9 Steps to a $10,000 Photography Mini-Session Promotion
$10K in a Weekend is Something YOU CAN DO with one KILLER photography mini-session promotion.
By launching a photography mini-session promotion that is designed to create a lot of buzz, you can bring in a surge of money in a short amount of time.
Here’s what that looks like.
Start by creating a charity-focused photography mini-session promotion with a holiday theme at a local retail business.
The photography mini-session promotion generates funds for your favorite charity while bringing a cash infusion into your photography business to kick off Fall.
…And you know the best part?
I’ve written this article so you can come along and take a peek ‘under the hood’ of a successful photography promotion. Now you can see the exact steps to follow for your own photography mini-session promotion.
What is the “Mama & Me” Photography Mini-Session Promotion?
The strategy behind this photography mini-session promotion is to create an event where you can go out in full-force and stir up a tremendous amount of business in a short amount of time while generating money for your favorite charity.
I chose to use Mother’s Day as an example here because it’s a huge opportunity for you. It’s the perfect holiday when people are already spending money on gifts for Mom.
This Mama & Me Photography Mini-Session Promotion:
- Celebrates relationships with loved ones through a mini-session event.
- Raises money for a charity that you’re passionate about (what gets people excited).
- Gives you a reason to partner with a retail business so they can promote you to their best clients.
- Creates exposure to your photography business, goodwill in your community and lets people get a small taste of your photography (…and go crazy over it!).
This is how it works in a nutshell….
- You partner with your favorite charity and agree to donate 100% of the session fees earned during this photography promotion to them.
- You partner with a local retail business who is aligned with your charitable cause. You agree to use a small amount of space in their storefront to host your mini-sessions.
- You work together with both of your partners to market the photography promotion.
- You hold your mini-sessions at the retail store on event day, selling your specialized packages to those who attend.
- Your favorite charity gets the donations from the session fees; your retail partner gets publicity, foot-traffic and customers; and you get to sell your photography packages back-to-back all weekend long, ending in a $10K or more weekend!
Now that you understand what this campaign is about, it’s time to dig into the details.
There are 9 steps you need to take to make this event a successful one and each step has its own action items that I’ve listed.
This is a lot of information, so you might want to bookmark or print out this page to refer to later.
Okay, let’s begin….
1. Create a Simple Business Plan
You need a business plan for this specific photography promotion before your event. Your business plan maps out exactly what volume of sales you need to achieve to hit your goal for the photography promotion. And really, any promotional event you do should start with looking at how you will make what you want to make.
Start with a sales average you’re comfortable with. Let’s use the example of $700 average per order.
Then figure out how many sessions you need to do in order to reach $10,000 or whatever goal you set for yourself. It’s that easy!
Here are some examples:
- 15 sessions at $700 average = $10,500
- 30 sessions at $350 average = $10,500
- 60 sessions at $175 average = $10,500
Create a simple business plan for your event by filling in the blanks:
1) ________ sessions at $ _____________ average = $ ___________
2) ________ sessions at $ _____________ average = $ ___________
3) ________ sessions at $ _____________ average = $ ___________
2. Partner with a Charity
The reason I love partnering with charities is because they have big databases and they’re usually willing to help you promote if you’re willing to help them raise money. Plus, you’re helping out a cause that you’re passionate about.
We did a pet promotion and partnered with a local charity foundation and they picked 1,500 of their best donors and let us do a mailing to them. So not only is the charity allowing us to send a mailer to their top clients, but we’re also getting our ‘foot in the door’ with them as well because we’re affiliated with the charity that these top donors already love.
This works much better than renting out a mailing list and sending a photography promotion to cold list of people who don’t know or care who you are.
- Choose a charity that you’re passionate about. If you can’t think of a specific charity, then think of a cause that’s important to you. There are charities for every cause imaginable. Ask your friends, or do an internet search to locate one.
- Create a written proposal outlining the offer you’re making to your charity, the benefits to the charity, and the commitments of the charity and yourself.
- Write down a script of what to say to the charity’s representative before picking up the phone. There’s nothing worse than getting tongue-tied after going through all the work to get an appointment. Practice your script ’til you have it down and can say it confidently. If they’re not receptive to your offer, then they’re not a right fit anyways. Like I said, there are more than one charity for every cause out there.
3. Find a Retail Partner
Do you know a retail business that needs more traffic, has an established customer base and likes the idea of helping out a charity?
Partnering with a local retail business gives you more marketing reach than if you were the only one talking about the photography mini-session promotion. By partnering with a retail business, you tap into their loyal customer base who will appreciate your services because you’re affiliated with a business they already trust.
Being part of your photography mini-session promotion is a huge benefit to your retail partner. Not only do they get foot traffic through their doors, but it’s also very little work for them and it generates publicity, awareness and additional sales for their business, not to mention the feel-good aspect of helping out a charity.
It’s important to pick a retail partner who shares your target audience and is willing to help you spread the word. Also, make sure they have enough space for you to set up your background and lights if necessary.
- Write down a HOT LIST of local retail businesses that are good candidates for the charity event and that you would enjoy working with.
- Write out your script for what you’re going to say to the business owner when approaching them with your offer. It’s important to emphasize what you can do for them instead of asking them for favors.
- Ask your retail partner if they want to offer ‘bounce-back’ gift certificates to those that show up for their mini-sessions. Most retail partners like the idea of offering a ‘bounce-back’ certificate to generate return business, but don’t want to deal with the hassle of designing their own certificate piece. You can offer to help them out and handle it for them.
4. Set a Date for your Photography Promotion
Pick a date that works for all 3 partners: you, your charity partner and your retail partner.
You might do it throughout the weekend. Or you might do it on certain days throughout the month. That’s a decision you’ll have to come to an agreement with your other partners on. The important thing is to set a date in writing and make sure everyone involved is aware of that date.
At this time, you’ll also want to seek out some volunteers to help out on the day of the event because, if you’re promoting this event the right way, then you’ll have back-to-back sessions and you’ll find yourself quickly overwhelmed doing everything yourself.
- Confirm a date and time that works best with your partners and communicate this to everyone involved.
- Start looking for volunteers who can help you on event day. You’re going to need it. Offering a photo trade for volunteer time is a zero-cost idea.
5. Create Specialized Products and Incentives
At this event, you’ll be offering mini-sessions–not your regular full sessions, so it’s okay to have lower priced offerings without feeling like you’re discounting anything because they’re not getting the same package.
In fact, you’ll want to create a separate price menu specifically for this event so ordering is simple, easy-to-understand and fast for both you and your clients.
I usually create 3 different packages as well as a small list of a la carte boutique items. I also give my clients a Facebook cover image because it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy and it creates a lot of social buzz around my business.
I also make sure to include a value-added incentive on my price list.
You’ve got people coming in and making this investment, so you want to reward them by giving them a bonus. This bonus should be set at what ever your average sale amount needs to be (remember step #1).
For example, if your clients invest $700 or more, they get an heirloom box made by my favorite lab, whcc, with their photo and a cute quote on it. Talk to your lab and see what new products they’re coming out with that you can use as your value-added incentive.
- Create a price list and order forms specific to this event. Make ordering as simple and efficient as possible and avoid giving your clients too many options to choose from. You’ll be having back-to-back sessions, so you really don’t want to be tied up answering questions or trying to figure out how to handle payment.
- Create and give away a value-added incentive for clients who invest at least your average sale amount. Figure out how to make these value-added incentives as ‘turn-key’ as possible by creating templates that you can use. My clients absolutely love the heirloom wood boxes from whcc.
- Give each of your clients a personalized Facebook cover for them to use. Not only will they love it–their friends and family will love it as well and that creates more buzz for your business.
6. Start Your Photography Promotion
This is where most photographers freeze up because they think it’s going to cost them tens-of-thousands of dollars.
Relax, This is NOT going to cost you a lot of money.
In fact, I call this ‘down and dirty turn-key marketing’ because we’re getting all our partners involved….getting everyone talking about this event and creating a buzz.
I recommend using a calendar to keep track of all the photography mini-session promotion activities that need to be done prior to the event.
The key to making this turn-key marketing work is that you need to have a firm commitment and buy-in from your partners to help you with the event promotion.
You’ll be providing your partners with a lot of the promotional materials to make it easy on them, but you need to make sure that they’re doing their part and actually using them to help promote.
- Start filling out a promotion activity calendar with the marketing activities that must be done prior to the event.
- Create your event name and logo.
- Create and print promotional posters for you and your partners to post in high-traffic locations.
- Create social media graphics and distribute them to your partners to use on their social media channels as well as your own.
- Create email banners and promotional email signature lines for everyone involved to use.
- Send an email to your clients announcing the charity event. I send them individually, rather than using an email marketing software because I think it’s more personal.
- Write an email for your partners announcing the charity event and have them send it to their clients.
- Write a press release about the event and distribute it to your local media outlets (television news stations, newspapers, local magazines & publications and websites that cover your local area).
- Write a script and use it to call your top clients and invite them to the event.
- Prepare a similar script for your charity and retail partners to use.
- Optional (if your budget allows): Create and send a printed mail piece to your clients as well as your partner’s clients (if they allow it).
7. Rock the Event
A great photography mini-session promotion is one that flows smoothly and it’s one where your clients get a wonderful experience.
And to do that you need to pay close attention to every possible detail.
Make sure you have appointments pre-scheduled and you’ve confirmed those prior to the event. You should also collect the session fee prior to the event, so if the client no-shows, then the charity will still receives the money. If you use Sticky Albums check this out! They are soon releasing a way you can schedule and take payment for session fees…right from a special branded mobile mini-session website.
You’ll want to arrive at the location at least an hour before the event starts so you can make sure the area is prepped and ready to go. And make sure you have everything you need for your mini-sessions ready to go a day before the event.
- Make sure all your appointment slots are pre-scheduled.
- Confirm all your appointments one day prior to the event.
- Collect session fee payments before the event.
- Make sure you have all the equipment and supplies you need for the event (a checklist always helps).
- Arrive at the location at least 1 hour before the event begins.
- Assess the readiness of the event area using your 5 senses. Ask yourself what your clients will smell, hear, taste, see, and touch while at the event.
8. Carry Out Your Sales Plan
Your goal here at this event is to convert attendees to clients. Don’t just let them show up and do their own thing here. Have a system in place ahead of time to walk each attendee through a memorable experience that you engineered for them.
The most important part of this step is making sure you have your event packages created, your pricing locked down and everything nicely presented on an order form. This is really critical! If your order form is confusing or difficult to understand, not only will you eat up valuable time answering the same questions over and over again, but more importantly, you’ll end up losing sales!
Go through the sales process with your volunteers. Make sure they’re familiar & comfortable with their responsibilities and take the time to explain and demonstrate what you expect from them, especially if its something technical or detail-critical like running credit card payments or taking down order information. The more you help them succeed with their assignments, the more they can help you make your event a success.
Also, keep in mind that every client is important and valuable, no matter what they spend at the event. A client who spends a minimal amount during the event might come back to you later on for a high-ticket portrait wall piece, so give them a great experience. At the same time, identify your VIPs in the crowd and make sure they’re getting enough face-time with you.
- Create your event packages and your pricing. Then display that information attractively on your event order forms.
- If you have volunteers, take the time to train them properly. Give them responsibilities that best suit their strengths. The better equipped they are, the better they can help you out.
- Show a sample of the value-added incentive.
- Have at least one large-framed portrait on display.
- Make sure all collected contact information goes into your database after the event.
- Give a great experience to all your session attendees. Give a little extra attention to those you’ve identified as your VIP’s.
9. Turn Them Into Clients (After the Event)
Last but not least, you need to follow-up with all your photography mini-session promotion leads and pursue opportunities to turn them into future clients.
Not everyone who attends this photography mini-session promotion will become a future client. It’s kind of like the 80/20 rule, but i can guarantee that no one will become your future client if you don’t actively follow-up and pursue those opportunities.
So how do you do find those opportunities in the first place?
Ask questions to uncover them. Get to really know the people who attend your event.
- Do they have children?
- If so, how old are they?
- What milestones are coming up in their lives that might be deserving of a portrait session?
Take notes on this and enter this information in your database.
Also, follow your event attendees on social media. You can find out a lot about what’s going on in a person’s life through social media and that just becomes another tool you can use to uncover more opportunities for future photo sessions.
You don’t want to be easily forgotten after the event either. You want to make your photography business ‘sticky’ in their minds so when they do have a need for a portrait, they immediately think of you and not your competitor.
- Interact with the event attendees and ask a lot of questions about their lives to uncover future opportunities.
- Take notes on those future opportunities and make sure they get recorded in their contact record inside your database.
- Send handwritten thank you notes to every client after the event.
- Connect with your new contacts on social media and keep your eyes open for opportunities.
- Publicize the money you and your retail partner made for the charity in your newsletter or blog.