A careful balance had to be maintained. The women with whom I co-ventured the projects had their own objectives—diet, workout—so I had to ensure that my marketing strategy didn’t get left behind in the weight room. After a couple of glitches early on, we hit on a mutually beneficial combo of unobtrusive product branding; mandatory credit tags on shots used in print, Web pages, and promotional stills; and co-executive producer positioning on fitness videos.
Entering a new market by showcasing visually striking, strong female role models brought instant recognition to my work. It was an untapped corner of the market I had all to myself—for a while.
Even more so, it was a great way to emphasize the craftsmanship that goes into creating compelling images that do more than just “show” people. A lot of my competitors can take nice, technically correct pictures of models, but I offer my clients, no matter who they are—fitness models, barbers, real estate salesmen, or financial mavens—photographs that illustrate their lives and businesses.
Jeff Haymes, of DiamondBack Studio (www.DiamondBackStudio.com), in Phoenix, Arizona, has been a professional photographer for more than 20 years. His work has been published in The New York Times and appeared in numerous gallery showings. He’s also an Emmy Award–winning videographer and network cameraman.
Baby Faces Promotion with Local Paper a Must-Read
First-Birthday Campaign Draws 1,000 “Warm” Customers Annually
by Greg Stangl
By far, one of the most successful promotions my studio offers is the Happy Birthday Baby Faces promotion run in conjunction with our local newspaper. This quick-takes promotion brings us 1,000 new clients a year.
To mark a child’s milestone first birthday, we make it possible to have the baby’s image published free of charge in the Sunday paper. Every Tuesday morning from 9 to 11, we photograph between 15 and 20 one-year-olds. Parents who want to choose the image that will be published in the newspaper are invited to come back to the studio on Thursday afternoon. About two-thirds of the parents actually come in and place an order.
There is no session fee for this promotion; we don’t charge the client for the five-minute session, nor do we pay the newspaper anything. Because this is a “quick-takes” promotion, we have a low package price available and offer CDs of the entire shoot to the parents. Although we take both full-length shots and closeups of the child, the paper crops the image and only publishes a headshot. Parents may dress the child any way they wish, and we usually choose to use a high-key background for this promotion. Each client leaves the studio with a coupon for a free child’s sitting and information about our Kid’s Klub promotion and any other upcoming special.
The local newspaper visited several local photographers in the area before deciding on partnering with my studio. In additional to the quality of the work and customer service, one of the criteria they used when making the decision was the size of our parking lot—they wanted to make sure we could handle the additional traffic!
I have been a professional photographer for more than 35 years, worked for the area newspaper, been on tons of community service committees, and I am pretty well known in this area. But I have to laugh that whenever I go anywhere wearing a Village Photographer shirt, people approach me and say, “Hey, you’re the one that photographs all the beautiful birthday babies.” I’m more recognized for this Happy Birthday Baby Faces promotion than for anything else I’ve done in the community. Lots of people have told me the feature is their favorite part of the Sunday paper.
Years ago, your local newspaper wanted to be your source for national news. Now, rather than compete with CNN or USA Today, your local newspaper wants to be your source for local news. Community and civic events are given prominent placement in the paper. The “Lifestyles” part of the paper features anniversaries, engagements, and, of course, Happy Birthday Baby Faces.
Savvy marketing people know the difference between a cold customer and a warm customer. A cold customer is anyone (in the entire world) who has never been to your studio. A warm customer is anyone who has been there at least once. By visiting our studio, they become aware of our photography style, our studio ambiance, and our customer service. The next time they need photography services, they are that much more likely to choose our studio if they left with a good feeling the first time.
Although we don’t make tons of cash on the Baby Faces promotion itself, the program creates more than 1,000 of these warm customers a year, as well as a valuable contact database. We mail each Baby Faces client five to 10 promotions a year, including child promotions such as our Spring Bunny special and Angel Wings. They also receive our quarterly children’s newsletter and two or three family promotions in the fall. These warm customers are most likely to call our studio if they are interested in custom children’s or family portraiture.
Happy Birthday Baby Faces has been a valuable promotion for our studio and a great program for our community.
Greg Stangl, owner of The Village Photographer (www.villagephoto.com) in Aurora, Illinois, has been a professional photographer for more than 35 years. A popular speaker, he has been published in many photography business magazines. For information on his Happy Birthday Baby Faces program or seminars, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.