This week the SCU diner is taking on a new cuisine, thanks to Excire Inc. Excire's Search Pro software helps photographers save time when it comes to searching for images through Lightroom Classic CC. For many of you it's going to be a huge time saver, helping you find important photos faster.
Keeping with the theme of things that can save you time, I decided it would be fun to change our menu, and start giving you ideas to help you become more efficient in marketing. We're going to expand this series to focus on specific promotional ideas to help you grow your business. We're going to mix up the "fast food" with some bigger entrees!
Fast Food Friday is going to give you bigger ideas on how to better utilize your time starting with this week's promotion: putting together an open house. Between part-time and full-time photographers there are thousands of you who don't have a studio. To that point - whether you have a bricks and mortar business address or work out of your home, these next couple of months are the perfect time for you to host an open house and introduce the community to your work.
Hosting an Open House...When You Don't Have a Studio
- Where: If you have a studio then there's the obvious answer, but for those of you working out of your homes - Consider a restaurant in your community or one of the venues that host the various events. If you're worried about costs, then bring in a co-host like another photographer and share the expense. Another possibility is one of the vendors you work with or would like to. For example, a florist, spa, bridal salon...any business going after similar demographics for their target audience.
- How: Once you've figured out the cost, set it up like you would an artist's show at a gallery. You don't have to go overboard but can focus on a wine and cheese event. You're going to spend a little on a classy invitation to elevate the event and bring in some close friends to help you host. Your goal is to meet every person who comes through the door and get them to know a little about you.
- Who: Pay attention to your target demographics. First, you want to invite people who have the profile of your target audience. You might consider buying a list by zip code and then plug into the profile the various characteristics of your audience. Remember to focus on "Mom," since women make up 98% of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in the wedding/portrait specialties.
- Fine-tuning the Guest List: Include in your invitation list businesses in your area who might be connected to your audience or have their own photographic needs to call you about from time to time. Remember the Chamber of Commerce and community leaders. You're looking for the opinion leaders at the various companies and organizations. Don't forget editorial staff at any local magazines, newspapers or websites/blogs.
- What: Besides hosting the event, your goal is to show your very best images. That means you're going to be very selective in what images you show. You're also going to print them big and have them framed, on easels or hung on the walls of your location. You want it to feel like a gallery opening.
- When: It depends on what's typically going on in your community. You don't need to battle it out with everyone's regular entertainment schedule, Friday night football games, etc. It also doesn't have to be a late night - you can go for a Sunday afternoon to an early evening event, giving people time to head out to dinner afterward.
- Why: This isn't just about getting your community to know who you are, but also a way to thank them for their support. Even a brand new business, just getting started, can position an open house as showing appreciation for the people who have helped make it happen.
- Partnerships: I mentioned bringing in some partners in the "Where" category, but let's go a little deeper. A partner, who's chasing the same audience you are, is ideal. You not only can split the cost but share in all the promotional efforts and combining both of your databases. You're going to work together as co-hosts. This is another reason why I like hearing about photographers who team up to host an event. It's especially useful if you each have a slightly different specialty. Each partner becomes an ambassador for ALL the companies involved.
- Cause-related Marketing: If you can tie the whole event to a non-profit it's going to be even more effective. I remember Bambi Cantrell tying in an evening event with a salon/spa. She had photographed all of the staff of the salon and then co-hosted the event with wine and cheese, creating a truly upscale evening. It was complete with all the portraits she had previously created, and it was all in support of a community fund-raiser.
- Spreading the Word: There are so many opportunities here for press releases before and after the event, blog posts and some good hits in social media. This is where you can share images from the event and talk about your love for photography. Done right, you can get several good stories out of the event, and you never know when the local paper just might run something about your evening.
Whether you have a studio, full-time business address or not isn't important. What is important is getting people to know who you are and understand your love for the craft.