Marketing for the Intermediate Studio
So now we're at this kind of intermediate stage remember what we're talking about here stay focused we're talking about marketing ideas and concepts, so now we're at that intermediate stage, maybe it's that that three to five year window I'm not saying you should abandon everything you've been doing in the one or two year window you're some of that's pulling forward that's working some of it's that that's not working, we've got to get rid of it so that intermediate stage you should now have budget there, so we got to start using that budget, reinvesting back into the business, uh and something we should start doing his ads in magazines, maybe even a mall display, and so I'm going to share with you. This is a picture of one of our mall displays when we were starting out so our local mall it's thie st clair mall I think in enough fairview heights, illinois it's about fifteen minutes outside of st louis metro on so what we did was the mall had never done anything like this. They had displ...
ay set up, which are those little kiosks in the middle of the mall, and I just thought man that's really not going to allow us to put big prints in those kiosks, and there was one of the main entry ways where all the traffic came through the mall and I well, I was walking from the sales office with the sales rep, and I said, what about this wall and she's like? Well, we don't no one's ever really wanted to rent this wall. What would you do here? I said we would we would hang. All are our pictures on the wall, and we would create a beautiful display of all the people are walking into the mall. What do you what do you think about that? And so they went back and forth with management, and they gave us this space. And so we now rented this space and there's one, two, three, four, five and it's probably other four. Five on the other end. So there was ten twenty by thirty prints on that wall. The centre one was our logo, and this particular display was up and about the march april timeframe. Right. So what are we selling high school seniors? Then when the fall came, we would swap all these things out, and we would put up family pictures, and then we'd have some handouts sitting on those tables. So you see a little table there and we would have handouts. They're talking about what specials were offering, um, towards the winner, right? December january timeframe march, april we would start just before seniors we'd put up all our wedding portrait ce, right? Because january's big bridal show season in the midwest that's when we'd start advertising weddings. So this is another one of those it was cost effective, it was under I think we paid five hundred dollars a month for that space. It was a very good way of getting our name out at that time because everybody was walking through this, seeing our logo, seeing our brand, seeing our images, and was getting a lot of attention for us, you know? So when we talk about when we start thinking about that intermediate level, getting that mall display was good force, it served its purpose, but once it stopped working, we pulled out, right? So today we don't have a mall display, but at the time for five hundred bucks a month, that was great exposure think about it. If you're running a sales program, can you book one photo shoot among if you can't poke one photo, shoot a month after having a mall display, then something else is wrong, and so that's how became economical force? I knew I would at least be able to book one session a month, and it would pay for itself, and so if I broke even at the mall, at minimum, my name was getting out there in the community, so that was success for me right now, of course, none of us ever wanna break even we want to be profitable and I can't tell you that was profitable for us, but as we started moving up in the prices we were charging that didn't make sense anymore because it was the wrong client. I was getting the wrong client from that marketing, so you've got it cancel that something else we did was we were carried in starbucks, and so we started at, so it was kind of interesting if we rewind something I don't talk about a lot is I love travel photography, and so I shot my first wedding in about sixteen, seventeen years old, you've heard the story. My girlfriend was a professional photographer at the time I learned from her, but I hated wedding photography. I hated everything about it, but I loved it architecture er I love that kind of time that's, why you see in my work today so much architecture in my shot because for ten, fifteen years that's, all I was doing was architectural style photography that's what I love well, I had this portfolio of stuff we're trying to get our name out there, we don't know what the hell we were doing, so we approach starbucks in our local community on dh we ask them if we could display creative sales display and each one of their stores and so at one point time in the st louis area we were probably in about ten to fifteen different starbucks in the area so every starbucks you went into there was a salvador cincotti photography display in the that store showing our travel pictures and we called it windows to the world once again don't judge the branding it was horrible at the time we were still growing but the concept was there and it gave our contact information and you would not believe how many of our clients saw this as a huge accomplishment for us to be displayed in starbucks even though it wasn't wedding pictures it wasn't senior pictures they would tell us hey, I saw your pictures today in starbucks and they saw that is validity for our business that we were now growing and we were becoming more and more successful and so those are the things you want to start looking at. How about referral program now? So as we got into that middle level we were no longer giving a twenty five or fifty dollars studio credit we were now giving away free eleven by sixteen print right? So the referrals were growing as well because now we have more budget to give back two clients check this out though what about a senior trip so the first time we ever took our seniors on any sort of destination trip we rented then, and we promoted the hell out of this. And we said senior pictures in chicago. Okay, so this is a four four and a half hour drive from from our fallon home base in st louis. You know, st louis area for four and a half hours. Unique pictures, one of a kind. I think we charged five hundred dollars per session a tte the time and we walked up there. I think we have ten kids with us, so we had to rent it. We rented a van. We have multiple cars driving up. We left at seven o'clock in the morning. Drove all the way up to chicago. Photographed all day. One photographer me, this is the big a mistake I ever made it launched ten other positive things came out of this, but one for talk for trying to shoot ten girls in in chicago where you can't park or anyplace you go to park is fifty or sixty dollars on getting chased away by police everywhere we went on public places. It was a nightmare, but the end result, the buzz around this we still got the pictures we needed. The buzz was absolutely incredible, so think about where you live today. Is there an area that's kind of you know in a desolate place or someplace that's three four five hour drive where you can have an event because that's what this became it became an event the kids loved it so we had to make up artist on site it was this huge huge thing everybody was talking about it all the girls were, you know, just blasting it out to all their friends texting them while we were up in chicago it became this huge, huge thing you know, my cost there was running a conversion van but let's be honest at five hundred dollars a head that was more than covered by the cost of the session fee. So this was also a powerful powerful marketing tool for us at that point in time at one other thing direct mail. So we started doing some direct mail here and what we started doing was like maybe going after families on things like that so the, uh the that part of our business started growing and I'll just show you a few here. So you guys in the class come take a look at all this stuff but we started doing direct mail pieces right for mother's day and father's day because at this point time we didn't know what we wanted to do we were still figuring it all out so the back of the card okay, uh this and I'll read it to you but this was a direct mail piece that went out it says give mom the gift that will last a lifetime mother's day's right around the corner and what better way to say I love you than a new and updated family portrait that's a great way to go after mother's day promotional special now again, this is not my core business, so those of you out there that are family baby portrait of a prince, this is a great great ad campaign and it worked it was successful and so these are the kind of things we we're doing at this point time now today again, we're seniors and weddings that's where we focus the only families we we do photograph are the ones who come to us as previous clients but col or book your session by may six to take advantage of this great offer and here was the offer for a limited time we're running a mother's day special which includes your session fee and it's sixteen by twenty four campus for five, ninety nine hundred dollars savings and that was the promotion we ran at the time booked by may six take vangelis so in essence we ran a session fee plus a single product for five, ninety nine so every session that both we knew we made a minimum of six hundred dollars on it and so that's powerful stuff to be going after. Yeah, what is your time? Because this is something that we I want to do, but one the timeline of okay, how often do you send it out? Do we have them created? We create it, like when you say, do you have them creator to we created who's that them right? So okay, so when you're when you're going after you're creating your marketing pieces so all these marketing pieces that were showing here, these air marketing pieces that we have we have created wei didn't wait for anyone else to create these forest. So these air designed by us, okay? Thinking about who we're going after these air high school senior mailers designed by us, right? So you're the one who should be designing them because they're tied to your brand. Now, if you can't design him for some reason, you don't have the talent, you don't have the time, get a graphic designer outsources plenty of places to find graphic designers. You're gonna want to work closely with them, right? Because, you know, you've gotta have access to the, you know, kind of creative process, but these are the things where, if you're, you know, if you're going after special let's say the specials may ok that you're going out with let's say I've told right family portrait let's call october family portrait month I would say that first card needs to hit probably mid august, so I'd be sending out a card october is right around the corner august fifteenth boom there's a card in household I'd be looking for households that have a demographic of household income of over hundred thousand dollars and more okay, so your list will start getting small you want a household that has children in the households, right? So taylor and myself we have no kids we would not be your target market we wouldn't go and get family pictures taken forget that we're photographers then you're going to end up going household income hundred cam or then you're gonna start going a certain mile radius when you're looking at that more than likely your list is gonna be anywhere from two hundred names teo five hundred or thousand names right? You're in you're in the seattle area a false city but we have our car outside seattle or north like in the redman area are east east is that a big money area? Yeah close redmond okay, so you the reason I'm asking because I know redman obviously microsoft there's big money they're one hundred thousand dollar household income is actually gonna probably too low you might come back with five thousand names in that area, so the goal would be to get to a list of names of about a thousand of five hundred names that's where I want to see you, focus, and then you're gonna blast one august fifteenth and you're going to say book notebook today and get seventy five percent off your session fee for family portrait month in october. Then you're going to send one september first and that one's going to give him a fifty percent off session, then you're going to send one september fifteen sense of urgency, no discount, time's running out limited sessions, right? Get that call the action going so I would send at least three cards out, hit him, hit him, hit him, and every time you hit him, the card has tohave the branding needs to look the same, but the image on that card has to be different, and you're hoping one of those cards will resonate with them. But for seniors, seniors is a whole other conversation, right? Seniors, you're going to start marketing, too, in the, uh april time frame, you need to start marketing to them before they get out of school on then you're gonna go through the summer, so you'll do, like, may, june, july, august, uh, and then one september hits there's to me there's no point in marketing anymore because they're back in school and they're not paying they're not paying attention anymore right cause yearbook pictures or do you really have to get him over the summer or before they get out of here and back sirs that would be previous ambassadors your marketing to in november december for you okay? Yep. So make sure you understand your marketing to junior's juniors yeah in november december they have not you want to have that done that has some all be done before that you've got it you what all of you need to do this is a good conversation what all of you need to do is put together a marketing counter and so what I want to do is just go if you're on a mac goingto aikau right? If your windows open up your calendar and set up reminders or alerts and understand that you know for a family portrait you need to start marketing in september. Okay for seniors you need to start mark for ambassadors you need to start marketing to in november december for actual seniors you need to start marketing to in april may and this needs to be on your calendar and for brides you need to be doing bridal shows in january february and so there's your marketing calendar laid out for you right there this needs to be on your counter and your reminder should be set if you're anything like me thirty to forty five days an event he has tired exactly you said the reminder and it's like tomorrow marketing terry on my crap yeah every nothing happens so said that reminder so would alert you forty five days prior all right this question is from christina sibila think another italian possibly pola pola sorry I knew I was gonna butcher that and the only reason I just wanted to say that she was possibly a telling us because she's also from the st louis metro area and the question is the high schools in my area only promotes certain photographers for their senior sessions yes, I know sal is one of them how did he get in as an approved high school senior photographer with these schools? How about wedding business how do you get on preferred vendor lis and I think it's cool cause she is obviously a competitors he's a competitor of mine so I've got to give her the uh I got to give her the answer don't so let's get on this five yeah yeah no I'm okay so you've got to be persistent when we got to the market we were local no one would put it let's talk high school seniors high schools will refer there's a preferred vendor list and they will only hand out select names that our yearbook approved to submit images for yearbook but that does not mean you can't photograph their senior pictures all that means is you can't submit them to yearbook that becomes the challenge your clients don't typically realize that they don't have to go to me for example, for their yearbook for their senior pictures but they do have to come to me or one of the other approved photographers to be in the yearbook and so I face the same challenge she's facing right now there's a school in my local area o'fallon high school one photographer has dominated that high school has been given an unfair monopoly that we cannot break into that school he's one photographer that they give it to and so my the what I've had to overcome is educating parents that yes, you may have to go to him for your yearbook picture but you don't have to go to him for your overall senior pictures so don't let that get you down or worry about who's on the preferred list someday it may or may not happen but that is not the key to success it's about understanding that your clients are they okay getting their head shots or capping gown one place and can get their cool senior pictures someplace else but let's talk about weddings and we are going to cover vendor relationships here in the next segment but as far as weddings go high level it's work you have to keep nurturing these relationships it took me years off pounding on doors getting told no no no no no until finally some door started opening so there's no silver bullet I wish I had an easier answer for you and tell you just do this and the doors will open but it doesn't work that way unfortunately so you've got to continue to network be persistent and go after these venues I mean look at some of you guys here you've got a waiting list for some of these bridal shows seven years to get in the bridal shows that the length of time for that one bridal show and your two and a half years in you better start private some people girl I've advertised on their website I've been in there magazine I don't know if they still want much and I've tried the head shots or taking taking pictures did they take advantage of that or no cycle we already having our director to do all that so so they just keep pushing you off you scott keep trying man it'll happen probably sell I remember you talking about that high school a year ago the one that you're trying to get in you still having trouble and so it's it's been interesting is we look at my own studios a case study obviously we just opened up a brand new studio in the town of o'fallon twelve thousand square foot studio and I went to the mayor and I said I've got a problem I said I'm in this town paying taxes in this town and you're telling me I can't photograph of his high school this was a conversation probably in the last thirty days and he's like what he was at that shouldn't be the case and he looked at his kind of lieutenant and he's like he's like what do you mean? Because is this possible? And so now this has created this escalation where the mayor is like, how are we giving a monopoly to any photo studio in this town? Because that should not be how things are working. And so it's it's interesting to see the life this thing is taken, so who knows? Someday maybe I didn't make it to the top level there. All right, I'm going to make one of the cell I mean, this is honestly, this is like an example of what you've been saying this whole time don't worry about your competitors, right? Do what works for you because you are here giving advice to someone who is trying to steal your business, you're clearing them out of my way love you hear thank you. Yes, I do let's go let's go another one here from k hassam photography, which is carry on from ohio in regards to posting photos online specifically on facebook page when do you post them? She says I find the defined posting sneak peeks they tend to want to just share those photos and deal with my watermark instead of purchasing prince so would you recommend a newbie try and step up to the formal photo review and on lee post images after they've ordered yes so I would absolutely recommend on ly posting photos after they've ordered but don't get away from the sneak peek so the sneak peek you should still post one picture as a teaser but don't post four five six because like you said that's what's going to start happening then they're just happy and of course what do you posting when you post a sneak peek your posting the best images so if you post five arm or then they don't care they don't care if they see any their pictures actually they don't they're if they purchase them they'd be just as happy stealing those images and putting them on their iphone and like you said dealing with the watermark so instead what we do is I still post a sneak peak actually I'm a post one image just get everybody kind of excited but I usually won't post mortem that instead bring them in even in the beginning whether it's bring him to your home or renting one of those spaces I told you about the business incubators get to the actual sale session and on lee post what they order that's the right answer great. That way we have a question. Sorry, it's. Just that we actually have somebody. Scott six, studio six who says glad to hear you grease the photographer and o'fallon has a monopoly. I thought the same thing when I contacted same school injured. Really it's an issue in that area? S o so this person must be from that area as well. And it is an absolute monopoly in the area, so I'm hoping to just do something to shred it. You know, my thing is, look, if he's a better photographer and that's where people want to go that's, where people should go, I think businesses should compete. It's not always, you know, level ground, but at the end of the day, the government, the city government, we're going to get into politics here. Ah, city government is creating an unfair advantage for one business and that's not how it should be. Let the people vote. Let the consumers vote with their dollars and allow businesses to produce a better product, because the problem is he's actually producing an inferior product, in my opinion, and the town is just kept him up. And the back story there is, I went to high school with the principal, and you know, the school officials, so that that's got to stop well, this guy has no idea what's about to come down to it's about to rain on his parade but I think it's important for everyone out there that if you know if you are looking to get into this market than that sort of thing might be happening where you are and it's something to look into, you know, it's, just another tool to use tto be able to get in there? Yeah, I think if you're out there and you're watching this and you're hearing this conversation, I think what's important is that you you understand and realize that you're not the only one facing that challenge, right? All of us as studio owners and operators on that, you know, when I'm teaching and I'm doing workshops, I always hear some of the most funnies things because people say to me, well, you don't have to because your cell I don't know where that came from, where that idea or concept came from, I actually run a real studio, so I deal with the same business challenges the same idiotic clients that you deal with the same you know, business practices and fair or unfair I'm dealing with all the same things you guys deal with, I think sometimes we just might have the answer a little bit quicker because we have a little more experience that's all