How valuable is wedding video? Much more so than public perception suggests, according to a host of dedicated videographers who have made promoting the wedding video industry a cause célèbre. But how can videographers align perception with reality, and convince brides of the "true" value of wedding video before they exhaust their budgets on other, better-understood services?
Alex Hill of award-winning southern California studio Elysium Productions believes he has an answer: WeddingVideoExperience.com, which will launch later this month. Unlike many other sites designed to promote wedding videography, Hill's won't be making the argument with words. It's all about video.
"We want it to be very visual," Hill says, "and do a kind of gallery approach so that brides could come online and look through videos of all the vendors that are going to be advertising," Hill says. "It won't be like The Knot or the Wedding Channel where there's just a ton of text. We won't have message boards or anything like that—just photos and video."
WeddingVideoExperience.com is the online portion of a broader project co-developed by Elysium and other vendors in their region. Called the Southern California Wedding Experience, it will include not just the Web site but an "upscale bridal center—like a year-round bridal show" and a weekly local cable TV program. The TV show will be similar, Hill says, to the New Orleans Wedding Planning Experience program produced by Julian St. Pierre and Terry and Joe Taravella of Studio VieuxCarré. "We flew them out here after Katrina hit so we could pick their brains about what they've done," he says. "Our show will be similar in format and in the way we market it, but our market is different. We have a lot more vendors in southern California than they have in New Orleans."
While the TV show and showroom will target So Cal brides at first (both local brides and others who have chosen southern California as a wedding destination), the idea for WeddingVideoExperience.com is to take the site national as quickly as possible. "Brides will be able to go on this site and get a lot of info about their area and what everything looks like, get tours of locations and see what they look like decorated for weddings," he says. "We're going to start here in Orange County and build it into a nationwide thing."
The revenue model for the site is entirely based on the participation of videographers, who will pay to advertise on the site based on the number of video clips served (via streaming) from the site, and the number of regions in which they want their work to appear when brides visit the site and click on particular locales throughout the U.S. and Canada. Videographers will pay $185 per year for one clip, $285 for three clips, and $385 for five clips, with one region of exposure. The prices in increments of $100 for each region added. "If you break it down by a monthly rate, it's not very much money at all," Hill says. "But we're just trying to get people to jump on board."
Hill says WeddingVideoExperience.com will advertise on Video University to get videographers involved and The Knot and other wedding sites to attract brides. They will also develop some search engine optimization to build traffic from brides. As revenue grows, they hope to place some print ads in bridal magazines as well.
Another strategy for attracting videographers to advertise on the site and advancing its primary goal—educating brides about the value of wedding video--is the inclusion of a handful of clips designed by leading videographers specifically for the promotion of wedding video. Producers of these videos include such luminaries as LaDonna Moore, Donna and Robin Greenwood, Ken Ehrhart, Steve and Laura Moses, and Alex and Julie Hill's own Elysium Productions. "These were clips that the 4EVER Group asked people to put together to royalty-free music," Hill says, "stuff that they could use to promote our industry."
The 4EVER Group's involvement with the site doesn't end with coordinating those promotional videos. "They'll be marketing the site on our behalf," Hill says, and working closely with WeddingVideoExperience.com to increase videographer involvement and increase the site's visibility around the country as Wedding Video Experience extends its reach.
One of the challenges the site may face is straddling the line between promoting the work of as many videographers as possible—i.e., hosting clips from everyone who wants to advertise—and fashioning the site in a way that promotes the industry as a whole, and at its best. "Initially, the business plan is that any videographer who wants to be on Wedding Video Experience can be," Hill says. "We're trying not to make it exclusionary. Ultimately, we'd like to create an area of the site where we have some kind of a ranking system, a place where we can trumpet the best of the best. A passion of ours is promoting the video industry as a whole and getting people to understand the importance of wedding video. But also, in doing that," he explains, "we don't want to trumpet sub-standard work."
Hill says his long-term goals for the site are more concerned with promoting the wedding video industry than developing a revenue stream for his own company. "We'd like to take the money that we generate from this Web site and create a national video advertising budget," he says. "If it was really successful, I'd love to be able to hire a PR firm to get a wedding videographer on Oprah Winfrey or run a Super Bowl ad. I see this site as building a financial pool that can be drawn from to do more creative things to promote our industry."
For more information about the Wedding Video Experience, including advertising, contact Alex Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org.