Tis the season, a new senior class will emerge this spring. Thus, for high school senior photographers, a new class to educate about your business. As a senior photographer, I have already chosen and photographed my 2015 models/representatives, but it isn't too late to get started. If you currently photograph seniors or are new to the senior market, now is the time to implement your advertising for the year. Living in the Midwest, our season starts in May and goes through October. We normally book two to three months out and senior sales count for almost half of our business. In my opinion, breaking into the market or gaining more market share is best achieved with senior representatives or models. This group of representatives promotes your work and business through word of mouth and social media. However, not all model or rep programs are successful and produce the expected return . Below are a few considerations when selecting models/representatives:
Parent Involvement: Having parents/guardians involved is key. First and foremost, you want to involve a group of people who believe in you and your business. Parents socialize with other parents at sporting events, school conferences, and related activities. For our business, statistics show that parents who attend the photo-shoot and ordering session purchase almost 30% more than parents who are not present. If the parents of the seniors are involved, they share their excitement and experiences with other parents. In our experience, they do just as much advertising as the senior.
Social Media Involvement: When selecting your senior representatives, you don’t have to choose the most popular kids in school. However, you should choose seniors that have a good reputation and are involved in the community. Another factor to consider is their involvement with social media. A portion of my decision when selecting senior depends on their online activity. They will have more success in my program if they use social media. Seek out seniors who use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Instagram is by far the most popular among that age group. Their parents are usually active on Facebook.
Girls vs. Boys: I only select girls to be a part of my program. I have nothing against senior boys, but they don’t hold the excitement that girls do. Statistically, girls talk more. They tell their friends and post rave reviews all over social media. I only market to the senior girls, but I do photograph senior guys. Depending on your marketing plan, you may want to include guys in your representative program. Just make sure to find guys who will share the excitement of working with you and your business. It is also best to select senior guys with very involved parents.
Rewards: What’s in it for me? Your representatives will do more if they have a goal to meet or a reward to receive. I create incentives for 5, 10, or more friend referrals. Incentives include a free session, print credit, and other goodies. They are also part of our senior model shoot and receive images to share on their social media. All girls receive hair and make-up through a salon we have teamed with at no cost to them. In fact, being a part of our program doesn't cost unless they want to go out and buy new clothes to wear at the photo-shoots.
Connection: The most important factor to my representative program is connecting with my girls. I want to connect with them personally and get to know who they are and what they like. When they talk about me to their friends their feelings are genuine as we have formed a friendship. For this reason, I choose to keep my representative programs under 10 girls. This ensures I can get to know each of them on a personal level. I also invite my representatives and their parents to my home after they have been chosen. We inform them on all the benefits of being in the program and socialize that evening.
Over the next couple of months, I will be sharing more about what makes our senior program profitable and successful. I will leave you with a couple photos from our recent 2015 senior model photo-shoot.