Seniors Ignite Series - Tips For Building A Senior Rep Program

Seniors Ignite Series - Tips For Building A Senior Rep Program

Last month we interviewed Jen Basford of Seniors Ignite and 3 girls photography about reasons why you should have a senior rep program. The full article can be found here. This month we are getting into specifics of what is takes to build a successful senior rep/model program and insight on how Jen built a program that sees continued success.

Exclusivity.  Jen’s senior model program is built around exclusivity. Her goal is to offer her models something that others can’t buy or have access too. The first part of this exclusiveness is selecting her reps/models. Instead of using applications, she has her current reps recommend up and coming seniors. Those who are referred will receive exclusive invitations to be a part of the model program. Once they have accepted, her models will be a part of a group photo-shoot at some point during the year. This is something cool and different than what their friends will be doing for their portraits. To maintain engagement, these group photo-shoots are conducted all throughout the year, which also keep her marketing fresh. Jen also offers her models products that aren’t available to regular clients. Not only does she give her models special treatment, but the seniors that model for her studio see this opportunity as something cool and popular.

Connection.  If you want to have a successful senior model program you have to create a connection and relationship with each of your models. These reps/models are going to be talking to your target audience all day and every day. Make sure they have good things to say about you and your business as this will create genuine referrals. Jen notes she and her models have regular conversations about life, school, and activities. She also makes an effort to attend sporting events or competitions where her models are competing and performing. She isn’t creating business relationships with her models she is creating real friendships with the senior and their families. When her models talk to potential clients, they have wonderful things to say about Jen and her studio, thus generating more leads.

Investment.  This is always a sticky subject when creating a senior model program. Should they pay?  It is obviously going to cost you time and money. Jen has one of the best ideas for handling this situation. Her models do invest to be a part of her senior model program. She gives her models three different ways they can invest in their shoot. These three options carry different price tags and include more and better offerings the higher they invest. The money they invest that day will be applied towards their order from their individual session later that year. Jen notes that without this initial investment she doesn’t know how serious and dedicated her models would be to her program. The other benefit of doing this is generating revenue in the off season. She selects her models in January, therefore, giving her income during slow season. Having your models invest up front can not only generate income in the off season, but increase sales later, as they are more willing to purchase a higher package since they have a print credit to put towards that amount.


Stayed tuned for our next article with Jen coming out in November! 


Jen Basford/3girls | Seniors Ignite | Twitter Instagram | Facebook | SnapChat: jenbasford

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Chris Adval's picture

Comment about "Connection" part... If Jen was a guy wouldn't she have a much more difficult time as to families and the seniors would feel generally creeped out if you are trying to be their "friend"? How do you recommend a male photographer in this situation? I was told by many keep it strictly professional with clients and potential clients, and assuming the program participants as well.

Jennifer Kelley's picture

Honestly, this is where being a woman or at least a parent is an advantage. As a parent, if I see some photographer hanging around a bunch of kids trying to be their friend, my red flags go up faster than I can articulate the thought. If I see a parent or older sibling or something like that, it's not really creepy.

Chris Adval's picture

Comment about "Investment" part... I tried the opposite of this to encourage applications, like giving out $25 gift cards (to my business) to anyone applying (that qualify), ran this for 2-3 months 0 apps... Not sure if I make them pay to be in the program would help me in my situation unless I was getting hundreds of apps and I was in a much bigger metro area. And this goes back to about the "Exclusivity" part, where you rely on other seniors in the program to bring in other seniors.... sadly I have 0, 0 cannot bring in more... Any suggestions for breaking into creating a senior rep program without any seniors/referrals part as you already suggested?

Michael Comeau's picture

This is an interesting topic. Photographers are often asked to do work for little or no money in exchange for 'exposure' and other things that don't pay the rent.

So why should a photographer offer anything but cold hard cash to what are effectively sales associates?

Find an enterprising kid, give her 15% of everything she brings in the door, and I bet everyone comes out ahead.

Jennifer Kelley's picture

I completely agree with this. As a person who has spent 10 years in accounting, the term "investment" in reference to photography is complete BS. I detest the term and you'll never hear me use it. It isn't an investment, it doesn't appreciate, it doesn't really hold much actual value. I feel these are sales terms that are used to justify a high price to the consumer market and it feels slimy. And I would certainly not ask someone to pay to work for me. The whole thing feels like a rip off and rubs me the wrong way.

Chris Adval's picture

@Lindsey Pantaleo, any response to questions?

Lindsey Pantaleo's picture

Chris, sorry for my late response. I have been digging myself out of the fall rush. I agree as a male photog approaching females will be more difficult. I would suggest contacting their parents if that makes you feel more at ease, however, I don't think sending a simple note asking them to be apart of your program is a bad thing. I wouldn't have a program where reps apply. I hand pick all of mine and so does Jen based on referrals from previous reps. If you don't have previous reps then start asking around in the community, church, etc. You are bound to find someone who knows an upcoming senior. Once you get one then the rest will follow. Hope this helps!