Booking Clients with Christmas in July

Booking Summer Clients with “Christmas in July”

Booking Clients with Christmas in JulyDo you think the November/December holiday season is the only time the average person thinks about having a professional portrait made? If so, then, think again! The summertime is a great time to run a promotion to ensure you keep clients coming in the warmer months.

Hot Fun in the Summertime

Depending on what part of the country you live in, the arrival of summer is usually a pretty big deal. People’s thoughts start shifting from the usual daily grind and everyday life to a week at the shore or weekends fishing, boating and sunbathing. Because summer is such a short and wonderful season, it takes on a special place in most of our hearts and minds. Really, what other season has so many songs written about it? Spring or fall, nope, not even winter. We try to savor and enjoy each fleeting moment,and what better way to keep that memory alive than with a beautiful portrait?

Endless Summer?

Summer is a key event at our studio to drive portrait sessions and sales to offset the slow season (summer’s evil sibling, winter). The biggest obstacle is overcoming people’s natural inclination toward procrastination. Somehow summer feels as if it will last forever, but before you know it, the kids are heading back to school.

Reasons to book

In one of our previous blog posts we wrote about using holidays both major and minor as fun reasons to entice clients to schedule a session. We suggest taking a holiday like Groundhog’s Day or Memorial Day and building a portrait event around it. It could take place on the actual day, or more likely, it will be stretched into a weekend or week-long event. You can check that post out here (Link).

Summer is a little different; it’s an entire season more than three months long. You can’t just run one special from early June to the beginning of September because people will find reasons (excuses) to delay booking and just push it off.

Pro Tip: Always have a deadline for clients to book and take their session. This is a form of scarcity, and it helps to motivate people to take action. I believe there’s a saying that goes something like “If it weren’t for deadlines, nothing would get done.” This saying definitely applies to clients scheduling portrait sessions.

Break it Down

We need to segment the summer months into smaller modules that we can build promotions around. This is how we break it down:

  1. Early summer—June
  2. Mid-summer—July
  3. Late summer—August
  4. Last chance—Late August through September (while weather permits)

Now, we have some idea of a time frame to devise our promotions around. To limit availability and to create demand for our services, we might have a beach special for the first two weeks of June only.

Let’s look at what groups we can market to

The biggest group we photograph during the summer is by far high school seniors. After all, they have a need and a yearbook deadline to meet. That’s not to say they don’t procrastinate—they’re teenagers—but at least the deadline gives us a little leverage with them.

Possible Target Markets

  1. High school seniors
  2. Families
  3. Children
  4. Pets

Schedule Your Summer

Let’s take a peek at a few of our actual marketing projects:

June

  1. We kick off the season with a promotion aimed at little children aged six months to maybe seven or eight years old. It’s called Beach Bums, and we run it for a couple of weeks. It’s a quick 30-minute session in the morning at a local beach or waterfront.
  2. Later in June, we market to families and children for evening sessions. This is a longer, more detailed session, and the session fee is higher than the morning Beach Bums promotion.
  3. In June we also launch our senior promotions. These are not completely tied to the summer, but we do include special beach sessions, which are very popular with the high school kids.

Pro Tip: Because the evening is prime time, the session fee reflects that. Just like a movie costs more in the evening than at noon so does our session fee.

July

  1. Family and children portrait sessions. We run two different promotions, and usually they run for two weeks each, a morning and an evening session.
  2. We continue to run senior promotion.

August

Now, August can get pretty hot and sticky, so we usually switch gears a little and move things in the studio or promote senior sessions at local parks and at times of the day when the sun is not so scorching.

We, of course, still book morning and evening sessions at the beach but will do it at the regular session fee.

  1. Dog days of summer.This is a studio session targeted at pet owners. It ties in with the summertime theme but allows us to work in the air conditioning.
  2. Children and family beach sessions.No specials at this time but we book at the regular price.
  3. Senior promotions still ongoing since school and yearbook deadlines are on the horizon.

Late August through early September

This is a great time to offer some specials aimed at getting people to take action. You have two big motivators working in your favor.

  1. The summer is drawing to a close, and the weather can become unfavorable for beach portraits, Wind is usually the big problem as are cooler temperatures.
  2. Kids are heading back to school. This means young children as well as families with older kids who may be leaving the nest for college.

Grab a calendar

Make this summer a profitable one! Get your calendar out and start breaking the summer months into bite-size chunks you can build some fun promotions around.

I realize that this may be easier for photographers that live in parts of the country that have more of a four-season climate. Florida, for example, gets too hot for beach photos in the summer months, but perhaps you can do a flip and offer portraits in the cool climate-controlled comfort of your camera room.