(from a post on OSP by Kevin Swan)
Before I get flamed, all of this is just my opinion and it’s based on my experience. Your milage may vary.
You need to define “high-end.” Do you mean $50,000 weddings or $500,000 weddings or $5,000,000 weddings? Who is your target market, because you need to shape your business to that goal. Don’t just say you want people who are spending more money than the ones you currently serve–that’s not a very concrete goal.
Bridal shows are good to get started, because they get you some gigs and you can work on your craft. Until you’re very comfortable, selling to high-end brides won’t be happening. Do not continue them after you get your start because the mediocrity of the mass of photographers at such events will pull your brand down to their level. The brides leave feeling overwhelmed and frustrated and you just become “another photographer.” All the high-end clients I’ve shot have found me through referral or through a high-end event planner. I doubt you will ever see a high-end bride trolling a bridal show (again, this will depend on your description, but I’m talking about brides who are spending at least $100,000 on their event and around $20k on photographer). Their time is more valuable than that–that’s why they hire planners to recommend them 1 or 2 of the best options, rather than sifting through 30 photographers at a show.
You should consider things like packages and how you word your pricing. Do wealthy people really want to know nitty gritty details, or are they used to someone just taking care of their needs? When you buy an Aston Maritn, do you go in because you heard about a sale going on? Not likely. Do you have the work to support a high-end clientele? Do you have references in their circles? Who plans their weddings; have you taken them to lunch or bought them a nice book?
Consider your focus (or lack of it). On your site you basically say, “I specialize in shooting everything,” which is to say, you’re not specializing in anything. That looks desperate. High-end people prefer specialists. In fact, everyone prefers specialists.
On your site, why do you separate “philosophy” from “about me?” Just to have another tab? You are your business; don’t make people have to click around more than is necessary.
Consider how you “speak” on your site. High-end folks like to get to the point. You say, “What I have found that I love with photography is the ability to showcase the power and beauty of life as it is without bias.” That’s the long way around of saying, “I love photography because it shows the power and beauty of life.” (Of course photography is biased, by the way… what you chose to shoot and not shoot an an event, how you crop something out or leave it in, the angle you select–they are all formed from your bias and perspective of the event.)
You say, “I began my artistic career nearly 10 years ago as an Interactive Designer and Art Director which transitioned into a passion for photography as my career.” You shouldn’t use the same word twice (career) in a sentence. This is also the long way of saying, “Over the last decade my passion for visual art has brought me to photography as the perfect career.”
If you want to appeal to high-end folks, you need show that you can hang with them. Wealthy people are generally smarter, more efficient, better educated, and more perceptive than the average people. If your materials, your dress, your speech, etc. don’t match up, they will notice.
Ultimately, I think the most important thing (and this is true for any level of customer) is do they trust you? Do they feel you could hang at an event that may have famous people attending and you won’t act like a star-struck little girl? Do you have the proper etiquette for their class and their event? They want to know you’ll dress and act the part if they’re putting on a million-dollar, black-tie wedding. They want to feel you understand them, that you can hang with them, and, at some level, bond with them. If you’re nervous about getting the gig, and show it, they’ll suspect you’ll be nervous shooting it as well.
You should also consider that the fewer weddings you do, even at a higher price, means you’re in front of planners and other vendors less often. The less you are seen by influential vendors, the less likely you are to be referred. The genius Jim Kennedy has made more than probably 99.9% of the photographers in the US by going after the upper-middle market bride. His company is shooting multiple events every weekend. He has wedding planners asking HIM to be put on HIS referral list. He realized early on that there is MUCH more money to be made in the mid-level market than the high-end market. So, again, define what you’re going after.
So, those are some thoughts, in no particular order. You should probably grab Mike Colon’s “marketing to the high-end bride” DVD if you’re interested in pursuing this more. He’s a master at it, as his work and client list will attest.
I’m just an Indiana bumpkin.