A Marketing Bullseye!


Marketing is an exercise in dart throwing.  You throw many darts and hope that some will hit a bullseye.  When they do, you rejoice!  Every January as I fill out my Marketing Plan for the year, I brainstorm new ideas, nix ideas that did not work and keep ideas that have.  That last category were the bullseyes or, at least, not total misses and deserve to be kept around and expanded upon.  Marketing is constant, and as a business owner, I am always trying to come up with a plan that has bulls eye potential.  I want to share one bulls eye with you.

Three years ago I decided that I want to increase my senior portrait business.  I had heard of the “senior rep programs” that other photographers espouse and I had tried it for a couple of years with little success.  I decided to try something that utilizes the same kind of idea but is more of a win/win/win.  I created a “Look Book” for seniors to use to decide what types of clothing, hair and make up, style of portrait, etc. they liked.  My goal was to have 10 models for the magazine.  I give a complimentary session plus hair and make up.  I also give a 20% savings on their portrait orders.  In exchange, I obviously get to use the images in the magazine and for advertising for my business.

The models also sign an agreement that they will show up to the session and selection appointments (this one with their parents) and that they will give out a number of magazines and cards with their image and name on them to their friends (cards provide a discount for friends who mention them).

My plan was to have local boutiques provide the clothing and also give out the magazines in return for mentions in the Look Book.  I also planned to mail a magazine to everyone on my client list and some select prospects.  My expense was the hair and makeup as well as costs associated with the photography, printing of the magazine and postage to send.  I really wanted to make sure to cover my costs and that was the gamble.  I needed each one of the 10 models to place a certain portrait order to be sure that this marketing attempt was paid for by those orders even if it did not generate more income.  The first year, it did just that.  The second year, there was much more excitement surrounding the selection of the models and the Look Book.

And, I am happy to say that this year, not only was there excitement surrounding the selection of the models and the Look Book, but I actually increased my senior portrait business by $40,000 over the previous two years.  Now that many people in my community, parents and kids alike, know about the Look Book and are excited about it, my plan for the Class of 2017 Look Book will be to ask for advertising to cover the printing costs, thereby increasing my profits!  Click the link to see the entire Look Book.


One Response to “A Marketing Bullseye!”

  1. Terry Lee Cafferty February 10, 2016 8:01 pm #

    Love this idea, Mara! This is brilliant and the photos are amazing.
    Thank you for sharing and have a blast at WPPI! xo

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