So, the time to do something is NOW! Here are some ideas to hopefully light a fire under you and get a few things going before you fall victim to a you-snooze-you-loose scenario! And remember, nothing has to be forever, but at least if you have a foundation for some marketing programs you've got something to build on.
To start, women make 98% of the purchase decisions when it comes to hiring a professional photographer, (wedding and portrait categories). The time to plant the seeds for a family portrait, updated portraits of the kids or a kid's on location/day-in-the-life session is now, just ahead of Spring seasonality.
Think about it, Spring brings a complete change in everybody's attitude, especially if you live in a colder climate and are tired of being hammered by "Old Man Winter"! Plus, May and June bring us Mother's Day, prom season, graduations and Father's Day - all opportunities for you to promote family portraiture and your storytelling ability.
With Mom making the purchase decision, how are you going to reach her? There's no one perfect vehicle - You have to weave a web around her and get your name out there in several places at the same time:
- Blog posts: Use your blog to get Mom thinking about how fast time flies and how much the kids are changing. This is like the old "Subliminal Man" routine from Saturday Night Live. Use Throwback Thursday as an excuse to share images of your own family or from your files that bring home the point about capturing memories. Share ideas about special events around Mother's Day, graduation, etc. Write about gift ideas involving photography.
- Postcard mailing - design a postcard NOW! You can be featured as a solo or get together with another photographer, florist, venue and share the cost. Partners not only share the cost but add to each member of the team's ability to promote. Everybody becomes an ambassador for each other when doing a mailing together.
- Purchase a list - you're going to need new names to mail to, as well as your existing database. Find a list company and then search for new groups under categories like "summer camp prospects" (you know they'll have kids), parents active in activities like Scouts, etc. You'll want to work with a lifestyle list, and once you see it, it will be obvious who's in your target market.
- Email blasts: You need a list, and you also need help with the execution. I haven't used them, but I've heard a lot of good things about Constant Contact, and one of their managers spoke at a convention I was at several years ago. The challenge is designing an email blast that gets through the noise!
- Advertising: Yes, it can be expensive, but look for local newspapers and websites. Remember, you can join forces with another company or two and share the cost. And when you do advertise, don't agree to anything without using what you're about to spend as leverage for editorial support in the publication as well.
- Special Offers: Develop some fun time-sensitive promotions with short windows of opportunity, which help to create a sense of urgency. This might be a great time to launch a frequent buyer program. You can also mail out discount coupons or better yet, upscale looking certificates for your client base to refer a friend. Think about your own buying habits - most of us tend to buy higher ticket items when something has stimulated our thought process.
- Talk to your Lab: Sometimes just a call to your lab to find out what's new will release a whole new series of ideas. There's so much available in new products, canvas, prints on metal, novelty items, etc.
- Added Value: I know it's hard to stay away from discounting, but always go for added value instead. A framed print, extra prints, a canvas print, a second smaller album, etc. enhance your photographs. And check out Photodex for mixed media slide shows. You've got to make your work look different and separate yourself from the competition.
- Publicity: Get involved in your community. You want your name in the local paper working with groups in the community. People like buying products from companies they perceive as giving back!
The window of opportunity is still wide open, but it's closing fast. Don't go into the busy season without a plan and there's still time! A well-executed promotion can put you and your business on the map, but the most critical key ingredient in getting programs launched is YOU!