Years ago I read a great article written by Donald Libey, a terrific strategic planner on the east coast. He worte about Consumer Bundling, which was simply non-competing companies working together to hit a common target. The idea was brilliant and over my years at Hasselblad you saw promotions and advertising we did with Kodak, Bogen Photo (Now Manfrotto), Polaroid and even L.L. Bean.
We're all sick of dealing with the economy, but one thing tough times do is force us to look for new ways to do business that we should have been doing all along. If you're looking for a way to reduce your marketing costs, without cutting back on your exposure, then look for some partners to share the burden of direct mail and cross-promotions. It's not a new concept and I've written about different aspects of this in the past.
Here's a prime example: Homecoming at every high school in the country is only a couple of months away. Why not do a direct mail campaign with the florist in town and a limo company?
Looking for ways to promote your wedding photography? How about teaming up with a travel agent, a local venue, a tux shop and a florist?
Vicki Taufer found partners to help promote her pet promotion every summer with a pet food company, a local Dog "Barkery" and the animal shelter with her now legendary "Dog Days of Summer" program.
In terms of the actual presentation to your target audience, it can be anything from a mailing with a series of independent offers, like the "Val-Pak" envelopes we all receive at our homes, to an actual cross-promotion e.g. Rent your tuxedo and get a certificate worth $__ off a portrait sitting and vice versa: get a discount on your tuxedo rental with your portrait sitting.
I know it might not sound very upscale, described in brief here, but that's where your creativity comes in when designing the offer and the promotion.
Consumer bundling is the perfect way for you to promote your business without having to absorb the full burden of the cost. And here's one more idea on cross-promoting - team up with a few other photographers! How about the combination of a wedding photographer and a children's photographer cross-promoting each other's work?
Just because the economy is tough doesn't mean you can't continue or better yet, increase your exposure to your target audience. This is just like a bunch of friends going to lunch - you just need a few new partners to split the check!