It’s that time of year again – Christmas marketing is in full swing, the big retailers have premiered their festive adverts on the television, and everyone is starting to get excited about the thought of the holidays. But there’s one thing missing from all of this: your marketing.
The word “marketing” can be a bit scary for photographers because it’s not necessarily something that we are good at. After all, we got into photography because we wanted to take pictures – not make adverts! But in order to boost your sales, you are going to need to make sure that everyone knows about your special Christmas sessions. Here’s how you can make it work.
Have an example
If you want to explain to people what you are going to give them in their shoot, it’s a lot easier to just show them. The best way to do this is to show them examples of the kind of images that you will take. Using someone else’s images is not advisable and will just have you branded a fake. You can use images from last year if you want to, but really the best route is to come up with something new.
Start by booking in a Christmas session with a family that you will use as an example. Because you have not started advertising yet, it may be difficult to find someone; the best way to do it is to use a friend or member of your family. You can even create your own Christmas photos at this time, so long as you have a remote shutter release system!
Then it’s time to dress the photos up. You can use a mini marketing template to do this, creating the social media campaign and all the advertising materials that you will need very quickly. Make sure to make it a little more festive if you want – you can add snow via Photoshop overlays or winterize the entire scene using Photoshop actions:
Once you have your examples locked and loaded, it’s time to use them to bring in new clients.
Utilize social media
The first thing that you will want to do is to get the message out there. The best way to do that is to talk to your clients in the places where they hang out most – social media sites. Get new images up on Facebook, post them on Instagram, and share them on Twitter. You can add them to your Pinterest boards or create a whole new one just for the festive season. The sky is the limit – if you have a channel where you can add them, get them out there.
Be sure to use this opportunity as effectively as possible. Social media is about getting your images seen by as many people as possible, so that means you have to think hard about what to do. Use the right hashtags to spread your images wide. Think about adding a caption which encourages readers to tag a friend who would like a Christmas session, or ask them to share the post. Even if only one person takes you up on it, that’s an extra pair of eyes on your post that you would not have had otherwise.
Think about timing, too. Spread the images out a little so that they can get the most impact. Post them at different times of day and using new captions each time. This will give you the chance to be seen by as many people as possible – those who are night owls might not see a post that you make in the morning, for example.
Once the word is out, it’s time to maximize your results.
Offer a Bit More
The best way to get people to buy something is to give them a sense of urgency. They have to feel as though they must buy it NOW, otherwise they might put it off and never get back round to you. There are a couple of ways to do this. You have to set a deadline for booking shoots – this is a practical matter, because you don’t want to be sitting at your desk on Christmas day rushing to finish up the last set of images for someone before the day is over.
Set deadlines to let people know when they must book a shoot by. Give them first a deadline for getting Christmas cards made of their shoot, as this is a popular option. Then give them a deadline for making prints as a special Christmas gift to relatives. The final deadline is for digital images that they want to share online. You will have happier customers when they have a realistic view of what you can achieve, too.
You can also build urgency with special offers. Let your clients know that you have an early bird price which expires on the 1st of December, for example, and that every session after that will cost 10% more. Or offer a code which can only be used if the client books that very day. Make sure that you price your sessions carefully – if you have enough room to offer a small discount comfortably, you will be able to create marketing which is so much more effective.
You don’t have to offer a discount, though – you can also offer something extra. Let them know that if they book by midnight on Saturday, you will design a Christmas card for them using their images for free. Examples like this can make your package seem all the more valuable.
Another type of urgency is scarcity. Let people know that you only have a few slots left and they will be racing to fill them. That always helps to finish off the last few spaces in your diary!
Remember to target your existing clients directly. Send out emails to your mailing list letting them know what you are offering. You can also go the traditional route. Have small postcards or greeting cards printed – one side should show your example shoot, and the other will have all of the information that they need to know. You can mail these out or hand-deliver to them to local homes and businesses. You might get a few new clients this way – after all, how many of us get “real” post mail these days?
Set your Scene
The best way to sell Christmas shoots is to make them too amazing to pass up. This means you have to work really hard on setting them up so that your clients get something very special.
You need to have a killer location. Shooting in the studio is great for family portraits and can be really effective, but your normal set-up is not enough at this time of year. You can rent or buy decorations to make the studio more festive, and even get unique props for your clients to use. You could also hire an outdoor location – Christmas tree farms might be a good option if they are picturesque enough, or another setting that looks festive enough. Do your research and get everything set up ahead of time. If you don’t have the time to do it this year, remember the tip for next year.
How will you be marketing your Christmas sessions this year? Do you have any techniques that are not on the list, or are you planning to use these tips? Let us know how it goes!