The month of January is generally a slower time of the year for portrait photographers. While you spend most of the year working hard in your business, the down times give you an opportunity to plan ahead and get organized for the next busy season. Whether you photograph people or pets, an effective way to market to new clients is to engage in activities that involve you meeting them in person. Here are three suggestions for free activities to try in the New Year for meeting prospective clients face-to-face.
Plan a “Limited Edition” Session Event
Nowadays the word “mini-session” is starting to become synonymous with low-quality and inexpensive. Sometimes when I hear the word “mini-session” I think of those shoot-and-burn photographers advertising deals like “$50 for a 30-min session with all digital files and printing rights.” To distinguish your offering, change your wording to “limited edition.” This phrase evokes a sense of scarcity and urgency – encouraging potential clients to take advantage of your one-time proposition before it’s gone forever. For efficient use of your time, limited edition sessions should be scheduled over a day or two, with clients booking and paying in advance. Keep the sessions short – my sessions are ten minutes long. This is a great way for those clients who have been thinking about booking with you to sample your services, and meet you in person. By putting yourself in contact with a large number of clients, you’ll have a chance to create an amazing experience for them, and you’ll gain contact information for following up with them in the future.
Deliver a Presentation
Another free way to meet potential clients in person is to share your expertise by giving a presentation. Speaking in front of people will help you to gain their trust, and will reinforce your status as an expert in your field. Plus, by freely giving them valuable information, you’ll invoke the Law of Reciprocity. By doing something nice for them, you’ll invoke a psychological urge in them to give something back; they’ll feel like they “owe you one.” The key is to avoid trying to sell them anything– you are simply offering them useful information and advice. Wedding photographers could offer a seminar or even a one-day course on how to get the most out of their wedding photography investment. Portrait photographers could offer tips for choosing how to arrange and display artwork in their homes.
Volunteer to Photograph an Event
Even if you are not an event photographer, volunteering to photograph an event such as a charity run or banquet is another way to get your face in front of people. Consider an event that is taking place in the slow part of your season. Be sure to discuss your conditions with the event organizers prior to agreeing to photograph the event, and be clear that you are looking to gain new clients. These conditions might include having them promote you on social media before and after the event, allowing you to have a display set up at the location, and understanding the photos you provide will be watermarked and that credit will be clearly visible wherever the photos are used. This type of marketing activity is especially effective if you are just starting your business, or if you have recently moved to a new area and are looking to get the word out.
Much like a New Year’s resolution for your business, carefully planning your marketing activities during the holidays will help to keep you focused and organized when your business picks up again. Though these activities are not technically “free” as they will cost you your time, they will allow you to make an strong first impression on a large number of people, and generate new leads for the future.