Developing partnerships with other companies is one of the best solutions to creating exciting promotions, while reducing your out of pocket costs and sharing the workload. Plus, there's an additional benefit: Great partners all become ambassadors for each other.
At this point somebody is reading this and thinking, "Yeah, but there's nobody who's a logical partner for my specialty!" Every photographic specialty has potential promotional partners.
Here's a list to get you started...
Boudoir Photographers: Get together with a lingerie boutique and a spa, makeup artist or salon. In addition, because a great boudoir image is very often intended to be a gift with a little romance attached, an intimate restaurant in your community might be a great partner as well.
Pet Photographers: Find out who the rep is for some of the big brand pet foods by talking with the manager at your local supermarket or pet shop. You've also got animal shelters, pet boutiques and veterinarians. Don't forget doggy daycare facilities as well.
Children's Photographers: Toy stores, summer camps, playgrounds, kids clothing boutiques and restaurants all geared towards kids make great partners. You might even find a pediatrician or pediatric dentist interested in getting involved with something creative.
Family Photographers: You're looking for any company that targets families. Family restaurants, decorators, parks and special events targeting families all have potential. In addition, years ago on a program in Cleveland, a photographer told me about a landscaper who built him a backyard shooting location in exchange for promoting their services. The logic being, anybody who was paying for a family sitting, more than likely had an interest in landscaping.
Commercial Photographers: This one's a little tougher, but think about what a client is looking for. Obviously this doesn't work if you're targeting Fortune 500 companies, but a program to target small business owners in a community could tie in a local magazine/publication, a printer and a courier service for example. The promotional offer might target the timing for people needing a new head shot.
Wedding Photographers: Wedding shooters are always the easiest, simply because there are so many different business entities involved. Florists, wedding planners, bakeries, salons, bridal shops, limo companies, musicians, tux shops, travel agents, venues...and the list goes on and on.
Last on the list for every specialty - don't forget other photographers! There's only so much time in the day for you to shoot and bringing in competitors who compliment your style helps build strength and brand recognition in the category.
So here's how I'd use this list.
1) Personally, I love promotions with 3 partners. If you get too many you lose impact and your message becomes too diluted.
2) Contact each potential partner with a personal visit. You share a common target audience and the concept of saving money to promote each others services is a logical connection.
3) Get your two partners together for lunch. I'm a huge fan of lunch meetings, because over a meal you're always guaranteed a certain level of conversation. This is about building a relationship in addition to the promotional idea itself.
4) You've got a wide variety of programs to collaborate on. You might just agree to sponsor some event together; do a mailing and share the costs; cross promote each others products/services or share the cost of advertising. The point is, you've all got the same goal - expanding your reach and you're each targeting the same audience.
5) Remember, from a cost standpoint, everything you do is going to be split three ways. That gives you the ability to reduce your cost, but promote your business more frequently.
This is a blog post and impossible to cover every aspect of putting together promotions. It's also not meant to be all inclusive. I'm hoping this at least plants the seed to think about doing things together with other companies. You don't have to go it alone every time and a good partnership is invaluable to building a stronger business.
Illustration Credit: © z_amir - Fotolia.com