Let's come up with a few things to think about now, so you can stop procrastinating and get something in place. Nothing is forever, but at least if you have a foundation for some marketing programs you've got something to build on.
Remember, since women make 98% of the purchase decisions when it comes to hiring a professional photographer, (wedding and portrait categories) then the next few months are perfect to plant the seed for a family portrait, updated portraits of the kids or a kid's on location/day-in-the-life session. 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:
- Post card mailing - design a post card 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 data base. 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 remember, you can join forces with another company or two and share the cost. Also, use the money you're spending to leverage 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 your own frequent buyer program. You can also mail out discount coupons 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 the 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 go for added value instead. A framed print, extra prints, a canvas print, a second smaller album etc. Here's the perfect situation to check out Venice Album (right now they're doing 50% off January orders) and consider additional albums of a family shoot for example. And check out Photodex for mixed media slide shows and Suzette Allen's post on tips with Hybrid. 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. Remember that people like buying products from companies they perceive as giving back!
The window of opportunity is wide open, but you've got to have a plan. A well-executed promotion can put you and your business on the map and the most critical key ingredient is YOU!
Illustration Credit: © kbuntu - Fotolia.com