exponentially. Therefore, when I’m considering a shoot, I like to find out about the other vendors involved. Do they have a similar aesthetic? How significant is their social media presence? Will they represent my brand well? These are just a few questions to ask yourself — not because you’re a snob — because you care about quality.
For example, my brand is portraying a relaxed, organic feel. Therefore, I don’t work on shoots for high-style, glamorous weddings. There’s nothing wrong with that style, but I know that’s not my ideal clientele. Try to work with other vendors who also have your ideal client. Plus, working on a styled shoot with them is just a great (and natural) way to start building relationships.
At styled shoots, try to stick around for part of it and make sure to talk to other vendors and get to know them. Don’t just push your business card at them, but really take the time to hear about why they do what they do. Write thank you notes to other people involved and make sure to tag their companies in all your social media posts. The best thing we can do in the wedding industry is uplift others! Don’t you want to be known as a kind and thoughtful florist? This is important not just for your brides and clients, but also your vendor peers.
Make Time Work For You
One of the best parts of participating in styled shoots is the ability to grow and diversify your portfolio. When I first started my business, my portfolio was filled with some lovely weddings from more traditionally styled brides. Although I like this style, I wanted to show that I could make more organic, natural arrangements. By being a part of several shoots, I was able to get some pictures of this type of work, which I could display right on my website. Now I’m starting to book more clients who gravitate to this garden-style look!
By other vendors sharing your work or by submitting images to a wedding blog for publication, you can significantly increase brand awareness and traffic to your social media. These impressions on followers make a huge difference. Having a solid Facebook/Instagram following adds credibility to your company while making your business name familiar and memorable. Participating in styled shoots is a great way to get your work in front of new potential clients.
So the most important thing to remember is to diversify your work! The more you have out there, the more can be picked up by blogs, vendors or clients. I planned several styled shoots this summer (the slow season in Arizona!) and by being creative with time, I tripled my portfolio work. For each shoot, I had three couples modeling different styles. We focused on just bridal portraits, so I was able to spend my money on three different bouquets and boutonnieres. No, I didn’t get photos of tablescapes or elaborate arches, but I did get bridal portraits which I desperately needed. In the amount of time a full styled shoot would take, I walked away with three different wedding styles. So make sure to be creative and expand your time. Do both large shoots and small ones! Let the time you invest yield lots of results.
If your schedule is already booked solid, then you probably don’t need to spend money on styled shoots! However, if you are (like me) still trying to grow and develop your company, you should seriously consider using styled shoots to your advantage. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how helpful they are to a growing business. If you want to do a styled shoot, but haven’t been approached by other vendors, then go plan one yourself! It’s totally doable, and if you start small, you will learn a lot. Remember to budget, be selective, and be creative with your time!
You can do it!