Huth & Booth-The Portrait Gallery is owned by Betty Huth and Ed Booth. We arrived in beautiful Brandon, Florida on July 4, 2005. We'd left a thriving studio in Los Gatos, California to semi-retire in the sunshine state. We still had a strong passion for photography and wanted to continue working in the industry to fulfill our creative juices as well as make some extra spending money. (Ed is addicted to all the new cameras and Mac computers which would take a continuous cash flow to support.)
Once settled we opened Huth & Booth-The Portrait Gallery. Our main challenge was that no one knew our name. No friends, no relatives, no other photographers, no community or business leaders. We were strangers in a strange land. We had to start over from scratch. Were we scared? You bet. So how did we do it? We thought you'd never ask.
We'd been reading about how powerful networking could be in starting and maintaining a successful business. The problem was, neither of us had ever done any networking. We had done a little bit with our local Chamber Of Commerce in Los Gatos and hated it. We weren't comfortable meeting strangers and starting up a conversation about our business or ourselves. It felt awkward to say the least.
We both decided to bite the bullet and get involved since sitting back and waiting for business to rush through the door wasn't likely to happen. Ed joined the Riverview Chamber of Commerce while Betty joined the Brandon Chamber of Commerce and both of us joined Rotary Clubs. While getting totally immersed in these groups we started to get to know some of the key people in the community. We began to develop "relationships" with some of these community leaders.
As Christmas was soon approaching, we began seeking someone we could partner with for a Christmas promotion. Sure enough our new CPA, Anne said she would like to work with us on developing an idea we had. Betty asked Anne if she'd like to give her good clients a wonderful Christmas gift without it costing her much at all. At this point she became very interested. Betty then suggested that she give these clients a family portrait. The gift would come from Anne on her letterhead. It would be a family portrait session and a fine art print from the renowned portrait artists Huth & Booth. Her cost would just be the printing of the letter and postage. We printed the gift certificate and a postcard for inclusion in the letter.
Anne sent out about 400 Christmas cards with the gift certificate. During that Christmas season 35 people redeemed their certificates. Of that 35 we only had one client who didn't purchase extra portraits. We brought in $15,810, which gave us an average of $465 per client. Not a bad promotion. This was nearly a 10% return rate on the direct mail piece. Normally, the return is 1-2%. We feel that it was due to the fact that it was sent by someone that the receiver respected.
When one of Anne's clients called about the certificate we told them that Anne had "taken care" of the cost of the session ($150 value) and a fine art print (6x6 print mounted on an 8x8 board, $95 value). This was a value of $250. They were pleased. They thought Anne had purchased these items for them. We ran this promotion with our Inurance Agent the second year with similar results.
The key to the promotion working well is to partner with a well-respected businessperson, whose client base is made up of the clients you want for your business. With Anne, everyone does what she suggests. Her letter introduced us with "glowing" words and talked about the value of family. This touched the hearts of her clients who gave us a chance. We'll be expanding this promotion to an environmental session and art print. If we do it right, we expect to double or triple our current sales.
With every order delivered we included 10 referral cards with a small picture of the family. The card was good for a free family portrait session. Each new client was asked about their experience with Huth & Booth; and asked to share these referral cards with their friends and family. This was another chance to get new people through our doors.
It has been all about building relationships-first with our community and then with our new clients. You can't call a leading vendor in your town and offer this promotion. You have to first build the relationship with the owner, so they will want to help you and your business grow. It means getting involved in the community and giving of your time and services. It is then that others will be willing to help you.
Photographic artists, Betty Huth and Ed Booth of Huth & Booth-The Portrait Gallery, (www.hbphoto.com) have been pursuing their passion of preserving family histories for over 35 years. Their artistic capture of families and children has made them sought after by families from coast to coast.