8 Overlooked Photography Marketing Ideas with Skip Cohen
What goes around comes around: it’s an expression we’ve all heard numerous times, but this month it’s so appropriate for eight great promotional products/concepts everyone seems to have forgotten about. Over the last five years, I’ve written about half of them, but it’s time to create a little more awareness to help you make 2018 the biggest and best year you’ve ever had.
None of the ideas below are new, but most of you will find them unique and loaded with potential for growing your business.
- Third-party promotions: A few years ago I did a podcast with Doug Box that you can find on SproutingPhotographer.com. Doug’s expertise in marketing is recognized throughout the industry, especially in the portrait world.
Doug talked about third-party promotions and gave a great example. A photographer in Texas wanted to offer a discount on her portrait work for an exciting promotion. But if she offered a discount directly, she would be undermining her own pricing and credibility.
Working with Doug, she designed a gift certificate for a local insurance agent. Each time the agent sold a policy, he could present the certificate to the new policyholder as his gift to them. The certificate was customized to his office and brand, protecting the photographer from the challenge of undercutting her own pricing.
The concept works with so many different applications. When we bought our last house, the Realtor brought us a gift basket the day we moved in. There could have easily been a gift certificate in that arrangement for a portrait sitting.
- Day-in-the-life shoots: Expand your product line with a day-in-the-life shoot for a child, family or pet. These are especially useful for children, who aren’t going to do as well in a studio environment anyway. And it doesn’t have to be a whole day.
Now think of the potential. Instead of the typical in-studio or on-location portrait session, spending two to four hours with your subject on their turf gives you the ability to be a better storyteller. Photographing a child in their own environment with their friends, family, toys and pets gives you content to build an album and offer something more than just individual prints.
Think about themed storytelling too. Doing a day-in-the-life of a family as they prepare for Thanksgiving is perfect for an unusual album. It also demonstrates your ability as a photojournalist and storyteller.
- Date night: Women make 98 percent of the purchase decisions to hire a professional photographer in the portrait/social categories. That means your best target is Mom. The date-night shoot has incredible appeal to mothers, especially when they have young kids. Your role is to plant a seed of romance, reminding Mom and Dad that’s it’s been too long since they got out for a night without the kids.
First, contact a restaurant. It doesn’t need to by all that upscale, but should be romantic. Work with the management and buy some gift certificates at a reduced cost. Then, remind Mom that it’s been way too long since she and her husband went out alone. Just like for an engagement session, do an updated portrait on location before their evening out.
So, your package includes an on-location portrait session and dinner for two at a great restaurant. The couple wins with a night out and an updated portrait. You win with something special for your client, and the restaurant wins because it becomes part of the event.
This is an excellent approach for wedding photographers with past clients. You can modify it to meet the needs of any couple.
- Canvas prints: Canvases have been around for years, and even if they make you yawn, think about your clients. They may not have ever seen a beautiful canvas portrait. You can also do a collage of smaller canvas prints for a nice arrangement.
Take it a step further and look at everything your lab is capable of printing on. One of my favorite prints in our home was a shot by Elena Hernandez of Sheila and me several years ago. It’s printed on a sheet of stainless steel.
Introduce your clients to old and new printing technology, because it’s all new to them.
- Hybrid slide shows: The concept of slideshows isn’t new, but technology has made it so easy to capture short video clips and then combine them with still images and great music. I shoot with the Panasonic LUMIX, which allows me to go from still images to video and back to stills with the push of a button.
Many of you are missing an opportunity by not offering video slideshows and their endless applications. From holiday cards to engagement and birth announcements to family events, weddings and portraiture, every client has a soft spot for a presentation like this.
While this is going to sound like an infomercial, nobody does it better than Photodex, and its ProShow 9 does it all. I recently put together a slideshow of 60 images and three short video clips for a friend. It took me less than an hour, and that included picking the music and the style of dissolves from the ProShow selections. It’s a great presentation, and Photodex has the technology to make it all so user-friendly.
- Slideshows at events: It’s been at least 15 years since Mike Larson told me how he expanded his wedding coverage. Mike, an accomplished photographer from California, always presented an ongoing slideshow at each event during wedding receptions.
He’d download his images at various intervals of the wedding and load them into a slideshow. He had a small projector and used one of his California Sun Bounce reflectors for a screen. It couldn’t have been easier, and he found his sales increase as guests had fun being part of the evening presentation.
Keep in mind that Mike is also an outstanding photographer. I remember him saying to me, “Skip, you won’t believe what I can do with images when they’re clean, right out of the can.” Mike’s skill set is outstanding, and he’s able to create instant presentations with his images because he’s not wasting time having cleaning them up in post-production.
- Presentation boxes: If you’ve been to ShutterFest, you’ve seen the PhotoFlashDrive.com booth and Brian Campbell’s talented team of creative designers. I’m still amazed that every artist isn’t using their products because they do such an incredible job of elevating your presentation of the finished product to the client.
From prints to USB drives to beautiful gifts to your clients, they never miss a beat. And, if there’s something you want but don’t see in their product list, they’ll listen and see if they can help.
Years ago I watched a presentation at ShutterFest by Glen Clark, who talked about packaging and the importance of elevating everything you send to the client. Today it’s even more critical than it was back then.
You’ve got to separate yourself from the competition. When it comes to the finished product being delivered to your client, you’re the only one who can give your presentation the respect you know it deserves.
- Bella Art Prints and Posters: If you’ve been to ShutterFest, you’ve hopefully met the team from Marathon Press. Their Bella Art Prints are incredible and incredibly affordable. But you can kick it up a notch with their movie-style posters for your clients.
Again, this isn’t a new idea, but Marathon is making it more affordable. The whole idea is to create something different from what everybody else offers. A Hollywood-style poster gives you a chance to inject some of your creativity into an upcoming wedding, anniversary or event, and it’s got three different applications.
One unique framed poster is a great gift idea. Smaller versions are perfect for a save-the-date message and mailing. The artwork offers a terrific way for your clients to share announcements via social media. And with each poster, you can tag the event at the bottom with your business name in the same way Warner Bros. would tag a movie.
There they are, eight ideas, none of them new, but all of them likely underutilized in your marketing.