Obviously he was joking, but sadly there are some of you who still act as if it's true, thinking all you need is a website and activity in social media. The truth is; you've got to find things to excite your target audience. Now and then that means you're going to have to offer something special and different.
You need to come up with creative promotions, at least one each quarter. The whole idea is to even out the peaks and valleys in the business cycle. While you can't stop a few of the valleys, you can create programs that limit the extremes, especially during periods you already know are typically slow.
Let's start with a few basics and then we'll move into some specific ideas.
- I'm using the word "promotion" as anything that goes beyond your signage, website and blog. It's something extra you're doing to create awareness and encourage business.
- Whatever you're doing you've got to make your communication to the audience clear and concise. Write it up; read it out loud; read it again out loud and then have a friend, family member or associate read it. Written communication is one of the very toughest for everybody to understand.
- Your promotions have to have value to your target audience. Giving away a 10% discount will have little impact on anybody. Look for added value and stay away from straight discounts. An additional album, extra hours of coverage or a gallery print, for example, will have a lot more value.
- Don't leave your promotions out there for too long. If you run much longer than 30 days, there's no sense of urgency. Keep your promotions relatively short with high value.
If you're short on ideas for promotions, here are four good ones to get you started:
Pet Promotions: Vicki Taufer set the standard years ago with her Dog Days of Summer program. That's her original post card and announcement of the program on the right. The promotion was for a free sitting and a 5x7 print in exchange for a food contribution to the local animal shelter.
It's up to you whether you do a small print for free or charge a minimal amount, but the idea is to get pet owners in for a portrait. Remember the hierarchy of why people hire a professional photographer: Brides, babies and pets, in that order.
Third Party Promotions: I did a podcast for Weekend Wisdom with Doug Box a short time back, and he shared some outstanding ideas. The summary is pretty simple. Offer a gift certificate to a third party to use for their clients. Doug talks about a photographer he worked with who came up with a special gift certificate for a portrait sitting for her insurance agent to give away to key clients. Because the gift was from the agent to his clients, the photographer was insulated from discounting her products. It drove traffic to her studio and in turn created new business.
Just click on the banner below to hear the podcast and learn more about third party promotions.
"I just wanted to introduce myself. While most of my work is wedding photography, there's nothing I can't photograph. I also have a pretty terrific network of photographers I work with. If you ever need help with anything photographic, just give me a call. I love being in this area, and I'm here to help."
I'll share more ideas in the weeks ahead, but you need to remember; creating excitement in your market is your responsibility. Check out your competitors and look at what they're doing...then, do something else!