- Reps or Ambassador Program
- Direct Mail
- Word of Mouth – Referral Program
- 3rd Party Promotion
Any one of these techniques has generated sessions for senior portrait studios. Combining two or three or better yet all five will produce much better results.
Your Rep program is a key to get things started or the ball rolling. Your reps are the first to pass out info, get on their Facebook or Twitter and talk up the fun of senior pictures and very importantly ‘doing it right’ by having a real pro do the work. I doubt they would trust a friend to mess with their car or give them a hair cut. Since when do they let their friends sew up a new shirt or blouse for them? Your reps help you get a list of names you can send a letter and brochure of your services. This lets the senior know you are serious about their business and that you respect them enough to formally invite them to your studio. Reps are some of the first images of the year you can place on your website, blog and Facebook.
Displays help in a couple of ways. Being accepted to be part of a portrait print display is a big honor and ego boost for the student. They will want to be a part of this. We have written other articles outlining some ideas for portrait print displays and how to get locations to let you show your prints. A key point today with a print display is that is shows to potential customers the value and benefits of having real prints and having them in larger sizes that are enjoyed on a wall for many people to see.
Direct Mail is where you formally invite seniors and their families to visit your studio and discuss senior portraits. Their value and the many styles your can offer them. Show a few examples in your brochure of photography and pricing. Examples, not the entire story. Use the direct mail to drive them to your blog, website for further information. Here you can tell a little more but not everything. Enough to get them to book an appointment or call you to book. Be ready to properly handle this phone call.
Word of Mouth – Referral Program — After you have photographed a student you have a couple of steps you need to do. During and just after the session shoot a few video snippets capturing the student having a great time posing for their pictures. After the session during a sort of debrief you can engage them in a conversation that will get them in their own words to describe their thoughts on how much fun they had and how important they see this is for their family. The very people who have stood by them and loved them their entire life. After all, this photo gift can only be given by the student, they are in control. Use these videos on your blog and Facebook. Have links to these in your emails you send out to future inquiries. When you have students and parents carrying folios or proof brag books and showing them to their friends you should also have a Referral Program. As friends see these proofs they will be impressed and will ask where these portraits were taken. You customer can give this friend one of your referral certificates that offers them some kind of special discount. For every certificate redeemed your original customer gets some kind of thank you bonus. Everyone wins with this approach. You could create an electronic version of this as well. If you provide a couple of Facebook images for your customer to display do it with a request they send links or tweets to all their friends and have the friends also mention your name and special offer. When people call you, you can inquire if they saw you on Facebook or twitter and then give your first customer the bonus credit.
3rd Party Promotions – Here you work with another business to promote to the senior. This other merchant could provide a discount coupon you would include in one of your direct mail packages. Pizza shop, athletic shoe store, fast food restaurant, tux shop are a few places to check out. They could provide space for a portrait print display. You could offer them photo discount coupons they could use in marketing to their customers who purchase some special offer they are promoting.
For any of these techniques, you must have a plan in place in your studio to answer the phone and convert the call into an appointment. (See a previous blog post for a suggested technique) You also need to work on an email response that will convince email inquiries to call your studio or go to your website and book their appointment. Consider some of the styles of emails you receive after visiting a website and requesting some information. Have a series of short emails ready to send to the parents of students or short text messages you can send the student that will convince them they need to act now for senior pictures.