November is the month to celebrate thankfulness, and boy oh boy are we thankful for our partnership with The Knot. Next week is Thanksgiving, and the official kick off to what Randy + I call Booking Season (cue the “it’s the most wonderful time of year” song). From Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day, we book more weddings in this 3 month stretch than any other part of the year; in fact, I’d say about half our bookings for any given year originates communication with us during booking season.
Is The Knot Worth the Investment?
I’ve seen countless posts in various photography groups that I’m part of asking if The Knot is “worth it” and I can, unequivocally say … it is … for us.
The Knot has become an integral part of our marketing strategy because since we became paid advertisers 3 years ago, our business has essentially exploded. We went from booking less than 5 weddings a year to booking an average of 30 the last 3 years; granted, there were other circumstances that played into that explosive growth (we joined the International Academy of Wedding Photographers, we got a Showit website, I took Jenna Kutcher’s Instagram Lab, and we settled on our preferred shooting and editing style … but these are just a few factors that have played into our rapid growth).
So, with booking season starting in just a few days, today I wanted to sit down and talk about why we use The Knot. Like our friends at Southwest, I totally believe in transfarency … err, I mean transparency – haha! Okay, let’s go!
Let’s first break down who we are, our ideal couple, real wedding numbers and our actual costs for being Knot advertisers.
- We are based in Colorado, but travel nationwide for weddings.
- Our average booked 2018 wedding costs our clients $3650 for photography alone (we range from $2500 to $5500).
- Our average booked client is college educated, mid to late twenties, loves to travel and adventure, loves dogs, loves beer, first time marriage, loves to have fun and aren’t too serious – but absolutely respect our time.
- We have a storefront and we are featured vendors for the Colorado region, which currently costs us $320 a month. In 2018, the price for that will be going up to $352 a month.
Now, let’s get down to business!
I’m a visual person, so I made a pie chart to showcase 2017 and 2018 booked weddings. Only counting currently booked clients, this is how our referral system breaks down:
We are currently about 2/3 of the way to our goal for 2018 weddings (and halfway to absolute max capacity). You’ll notice that in 2018, we currently only have 3 referral sources: vendors who love us, past couples and the Knot. This means 2/3 of our income in 2018 is coming directly from the Knot (and that our past couples and the vendors we’ve worked with love us, but that’s another blog for another day!).
Now let’s break 2018 down even farther:
- Of all the couples that listed the Knot as the referring agent and booked us, only 20% of them actually reached out to us directly from the Knot’s messaging service. That means that 80% reached out to us from the inquiry form on our website, and said they found us through the Knot.
- Taking ^that^ info a step further, only 5% of the couples who reached out to us directly from the Knot actually booked us, which translates to 95% of those who communicated only through the Knot were price shopping. Just about ALL of these inquiries went something like “Hi! I found you on the Knot and I’d love more information about prices and services.” Gag me with a fork, those are NOT qualified leads.
- After booking us, we discovered that nearly 90% of all booked leads was already following us on Instagram at the time of booking (if they use the app, regardless of booking referral source).
- 100% of the booked leads that came in mentioned something outside of wedding photography within the first two emails back and forth. Examples of this would be talking about dogs, loving to travel, movies based on comic books, even our shared love of In-N-Out; basically, without intending to do so, they let us know they stalked us in the best way possible.
- Only ONE booked wedding for 2018 did not have what I would call a “gushy lead.” A gushy lead is someone who sends a paragraph or more in their intro email; this is someone who talks about how much they love us and our work, mention something personal about us/our family/our lives, our shared love of something and/or gush all about their wedding and how they would be a perfect fit for us. Only ONE booked lead sent us a one-liner intro email. ONE.
- At the current rate of investment for our Storefront and Featured listing in conjunction with the expected income from weddings booked from the Knot, our current 2018 return on investment (ROI) is 855% …and we haven’t even started the new year.
You guys: this info is MEGA important.
Because this all means that The Knot is a valuable TOOL but cannot be something you 100% rely on for leads.
Everyone knows that most of the couples who use The Knot are vendor and price shopping – and that’s totally okay!! Let them shop. As I mentioned, 95% of the couples who reach out are hit-it-and-quit-it leads, most of them don’t even bother to respond to my initial reply (or follow up) to them. That’s an unfortunate side effect of this business, and The Knot is no exception. It happens to everyone.
There are also some AMAZING couples out there who have utilized The Knot to find their dream vendors, regardless of pricing and location. We’ve even booked a handful of engagement sessions from The Knot that turned into full destination wedding bookings!
So … how can you make The Knot worth the investment for your business?
The Knot Cannot Be Your Only Marketing Strategy
You can’t pay for a Knot account, and just hope it does everything for you. Marketing doesn’t quite work that way. The Knot is a tool (like a very specific search engine) that should eventually lead prospective couples to your website and your social media. Our goal is to NOT have people message us directly on The Knot, we want them checking out our website, we want them stalking our Instagram and our blog. We want them to see themselves in our photos!
Have an Incredible Storefront, Including a Kick Ass, On-Brand Icon Image
Your Knot account will be one tiny blip in a sea of competition: you HAVE to stand out. It’s just that simple. But how do you do that? Make your storefront a representation of your company, your brand and your aesthetic – all of which should be on your website and social media. Put your most ideal photos in your most ideal location with your ideal wedding style … what is important to YOU should be in your gallery. If you love mountain elopements with a boho vibe – don’t showcase ballroom weddings with 15 people in the bridal party, ya know what I mean? Showcase exactly what you want to shoot!
And, take some time every quarter to update the photos in your gallery!
Ask your Community: Is the Knot Worth the Investment in your Region?
If you’re new to the area, join the local Rising Tide Society group and ask around! Get honest opinions, because the Knot is not worth the investment in all areas (as much as I hate saying that). It really, truly depends on who your ideal client is, where you’re located and how the Knot is being used by couples searching for vendors for that area, in that price range, etc.
If you’ve already been a member of The Knot, look into your own ROI. I can’t tell you a good parameter for measuring success – but, it’s good to know where you stand. If you’re breaking even, not worth it. For us? Making nearly 900% ROI is absolutely worth it!
Try to Respond to Inquiries Within 2 Hours During Office Hours
I get it – you don’t want to be chained to the computer or your phone. I don’t either! But, try your hardest to respond as quickly as possible to inquiries. This doesn’t just apply to the Knot, but in general. Waiting several hours can give your potential clients the opportunity to be wooed by someone else! Most clients will understand and respect office hours so respect your personal time outside of work, but don’t take more than 12 hours to get back to someone.
Get Reviews from Past Couples
Reviews are something that grab the attention of couples looking to hire a vendor and the more vendors you have – the more trust they’re going to inherently have. Clients won’t just go and review most of the time, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking them! Just be sure to include a direct link to where you want your reviews!