Seniors | The Next Generation with Sal Cincotta
You have probably already figured it out. Gen Z is taking over, and they are not like their millennial predecessors. Sure, teens will always be teens. They want unique, they want fun—they want, more than ever, an experience. This can’t be underscored enough. This is the first generation born with technology. They expect it to be everywhere and to always work.
Where does that leave us as photographers and business owners? Welcome to the world of reinvention. Senior portraits are different than they were 20 years ago. Heck, they’re different than they were five years ago. The kids are different, their personalities are different and the final product is different. Below are some ideas for thriving with a new generation of seniors.
Change the way you shoot.
Sounds crazy, right? Think about it. Have you picked up a magazine recently? This is what the kids are looking at. Not some lame-ass picture of a teen leaning on a tree holding a rose.
They live in an Instagram world. Lifestyle and natural is what they crave. Sure, we still have to get those shots that Mom wants, the beautiful portrait, but come on—modernize the way you shoot. Stop convincing yourself this is your “art.” Unless you want to be broke, your art needs to evolve.
My point is simple: What was cool when you were a kid is not cool today. Innovate or die.
This group does not want to be hit over the head with marketing. They want to be marketed to, but don’t overdo it. Confused yet?
Direct mail is still a thing, but that’s not going to impact the kids, that’s going to influence the parents.
I learned recently that kids are supposedly not using Facebook. Wrong. Study after study shows they are in fact still using Facebook, just not the same way as millennials. So don’t ignore this medium. Facebook has gotten a bad rap recently because of security and privacy—and make no mistake, Gen Z has watched their predecessors and their screw-ups. They want a little bit of privacy, which is why they love Snapchat.
Instagram and Facebook are still the way to reach them, but your ads can’t be ads, if that makes any sense. Keep them fresh, keep them organic. “Book now!”—stop this form of advertising. It is very short term. It will work from time to time, but it’s misleading and amateurish.
Long-term success requires patience, planning and adjustments over time.
You still have to win the parents.
Parents still matter. I see businesses repeatedly forget to market to the parents for some reason. They are the ones with the money. Yes, the kids are influencers, but parents still pay the bills.
And believe me when I tell you, parents are as confused by Gen Z as we are. So, what Mom thinks is cool might not be what her daughter wants. We have to bridge the gap through messaging and education. We have to serve two masters. We need the kids to drive demand and we need Mom to pay the bill.
In our studio, we have taken a blended approach. We make images that are both traditional and fashion forward. Knowing that Mom will love some and the kids will love others, we are able to keep both camps happy. Trust me, this works.
Mobile is everything.
Gen Z live on their mobile devices. Get this through your head. Mobile first. Then laptop. Then desktop. They are a mobile generation. Everything they do is on their phones. If your website is not mobile friendly, you are screwed. If your website takes too long to load, again, you are screwed.
I know you might be wondering, “But Sal, how do I know if my site is too slow?” Google it! Help yourself. I know the answer. Of course I do. I am writing the article. There are tons of tools out there to help you measure your site’s performance and load times and how it looks and behaves on mobile.
What products are you delivering to your clients? Images on a thumb drive? Really? These people are on their phones. Mobile first. There is no thumb drive or CD or DVD slot on your phone. So how are you delivering images? Are you using slideshows? Mobile apps? These are other mobile deliverables that meet the demands of kids today. Prints are not dead. By no means am I suggesting that you should deliver digital only, but you need to deliver products and services your clients—kids and parents—want.
Innovate or die. This is not just a saying. We have built our business on it over the past 12 years. Yes, it’s exhausting. Every day we try to be better than the day before. Every day we chase that elusive bar of perfection. Once you adopt it, this mindset will change your business forever.