Photography4Profit

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Tag: families

There’s Still Time For Christmas Cash!

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!

 

 

Easy Cash For Christmas Promotion

This promotion takes no paid advertising.  You read it right: a Christmas promotion with no paid media.  There is no need for special sets (unless you want to do them).  And no Santa Suit rental and then finding a jolly ol’ St. Nick impersonator to fill it.  Interested?  Keep reading.

Many years ago, Kodak ran a gift certificate program at Christmas time.  Basically, you called on area employers that employed at least 50 people, and offered to sell them gift certificates that they could give to their employees as Christmas gifts.  The certificate gave them a portrait session and an 8×10 portrait.  And I DID have a couple of businesses participate in this.  But one November, as I was preparing the script, it came to me:

  • Why charge for this?
  • Why only offer it to companies of 50 or more?
  • Heck, why just do it at Christmas?

DUH!  Why not approach area businesses and say, “We are offering an employee morale/loyalty building program for your business. The only cost to you is covering the cost of the package handed out to each employee. ”  We tried REAL hard to get the employees’ contact information, but sometimes all we could manage was the mailing address. We took what we could get.

For A Christmas Promotion, The Overall Cost Was LOW

The cost of the package was nominal.  It was a glossy black folder (we used a red folder at Christmas time) with our label on it. Inside was a letter explaining the program to the employee, and a letter of introduction telling the employee about our studio.  As I recall, the cost of the package at the time was under $2.00.  You might pay a little more today.  We did our normal Call-Mail-Call:

  1. Call HR (owner of a smaller company) and asked them to watch for our mail.
  2. Mail a letter outlining the program.
  3. Call and set up an appointment to present the program to the person/person who could say yes.

When you go to the presentation meeting, take portraits.  LARGE PORTRAITS.  Then have an album with 8×10 samples in it–nothing smaller.  Be friendly, excited, and low pressure.  Remind them many employees are not looking for more money, but they would like to feel that they are appreciated. This gets reflected in the letter from the company.

When “selling” the idea to the businesses, we suggested they get permission from the families to use a portrait on their reception room wall with a small sign reading “The Families of Wilbert, Inc.”  Bingo!  Print sales to the company!  With a little extra selling, you could move them into a collection using frames that clipped together and design the entire display for them.

You Can Do Variations On This At Christmas (Or Not)!

The Kodak promotion included a portrait and the companies paid more for this.  If I offered it at Christmas time, I would remind them that it was the Season of Giving, and the employees would think of the company’s generosity every time they viewed that portrait on the wall.  And don’t chicken out!  Start by offering the program with a wall portrait and work down from there.  Of course, you’ll show them your REGULAR price and then the SPECIAL price that you are giving them.  I used to chuckle a little and say, “You know, your employees know that I’m the highest priced studio in town. They’ll be impressed that you chose ME instead of one of the cheaper studios in town. But it’ll be OUR little secret that you got a deal.”  Talk about applying the velvet hammer!

You also don’t have to think in the vein of just a single portrait!  A portfolio of 8 portraits matted and framed can work as well…be creative!  John Hartman makes a set of Photoshop actions that let you “mat” a collage of images in Photoshop.  It is VERY realistic.  Then, you just frame it.  Here’s a tip: make it a non-standard size, so YOU can be the one with the frame sale.

Make It EASY For The Families–Hey, It’s CHRISTMAS!

The letter stressed that the photography would take place over two weeks.  During that two weeks I did sessions on 2 Saturdays. On 4 on the weekdays, I made appointments until 9:00 PM.  From time to time, someone would say, “Oh, Mr. Bohne…we would LOVE to do this, but our son, Biff, is away at Whasamatta U…couldn’t we do it when he was home?”  What do you think we said?

Sometimes, people said, “I would really like this done at the park,” or, “I’ve always wanted a portrait taken in my home.”  What do you think we said?  There was NEVER a charge to the family UNLESS they were outside Jackson County, OR they just HAD to have a Sunday.

We photographed the heck out of these groups: family, mom alone, mom with the girls, mom with the boys, mom with all the kids, dad alone, dad with the girls, dad with the boys, dad with all the kids, mom and dad together. If they had pets, we included them if they wanted to bring them.  We REALLY tried to get them to bring the Grandparents (if they weren’t already in Florida).  Oh, if they were in the portraits, too…this was like finding diamonds on the ground.  Fantastic sales!

If They Say “No”

Every once and a while a company would say no.  No problem.  I then would go into “stealth marketing mode.”  I “borrowed” this idea from Les Petersen.  Okay, okay: I flat out stole it.

If I really wanted to photograph their employees (because they were getting paid well) I would run an ad in the local paper that showed a family portrait with copy that read: “EMPLOYEES OF THE WILBERT COMPANY!  March 1 through March 12 is Wilbert Company Employee appreciation days. In appreciation of your service to our community, we would like to present you with a family portrait at no cost or obligation to you. Please call 517-555-1212 for your appointment.”

Now let me make it clear that I didn’t do dozens of families from this method, but with a my average order, I only had to photograph one to pay for the ad, and I never did only one. Sometimes one of my current customers would work there, and I’d get them to post an announcement on the company bulletin board and/or put little cards on their fellow employees’ desks.  We never asked the company, we just did it. They probably would have said ok, but I guess I’d rather ask for forgiveness instead of permission.   No company ever complained or reprimanded the employee.  Not saying it couldn’t happen…it just never did.

So if you don’t want to have to design and pay for a special Christmas set (which we already had and continued to use), this can be a moneymaker.  Not just at Christmas, but year round.  It just takes a little effort, and doesn’t cost much.  Best time to start calling on businesses? YESTERDAY!  For holiday sales, we normally called from the first of November up until the first week of December.

After Christmas, we concentrated on the smaller companies or any companies we missed during the holiday season.  We normally called on companies in January to do photography in February, February to do photography in March, and March to do photography in April.  Remember, the only reason you have a “slow season” is because you slack off.  This doesn’t cost much, but it takes some effort.   In my experience, my colleagues were not all that interested in working all that hard.

Will it work for you?

  • Yes.
  • No.
  • Maybe.
  • I don’t know.

I can tell you this: you’ll never know until you give it a REAL try.  By that, I mean go at it strong for at least three Christmas seasons.  I DO know that if you are not personable, it will fail.  If you don’t fancy yourself a real promoter, hire someone.  There are a lot of salespeople, community group leaders, and pastors from the community who have this skill.  There might even be a present customer who comes to mind.  Pay them a base pay of $x per hour to a max of 20 hours a week, then add a bonus of $25-$100 for every business they book.  The bonus would be based on the size of business and if the business pre-purchased portraits or just went with the certificate.

Have a great week, and watch for more ways to do Photography4Profit coming soon!

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