Fourth Quarter Seasonality – Are You Playing Offense or Defense?

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I’m a big fan of playing offense versus defense and right now, even if you haven’t done anything yet, you’ve still got time for some great offensive marketing plays, especially if your skill set is in portraiture. It’s August, and there are so many opportunities in the fall, but you snooze you lose.

It’s Marketing Monday – take the time to think through your plans for the rest of the year and let’s get you carrying the ball instead of chasing it!

1) Holiday Portrait Gifts:  There isn’t a mother on the planet who doesn’t want new pictures of her family, but you’ve got to plant the seed for fulfillment.  Even more important there isn’t a grandmother who doesn’t complain about not having up to date images of her grandchildren!  When was the last time you did a holiday promotion?  When was the last time you did a mailing or a blog post to get people thinking about how outdated their family portraits are?

Making it even easier is Marathon’s Family Marketing Program, which I just wrote about in a post this morning. They’ll help you create the marketing program with up to four different mailers. More info is just a click away.

2) Add-on Sales:  Remember to position your holiday promotion with new ideas and products from your lab, album company and other vendors you work with. Don’t just sell somebody a print – promote a framed print.  Check out canvas wraps, metal prints – things that people don’t see very often. It might be old hat to you, but not to most of your customers. How about a second album of that wedding you shot for the grandmother?  Or, a large signed print of the bride and groom as a Christmas gift from Mom and Dad.

It’s also the perfect time for video holiday cards. Whether it’s goodwill saying thanks to an excellent customer or a new revenue stream, don’t let the season slip by without video presentations. Here’s a link to some great help from the “Queen of Hybrid,” Suzette Allen.

3) Back to School and Homecoming:  I’m always amazed how few photographers go after this segment of the business. I know it’s not big bucks, but it isn’t always about the direct revenue – sometimes you have to focus on the publicity you can create to build brand awareness. Here’s where it would be great to team up with a couple of partners like the local limo company and a florist. Put together a homecoming package with the limo, flowers and two 5×7’s.  The three companies can share the cost of the mailing, and each partner becomes an ambassador for the other partners.

4) Halloween: Sure it’s an obvious opportunity, but if that’s the case then why don’t more photographers tie in promotions. It’s kids and family time.

5) Who’s doing the Kiwanis holiday party this year? Every community has a group like Kiwanis, Rotary, Exchange Club and Lions. Each year they typically do a holiday party. Why not suggest portraits of the guests as part of the actual event? Then, work with your lab on a folio with the group’s logo on the front and yours on the back.

6) Giving Back: Don’t forget to look for charitable opportunities to tie in photography as a way to give back to your community. It’s another promotional opportunity to remind people who you are in the community and your desire to give and not just take.

7) Your Blog: Your website is about what you sell, but your blog is about what’s in your heart. Don’t miss opportunities for content about the importance of capturing memories and the experiences that fly by during the next few months. The seasonality of the fourth quarter offers so many different opportunities for family-centric images and posts.

Creating awareness for concepts like these, especially if you’ve never done them before, takes time. You might not hit one out of the park your first time at bat, but remember to get a few shots of you working with clients for your own press releases. Build a stash of images of you being involved in projects like these so you can create awareness in the community with more press releases in the future.

And don’t forget to look for partners!  This is consumer bundling at its best, and you’ve got limo companies, florists, venues, caters, tux and gown shops, salons and even other photographers to help you absorb the promotional costs and create the excitement! You don’t have to pay for everything on your own. Plus, when you bring in partners for a direct mail piece, for example, you not only reduce the cost, but you all become ambassadors for each other.

Over the next few months, you’ve got dozens of opportunities to plant the seeds for photography as this year’s number one holiday gift, but it won’t happen by itself. You’ve got to market the concept and look for partners to help you stir the pot!

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