Marketing Monday – Focus on Promotions


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Continuing with my “Skip Unplugged” presentation from ShutterFest – it’s time to look at your promotions. No one blog post could honestly cover everything you need to do for a successful promotion. However, I’ve written a lot about it and shared a number of ideas from some of the most successful artists in our industry. Just click either of the links below to read more.


For the purpose of today’s post though let’s look at some of the things photographers think about when it’s too late. We all do it – We “Monday Morning Quarterback” our disappointments. Although every promotion can be done better, it accomplishes nothing to “should” on yourself. So, to avoid the concept, let’s see if I can help you become a little more proactive on the front end.

Did the program have value? Yesterday we “won” 10% off the NFL store on a large order of fries from McDonalds. Seriously does 10% off anything these days get you excited? Then there are programs I’ve seen where photographers offer something free from their lab, but consumers don’t understand the product. You have to create promotions that get people excited, and they have to recognize the value of your offer. 

Did people understand the concept? One of the most difficult challenges we all have is explaining/describing something.  Here’s a good example. I took a speech class in college, and the assignment was to explain to somebody how to put on a coat. We had to assume they knew nothing about what it was, what sleeves or a collar were or what was the inside or outside. It was almost impossible.

Sadly, that’s the way many of you write up a promotional offer. You assume your clients understand what you’re talking about. The best way to resolve a challenge like this is to write up your offer and then read it out loud. Next, have somebody else read it. Then, read it again and last on the list, get another person to read it. Most effective of all, get your “proof-readers” from outside the business.  


Did you price it right? There are sensitive pricing thresholds throughout the consumer world. There is no specific formula in photography because every market is different. You need to pay attention to the demographics of your audience and then price things accordingly. Do a little research before you launch and as I once heard Denis Reggie say, “Don’t price things on what you can afford? It was years before I could afford myself!” You’ve got to look at your target audience.

Pricing in itself is a challenge, and you might want to read a post from my buddy Bryan Caporicci last year. He did a great job of talking about pricing in general, but the same principles apply to promotional offers.

Did people know about it? This is one of the most common problems. You created a promotion but did a horrible job of getting the word out. Just remember you have to keep getting your message out there again and again. Utilize every vehicle at your disposal including email, direct mail, advertising, your blog, partnership marketing and publicity. You have to use all of them at the same time to get your message out to your target audience and get through the noise.

What were your competitors doing at the same time? You can’t avoid this because you don’t have control over your competitor’s business, but look at the condition of the environment when you launched your promotion. Then, do your best to find windows unique to your reach with minimal noise. Check out this guest post from Bruce Berg on the Lane County Children’s Contest. Here are three studios working together during the first quarter to create excitement at a time when the market couldn’t be slower.

How did you present the idea? It’s a combination of design, timing and with printed material, being a wordsmith. Think about things from the perspective of you target audience. Did your presentation get their attention? Here’s a great example.

My buddy Randy Baughn recently decided to change his approach at a Bridal Show. Instead of his usual booth and a few albums on the table he printed up a half dozen stunning prints, and he made them BIG! Each print was 36 inches wide and there were more in a sling at the front of the booth. He took his very best work and presented it in a way the brides attending the show had never seen before. In the end, he had the most successful show he’s ever attended and booked several weddings for next year.

Need help with putting together a solid promotional schedule, complete with all the right support material and timing? Check out the Marketing Advantage Program from Marathon.I’m blown away by what this program can do for photographers and I wouldn’t hit it here if I didn’t know how badly so many of you need marketing help.

Successful promotions don’t happen overnight. It’s a process, often of trial and error. The days of simply putting together a great two-for-one offer and then sitting back and waiting for consumers to charge through your doors are long gone. You have to create excitement, have value and above all have a product people want!
Be patient – keep trying new combinations of offers with value – pay attention to how your message is received and keep fine-tuning your process.


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