by Mark Lait
Opportunities present themselves every time you turn a corner, some will cost you very little and others will cost you a fortune, unfortunately you won’t know which ones are going to work until you give them all a try. The old saying ‘fortune favours the brave’ is very true. I’m not the gravest guy in the world but I am prepared to give new things a try, one such thing yielded $130k income for nothing, another cost me $4k to try and we got 8 leads.
Needless to say we wold like more of the first one. That was actually a chance phine call a staff member at the time made to an event called ‘Miss Muddy’ where women (and the braver guys) perform an obstacle course through … you guessed it, a very muddy place. Opportunities are everywhere and if you don’t try, you will never know.
After more than 12 years in the business of photography I still look for new opportunities and I still find them, they come from exploring new ideas in the marketing concepts detailed on this website and effectively ‘sailing west’ to see what’s there.
You have a choice, stay on the safe ground and get the same results as everyone else or ‘set sail’ for a new destination. You might become shipwrecked but you might also discover new lands abounding in treasure, I have achieved both. The important thing is to not give up, if your ship does end up on the rocks, build a new ship and take a different course. Marketing is as much learning what not to do as much as it is learning what to do.
Below are some effective low cost opportunistic marketing ideas we use.
I hated these things at first, the concept was introduced to me by a consultant we were using at the time but after an $80k return in the first year I had to rethink my opposition to them. Very simply, you create a competition box (there are plenty of designs to copy online) and place them in cafes, shops and anywhere that has a volume of traffic, along with an entry pad and a pen, the same offer applies every time.
The best position for them is close to the point of sale where the cash changes hands or the card gets swiped, imagine people waiting for their fish and chips to be ready or the coffee to be made. That’s where you want to place them, where people are waiting for a service or product to be prepared.
The opportunities are endless here but you will have to be prepared for kids drawing obscene images on the entries or even having your entries stolen by rival companies (yes, it has happened to us on a number of occasions).
Other considerations are that you have to service them which means you, or a staff member (for whom you will have to pay wages) has to periodically service them to replace entry forms, collect completed entries, replace boxes that have been thrown away etc, so it’s not the most glamorous form of marketing but when combined with the other fingers you have in the marketing pie it is certainly a significant contributor.
Silent auctions are another way of prompting people to ‘get those family photos they’ve been meaning to get for so long’. You can assist your community interests, provide a prize of significant value and put money in the bank all at the same time.
The way it works is that you you provide a prize valued at $500 or $1000 to source charities, schools, fundraisers or any event where there will be a group of people. Attendees place bids for the prize and the beneficiary of the event receives all funds from the winning bid.
The prize value is clearly displayed on the display item that they see at the event but the recipe is that this prize value is made up of the cost of the session and a contribution toward the ‘single piece’ of wall art they will receive.
So for example, your $1000 prize donation will consist of $250 for the shoot and the viewing (what someone wold pay if they were to commission this themselves) and $750 toward their wall portrait, say you sell your wall portraits for $3250.00 the $750 is credited off that price so in total the client will still pay $2,500.00 toward their wall portrait. If your cost of goods for this artwork is $500.00, you are in front by $2000.00.
Of critical importance is that you declare on your prize display item that the $1000.00 prize applies to any wall art they purchase only. That way there can be no confusion.Never confuse the customer with clever wording, always be open and transparent and you will have a happy life. In every situation it is vitally important that the customer and your business have the same expectations, because customers (you and I being among them) will see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear. We address this in the educational supplements on our resources page.
You might be quite surprised when you run an online survey on facebook and sponsor the post, not only will get the answer to many of the questions you want answered, you will be able to create a custom audience from those respondents and market to them using the very data they supplied you with.
We ran a poll once asking people whether they preferred formal or casual photos of their children and why they had that preference, we sponsored it so that it reached a broader audience and attached a prize (the usual) for the best response.
From the couple of hundred responses we received, we created facebook audiences for each one and then used images which reflected their preference to push ads their way using the keywords from their ‘why’ statements in the ad text.
What comes next you ask? well, you create lookalike audiences from those new audiences you created and find similar people who will have similar thoughts and values … and just like in the ‘referrals’ section above, there’s a fair chance that will have similar spending habits.
There are many ways to create new markets and we have found that the emotional impact that seeing the children’s photos has on parents is hard to beat, couple that with a risk free guarantee for their photo session and it can be like shooting fish in a barrel.
When your clients leave with their photo products, they are in an excited state, they’ve just seen their beautiful photos for the first time and they’re about to take them home and display them their preferred way. This is the perfect time to be asking them if they have a friend (or friends) who might like to have the same experience.
The answer will usually be ‘YES!’ so if you just happen to produce a piece of paper and a pen and ask them to write those names down, you have just got couple of free referrals … now think about the people you hang around with, they have the same habits and interests as you most likely and it is no different for your clients, their friends will have similar interests and values as they do, therefore it is very likely that they will have the same spending habits as they do as well.
Once you procure these names, enter them into your CRM and send them a letter or an email with a similar offer to what your client received. The big advantage you have if these referrals make a booking is that their friend will have already shown their photos and told them about the whole experience including the price! That has just saved you a whole lot of work and pre-qualified them.
Before you contact them, they know what the product looks like, how much fun it is and how much it costs. In our business we make sure to thank the referrer with a gift voucher to a restaurant or another free print from their shoot. It is easy to be nice to people and never forget, people will forget what you say to them but they will never forget how you make them feel.
Some of your clients will become your brand advocates and sing your praises to everyone forever – and that is a very good feeling.