Six years ago I started Elitevideophoto.com with my long time friend Carl Herwig. With every wedding I include a free engagement session, which most couples take advantage of. Now I know what some photographers will say? Eric, why do you do that?
Engagement sessions are a perfect way to get to know your client while your client learns what it is like to be photographed. Plus they get to know ME, which is just as important, because ideally I want to tap into the strongest form of marketing - WORD OF MOUTH. So really its a win win for everyone. The couple gets some great engagement photos for FREE, which everyone loves. And I get the strongest form or marketing money CAN'T buy, which makes the purchasing process a lot smoother.
Besides all the marketing mumbo jumbo, I also believe you gain access and trust with someone once I have photographed them once. It's like they become less aware of the camera and more aware of their surroundings, which also equals ===== better candids on the wedding day. :)
Either way I'm happy to say I have yet to spend a penny on marketing and let my clientele and work market for itself. With that approach I shoot around 8-12 weddings a year in a 3-4 month period and feel that is a perfect amount. Any more in that short of time I would either need to hire someone to manage and edit the service I provide for the quality to be maintained. Maybe someday...