We introduced the portrait party concept in our email newsletter and added information about it in our website. Within the first month, we had scheduled five parties.
Portrait parties have turned out to be much more effective than any other type of advertising we’ve done. Where traditional forms of advertising cost our company, marketing through portrait parties actually generates income. Not only are sales from the events larger than those from individual sessions, the presence of parties in our business offerings appears to have actually increased the number of sessions booked. Each party puts us in direct contact with six to 12 families in our target market. Many party guests have hosted their own party, referred someone, or scheduled a portrait session for their families. Clients who are looking for a deal love the “free” session and are willing to share their time and location with others to get it. Other clients prefer to pay the session fee to get us all to themselves. Everybody wins!
The portrait parties not only have increased our client base, they have also given a boost to our revenue. Within one month of our first party, we scheduled a portrait session and a portrait party for two of the guests from the first party. In the first six months, we scheduled 11 parties, resulting in print and specialty product orders that accounted for 17 percent of total sales. In the second year, revenue from portrait parties accounted for 27 percent of total sales. This year we anticipate the parties will account for one-third of our revenue and a significant portion of our new client referrals.
Jeremy Dodgen, owner/photographer of Dodgen Photography (www.dodgenphotography.com), in Long Beach, California, has been in the business for nine years. His “real life” black-and-white portraits of children in natural environments has earned him a loyal clientele on the West Coast.
“Girls Night Out” Draws Crowd in Sub-Zero Temps
One Hundred New Leads Warm Up 17 Local Businesses
by Amy Zellmer
I held my first-ever “Girls Night Out” event in February, and it exceeded my wildest expectations! I borrowed the idea from the uber-chic photographer Vicki Taufer. It sounded like a fantastic way to get a group of interested ladies into my studio on a cold winter night with nothing else going on in town. I had just moved into my new studio space in October, and I felt a GNO would be a great way to get some exposure with potential new clients.
I contacted several local businesses to see if they would like to participate. I explained that this was all new to me, so they wouldn’t have high expectations, as I had no idea what the outcome would be. I charged them $40 to cover the costs of advertising and printing postcards, which each business was responsible for mailing out to their client list. They would also have to include an item in each goodie bag, as well as a door prize.
Seventeen businesses joined my studio: Curves, Body Shop, Forward Financial, Kara Vita Skin Care, Reiki master Katherine Belisle (DMV), LifeShapes, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Mystic Journey, Pampered Chef, Partylite, Premier Designs Jewelry, River Valley Massage, Salon Avalon, Sazzy Purses, Spirit Soar Yoga, Tastefully Simple, Watkins. I told the participating businesses that my goal was to get 50 women through the doors.
To entice the ladies, the first 30 would receive a swag goodie bag (and let me tell you, they were SWAG!). I recruited two good friends, as well as my interns, to help with registration at the door. Women lined up outside my studio an hour before the doors opened. They stretched down to the end of the block and around the corner, waiting in sub-zero temperatures. It was unreal! We ended up with 100 women coming to our GNO, cramming into my 1,500-square-foot studio. We were thrilled!
All the attendees registered for drawings and were given a packet of information about the studio. They were also asked to bring a donation for our local food shelf. We collected 104 pounds of food.
The women were invited to sign up for free massages, hair up-dos, and mini manicures. Those who could make their way through the crowd were able to visit with the businesses. The participating businesses were thrilled! They’re still calling me to ensure they will be on my list for next year!
Girls Night Out was a huge success for my studio. I had 100 first-time potential clients come through the door, as well as about 30 women from participating businesses. I have 100 more “warm fuzzy” leads to add to my mailing list, and they are slowly but surely scheduling appointments at the studio. Thanks, Vicki, for the awesome idea!
Amy Zellmer is the owner of Custom Creations Photography (www.customcreationsphotography.com) in Shakopee, MN. In business since 1997, she photographs weddings, children, families, and high-school seniors. Her unique studio promotions and marketing techniques have created a buzz about her studio and have recently made her a sought-after speaker at professional photography events.
Multimedia Campaign Bulks Up Biz in New Market
Venture with Body Builders Targets Health & Fitness Niche
by Jeff Haymes
After relocating from Los Angeles to the Phoenix area, I discovered that the transition from the hectic TV/film business to the slower, more creatively satisfying realm of independent photography was going to be challenging. I needed to create a marketing plan to “muscle” out the competition quickly.
So that’s what I did—with the help of some female body builders. I focused on the health-and-fitness niche market, offering my photography as part of a multimedia campaign—video, website design, etc.—featuring some of the area’s best-known female body builders and fitness models. It was an idea whose time had come. The public obsession with health and appearance set the stage perfectly.