Increase your photography bookings in 5 simples steps with a marketing calendar!

Increase Your Photography Bookings in 5 Steps with a Marketing Calendar

Increase your photography bookings in 5 simples steps with a marketing calendar!It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over…

…but before you put away the beach chairs and bathing suits, did you make the most of the summer season by filling it with beach sessions?

No matter what season it is when you’re reading this, there is always time to start planning and promoting specials by making use of a marketing calendar.

What does this all mean to a photographer, really?

Is it really worth creating a formal calendar and taking the time to plan specials?

The short answer is YES!

Planning photo specials (promotions) in advance and making sure you follow through with promoting each special can drastically increase the number of new and repeat clients you bring in each year!

I would suggest planning about 6 months at a time. This allows you to plan for the easily foreseeable future without getting too overwhelmed by trying to think of 12 months worth of promotions at a time.

The good news is there are a lot more holidays than just Christmas coming up that a savvy marketer can make use of for promotions. Let’s start with a little brainstorming of times and holidays you can use to build promotions off of.

Step 1: Brainstorm and plot out photography special ideas

I would suggest running one or two different specials per month. Any more than that and you will overwhelm and confuse your potential clients. Start by downloading our free Dream Client Workbook (click here) – inside you’ll find monthly calendars to map out promotion ideas!

First, start with Seasonal Themes

I like to think of the four seasons as themes that you can tie a special promotion or event to. The one advantage of living in a part of the country with changing seasons is that nature puts a bit of a deadline on each season. This sometimes helps get any procrastinating clients to finally commit when they realize they are running out of time to book their seasonal session.

Let’s take a look at each season:

  • Summer can be a time to run a Beach Portrait Special, or to run an on-location family special where you can meet clients on their boats, lake houses or backyards.
  • As the trees begin to change colors, you have a great time to capitalize on that short window of Fall Foliage sessions. In New England, this is one of the most popular times of the year for family portraits.
  • Winter can be a little more challenging in Northern areas because you can’t do sessions outside and snow can throw curveballs at your scheduling. However, this is always a great time for Winter Wonderland indoor sessions.
  • After surviving the winter, we start all over again with spring portraits. People are excited to be outdoors again enjoying the green grass and blooming flowers, and this is a great time for specials like Portraits in the Park.

Next, add in Holidays celebrations

While seasonal promotions can give you great long-term opportunities to bring in clients throughout the year, you can take it one step further by tying promotions around holidays. Holidays are a great time for themed mini-sessions that allow you to bring in many clients in a short period of time.

Everyone of course does an Easter and Christmas special, and the big holidays are great of course. For example, we used to run an Easter Bunny mini-session each year, where we would set up a pastel background and bring in a live bunny for children to be photographed with.

Some other fun holidays that work great for mini-sessions are Valentine’s Day (hearts or cupid theme for babies), Fourth of July (patriotic theme), and Mother’s Day (mom & child photos).

But why not add in some obscure holiday specialist to spice things up and to create more opportunities to attract clients? For example, perhaps a Labor Day Columbus Day event, or even a Groundhog Day Special?

These don’t need to have fun themes like the examples above – you can keep it simple. For example, you could offer 50% off family portraits during a small window of time. If you need more ideas for holidays, click here for a list of all major and minor holidays.

Step 2: Outline the specifics of the specials

Now it’s time to decide what the actual promotion terms will be for each special.

Here are a few things you need to consider:

  • What is the timeframe the client must book between in order to receive the special pricing?
  • What is the timeframe the client must be photography during?
  • What is the session going to include? (How many minutes, outfit changes, props, etc.)
  • How much are you going to charge for the session?
  • Do you want to offer any special-priced products during the promotion? (i.e. special Holiday card offers for a fall or winter special)

Of course, you can edit these terms as you get closer to time to promote the special, but it’s good to get an outline down so the promotion becomes more clear and alive in your mind.

Step 3: Set goals for your photography specials

While you are coming up with promotion ideas, don’t forget to set goals for them as well. Calculate how many sessions you would like to book for each day of your special, and what you would like the average sale to be.

Put a bit of thought into this, and be realistic yet optimistic. Setting goals that you can really visualize will make it easier to actually figure out what you need to do to reach and bring in those clients.

Once the event is over, you can see how close you came to your goals (or how much you surpassed your goals…sweet!)

Step 4: Plan to run the first promotion on your calendar!

As the time grows closer to your first special on your calendar, it’s time to get ready to promote it!

It’s important to put some thought into how you are going to get the word out about your promotion. You want to give potential clients enough time to learn about the special and consider booking, but not enough time to procrastinate and forget about the special all together.

Here are some guidelines for a successful promotion:

  • Plan to promote 0-5 days in advance of the special, depending on how large the special is. For example, we run a lot of 48-hour Senior Flash Sales where clients must book during a 48-hour timeframe for a session which must take place the following week. We only promote these during the 2 days the sale is running (0 days in advance). For larger specials, you may want to begin promoting a few days in advanced of “doors opening” to build hype.
  • Plan to promote throughout the entire booking period. If you are giving people a week timeframe to book sessions for an Easter special, for example, promote the sale consistently during that week.
  • Plan to take advantage of multiple channels. If you have a Facebook page, by all means post on Facebook (and “boost” the posts to reach more people) once every couple of days during the promotion. But also take advantage of other channels – do you have email addresses of past and potential clients? Send them a series of emails letting them know about the special. Do you have mailing addresses of clients? Send out a postcard! The more places you can get in front of your potential clients, the better.

Step 5: Evaluate the results

As mentioned in Step 3, you want to compare the results of your promotions to the goals you had set earlier.

In addition, write down what you did that worked well during the promotion. These are things you’ll want to repeat for the next one.

Also write down things that did NOT work so well. These are things you may want to cut out of the next promotion.

Finally, brainstorm any new ideas that you’d like to implement for the following promotion.

Final takeaways:

Phew! Creating a marketing calendar and planning out each photo promotion can take some thought, but trust me, it will be well worth it when you start seeing the number of new clients you bring in from your efforts!

Let’s recap the big things to takeaway here:

1: Brainstorm and plot out photography special ideas. Get creative! Think of 1-2 different specials you can run each month.

2: Outline the specifics of the specials: Take these ideas a step further and begin expanding on them. Note the timeframes for each special, and what you will include to make the special really attractive and valuable for potential clients.

3: Set goals for your photography specials: Set realistic yet optimistic goals for each special. These will help drive and inspire your promotional efforts.

4: Plan to run the first promotion on your calendar: Figure out how early you will begin promoting your first special, and the specifics of how you plan to reach potential clients during the promotional period.

5: Evaluate the results: Take an honest look at your promotion once it’s over and find the good and the bad. Drop the bad for next time, and build upon the good in order to achieve even bigger results for the next special.

Creating a marketing calendar like this can go a long way in building your photography business and bringing in the kind of sales you desire. Planning and implementing specials like these have been a game-changer in growing my business, and I know it can be for yours, too!

Next Steps:

Go through the steps outlined about to create your marketing calendar for the next six months. In the comments below, share your favorite promotion idea!

In the comments below, let me know an idea you have for a promotion. I’ll be here to respond to every comment and question 🙂


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