When's the right time for a promotion?
Certainly for the holidays — so your clients can have their beautiful printed products under the tree for Christmas. The ultimate in personal gifts!
Or when the wedding season's over — and you have time to chase past clients who're still dilly-dallying about their album.
And for what purpose?
Maybe to turn your social media audience into paying customers.
Or lapsed enquiries into future business.
Or past customers into repeat business!
But once you've defined your goal, what's involved?
This is our take on it, but of course it's likely you'll have your own. If so, great — treat ours as a checklist. Maybe you'll find new ideas here, or a reminder of things you still need to do!
Step 1. Decide which promotions, and incentives, you'd like to run with
Here are some ideas…
Contact past clients who never bought a wedding album
We all procrastinate. We're easily distracted. Don't assume because they never bought they didn't mean to. There may be lots of reasons why a couple never bought their album, but this is the perfect time to remind them of the love in their lives, and tempt them with a special offer. So compile two lists:
- Couples — those who never bought an album.
- Parents, friends and family — those who might be interested in a parent album, matted print or frame, as a gift given or received.
Write messages to suit both those groups. Write them in your own voice. Personalise them. Send them individually. Send them however comes naturally to you, whether as an email, Facebook message or whatever. But include a special offer and a deadline (especially important for the holidays).
Of course this idea applies to any of your clients who walked away with little or no product to enjoy.
Like the people who came in for a low-price sitting and bought very little.
Run a sale on social media
The previous section was based on reaching out personally to people, but why not run promotions on your social media platforms leading up to the holidays? Offer a limited-time discount off some or all your print products. Let anyone take advantage of them, whether past or future clients. Maybe you'll win some new customers.
Sow a few ideas. Anniversary shoots. Babies. Family portraits. Makeovers. Pets. Reunions.
Send out discount coupons for your image galleries
This works for any client you're hosting image galleries for. It's easy to set up discount coupons in Workspace, and you do know all your clients' email addresses. Write to them, including the coupon code, their gallery URL and a reminder that these will be the most personal, and most treasured, of gifts.
Encourage repeat business
So they were good customers — the shoot's over, and they spent well? Don't assume you'll never see them again.
It's great to turn clients into regulars, and there are so many opportunities to do so. Their extended family, their own growing family, pets, activities, accomplishments, celebrations, possessions, makeovers.
There are so many product opportunities too. Honeymoon, anniversary and family albums. Frames and canvases. Folio boxes. Loose and matted prints. Some of them affordable enough for almost any gifting scenario.
Your best clients will love you for reaching out in a personal way, and making them feel looked after and cared about.
Here are three possibilities for repeat business:
- A new shoot, maybe with an "act now" incentive.
- Additional purchases from past shoots, as already mentioned.
- Using your professional skills to create beautiful products from their own images.
Sometimes it's important to remind yourself that you have other professional skills besides photography — image editing and album design for example — as well as access to the best products available. Imagine putting those to good use to create a gorgeous photo book of their honeymoon or their first year together, based on their own photos.
Again, this applies to all your past clients, and to any products.
Get your thinking straight about discounts!
Not many of us like discounting. We know "what we're worth" and that's how much we want to be paid.
But one thing we do know is that people — maybe including you? — do respond to discounts. Generally speaking.
So we're not saying you must discount, but here are a few things to think about:
- Most of the ideas we've listed above target sales that "got away". It's not that you'll earn less if you discount, but that you don't earn anything if you don't make a sale.
- Our other ideas are aimed at generating new business — gifts, repeat business and so on. The same logic applies.
- There are other incentives besides discounts. What about "if you buy X I'll throw in Y?" Free, or half price, or…
- Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, birthdays — they're all a time for giving, and a time of buying. If they're not spending with you they're spending somewhere else.
- If the shoot's already over, the profit on product sales is pure cream.
- You'll find much more about pricing, incentives and discounts in Love's Not Enough
Step 2. Get organised, create a timeline
Getting organised is one of the best things you can ever do for your business, and for yourself.
Getting organised takes the stress out of your workflow.
Getting organised means preparing content before you need it, contacting your clients in good time, and reminding them about approaching deadlines. Reminding yourself as well!
- Do a brain dump ahead of time — the promotions you're running and the content required (emails, Instagram posts, messages etc).
- Build a timeline listing everything that needs to be done, and when your messaging needs to go out.
- Decide what reminders you'll send, and how and when.
- Understand your suppliers' deadlines. Make sure yours and theirs are in synch!
- Add everything to your Calendar app. Set up reminders!
Here's an example calendar for an album sale…
The promotion: a limited-time special offer primarily to past clients who never purchased an album, but also to future clients** who respond to your promotion on social media (to get their business while we have their attention!).
This entire project will take five weeks from launch to finish — less for simpler products like frames, prints etc, especially if they're shopping cart sales from your Image Galleries or Print Shop.
If it's a holiday promotion you'll need to plan it with an eye to Queensberry's holiday guidelines, so think mid-October as a launch date.
**For future clients the special offer would be for a special deal when the time comes.
Part 1. Running the promotion:
Before you start! Create a list of past clients to contact. Settle on your offer, set up your timeline and start developing your content (email, messages, social media posts etc). More about preparation and content in Step 3, below.
Day 1: Launch your album sale.
Day 2-4: Online story telling to promote the benefit of prints and products, and point to your sale.
Day 5: "Act now" sale reminder (Instagram and Facebook).
Day 7: Direct follow up to clients you've emailed or messaged.
Day 9: "Final Hours" sale reminder on Instagram and Facebook. A final nudge to any clients you've contacted personally.
Part 2. Designing and ordering the albums:
Day 14: Deadline for customers to select their images. That and the album size are all you need to start designing. Other decisions can be made a bit later.
Of course you should start work on album design as soon as you receive the order, and get the first draft to your clients as quickly as possible.
Respond to edit requests quickly too, to maintain enthusiasm and ensure you have plenty of time to get their orders in before cut off. Click here for lots more about managing this process.
Day 28: Reminder of the deadline coming up in two days!
Day 31: Deadline for client sign-off on the design, final album selection (cover material, optional extras etc etc) and pre-payment.
Days 32-4: Place your orders with Queensberry.
Days 35-6: Confirm and pay for the albums, which will go into production the following day.
Step 3. Create your content
Once you've set up your calendar you'll need to create the actual "content". Start by breaking it down into a detailed to-do list showing:
- What you want to say, and
- When and how you want to get the message across.
You don't necessarily need to have everything prepared before you launch, but it's important to have it ready when you need it! Do everything in chronological order, and in good time for the due date.
Pro tip: Be sure to retain your content so you can refer back to it. If it worked well, do it again. If it could have done even better, tweak it. If it didn't work try something different.
Example content for the album sale (above)
— List of past clients to contact.
— Copy for direct email and/or messages to past clients announcing the sale.
— Copy and graphics for Instagram and Facebook posts (launch and follow-up posts, Days 1-4)
— Photography of your sample album(s) to support the posts.
— Links to past client content (with permission)
— Instagram video showing you with the albums.
— Instagram Story.
Due by Day 5
— Copy and graphics for "act now" Instagram and Facebook posts.
— Copy and graphics for personal "act now" direct email and/or messages.
Due by Day 7
— Copy and graphics for for "final hours/don't miss out" Instagram and Facebook posts.
— Copy and graphics for personal "final hours/don't miss out" direct email and/or messages.
We hope these tips are useful. If you would like to share your approach we'd love to hear from you, so we can make this an ever better resource over time.