Well, did you give the gift certificate promotion a try? No? Why not?

“Man, I just could not get everything together in time to make this go. But next year I’m gonna do it!”

Well, okay, but just remember that the person who wins is the person who is willing to work harder than his competitors.  But the holidays ARE a busy time…both personally and professionally.  But don’t feel like you are going to lose out on Christmas Cash just yet.  I still have a couple of tricks up my sleeve to bring in customers that will have you HO-HO-HOing all the way to the bank!

Call Present and Previous Clients–IT’S CHRISTMAS!

Unless you just got things going this year, you may not have a large list of clients (don’t worry, we’ll talk about that in a bit).  Call every client and tell them they are eligible for a complimentary portrait session.  It can be of the entire family.  It can be of just the kids and Fido or Mr. Mouser.  It can be of just mom and dad.  It can be of Papa and Memaw.  It can be of the %^&*@@% NEIGHBORS for all you care!  You just want to put butts on your posing stools, Skippy–got it?

Now, if they make any purchase, you will give a gift certificate to them that totals the exact amount they spend.  They can give this to ANYONE they want.  You will have them fill out the certificate right there in the studio (or your basement, garage, or wherever you do business).  This will go into a NICE QUALITY envelope, preferably with a Christmas theme.  On the envelope you will have printed, “A gift to someone we really care about–MERRY CHRISTMAS!  Okay, okay, if your clientele is Jewish, make it Happy Hannukah…whatever it takes.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you capture ALL of the recipient’s contact information.  You want to be able to follow up! Try for address/phone/email, but at the very least, get their phone and address.  Your goal is to try to get these people photographed before Christmas if possible, but do NOT call the gift recipients without checking with the gift givers!  While many will give the certificate before Christmas, some will want to wait and use it as an actual Christmas present.  You do not want to raise their ire by letting the cat out of the bag.

They Said They Weren’t Interested!

Horsefeathers–you just haven’t convinced them they wanted this yet!  But let’s say they DID just have a portrait taken recently.  No sweat.  “Mrs. Jones, I understand you just had a portrait taken a short time ago.  I understand you may not want to take advantage of this offer.  However, Mr. Studio Owner has a special custom made just for folks like you.  If you purchase a gift certificate of $50 or more, we will DOUBLE the value of the certificate.  So if you buy a $50 gift certificate, your recipient will receive a gift certificate imprinted with $100.  If you give a certificate for $75, you’ll be giving a gift of $150!  Your recipient will be overwhelmed by your generosity…but it will be our little secret, okay?”  Remind them that Papa and Memaw won’t be with us forever, and this is a great time to have their portrait made.  They would never do it on their own, but how can they refuse you?  Don’t think it will happen?  Well, my bank account grew by over $2000 just from mentioning this very item one Christmas season.

What About Me–My Business Is New?

Keep your lens cap on, I’m getting to that!  Today is Monday, November 27, 2017.  If your color lab is worth a darn, you should be able to have six 16×20 prints made and delivered by Friday, December 1, 2017 (get permission from the subjects first!).  While those prints are being made, find three locations to display them.  Restaurant, shopping mall, dress shop, where ever.

Ask if you can place TWO portraits on easels with a drawing box (wrap these like gifts with a slot in the top).  Have three signs made that read, “Please vote for your favorite portrait.  A drawing will be held December 10, 2017.  Winner will receive a $50 gift certificate from Candide’s Restaurant AND a Complimentary Portrait Session and Portrait from Picasso Studios valued at $_______.”  Have drawing slips made up (refer to the example at the top of the page).

When you set this up with the merchant, ask him/her if he could supply a $50 gift certificate for $20–chances are he/she can.  If not, negotiate!  Remind him/her that your business will be calling all of your customers and telling them about the display.  You will be driving business to his/her business.  Tell him that if they call/email THEIR customers, it can be a real traffic bonus.  “And don’t forget: I will compile a list of all the entries and share that with you!”

Have a dozen of your friends/relatives visit these businesses…preferably about 15 minutes apart if possible.  Have them ask, “Say, I was told there was a portrait display here by Picasso Studios…can you tell me where that is?”  If they would buy something small, that would be a big plus.  The owner will feel all warm and fuzzy.

ButButI Don’t HAVE Any Easels!

Oh come on–I’ve done just about everything else for you!  Do NOT go out and buy six easels!  Check art supply shops and see if they have some you can borrow or rent.  Check with local art teachers, high schools, community college, or if you come up empty there, make your own inexpensive easels!

IMMEDIATELY After The Display:

Draw a winner.  I don’t know about you, but at my studio, the winner was never someone who said they’d rather have cash than a portrait (I also didn’t add them to my customer list).  After you call the winner, start calling the entries.  “Mrs. Patterson, this is __________ calling from Picasso Studios.  I am SO sorry you weren’t our grand prize winner from the drawing at Candide’s, but I am happy to inform you that you were one of our second to 10th prize winners.  You have been selected to receive a complimentary portrait session at no cost or obligation.”

Now, once again, if you are using a lab that is worth a darn, you should be able to get finished portraits by Christmas even if you photograph late into December.  And if someone has a order where all the prints are smaller than 11×14, take the file to WalMart and tell “Photo Joe” to turn off the printing on the back of the prints (you know, where it says “Printed by WalMart”) and deliver those the next day.  And hurray, hurray, you’ll have cash to spend on gifts for Christmas Day!

Some Notes:

Add the following in small type on the bottom of the drawing form:  “By completing this entry, you give ____________ and Picasso Studio permission to contact you.  Permission may be withdrawn after 90 days if request is made in writing.”

Have the forms sized so 4 will fit on one 8.5×11 sheet of paper. Your local quick printer can print and pad them economically.

There will be two GRAND PRIZE WINNERS: one will receive a certificate from the merchant, the other a certificate from you. But there’s no State Law that I know of that says you cannot give that person a certificate, too.  As far as that goes, if you want to make EVERYBODY a grand prize winner, that’s up to you!

You are going to want to do your best to photograph the people before Christmas, but if they say they just cannot do it (they have family away, etc.) adjust it to fit their schedule.  The idea is to put bootys on posing stools, right? Even so, don’t be afraid to offer a little inducement to do it before Christmas.  And be prepared to work some nights and weekends…maybe even Sunday.

And, boys and girls, this is how we make it rain on Christmas…rain cash, that is.  Remember, it’s all about photography4profit!  Until next time.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to my garden so I can HOE-HOE-HOE!