by Skip Cohen
When my buddy Rick Friedman shared the image above on the Platypod blog last week, it got me thinking about the changing seasons in business, not just the beauty of foliage in New England. The pandemic has changed so much in our lives, but it didn't stop Mother Nature's seasonality any more than it's going to halt the seasonality in business over the upcoming holidays.
In fact, with everyone being restricted with physical distancing and health concerns, I'm convinced photography will play a more significant role than in previous years with consumers this holiday season. Think about it: Is there a more perfect gift for grandma this year than a portrait or video of her family? And for holiday cards for your clients and your business, what could be better than to share one of your images and a message reminding people you're still around?
Every week for over a year, I ran a series called Fast Food Friday. Each weekly topic was a reminder about a different aspect of marketing for photographers.
There is so much you should be doing RIGHT NOW. Make sure the seasonality of the holidays doesn't slip by because of your frustrations and complacency that's become typical during the pandemic. As I've written numerous times, hunkering down is about your health, NOT about your business!
Welcome back to the SCU Diner and Fast Food Friday!
1. Holiday Cards: There are still too many of you who miss the opportunity to send out a holiday card featuring your photography. There's still time!
There are two different audiences to consider. First is your personal card to friends, clients, and associates. This is one of the easiest marketing opportunities in business - one of your photographs on the front, a message from you on the inside and on the back, your logo and contact information.
Second is holiday cards for your clients. The pandemic has dramatically limited personal contact. That makes this year an especially popular year for photography. And helping to make it more affordable, Marathon has their annual BOGO program going on right now. But nothing happens if you don't plant the seeds of ideas with your audience.
2. Gifts for Key Vendors and Clients: Think about who's helped you the most over the past year. Now is the time to recognize that wedding planner, florist, etc. who sent you some great referrals. It doesn't matter if the event was postponed or even cancelled. A simple basket of goodies or bottle of wine to acknowledge your appreciation might be just the thing to say "Thanks!" Again, the pandemic has limited so many areas of interaction, but it's not going to last forever.
3. Is it time for your own marketing video? January kicks off a new year, and with it should be some new ways to reach more clients. I'm a big fan of marketing videos that show a photographer's work with images and short video clips put to music and shared on your website along with your about page. In between the holidays is a great time to put it together.
4. New Products for Your Audience: All it takes is a call to your lab and one question, "What's new?" The pandemic hasn't slowed down technology, and I've repeatedly written about Bay Photo's Performance EXT Metal Prints for outdoor display. Also, just because products like canvas prints are old to us doesn't mean a beautiful canvas print isn't going to be cherished by a client. Then there's everything else your lab can do today with new materials, and your target audience knows very little about what's available!
5. Partnerships: Every business is dealing with the same challenges, but a photographer teaming up with a florist and an excellent restaurant doing carry-out, means your cost to promote your business is reduced to a third of what it would be if you flew solo. Another great thing about partnerships is how each partner becomes an ambassador for the other companies involved. Look for ways to share the cost of delivering a message and, at the same time, cross-promote products within the partnership.
6. Content for Your Blog: Use the current downtime to build content. And make that content about gift ideas using photography this holiday season. Plus, this is a great time to build your stash. Everything you share doesn't have to be in relative real-time.
If you're not posting at least twice a week on your blog, then shut it down! It's not doing enough to help you build a consistent awareness with your readership. Build a stash of posts you can use for content over the months ahead - short 200-300 word posts that help your readers become better photographers, for example.
7. Community Involvement: Community events are limited, but they exist, and here's another opportunity for you to be involved. You're looking for your community to be good to you...well, you've got to be good to your community. Look for ways to help spread the word for events in your community. Everyone needs all the help they can get, and your blog is just the vehicle to provide additional support.
The year may be quickly coming to a close, but you still have time for a positive impact on your business in the home stretch! This is not going to be a year where thousands of people camp out overnight at Walmart waiting for the doors to open. There's an opportunity for a strong finish to the year and more revenue for your business, but getting the word out is all up to you.
You snooze, you lose!
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Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.