Special Series: How to Build a Photography Client Base with Seasonal Promos [Step 4/5]

How to Select the Right Marketing Vehicles for Your Promotions (So You Can Not Just Reach the Right Potential Clients, But Book More of Them)

Once we’ve planned out our promotion ideas, it’s time to determine how we are going to market them in order to book those new clients! We have tried a multitude of different marketing techniques for Scott Sylvia Photography specials over the last 20 years. We have outlined 7 of the best options below. Follow along to see how you can most easily reach the right clients for your promotions!

-Scott Sylvia
Founder, Hobby to Pro Photo

Just like you wouldn’t choose a minivan to compete in the Daytona 500, you want to select the appropriate vehicle to drive your message in front of your target market.

Now that you have put together a plan for the perfect promotion (see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 of this series), how do you let the world (or at least your ideal clients) know about it?

There are many different forms of media that companies use to promote their goods and services. Before we dig into 7 of my favorites, let me fill you in on a quick yet important rule of thumb… 

The Rule of Seven – The Key to Getting More Clients to Book

In advertising, there is a general guideline known as The Rule of Seven, where a potential client must come into “contact” with your ad seven times before it sticks with them.

There’s debate as to whether 7 is the correct number - others have said 3 is more realistic - but the point is that we all need to see an ad or to hear about a product or service numerous times before we even become aware of it and start to think that it may be something we are interested in.

With this concept in mind, how can you get in front of your clients enough times for them to notice you and take action by booking a session?

Marketing is most effective when you can combine different delivery vehicles so that it appears to your clients that you are popping up everywhere they go.

We want to accelerate their numerous contacts with our brand so that we stand out to them and so that they are more likely to book a session during out promotion.

Let’s take an in-depth look at 7 options that are a good fit for small business owners so you can select the best ways to “pop up” in front of your perfect potential clients:

1: Newspapers and Magazines

This is where the big boys hang out. Although we might not ever advertise in Glamour or Time Magazine, there are sometimes local magazines and papers that might be a good fit depending on who their audiences are.

For example, local publications like wedding guides or magazines aimed at new parents and the like can be a good match for photographers.

Pros:

  • You can reach a large number of people in your ideal market
  • Having your ad in a quality magazine will give you a professional and trustworthy persona

Cons:

  • People may miss your ad when leafing through the publication
  • Tends to be costly for beginners
  • You will need to run ads for months for potential clients to get that cumulative effect, so it may take time to see results from these types of ads

2: Postcards and Direct Mail

This can be a very effective method of getting in front of potential clients.

I built my business almost exclusively with direct mail in the beginning and still use it now. Today however, I would not rely on it alone, but it can work well when used in conjunction with other media.

The single most important factor with this type of marketing is the mailing list. If you have a good list of your ideal clients, it can be very effective to have a postcard delivered right to their mailbox.

If you have a database of your clients, this is a good solid list to mail to, but if not you would have to go to a mail house that will sell you a list.

Pro Tip: When purchasing a mailing list, is important to set some parameters such as income level and zip code to select where you believe your ideal client lives. You can even use other parameters to zero in further, things such as educational level, magazines they subscribe to, etc. to help ensure you are spending your money to reach the right potential clients.

Pros:

  • Direct mail puts your ad literally right in your ideal client’s hand
  • You can select who receives your ad since you choose who you mail to
  • If mailing to your past clients, this is a great way to stay in front of them
  • This medium is not used by many beginning photographers so you have a better chance of being noticed and standing out

Cons:

  • Cost to produce mailer and cost of postage, possibly cost of purchased mail list can be higher than other methods
  • Sending just one mailing is not nearly as effective as sending two successive mailers, which of course increases your costs

3: Online Advertising

This is essential in this day and age. With virtually all people being online in some way, it’s a no brainer.

However, it is important to target the right potential clients to maximize results. There are so many different websites you can choose from, so it’s important to choose the one where your audience is hanging out.

Some forms of internet marketing (Facebook, Instagram, etc) absolutely have to be in your toolbox. In the vast majority of cases for photographers, Facebook is a great place to easily find your ideal clients and can be very cost effective and produce qualified clients when used properly.

Samples of some of our successful Facebook Ad campaigns from the past year

Pros:

  • Relatively inexpensive and you choose how much you spend
  • A wide audience is always at your fingertips
  • Facebook gives you the ability to target people by extreme specifics, meaning your money will be well spent reaching only your perfect clients
  • You are able to track exactly how many people visit your site and book through the ads

Cons:

  • Everyone is doing it so it can be more difficult to stand out
  • Companies like Facebook change parameters regularly so that you have to keep up with the latest technology and rules and adjust when needed

4: Referral Marketing (Word of Mouth)

Every business needs to maximize referrals. It is inexpensive (or free) and very effective. People simply trust advice they get from their friends!

Each photographer should ask for referrals or have some form of referral program that rewards clients for recommending them.

Pros:

  • Virtually free (or at least inexpensive if offering rewards)
  • Takes little effort

Cons:

  • May take time to see results
  • Cannot count on it to fill your schedule

5: Your Website

Don’t just think of your website as just a place for people to view your portfolio; be sure to use it to promote and book sessions.

When running a promotion, be sure to have a “Specials” page on your website that someone surfing your site can find. I also like to put a banner on my home page touting the latest specials with a link so they can click through to the Specials page to get more details.

Simple banner from my homepage around the holidays to draw visitors to our specials page

Be sure to make it easy for potential clients to find the pages where they can learn more about your promotions and contact you in the moment.

Pro Tip: If you don’t have a website you should seriously look into having one. It will add a level of professionalism that the amateurs just don’t have. There are many beautiful looking templates these days that allow you to easily add images and pages along with updating a blog post. A website will also help boost your online presence when people search for you.

Pros:

  • It is free and takes just minutes to add a new special to your website
  • You can provide plenty of details about the specials and have a “book it now” button so clients can get involved on the spot

Cons:

  • None that I can think of!

6: Bulletin Board Marketing

By this I mean pinning a postcard or flyer to a bulletin or community display board in local shops and restaurants when allowed.

This of course is pretty much hit-or-miss marketing as people don’t always notice these boards. It’s the kind of thing that may bring a client or two a year (maybe,) so it’s not very high up there on the effectiveness scale…but hey, it can’t hurt!

Pros:

  • Free or inexpensive
  • Clients may see your name again and start to remember you

Cons:

  • Cannot rely on it to bring you clients
  • If you flyer is posted with other junky looking ads, it could give the wrong impression about your business

7: Partnership Marketing

This is when you have found a local business that already serves your ideal client (Ex. A baby photographer working with children’s clothing boutique) and they allow you to place displays and/or promotional materials in their store.

This is extremely effective and if you have a relationship like this established, you will definitely want to produce some postcards or similar handouts to put in their store for your seasonal promotions.

Having another location to advertise your latest specials to the right clients is a monumental opportunity to build your clientele.

Pros:

  • Having your work in an established business can add instant credibility to your brand
  • Creating a good working relationship with another business is like having a FREE gallery and extra salespeople
  • You can change out your display with each seasonal promotion you run

Cons:

  • The cost of updating displays for each season (though that is a small price to pay for the results you will likely see)
  • Knowing how to properly approach a potential partner with the proper offer can be challenging for some

Phew! I know this was a bit of a longer post, but I really wanted to overview the options to help you make the best decisions for your upcoming promotions.

Now, it’s decision time!

Your Assignment- Select at least one method (though remember a combination of methods will add to your success, so I would suggest picking at least 3) to promote the promotions you have been outlining this week.

Let us know your ideas in the comments below!

Schedule a few hours into your calendar this week to take the time to do any necessary research and setup required to get these marketing materials and ads created.

Keep in mind that you will need professional-level materials created (postcards, ad images, flyers etc.) to use for your marketing.

I know those tasks can be overwhelming for most photographers, so I have good news-

We have a new shortcut to help you get all that done without spending hours upon hours creating designs and crafting sales messaging!

If you are one of the small percentage of readers who really want to get a leg up on the competition and create a promotion that attracts awesome clients, I have something you're going to love...

It’s called the Seasonal Promos Made Easy Kit, and it’s a pre-created promotion toolbox that you can use out of the box!

We are releasing one of these Seasonal Promo Kits per season so that you can literally download the toolbox, customize the materials for your own business, and launch a successful promotion within just minutes. All the templates are created by professional graphic designers and include sales copy so you don't have to worry about any of the tough stuff.

This is going to save you hours upon hours and a whole lot of stress that goes into crafting a photography promotion - this way, you can spend more time on what you love - the photography! Click here if you’d like to learn more.

Until tomorrow,

Scott

Let Us Know - What Marketing Strategies Will You Use For Your Promos?