The Ambassador Program


High School Senior Photography


Lesson Info

The Ambassador Program

So let's talk about the ambassador program it's absolutely foundational to building your senior business this is where it all comes together this your ambassadors are your high school seniors and they're going to sell for you inside the school's guys with me on that real simple they become your mobile sales force they're going to sell in return for free pictures don't overcomplicate it I want you to go pitch salvador some kind of photography in school and in return I'm gonna give you free pictures for the referrals that come in from you pitching that's it right don't come up with complicated reward systems don't give them their pictures before they referred the people to you and we'll talk about what that ambassador program looks like but this becomes your mobile sales force in the school peer to peer marketing you are never going to do anything as powerful as peer to peer marketing so what's the gift get you're going to give them a free photo shoot make up artist why makeup artist bec...

ause this is in fact a high fashion shoot we want them to feel like models for the day and I usually get a lot of questions about makeup artist okay we don't have one on staff so to speak but I have one makeup artist I've been working with for four years now five years now she does my wedding she does any magazine shoots were doing she does my seniors very, very important to establish that relationship go online look uh you know we found her I hate to say it on craigslist not for five years ago I guess it was okay to be on craigslist now not so much so strange, right? But we found her on craigslist and we've been working with her ever since she's great she's reliable she understands right? You don't want your kids looking like a freak show with their makeup it needs to be very natural. The best version of them is what I like to say right? So neutral colors things that mom are going to look at the pictures you don't want mom looking at those pictures and going that doesn't even look like you in a bad way, right? So makeup can't get in the way makeup should just be there to enhance the look and experience uh, we offer our ambassadors and extended session so ambassador I might shoot for anywhere from two and a half to four hours just depends on what's going on ah and free pictures nothing big. We're not giving our ambassador sixteen by twenty fours canvas digital negatives none of that stuff they're going to get a bunch of five by sevens wallets you know, four by six is I think the largest print will do in his eleven sixteen question the whole shooting burn the whole digital file uh it sounds like you don't do it, but you just mentioned something, so I do have this question do you as an add on to sell the digital there is no so okay to answer your question. There is no scenario in our studio where a high school senior gets digital negatives, not it's, not even an option not on a price list doesn't matter how much money they offer us. Uh, second is we do offer facebook posting that's a little bit different, so it is a digital file, but it's a seventy two dp I file, I'll talk a little bit about that, but it's posted on there on the facebook site with our logo on it so it's not a digital negative, I think given way digital negatives, you are shooting yourself in the foot. The analogy I always give is, I believe the digital negative isn't incomplete service when you give your clients that digital negative, you are not fulfilling your obligations as an artist as a photographer to that client and maybe you're going well, that's what my clients want who ultimately your clients don't know what the hell they want they read something in a magazine somewhere that told them they need the digital negatives what they need is a complete service, so think about this if you went teo kentucky fried chicken, okay, kfc and you went up to the counter and you're like, yeah, I'm gonna have ah number two and then they slide up some raw chicken, some bread crumb and some oil and then they said, hey, go out back and fry some chicken you'd be are you kidding me like you do it that's what I'm paying you to do, I think that's the same analogy you're giving your clients that dvd you're not offering them an album you're not laying out that album for him you're not editing the pictures the way they should be edited creating art pieces for your clients it's an incomplete service you're basically giving this your client saying, hey, you go figure it out you're leaving money on the table at the end of the day I've tried to tell me without in the biggest question I have to them is what happens whenever I want to go make a coffee mug or a malice patter, something like that do you just find a way to fulfill all the little trinket things they want to buy down the road or has that worked? Yeah, I would love for someone to a vast salvator dali to put one of his pieces of art on a coffee mug you know what I'm saying like dude it's a mindset are you an artist or are you just a guy with a camera and so I don't find that my clients come to me for pictures on a coffee mug and I'm okay telling them we don't do that but you have to be okay saying that to your clients I am so the real question that comes up is well, what if in two years we change our mind and we want more pictures, right? So what we tell our clients you need leverage what we tell our clients is hey guys, um we keep everything you order digitally if you don't like it enough to order it today why would I hang onto it for the future it's expensive to archive images and ensure their secure now the truth is I hangout I literally have every image I've ever taken since oh seven not deleted a single one if you came into my home office there's a good chance is somewhere in the neighborhood of thirty uh external hard drives right just archiving these images and then they're backed up on a secondary hard drive so we don't delete him but we tell our clients hey, anything you don't order, we don't hang on to because if you didn't like it enough to order it, why would we hang on to that image so you with me on that or you believe her now all right, I won't steer you wrong on that um let's come back to the ambassador they have to refer x number of people to the studio before they receive any product. So ex khun b whatever you want so my ambassadors have to refer about five referrals before they get their free prada so at this point they will have got nothing except the free shoot and a makeup artist now in order to come in to get that product delivered all the free product they've got to refer five people to the studio and a referral by the way is not a phone call where someone says, hey, I heard about your studio from susie a referral is a booking and by booking I mean they've paid cash or check charge whatever they've paid for their session fee that makes sense anything extra they purchase is delivered so our number one senior sale was a seven thousand dollar sale toe one of our ambassadors let's think about this let's talk about the sale for a second do you think that that sale would have ever occurred if I gave her her digital negatives never not possible. Impossible. I would say so you guys can make the argument that like, well, you know, I tell the clients that I offer them professional quality prints and professional dude they don't care it's good enough they can go online and get a damn good campus today they can go online and get a damn good print today I'm not going to compete on the quality of online printing verse my printing that's not how I mean to do it I just don't offer it it's not an option ok, so the they get the free shoot the makeup artist extended session and what is the free picks? The pictures that they get that they can't get until I mean, is that a different product than what they would get? Um, because they're purchasing other things so I mean free pictures or what? You're offering them in return, so basically you can put your own little mini package together let's just say for argument's sake, it's got a six hundred dollar value, right? There has to be some substance. They're so free pictures let's say it's six, eight by tens, ten sheets of wallets and eleven by sixteen print right that's what you're getting for free for hitting your five referrals but now what's going to happen is mom's going to see all these great images? Mom's goingto I want one of those albums I want a canvas I want this fifteen by thirty print great mom, you're going that's going to cost you and she'll pay for that well that's gonna be delivered immediately you with me because there's our upgrades, so if she lets say, hopefully not the mums and not has decided she doesn't care about the referral and she's just going to get two eight by tens I mean, is there a minimum purchase for these sessions or let's step back mom has to care about the referral because she's an ambassador so this should have been flushed out during the interview process, right? So I believe the next light is going we're going to talk about the interview so you have to interview these kids agent can't just magically be an ambassador like everyone can't be an ambassador there has to be this exclusivity to being an ambassador in your studio for you, for someone to come in and go, I don't care about the referrals, then you've made a bad decision on who you've chosen to be your ambassador you with me? Yeah, I just have a lot of friends that have tried this and it hasn't been successful, so I guess um they're doing it wrong. Yeah, okay, this's, this is a tried and true method that is work not only for me, but years and years and years a lot of photographers doing it all have a different spin, but you'll find as we go through this, let me get through a couple of more slides and then I think it'll make more sense I'll come back to you to make sure, but if you're doing it right, there's no wiggle room for them they're going to execute on this so we'll talk more about it after they hit x five referrals now they're referred five people what else? We don't want them to stop selling right? We want them to keep selling we want them to keep helping us make more money so you have to incent them and what we do is for every additional referral they're going to get a twenty five dollars studio credit so write funny money into the studio and they like that because they're going to want more additional product additional wallets you know, invitations things like that graduation announcements so they'll use that funny money towards that in addition, they have to be a future source ofthe future ambassadors so let's think about this for a second the class of twenty eleven graduates so your first year is the toughest year finding those ambassadors here one but after the first set of ambassadors come in year one we had four ambassadors you're too we had ten ambassadors this past year we had nineteen or twenty ambassadors all will referred, so if you're an ambassador for twenty eleven, the on ly way you're going to get an interview for twenty twelve is if you've been referred by a twenty eleven ambassador that makes sense you have to be referred so it kind of becomes his good old girl network kind of becomes this exclusive club that you're part of that if you want to be an ambassador you have to be referred by somebody who was an ambassador and that's helped our ambassador program really get some traction and then of course what about offering a scholarship? So the number one ambassador right I've got seventeen and nineteen girls is here whatever the number is for us uh the number one whoever refers the most gets a thousand our scholarship to college think about it no parent wants their kid to finish last and when you put that thousand dollar scholarship on the table form parents get super competitive maybe not the kids but the parents man they become competitive and that's awesome that's what I want happening and we use facebook to make it competitive so if you watch our facebook site will be like congratulations suzy you got your second referral congratulations back you got your eighth refer well, whoever is in last place that parents like oh hell no not my girl right she's going we're going to get her going and the parents starts selling for you and so that becomes very, very important to understand all that how that how that's all going to work let's start looking at the ambassador timeline interviews will begin in december and january final selections and announcements are made in the december january period we start shooting march april our ambassadors that it is so the ambassadors will start shooting in march or april. Why? Because we need all their collateral ready for the marketing that's gonna happen in april may sew your true deadline is may so the rep cards this is what the kids were handing out school you've got to create these cards for him. Well, I'll show you some pictures of those um you've got to get those out before school let's out. Yes. Okay, so is this their ambassador shoe or is this they're they're doing another senior session on top of this no there's, only one session there, ambassador, shoot we run it as a full blown session form that's their senior pictures that's their senior pictures talk to me. Well, I mean, I guess one of the things would be they're not tan. I mean, I'm in idaho so march, april it's still kind of ugly is anybody tan and I don't know I'm just way got some great lakes and beaches that is right and ok, we offer that for our kids it's another service we offer an outside company they'll actually come into the studio spray tanning and see with the boys. A lot of moms want it later because the boy the senior boy will change so much from his junior senior that's that's great, you can't be an ambassador though, okay there's nothing to talk about I have to shoot in march april or I don't have marketing collateral for you mom and then if I don't have marketing collateral for you and school lets out you have no way of referring so we'd love to have you in our studio in october that's great come on in, you'll have a normal session but if you want to be an ambassador and get all the things that go around being ambassador then this happens in the march april timeframe with me and most parents get it in fact remember all that funny money I told you about so they're going to keep selling and they're going to build all that studio credit maybe sixty percent of our ambassadors come back in later in the year and have another session using that funny money towards the session so there's lots of options for what I'm gonna do yet what I'm gonna do is we've got about five minutes to break, so I think this is a good point for me tio take a break but take questions to the break so I say we got some questions here and I know I've been talking a lot you mentioned the nineteen what's your limit for school guy girl and how do you limit it? Okay, so you're talking ambassadors right up until this year, one hundred percent of my ambassadors were female one hundred percent this year was the first year we had a boy ambassador his name is ryan on dh it was his mom called me and the only reason ryan even got an interview is because ryan sister was an ambassador two years earlier and so mom called me up and she's like ciao I want you to meet with ryan I'm like mom right if ryan's boy which I hope he is finds a boy the answer is already no and mom kind of laughter missions like I just think you need to meet with them so you know if it's no it's no but just meet with him so ryan comes in he brings in pictures he's got fedor hotties ties all metro sexual I'm like okay ryan you're going to be an ambassador this year but don't screw this up right or you're going no boys will ever be an ambassador again so I find girls are much better ambassadors at spreading the word then boys are in general so typically off the ten fifteen, nineteen ambassadors that you build your business tohave one hundred percent of him for me will be female females will bring in the boys but s o action my question is like ok ciao ciao high school right how many? Oh how many ambassadors for high school that depends on the size of the school so typically a high school we'll have anywhere from two to four ambassadors in the school, some schools where I've got nine hundred seniors, I've got five ambassadors in that one school and it's fine, but different circles of influence that's very important. You with me. Volleyball football. Exactly. Well, you wouldn't want to pick five girls from the cheer squad because they all have the same circle of influence. All right, let's, go online. All right. So a question from gen j how did you find your ambassadors? Your first year? The first year was the most miserable year now. And I've told this story before we did direct mail. We sent out thousand direct mail pieces. This is going back to two thousand seven, so we money was really tighten our business. We took the last of our marketing budget, put it in a direct mail, and we sent the piece out in november end of december. Kane crickets. We had not had a single phone call come in, and the direct mail piece was a class of two thousand eight. Want to be a senior model for the day? I want to get your rock star on whatever it is it was, you know, super cool postcard. No phone calls came in. It was like the first week of january when our first phone call came in. And the mom called and she's like oh my god, I'm so sorry you know, we got sidetracked with the holidays and everything but I think my daughter would be a great fit for your studio is there still time and I said to the mom you know, you gotta have your poker face, right? I said to the mama oh mama, I'm just being honest with you it's super competitive right now and I can't guarantee you that your daughter is going to get a spot, you know, on our team well, she was the only one responding right? So she was guaranteed a spot so the first year is your toughest do direct mail, new school, newspaper, friends, family, anybody you can get that you think is going to take will take your business seriously. What you don't want people to do is they just want free pictures and they come in and do it and then they're not raping you in the schools. So good question have a question are the are the ambassadors showing other students their photos? Yes okay, so the ambassador is going to show their pictures on a few as we get into what we call the rep cards, I'll actually show you what that looks like so they'll show their pictures because ultimately I want the kids talking about their experience I want them going to their friends and going oh my god I worked with salad we have and we did a b c d e and we had a blast right? So they have to talk to their own experience is there anything that we can do now? I mean we're obviously after march april even is there anything we can do now to start implementing this next week and at least take advantage of that appearance flynn's without it out, I think you can absolutely go teo do it start doing direct mail reach out to these kids maybe even try some facebook stuff I don't know what your facebook sites look like but start reaching out to these kids get a direct mail piece out the door but if you don't have seniors to put on your direct mail piece, you're kind of handcuffs so you got to connect, find a model, find a senior model, photograph her, get that piece out the door now you're not this won't be your gangbuster year this is going to be a painful year for you, but you want to get your name out there you want to create brand awareness so don't wait until next year I think that's the worst thing you could do get your name out there now what time line or these they're basically junior's when or the juniors giving out these these cards they should have been doing it in may april april may and that's. Not too early to give up. No, because school lets out. May one school lets out, the average kid does not have access to seven hundred of their peers, they might have access to fifty of their peers, and I think that's a lot. If you do it in march april while they're still in school, they're handing these out in the cafeteria. They're handing them out to people in every class they're in so that's. Why it has to happen, then it's. Not too early it all our calendar typically books up solid by june. By mid you, we have no more space in our studio till the end of the year with seniors. So, yeah, it's, not too late at all. In fact, now we're going into july. You're running out of time, really have to get into it.

Class Description

Join Sal Cincotta for his "take no prisoner" approach to the business of high school senior photography. In this photography business course, Sal digs into marketing plans, business plans, pricing, and packaging. Sal also shows how to create an ambassador program so that your kids are talking about you and advocating your business in their schools.

This business course also includes a series of live in-studio and on-location photo fashion shoots, showing you how to capture the most of-the-moment trends, poses, and backgrounds. Sal also covers why high school senior photography is at the core of every successful photography business. Seniors become brides and brides become long-term family clients.