Monday, September 29, 2014

Three Easy Promotions You Can Get up & Running Right Now...

Summer's gone and like every year, I promised myself more days sitting in the shade and less days working. And like every year, it doesn't happen. Oh well, such is life. For those of you doing weddings or senior portraits for income, you've noticed a severe and sudden drop off in business, and this is why I have been talking about your Promotional Calendar.

The Promotional Calendar helps to prevent huge peaks and deep valleys in your cash flow. I received an email that said, "Ok, Steve...I'm with you. But I still have the last 3 months of the year, and buddy I need to see some income NOW!" Well, the title of the Blog IS "Photography For Income," so let's see if we can help this gentleman (and you) earn a little income.

The 1st promotion you could do right now is the Halloween promotion. It can be operated in one of several ways:

  1. Charity Promotion
  2. Studio Promotion
  3. Shopping Center Promotion
  4. Day Care/Pre-School Promotion

As a Charity Promotion, you partner with a local charity. The charity covers the advertising costs. Many times a charity will get in-kind donations from media; other times they will receive a discount or a "match" ($10 free time for every $10 spent). You agree to split the proceeds from the promotion 50/50 with the charity. 

You might offer two different packages: 1 5x7/4 wallets for $9.95 or 2 5x7/8 wallets for $12 for example. You shoot it like a prom: 1 exposure, unless there is a blink. You can buy the first package from many labs for about $1.00; the second for about $1.85. The price is low because the lab is printing files all photographed under the same lighting conditions. I would suggest you add $2 per subject over two...otherwise, people will bring their nieces, nephews and cousins to put 12 kids in a 10 buck photo.

You can do this in your studio or at a shopping center (if they permit it) or the offices of the Charity if they are not in an out-of-the way location. Make a simple set: a couple of hay bales, dried cornstalks with Indian corn in them as a background and some carved pumpkins. Carve the largest pumpkin to read "Halloween 2014". Inside this pumpkin, place a small strobe with a built in slave-eye that has a yellow filter over the flash head. Be sure to set your aperture as to not overpower this small flash.

You'll get your best response at a shopping mall or enclosed strip mall. You could see up to 200 buyers. If your average sale is $11, subtract $2 for overhead per exposure - $1800. You give the charity $900, you keep $900, and everybody is very happy.

This same promotion can be operated in your studio, but you will see fewer people. If you need to keep as much cash as possible, check with your local shopping center or department store (if you still have one) and offer them 20% of the gate. The last option is to approach day cares and nursery schools and photograph on costume day. You should be able to photograph several schools during the week of Halloween. 

The next promotion is "Fall Color Families," or "Fall is Family Time." You do outdoor portraits with the Fall colors really popping. This one you will have to get going right now, today. If you do not have a good outdoor at your studio, have the sessions at a local park. For these sessions, I would do a variety of portrait studies. Have a low price offer to get the appointments, such as portrait session plus an 11x14 portrait for $49.95 or something similar. People will want gift size portraits, so put those on special, too...about $2 off the regular price. You don't need to deeply discount these: they already got their discount on the original package and session. When you advertise it, simply say, "GIFT SIZES ON SPECIAL, TOO!"

Be sure to do "breakdowns" of the family relationships: the entire family, just mom, just dad, mom and dad together, mom with the girls, mom with the boys, dad with the girls, dad with the boys, and most importantly, just the kids together without mom and dad. Can they bring pets? You bet! This is a very good promotion.

Finally, you can have the Veteran's Day promotion. Veteran's Day is Tuesday, November 11 in 2014. I live in Michigan, and there is still plenty of fall color and good weather for family portraits. A LOT of people get Veteran's Day off, so it is a perfect time to get the family together. Drop the hint that Christmas is just 6 weeks away, and portraits are the gift that only YOU can give. They are always the right size, and they will never get the same portrait from someone else!

The photo above shows where I took my family portraits. This photograph was taken the end of September, so the color is just ramping up in lower Michigan. DO NOT RAKE YOUR LEAVES UNTIL THIS SPECIAL IS OVER! People LOVED all the colors on the ground and in the background. Have a place where you can photograph indoors as well, because some people will not want them outdoors. It also helps if the weather isn't great. Again, if you don't have a place at your studio, hit the park. Collect leaves in bags from your home in case the park has already sucked them all up!

Again, I normally used a session plus 11x14 offer for around $59. I also took sessions the Saturday and Monday BEFORE Veteran's Day. Again, be sure you do breakdowns of the family relationships. My best year brought 37 families during the promotion, with a sales average of just a little over $225. After costs, advertising, processing, I got to keep nearly $7000 of the $8325 we grossed, and I was happy with that. It was a lot harder to make that kind of markup in the film days!

So there you go: three quick Fall promotions that can make you some quick cash right now. Who says you can't do Photography For Income? Sure as heck not me! You could very easily see anywhere between $8000 -$15,000 in gross sales from these 3 little promotions. Next time, more on the Promotional Calendar. Make all your exposures count!

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