Jump Start Your Spring Portrait Sales

Live animals in studio for small children.

Pet promotion working with a local grooming salon.

Portrait fund raiser with church or civic group.

Business Portrait refresher trade in program. Offer past customer trade in, upgrade, renewal of their portrait at a discount. Special days only.

Police, Fire, EMT, Judges, Politician, Civil Servant promos. Roster boards / composites or portraits of retirees.

Sales calls on all nursery schools in your market. Spring promo portraits.

Reach out to all dance schools showing custom premium action dance photos. Also offer basic posed dancer and group photos. Two different programs for them to choose.

Contact me with your thoughts or questions. I would appreciate hearing any promo ideas you have. Usually these discussions bring out many new and improved ideas. Give me a call to jump start your Spring Sales.  Your blog comments are also welcome and appreciated.


Boost Revenue With Mini-Sessions

Why Mini Portrait Sessions?

Mini sessions are a great way to boost business anytime of the year. One caution, do not over do it, because consumers soon may expect it instead of a regular session.

When doing mini sessions, a photographer should have a defined set of goals while keeping in mind that these sessions are only 15 to 20 minutes long. KIS–keeping it simple applies given your time is valuable. Themes should closely align with the needs of your clientele. Think of these sessions as “Lite” or “Petite.” Market as such. Mini Session link examples: LINK 1  LINK 2

1. For portraiture keeping up with stages of a child’s growth or a cute phase.

2. For special gifts for grandparents.

3. Up dating a family portrait with new child.

4. Need current image for Greeting Cards.

5. Engagement sessions for brides on low end budget.

6. Not for seniors, except for last minute year book photo.

7. Mom’s or Dad’s recent promotion or wedding anniversary.

8. Fast and easy pet sessions.

9. Great for “theme style” portraits for children: fairies, Halloween, Thanks Giving, etc.

10. Some photographers have a special day theme each month just for mini-sessions. Great for infant photography programs–3,6,9 &12th month portrait.

11. Impromptu family reunions–group shots only.

Suggestions to help:

1. Keep images down to a conservative number: 1 per minute or max. 30.

2. Use outdoors when ever possible, same location. Have rain make up date set.

3. Reduce the customary session fee up to 50%, but not the individual print price. Instead establish unique mini session packages to establish a sale price.

4. Relying only on “Image Posting for proofing” will result in lower sales or aces.

5. Face to Face selling will result in higher sales averages.

5. Don’t like to sell or don’t have the time, sell packages so that lowest priced package + session fee is $200 minimum.

6. Mini session revenue average should not be lower than 50% of your regular sitting average. Example: $400 x 50% = $200. Yours may be higher or lower.

7. Use coupons for Greeting Cards to remind clients to place their orders early.

8. Token of your gratitude: Place several images on FB, etc. for them only after they make their purchase.

9. If some consumers don’t want prints: Disk is default at $200. They should know this up front. Editing for other than bloopers at additional cost.

10. Establish a referral program.  Keep all email address for future mailings.

Some of our clients are doing mini-sessions right now. It’s is a tradition for them.

Looking forward to discussing the pros & cons of Mini Sessions with you via comments or your phone call.

To your success,

Steve and Frank

PS: Mini Sessions–a great way to build up a client base.

PPS: Try our video-slide show program–Free for 30 days.

Sell Benefits Not Features

Insurance Sales, The Memory Insurance Kind, with a portrait policy. Yes, professional photographers are really in the memory insurance business. This is “the benefit” you provide your portrait customers. The beautiful portraits are just a physical means to the emotional benefit.

Enjoy, the most powerful and effective word you can use in your portrait discussions. Ask every client where they will enjoy their portraits.  They very likely will be a bit puzzled, explain that during their busy day when they have a brief moment to catch their breath and look up and see their family portrait, where would that be? During this simple exercise your potential customer has imagined themselves in the future with the portrait you have not as yet been hired to make.

Sell Emotions, work on peoples pride and satisfy their ego.

Some thoughts to remember and discuss with your customers.

People have been using pictures to preserve memories, today’s important events for tomorrows generations, for thousands of years. (think cave drawings, they lasted)

Photo prints can be held, you can touch them and feel them. In a way it’s like touching the memory. Prints are the method of preserving these moments and allowing you and your children to enjoy your memories for many years.

It seems today’s high school senior is heavily into themselves. Present your services to them in a manner that shows them how photography and prints (just like cave drawings) will take their lives and existence permanently into the future. They are and will be relevant.

Remember, emotions, ego and benefits sell things, Logic and features (maybe a special sale) keep the deal done and allow the customer to save face when explaining their purchase to friends.

Bundle or Packages, The Best Photo Studio Marketing Idea of 2013

Photo Packages, an old term but still a highly recommended method for presenting professional photo studio services and products. Photo packages are more important today than at anytime in the past. The only thing you need to change is the term, try the newer term of Bundles. Bundling is all over the current wave of auction and antique picking shows. They like it for giving the idea of greater value. You can use the same idea for your photo services. Bundling several print sizes from various poses along with finishes and frames can easily get your customer to your sales goal and for them to be happy with your great photography and feel like they received a great deal saving a bunch of money.

So just remember, bundling is the new packages and the best way to lead clients into the studios sales goals. Failing or refusing to sell products in addition to any posing fees will not provide the income needed to have a full time photography career.

You should have at least 3 but no more than 5 picture bundles available. Have one or two ‘Bonus Gifts’ or ‘Options’ you can add to any of your ‘Photo Bundles’ for some reason. The reason can be anything you like to help sales and reward your customer. The Bonus can be a desirable product at a special reduced price. This setup will allow you to include something extra that is desirable to your client for little cost to you.

Wall Portraits Alive And Well

I saw at my 2nd cousin’s house this weekend evidence that displaying wall portraits is very much still “alive and well” with the younger generation. Heather and Peter are in their mid 20′s, finished college and just had their first child.

On their family room wall, proudly displayed was a 30×40 collage style mat filled with multiple professional 8×10 and 5×7 family images. Background color was a brownish mat with cut outs for prints in a thin metal frame, no glass. They must have purchased it at Michael’s. Also saw professional baby pictures as 8×10′s in paper easels on end tables. As a young family in a difficult economy, they still managed to find a way to display their prints within a limited budget.

Again, what I saw was a host of pictures, not just one print or two displayed as “hard copy.” There was a lap top computer sitting on the table. No one said, ”Let’s gather around to see our pictures on the lap top.” Also on the coffee table was their wedding photo album proudly displayed for all to view.

So what is my point? Traditional portrait values are still very much present in professional photography. Plenty of clients still want hard copy professional photo prints. Far too many professional photographers are psyching themselves out to believe the contrary. Middle class families can still afford a $25,000 automobile. Are auto dealerships’ lots flooded with $14,000 cars thinking that is all the public can afford? No! The general public wants value though. The “value concept” is what professional photographers need to concentrate on and provide that: great posing, composition, lighting and price-packaging for variety. Auto dealerships could never survive selling entry level $14,000 cars nor can you and the portrait industry survive by selling “shoot & burn CDs” alone.

Top 5 all Time Senior Picture Marketing Steps Techniques Strategies

  1. Reps or Ambassador Program
  2. Displays
  3. Direct Mail
  4. Word of Mouth – Referral Program
  5. 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.

Boost Portrait Studio Sales With A Portrait Fundraiser

Need to boost your portrait studio sales this year? Looking for a way to help your church or civic group raise some extra money?

Church groups, sports leagues and school bands all need more money.

This is the perfect time for a professional portrait fundraiser. There’s very little cost to start one. Community groups will make attractive profits with your professional photography fundraiser. The program and certificates are easy to sell.

Consider that Family Portraits are Earth Friendly and they are Made in the USA. Your portrait fundraiser program can offer a selection of sizes and styles that are competitively priced and attractively packaged.

Getting a group of people to work for your studio to get portrait appointments is a way of multiplying your sales efforts. You make a couple of calls to get a group (5-50) of people to go out and talk about your studio. If each person made 2 calls each, you have just gotten a lot of publicity from your only two calls.

In addition the group will make all the money they need for their program and those getting portraits will have a wonderful memory and a great savings. Everyone wins big time.

Your plan is as follows. Print a certificate that is redeemable for a portrait session and print (probably an 8×10 or it could be a small multi print package from one pose). This can sell for $9.95, 14.95, 19.95, 24.95 or 29.95, anything that you feel will be acceptable. Give the band group $5, $10, $25 or what ever it takes and you agree to for selling the coupon. You get the balance (keep enough to cover your basic costs). Explain to the group that they collect their fee when they sell and deliver the coupon. The coupons are printed stating that the balance (use actual amount) is payable to the studio at the time of the session. Be sure to also print the group name and all your contact info on the certificate. Emphasize to the group that they have no upfront investment, no bookkeeping, no responsibility to keep your money, only a sure fire way to make money for their group.  Organizations like the idea that they have no investment and even if a coupon is lost or stolen they are not responsible to you for any money. If a stolen coupon comes into your studio the customer still has to pay you your money so you are always covered and need never have to go back to collect anything from the selling group.

You can put a fairly short time limit on the coupon that would get sittings into your studio sooner. A longer time limit, say 1 year, would let the group sell more coupons. People could see using these for seniors or Christmas portraits. You could offer an ‘Early Bird’ bonus for those who choose to use the certificate earlier in the year. This gets some action early in the program and gives you the benefit of both long and short expirations.

Your Portrait Photography Fundraiser offers the following benefits: NO money upfront – you provide all the sales materials the group needs to hold their portrait fundraiser. No selling required. Many people within their group will have a family event during the year that would be perfect to commemorate with a professional portrait. The fundraiser merely allows them to obtain this portrait at a discount and contribute to their groups program at the same time. Everybody wins. Purchasers can call the studio at their convenience for an appointment.

People know and trust your portrait studio because you deliver quality professional photo prints at a great price. This program offers your customers spectacular value and is extremely easy to sell.

Today’s successful portrait studio photographers combine their photo and business skills with quality professional photo printing from a professional photo lab.

Stop Missing Profits – Improve Your Photo Studio Bottom Line

Photo Dust JacketsWedding photo albums using custom collage designs are highly profitable. Most brides who only take your image disk statistically will never get professional photo prints or a photo album made. Those professional photographers who perpetuate the disk only business model are doing themselves and their customer a big disservice. Some photographers have had trouble selling albums and prints after the wedding because they have not presented the products correctly and possible they have priced these items to high. The photographer forgot that they had already been paid to shoot the event and deliver corrected files. In this situation, prints and albums would be priced to include only the labor and costs to produce these products, not the labor at the event.

If you are not selling enough books or prints you might try two things. Rethink your presentation of these items. Be sure to present these products showcasing the emotional  appeal and long term family memories value that they provide. Consider different pricing levels. Experiment with both items until you find the sweet spot.
When you show your photo books have 2 or 3 styles  to show and have a couple of options available. This makes your customers decision, “which style and options do they want” vs “do they want a book today or  later”. Photo dust jackets with a leather cover or a full  photo infused leatherette cover are two popular options. Presenting two sizes of books, “The Grande” (24×12) pano book or the “Deluxe” (20×10) book makes a good choice to offer.
Remember to test, experiment, ask questions of your  customers, keep speaking about the memories and emotional value of the products. You will improve your profits while providing your customers with treasured memories.