Holiday Marketing for Your Portrait Business

icy.treeOne of the best ways of filling your portrait appointment book throughout the year, and particularly during the Holiday Season, is proper pre-planning, and action. I usually have my Holiday campaigns ready many months before the season arrives. However, there are also ways to fill in those dates right now, as the Holidays grow so near! Here are a few ideas you can use now:

First, your “hot list” – anyone you have photographed over the last several years – your “VIP” list. You can phone call, email, Facebook message or direct mail these people who know and love you, and make them a special offer. It might be a reduced session fee, a limited time/limited availabilty offer, or a drawing for prizes. Let them know that they get first choice before you post/advertise this special deal publicly.

Secondly, I use Facebook — a LOT. Boosted posts seem to work great for me currently – (here’s why) – Facebook is getting stingy with who sees your posts! So, when we post a cute baby portrait, great family group or other “human interest” photo, far less people see it than used to, because Facebook just doesn’t show it to as many people on your list (or on any other feeds). So, I write my Holiday portrait offer, then boost it, using Facebook’s demographics, to target my desired clients – women between 24 and 65 years. They click on the ad they see in newfeeds, and read my offer.   Just keep in mind that, at least for now, you can only boost posts from a PAGE, not from your regular personal facebook.

Let’s talk for a moment about what goes into my post?   First, I need an attention getting portrait – something that will make people stop and look. Closeup faces of families or children work great, depending on what type of session you are offering. Next, we need emotional, persuasive copy that appeals to the reader’s right brain.   It is VITAL that you talk to them in emotional terms, especially when using social media.  Then, I include a strong offer, a limited time/availability, and a call to action (“call-by date” and time, before the offer ends.)

Often, to create a sense of urgency and limited availability, I will post actual available dates and times in my appointment book. The fear of loss is greater than the desire for gain, so readers will see these dates, realize how few there are, and call to make sure they reserve a date that works for them. I love using the term “phones close Friday at 5 pm”, for example, again to create a feeling that this offer has a very limited time.  I NEVER will “make up” appointments in my book when doing this.  Always be honest.   If you’re book isn’t at least somewhat busy, don’t use this approach.

The last BIG thing I do for holiday marketing is:  I have exhibits and displays in twelve locations around my community, and I leave 6×9″ “lift cards” that are two sided postcards with portraits and testimonials, and a strong offer on the other side, and people pick up as they see my portraits. These can be printed to have holiday specific offers, and put out in October and November for Holiday/December sessions. This does require a little more “lead time” to get my cards made and distributed, but they are going out now, for Holidays sessions that will occur between Christmas and January 5th, when families are together for the season. This is great January income!

Take action now – figure out how many sessions you can handle – then contact those VIPS, work your Facebook boosted posts, and put out lift cards at your displays and fill that calendar! Happy Holidays!

-  Tom Morelli

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Creativity International / Charles Lewis Photography PO Box 848, Ada, MI 49301 | 616-868-0373