Rob Adams – Make More Money With Video by Upselling
With all the photographers and videographers entering the wedding sector, it’s easy to get lost in a sea of companies in larger, more saturated areas. The ability to distinguish oneself from other video services is becoming more difficult, especially now that the overall skill and education level of new video producers is rising and wedding work is starting to look somewhat homogenized.
Wedding videos/films all look pretty similar to me (thought it’s better now as opposed to four or five years ago). This can undermine my ability to command a higher price point for wedding films overall since in my market (NYC/NJ/PA), many newer or “volume model” videographers are undercutting the higher-end videographers, causing many brides to consider budget options without seeing the benefit of paying more for a highly polished, well-produced wedding film. I’ve had to find new ways to increase revenue. I’ve realized that the best way to do this without cutting my prices and doing more weddings was to leverage the spending tendencies of my existing clientele. The way I do this is by upselling the clients I’ve already earned.
Upselling can occur either before or after the wedding. I start with a set package and pricing list. All my packages are designed with pull-throughs to get brides thinking they may be missing out on a better film or better quality by going with a lower-priced set of options. For example, my second-most-expensive collection contains documentary edits of the whole ceremony, first dance, parents’ dances and toasts. The collection beneath it does not. If you book the lower package, you get an eight- to 10-minute feature film, whereas with the next collection up, you get a longer feature film and the addition of those documentary edits.
What bride doesn’t want her whole ceremony and the entirety of those important reception events? Not too many people in my market are willing to have just a creative film and not the longer edits that Mom and Grandma will certainly want for posterity. There are exceptions, but for the most part, this pull-through works very well in getting couples to spend $2,000 more on a film package.
The same principal applies to upselling before the wedding.
When clients book a package, I always make it perfectly clear that they can add any à la carte item to their order, or upgrade their package to a higher tier at any point before the wedding—even the day before. I’ll even let them upgrade if they tell me the morning of their wedding. This is because we shoot every wedding using the same technique, allowing us to create any length of film at any point after the event. So I don’t worry about not having the right material. The bride gets a sense of security knowing she always has that option.
I’ve had couples contact me days before their wedding to lock in a longer film or add a jib or aerial shots. I leverage this security by always asking brides at some point before the wedding (usually about four weeks before, when the nerves start to kick in) if they wish to upgrade or add on items.
Prewedding upgrading is not as effective as postwedding upselling. More on that in a moment. If postwedding upselling is meant to play off of the emotions experienced on the wedding day, prewedding upgrades are meant to play on the insecurity of wondering if they made the right package selection headed into the big day. What clients don’t know out of the gate is that they will be propositioned to upgrade right after the wedding as well. Before the wedding, I’m more interested in getting them to upgrade their overall package. After the wedding, it’s a whole different approach. Discounted prices and savings bundles are more effective after the wedding is over, after couples have experienced how fast it all went, confirming my prewedding warnings.
The Monday after we shoot a wedding, I sit down to answer my morning emails and immediately contact the weekend couples that may or may not be on their honeymoon by this point. I remember that my wife and I both checked our emails on our honeymoon, so I know I’ll be able to reach them soon enough. I tell them how wonderful the wedding was and what amazing footage we have from their day.
An important side note here: If I honestly feel like I don’t have quality material or enough of it to warrant making a longer film—for fear of it hurting the overall quality—I won’t offer certain upgrades. This can happen due to a really short ceremony, or having no toasts with which to weave a longer narrative story. I then inform them that it is not too late to make a better film. The upgrades option list I send them is a carefully structured menu of both à la carte items and upgrade packages that include everything from longer feature films in increments of individual minutes all the way up to 10 extra minutes; custom DVD or Blu-ray discs (we normally don’t include optical media in our original packages); aerial footage (yes, I will revisit the venue if it’s within a reasonable distance and if the price is right); theatrical trailers, movie poster designs and print credits for those movie posters; and even postwedding photo/video sessions to add extra creative footage to the feature film. Of course, documentary edits are also an upgrade option. The couple that didn’t order them before the wedding will most certainly want to add them on because, looking back, they realize they won’t be able to watch the whole wedding again. The options are practically limitless.
Here’s the best part. In 2014, I was able to upsell a good portion of my clients, resulting in thousands of dollars in additional revenue for the year. My cost of sales for producing the wedding is not affected, and the only additional overhead is paying an editor the difference in editing the longer feature or assembling doc edits. DVDs and Blu-rays are all hourly work that I can outsource for cheap. The overall amount of extra work and cost absolutely justified the efforts to produce upgraded products.
I also created package bundles that include heavy discounts for adding more than one à la carte item and increments of additional minutes. For example, I have a feature-film upgrade package that offers Blu-ray discs and print credits plus 10 more minutes of additional feature. One package even includes the postwedding video shoot that makes it even easier to make a longer, more compelling film. Again, the options are limitless. You just have to feel out what clients in your market are willing to spend their wedding-envelope money on, and play off of their emotions when the day has flown past.
I’m not manipulating anyone. These brides are more than willing to hand over extra cash for an enhanced product, so I’d better be able to consistently deliver a quality product.
If you’re struggling to produce good films one after another and find yourself missing key shots or recording poor audio, keeping you from consistently killing it, hold off on offering upgrades until you can do so. Otherwise, you might find yourself having a hard time meeting upgraded-client expectations. Expectation increases with each dollar more spent on postwedding upgrades.
Overall, upselling your video clients is a great way to increase your bottom line and make them exponentially happier with your service. Brides often thank me for the time and care I spent upgrading them to a fuller experience.