How to Market in the Second-Busiest Time of Year with Skip Cohen
The expression ’Tis the season normally applies to November and December, but April is the second most significant stretch of seasonality in our business.
Coming up across the United States is prom season, Mother’s Day, graduations and Father’s Day. It’s also the launch of what we all hope is the busy season as weddings and children’s and family portraiture start to ramp up.
It’s spring—time for you to start claiming a few customers of your own. Unless you get busy grabbing new business, all of it’s going to be going on around you rather than walking through your door. As Tina Fey once quipped, “You can’t be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute.”
With the second-quarter seasonality come some amazing opportunities for great content, direct mail and partnerships. There’s a lot to think about, and although you’re coming down to the wire since it all starts ramping up in the next few weeks, you’ve still got time to do a lot.
I want to help you thrive in 2018, not just survive.
I’m starting with blog content because although it’s an indirect message, it’s one of your most powerful tools. You have to plant the seeds for ideas in photography and educate your client.
Gift ideas: There isn’t a grandparent on the planet who wouldn’t appreciate a family portrait—and, again, you have to plant the idea. Get your clients thinking about the last time, if ever, they did an updated professional family portrait.
In blog content, each post becomes the greatest subliminal message of all because you’re showing one idea after another for gift ideas. Here’s where you can shine, showing some of your work framed and on the wall, in a tabletop frame, and as stationery and thank-you notes. Share tips on framing and hanging prints.
Canvas prints may be old news to you, but they may be fresh and new to your clients. Be creative and show canvas prints hung in your home or a past client’s.
Another creative idea I love is a custom poster for graduation, save-the-date, Mother or Father of the Year—the list goes on and on. Check out Marathon Press’s Bella Art Prints, then get creative and put together a couple of movie posters to show your clients in a blog post.
Slideshows are hot right now, especially hybrid and mixed with still images, short video clips and great music. They work great as a blog post that shows off the concept together with your images.
Need more product ideas? Call your lab and ask, “What’s new?” Thanks to technology, there’s a steady supply of new post-capture ideas, and they’re stunning. Many labs will reduce the cost for a sample if you’re going to be showcasing the product to clients.
Photo tips: There are things you do every day that you take entirely for granted. It’s time to help make your readers become better photographers, and it’s so easy to do. Show before-and-after images with minimum text.
Talk about fill flash and when to use it. Don’t just show camera images. Use your cell phone. Your target audience, in most cases, is Mom, and she’s not going to open a studio down the street and steal your business. Be helpful. Let’s make her a better photographer.
Then do a post on composition, reminding your reader that what they see is what they get. Have some fun with an exercise Roberto Valenzuela does with an image. Show one wide-angle shot and then break it down into several images, each one different because you’ve zoomed in to tell a better story.
Share some tips about posing. Show a family grouping lined up firing-squad style and then mix it up using triangle posing, with no two heads on the same exact plane. It’s so easy to create “a-ha” moments with your clients, and with every image, you’re showing your work and demonstrating your skill set.
Your list can include depth of field, storytelling and even things to do with their images, including advice on printing. Sharing it on your blog demonstrates your skills and willingness to be helpful.
Locations for portraits in the community: You don’t have to give up your secrets, but share a couple of your favorite places.
When I moved back to Cleveland many years ago, I spent a day with an old buddy driving around downtown. I was blown away by the number of old brick walls and incredible lighting almost everywhere we went. Then, as we headed out to the suburbs, we hit stunning fields and parks. Each was perfect for a classic family portrait session.
Share your portraits as content about places in your community to photograph. Again, Mom isn’t going to open a competing studio; you’re merely planting ideas for an updated family portrait.
Finding a photographer: Do a blog post on what to look for when hiring a photographer. Of course, your skills and offerings should check every box on this list.
Clothing tips: Since many of you do this already, why not make it into a blog post? Again, we’re talking about tips to help your clients.
Pet portraits: The hierarchy of why people hire a professional photographer goes brides, babies, pets—in that order. You have to show pet portraits to get your clients to think of you as their pet photographer. What you show on your website and blog is what people are going to consider.
I’ve written about this so many times before: Do a series on your blog of pets around the community. Take advantage of nice weather and demonstrate your skill set by capturing the personalities of adorable local pets.
Direct mail comes back with a vengeance every spring.
Think about how many emails you never read. We trash anything we’re not interested in judging just by the subject line, or our spam filters catch it for us. At the same time, there’s a lot of material that shows up in our physical mailbox that’s boring. Most of us never bother to even look at postcards with dull images or just plain text.
Direct mail presents an opportunity to create a mail piece that grabs attention because of the impact of your artwork. A 5×7 or 6×9 postcard combined with a creative promotion cuts through the noise and gets the spotlight.
Here’s where partnerships start to earn their value. You can do a direct mail campaign on your own and also pick up all the costs, but why would you want to? Bring in a couple of great partners with a three-way split on a postcard to reduce your costs for design, production and postage.
Here’s the best part about partnerships: Each of you becomes an ambassador for the other two partners. Plus, you can purchase lists together and combine your mailing lists for greater reach.
A wedding photographer, florist and limo service can team up. As the photographer, you provide all the images for the direct mail piece, which further builds the relationships with the other two companies—and highlights your work.
Here’s where you can get creative. Do a branding campaign to get each of your names out there, or cross-promote between each company. Customers who buy flowers from the florist receive a certificate for something special from the photographer and the limo company, and so on with the other partners.
You can also share content on each other’s blogs. Think of it as a hard sell disguised as a soft sell that offends no one. Publish a guest post on your blog from the florist with tips on centerpieces or seasonal ideas about ways to get more value from floral purchases. The florist can put up a guest post from you with photography tips.
A few months ago, I shared a short video on my blog featuring maternity and newborn photographer Ana Brandt. She said something in the beginning that stuck in my head: “No one regrets taking photos. People only regret not taking photos.”
Everything in this month’s article is about ways you can remind your clients about the importance of photographs. And you’ve got to remind your target audience that nobody can do a better job of stopping time and capturing memories than you.
You know how to focus your camera. Now it’s time to focus on every message you can get out there to your next new client.