One time I had a bride who wasn’t happy with the first DJ she hired. She couldn’t pinpoint her exact objection; there was just something about him that she didn’t like. The groom said it was more important for his bride to be happy on her wedding day, so he didn’t mind losing the deposit on the DJ. The bride ended up hiring a different DJ who in turn referred me to them. A lot of women—though certainly not all of them, so please don’t lapse into stereotypes—trust their emotions first when making purchases, and we need to be attuned to that.
I know you have heard it more than once: Sell emotion, not technology! This bears repeating at a time when a lot of videographers are going gaga over the latest HD equipment. The average bride doesn’t care about HD. She cares about how she looks. I can guarantee you she won’t be impressed about how supersharp her flowers, cake, or wedding dress look if she can see wrinkles and other marks on her face. The bride’s appearance comes first! In fact, HD might even be a turn-off because of this.
Has anyone besides me noticed that The Oprah Winfrey Show is still filmed in SD? Do women care? No. We tune in to her show because we’re interested in the topics she talks about and the stories she tells. (Oprah will begin broadcasting in HD this fall, although I doubt the decision came about because she’s lost any of her viewership by producing in SD.)
Your equipment is only a tool to help you do your job. Sell yourself, not your tools. When you hire a carpenter to do work on your house, do you ask which tools he uses? I don’t care how skilled somebody is; if I don’t get a good vibe from that person, I’ll keep on looking. I once hired a carpet cleaner to clean a few chairs. He was such a delightful man that I decided to hire him on the spot to clean the carpets in my entire house! Another time, I was interviewing a window washer to do some work. Something didn’t feel right, so I turned him away.
Women have this intuition that guides them. You need to make friends with that intuition by being genuine and sincere. If you aren’t comfortable talking dresses and flowers, don’t do it. Ask about her music or limo instead if that is more "you." I can ask about a bride’s dress and color scheme because I’m truly curious about them. This is where I think women videographers have the advantage. Women can bond over a pair of shoes or a purse.
In your marketing, sell yourself. Include a photo of yourself or a couple photo if you are a husband-and-wife team. Use your photo on your website, on your business card, and in your magazine ad. Women don’t like hiring strangers. They want to know who they will be meeting with. They want to know a little bit about you. The best websites I have seen include an "about us" page that has real substance to it.
Don’t sell packages, sell emotion! Don’t say "I have a two-camera wedding ceremony package and you can add a second camera at the reception if you want." Instead, ask her who is walking her down the aisle. If she says her father, you can say, "With two cameras, we can capture the bridal party coming down the aisle. You’ll get to see what you missed as you waited in the back of the church with your dad. We’ll also capture that special moment between you and your father just before he walks you down the aisle. It’s one of my favorite father-daughter moments besides the father-daughter dance. With two cameras at the reception, we can also capture your mom’s expression as she watches the two of you dance. It’s what they have both dreamed about since hearing ‘It’s a girl.’ Two cameras allow us to capture more special moments as they happen."
You need to appeal to clients’ emotions. If you can do that, money will not be a factor for them. Women can usually find the money to spend on something they really want. One bride told me she was interested in basic coverage. Within seconds of discussing what she could have, she upped her budget by $1,000 without blinking.
If you treat a bride with genuine respect and empathy and acknowledge her intelligence, you will make a friend—a friend who is willing to spend money to hire you. That’s what women want. I love that sign that reads, "If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy." Chances are, deep down, you already know that. Just don’t forget it!
Kris Malandruccolo (kris at elegantvideosbykris.com), an EventDV 25 honoree and 2007 WEVA Hall of Fame inductee, is the owner of Chicago-based Elegant Videos by Kris and Elegant Storybooks by Kris. She is a certified Master Wedding Vendor through the Association of Bridal Consultants, WEVA Public Relations Chair, an international speaker, and past-president of the Illinois Videographers Association.